Gittins’ empty legal blather: Ross Gittins, a man who has never said a word about legal theory, insists ad nauseum — without any supporting argument whatsoever (or any reference to any) — that all resources in Australia are the property of every Australian. Has Gittins sworn a vow of secrecy never to divulge his theory of property rights to readers?
Gittins’ appeal to authority: Gittins endlessly heralds the senior position that the mining tax advocates are in as an argument in their favour. If he is going to go respecting people just because they have a “respectable” title next to their name, then how does he deal with other people in “respectable” positions who disagree with “respectable” people who happen to be Gittins’ own favourites? If Gittins wants to play the “respectability” card, then he must show Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek the same or perhaps more respect than he shows the mining tax advocates. So much for the argument from “respectability”.
Gittins’ ignorance of economics: What of the actual economics? Gittins says that taxing the mining industry, according to the proposed mining tax scheme, would have a “neutral” effect on the mining industry, as only “excess” profits would be taken away. He has refused to say where Murray Rothbard’s refutation of “neutral” taxation, available briefly and brilliantly here and at length here, is wrong.
Lest you think I’m making this up, here is Gittins today:
The disdain with which we’ve come to regard our politicians struck me when I considered the success of the mining industry’s advertising campaign against the resource super profits tax. With world coal and iron ore prices at record highs, the largely foreign-owned mining companies are raking in unbelievable profits.
The Labor government said the new tax was needed to ensure the people who actually owned these resources – you and me – got a fairer price for them. The miners claimed the tax would cripple them, discourage further development and cause people to lose their jobs.
You might have expected the public to respond to these over-the-top claims with scepticism – they would say that, wouldn’t they?; whoever likes paying more taxes? – but it seems many people believed them.
(Think about it: we were being asked to believe the Secretary to the Treasury, the high priest of economic rationalism, backed up by two highly regarded economists and the chief executive of a major business association, was proposing a tax that would lay waste to the mining industry and seriously damage the economy.)
So why was the word of fat-cat miners favoured over that of our own government? Because the credibility of our politicians is at rock bottom. Even big businesses on the make are judged more likely to be telling the truth.