(Above: and so the memes continue)
Is it stupidity, arrogance or hubris, or a combination?
All those promises, all that rhetoric:
There is one fundamental message that we want to go out from this place to every nook and cranny of our country: there should be no new tax collection without an election. (here)
Everyone knows a levy is a tax, and we know it in no small measure thanks to Tony Abbott and his stance on the Queensland flood levy and the Medicare levy:
She committed to a tax before she knew the bill. Now, we don’t think tax first. We think save first. So that’s the difference of approach, the fundamental difference of approach between us and the Government. (here)
All I know is that a good opposition holds the government to account and it acts as a credible alternative would, and I think that a credible alternative government, based on the principles that have always animated the Liberal and National parties in this country would look for savings rather than hit Australians with a new tax at a bad time. (here)
And so on and on. We even learned from a negative Abbott example, as in this encounter with John Laws, lovingly transcribed by the faithful so they could work out the meaning buried in the entrails:
Laws – Your proposal for paid parental leave, that’ll be funded by a 1% levy on the company’s biggest companies. That’s a great big tax.
Abbott – Well, it’s a modest levy
Laws – It’s a tax Abbott – It’s err…I’m not going to get into a terminological argument with you John.. I accept that it has to be paid for. It will be paid for by a levy on the taxable incomes over…blah blah blah…There will also be a company tax cut under us to make headroom for this…
Laws - But it’s very interesting, when you talk about a cut it’s a tax, when you talk about an increase it’s a levy. What’s the difference between a levy and a tax?
Abbott – Well, I’ll leave others to ponder
Laws – No, no, no, you obviously know the difference.
Abbott - Well, well, er
Laws -Tell me the difference between a levy and a tax
Abbott – Well…umm…John…we can speculate all day
Laws – No, no we don’t need to speculate.
Abbott – I accept John, I absolutely accept that the paid parental leave scheme does have to be paid for and it is going to be paid for by a levy which you prefer to call a tax, it will be paid for by a levy or a tax if you prefer that term..um.. on larger companies. (found here)
Of course the cat was belled for anyone who bothered to read the Queensland flood levy bill, recommended - oh loving irony by chair of the committee charged with the matter, Craig Thomson - in its opening words:
The Bill amends the Income Tax (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 (the Transitional Provisions Act) to require a taxpayer to pay extra income tax for the 2011–12 financial year if:
the taxpayer is an individual, and
his or her taxable income for the 2011–12 income year exceeds $50 000.
The extra income tax is known more commonly as the ‘temporary flood reconstruction levy’ (the terms ‘tax’ and ‘levy’ are essentially interchangeable) (here)
Essentially interchangeable, though one might be for a specific purpose and another a more permanent measure.
And then there were all the other three word slogans, such as the impossibility of taxing the way to prosperity:
...the point I keep making is that you can’t tax your way to prosperity, you can’t regulate your way to prosperity. (here)
Yes, he kept making it over and over again like a three word slogan chanting Hari Krishna ...
Now some have taken comfort from the way the currently proposed "levy" - hung out into the wind to see how the wind blows - is supposed to be targeted at the rich. And once it's done and dusted, hallelujah, everybody will rise to a new world of lower taxes.
But the pond has always taken a Gertrude Stein view of the world ... a rose is a rose is a rose, a levy is a tax is a levy is a tax, a promise is a promise is a promise, and an Abbott is a fraud is an Abbott ...
And so did Lenore Taylor:
Yep, Taylor went at it hammer and tongs in Tony Abbott's duplicity in proposing a 'temporary debt levy' is astounding.
And it probably would be astounding if you expected Abbott to be anything but a mendacious, lying, cheating, fraudulent, deceptive, deceitful, hypocritical politician of the first water, a man who makes the average snake in the grass seem like a kindly D. H. Lawrence creature going about an honourable life ...
But you'd expect to find the shattered illusions and the pain of the innocents in The Graudian.
What's interesting is the way the reptiles in Murdoch la la land have reacted to the news.
Here's the front page of the lizard Oz:
Uh huh. Remember the good old days when Labor tried to make a move on people earning over $150k?
Back then, Abbott labelled it "class warfare", and the Murdochians howled with anger and pain.
How dare class warfare be made to stalk the land.
Today the Daily Terror grudgingly acknowledged the "levy" and bizarrely dressed it up as an EXCLUSIVE:
But in the digital edition it was presented as a kind of communitarian, socialist, comradely sharing of the pain, as all the farm workers heroically did their bit to help the pigs achieve utopia:
It was only in the provinces that there was a decent shriek and a howl, though the "tax smash pain on all houses" had to share space with parochial matters:
As if to compensate, online the Murdochians ran an edited summary of Abbott's speech last night to the Sydney Institute - that gathering place of inner city elites and prattling Polonius - highlighting the 'pain so we can all gain' riff":
As for the Fairfaxians?
Why, they were right on the ball.
Kylie's Logie commotion is exactly the sort of top of the page analysis Australia needs in these troubled times.
Naturally the Sydney Fairfaxians were right at the top of their game, holding the government to account, and providing the sort of hot topic you'd expect for a water cooler conversation game changer.
But at least the Sydney Fairfaxians ran a double in the digital edition:
So in summary, apart from the pitiful evidence of the tragic irrelevance of the mainstream media in hard copy form, and the irreversible shift of the Fairfaxians towards click bait, what do the runes suggest?
Can Abbott get away with calling a tax a levy, and avoid a levy being thought of as a tax, no matter what he said in the past about levies, while showing a fondness for levies himself, and can Abbott get away with said tax by indulging in class warfare and targeting the rich, though in his very own speech, he was careful to explain that he wasn't targeting the rich:
So will the other second simple minded mantra, a coupling of three word slogans, also win out?
Endure the pain
Share the gain
On the evidence, it's likely. The man who promised no new taxes, who demonised the carbon tax, who excoriated Gillard for her taxing ways, might well skate on through, with the media defanged by its support for a scorpion, who after all, is just doing what scorpions always do with frogs ...
There'll be a few squawks from the likes of Lenore Taylor at the sheer brazen hypocrisy of the emperor, and a few pointing out the stench emanating from the dissembling, lying, cheating hypocrite, and everybody else will trudge along hoping for pie in the sky bye and bye, and maybe an actual surplus in a decade.
And yet if you believe what you hear, Abbott has broken his most basic - and for years, at least to him his most fundamental message - for a mess of pottage:
CHRIS RICHARDSON: The Government's talking temporary. I'm sure it wants it to be temporary. There's a big enough budget problem that I can't say I'm necessarily convinced it will end up being temporary. Government also says high-income earners, so you could do it a few ways: you could, you know, boost the Medicare levy over $100,000, say, or you could go direct through the personal income tax system. There aren't many dollars to be had in high-income earners. If you just added 0.5 per cent to the top income tax rate - you know, people over $180,000 a year - that's not much more than an extra $300 million a year collected. Handy but not big bikkies in budget terms.
LOUISE YAXLEY: So it would need to come down the income tax scale a bit. What do you think would be most effective?
CHRIS RICHARDSON: If, for example, the Government picked up everybody over incomes of $80,000 a year - and they'd be pretty reluctant to do that - you would get somewhere around $750 million, $800 million a year from that. That's starting to be more serious money. You'd need to reach down one other tax level as well and pick up most people to start to get something close to $2 billion a year. (here)
But that's not even enough to offset the cost of Abbott's pet overblown paid parental leave scheme, which the APH assured the world would cost $5.7 billion a year. (here)
Which leads the pond to think this about the Australian media:
Mugs reporting to the mugs about how they're being mugged by the hypocritical, double-dealing, forked tongue, mugging mugs ...
(Below: at least David Rowe knows how to deal with a bottle of etherised promises and Pinocchio noses, and more Rowe here)