Re: Mikloš: 15 percent flat tax "optimal", Flash News Briefs, November 26
We shouldn't get too excited about suddenly being richer because we get a 19-percent or 15-percent tax rate. Anything we save on the taxes will have to go into school fees, pensions savings, health insurance and everything else that used to be covered by taxes but is now our personal responsibility.
The advantage of this is that I have a bit more control over my situation. If I don't like my school or insurance company I can transfer to a different one, and a private school or pension fund can go bankrupt so it has to take better care of its customers. (At least in theory, since companies have plenty of ways to make money without providing good service.) Also, once we get used to being personally responsible, we'll get more involved in "cashless" ways of supporting these services: helping out, as volunteers.
The disadvantage is that I have to find the money to pay for all these "extras". It's fine for me: I'm young and healthy and I can work hard. But what about others? Pensioners and the long-term unemployed can "tighten up their belts" I suppose. It's not my problem. Or is it?
The debate on social services is more or less over. Governments are going to save and preach personal responsibility. Now we need a new debate on two fronts:
1) How do we make services like education, health care and pensions saving responsible and accountable to consumers (e.g., how do I get my insurance provider to put more money into hospitals and less into building its fancy administration palace?)
2) What can we do for the people who are left behind: pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed, state employees like teachers with dwindling salaries? The government and the media will need encourage charity. I'm not too hopeful about this as Slovakia is getting into a sort of "greed is good" mentality.
I'm not sure anyone is even thinking about this debate and goodness knows where we'll finish up.
6. Dec 2004 at 0:00