An economist is someone who didn't have enough personality to become an accountant.

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Money is like manure. If you spread it around it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up in one place it stinks like hell. - Jr Murchison

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Charity or Swiss bank accounts?

Charity or Swiss bank accounts?

How about forgetting the charities and moving all your money to Swiss bank accounts.

I read in the newspaper recently that the Australian Tax Office had an amnesty in place for wealthy people who have Swiss Bank accounts that may contain funds transferred from Australia. The tax office is interested in any tax that should have been paid for before the funds were transferred to Switzerland.  The article was headed “ATO nets billions as rich come forward”. They are also warning anyone who is reluctant to come forward that they have an “informer”, who has named a list of 122 Australian people with Swiss bank accounts. It seems the days of silence from the Swiss banking system are slowly becoming a thing of the past. So far 1750 Australians have declared a total of $240 million in income and $1.7 billion in assets.

Who pays for the roads or rail?

There have been many recent discussion in the media about whether Melbourne should have a major freeway built to ease traffic congestion or if the government should fund more public transport. I t doesn’t matter which decision is the correct one both will need a vast amount of money to make them become a reality. Who pays for these infrastructure projects? We do of course through our taxes and so should everyone in the country. By removing billions of dollars in assets and income the rich are doing the public and themselves no favours. They also use the roads (maybe not public transport) and I’m sure would be quite happy with a quicker journey to their next business meeting or to their holiday house!

What the lawyer says.

The head of law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, Mark Leibler, who advises some of the nation’s wealthiest families has made lodgements on behalf of his clients for the amnesty. “I think in the end, it will be what I had predicted and there will be billions brought back (into the tax net)”, Mr.Leibler said.

Isn’t it amazing what a threat can do. What Mr. Leibler is really saying to his clients is “Greed was good but time’s up – the tax department is after you – so time to come clean”.

Imagine the infrastructure projects that could have been funded by these missing funds or the investment in business ventures. Even a small proportion of this money put into a good venture capital fund could have helped many young entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams of starting a business venture. Instead the rich decided long ago to keep it all to themselves and move it to Swiss bank accounts.

Richard Flanagan – Booker prize.

Recently, Richard Flanagan the winner of the Booker and PM’s literary award, chose to give all his prize money ($40,000) to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which helps young indigenous children with their reading and writing skills. Richard will make money now as his book won the Booker prize but he is an outstanding example of a person who cannot afford to be a philanthropist. He is a man of principle and has decided the requirements of the needy in society are more important than his personal wealth.

Maybe a few of the rich people on Mark Leibler’s list could take a leaf out of Richard Flanagan’s book (pardon the pun) and spread some of their money around.

I love this quote from Richard Flanagan when receiving his PM’s Literary Award – “The lesson that my father took from the POW camps was that the measure of any civilised society was its willingness to look after its weakest. Money is like shit, my father used to say. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and you can grow things,” he said.

** Sources courtesy of The Age newspaper

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