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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hey, where's my share?



I HAVE a confession to make... with all the talk of elections and goodies being handed out willy nilly, I'm feeling kinda left out.
 
I mean, there's BR1M for senior citizens and for those from poor households, RM200 smartphone rebate for youths under 30, RM200 book vouchers for students, RM100 school aid for each child, Kedai Makan 1Malaysia for cheap meals, KR1M for household goods, PR1MA for first-time house buyers, TR1M for taxi drivers and a host of other goodies.
 
The irony is, all these goodies are coming out of my tax dollars. Yet, because I am single, over 30, earn a living income and already have purchased an apartment (closer to hovel when you consider property prices in PJ), I get zippo.
 
Yes, I fall squarely in the middle class with high taxes and few reliefs or rebates (the yearly RM1,000 book rebate is one few I enjoy).
 
The rich – who usually have their own businesses – tend to find ways to avoid paying or at least substantially reduce the amount of taxes they pay (thanks to creative accounting and undeclared income stashed overseas).
 
But for salaried employees like me, the IRD gets first dibs on my money even before I do.
 
It has been years since the government has shown any kindness to those like me, for whom finishing a 7-year car loan is cause for celebration – never mind that the repairs bills have been on the up and up.
 
Also, I suspect that those in this group are among the more regular charitable donors, as they have more disposable income.
 
You could say that, hey, you're not exactly suffering, so why do you need help? But that's not quite true.
 
My generation bought our homes by ourselves – we did not have the luck of having our parents put down a hefty down payment for it. We left home right after school (to work or go to uni) and never moved back in.
 
When I wanted to buy my first car, I used my savings and took a loan to buy a small, second-hand Charade. The monthy loan repayment cost RM384, a huge sum for someone pulling slightly less than a thousand salary.
 
Nowadays, most of the twenty-somethings I know drive brand new Myvis or Protons paid for by their parents.
 
I guess the point I am trying to make is that nothing was given to us – we worked hard to get here. And cost of living increases strike us just as hard.
 
Escalating cost of private healthcare, and car prices that border on the ridiculous (seriously, paying 300K or more for a depreciating asset is ludicrous, unless you are very rich) are just some of the examples.
 
We are stuck in between the rich – for whom shelling out 20K for a handbag is just a shopping footnote - and the poor who end up diluting infant formula purchased at Kedai 1Malaysia to make it last longer.
 
We are stuck in middle class hell and it feels like all our hard-earned money is being siphoned off as handouts to special interest groups. But these kind of populist, one-off measures do nothing to improve the lot of the poor.
 
I would feel a lot less upset if my tax dollars were put to better use – such as creating jobs, improving the state of our education and building more and better equipped schools.
 
I would be happy if my tax dollars were used to build and staff more vocational schools to train school leavers in trades such as plumbing, construction, carpentry, electrical, automative, etc.
 
I wouldn't mind if it was used to set up more government-run and closely-monitored homes for old folks, orphans and the infirm.
 
But please stop the handouts because, let us be blunt – they are nothing more than a crass attempt at vote buying. How can you trumpet transformation to a high-income nation on one hand, when you encourage the subsidy and handout mentality?
 
If the government is truly sincere, then it would be wise to remember this old adage: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
- See more at: http://fz.com/content/hey-wheres-my-share#sthash.fKjIgryz.dpuf

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