There's been a fair bit of contention about the federal government's proposed flood levy - a one-off boost to the Medicare Levy to raise $3 billion to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the January floods.
Opponents say it's another example of poor economic management from Labor; suggesting they're reaching for a tax to solve their problems rather than budgeting properly. There are concerns the levy will stretch beyond its allocated year. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claims it's unfair, as it taxes people like donors and volunteers who've already given their time and/or money; and even went so far as to say Prime Minister Julia Gillard was using the floods to mask her government's addiction to spending.
A neat online calculator I discovered allows you to plug in your yearly income and get your projected contribution. Now don't be fooled by my lavish urbane lifestyle - journalism and occasional jobbing actor gigs don't fetch as much coin as you might think. According to the calculator, I'm up for about $25 extra in tax this financial year.
I realise contributions increase exponentially the more you earn, meaning someone on $100,000 a year will pay around $250. But still, don't people on $100k these days drop $250 a year on smartphone apps and skinny mochaccinos alone ?
All right, that is a gross generalisation. Maybe $100,000 isn't "rich", as some people would like us to believe. All I know is that it's a fair bit richer than me, in the same way I'm a fair bit richer than someone on $35k a year. And the levy doesn't apply to anyone earning under $50k, so low-income earners don't have to worry about an extra slug. As far as I can see, I'm at the very bottom of the paying scale. And yet, I am more than happy to sling $25 towards part of a bridge, or a few centimetres of bitumen, or a bit of cabling.
So I kind of want to tell people on higher incomes who have a problem with the one-off levy to, you know, get over it. "Build a bridge", you might say ironically. Is it really that much to ask, to help rebuild the shattered parts of our country? It's not like you'll starve. Chances are you've got accountants who can help you "streamline" your taxes effectively anyway.
But maybe I don't understand their side of the story. Perhaps there are financial pressures I've not considered. Perhaps the Labor Party IS just a bunch of nakedly greedy toads eager to extract every last spare cent from its desperate subjects (er, constituents).
So here is my challenge. If you earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, and you don't want to pay the levy - I WILL PAY IT FOR YOU.
That's right. I will hand you the $25 to $250 in CASH.
All you have to do is pose for a photograph. To be precise: this photograph:
Yes indeed - fanned five-dollar banknotes, self-satisfied smug look, righteous pointing finger - the lot.You'll also need to sign the photograph, under the statement "That's right - I don't want to help!" And you surrender any rights to where that photograph may appear. On this blog, for example. Or perhaps a bus stop, or billboard.
But surely that's a small price to pay to get your $25 to $250 in sweet, sweet cash?
Oh wait, maybe it's actually just a small price to pay to help your country.
I await your applications. Don't forget last year's tax statement as proof of income.
4 hours ago