I make good money. I make really good money, and for a long time I've fought to keep my tax rate down as far as possible. Oh "Sweet Baby Cheeses", I'm not a millionaire, and I don't drive a bloody Lamborghini, but I make enough money that my life is not a day-to-day struggle.
I'm in that upper middle class pay bracket, that resents paying huge tax because, I argue, "I'm not bloody Michael Fay! I'm not made of money!" and "I don't have my own bloody holiday home on Waiheke, and access to a frikkin' helicopter!". But something has happened inside my soul, and I'm starting to realise that, as part of society, if I want society to function, I may have to pay more. I may have to pay a LOT more. Oh poor me.
Let me reiterate, I hate paying tax. But I hate the growing divide even more.
In Germany, Denmark, Brazil and a bunch of other countries around the world, tertiary education is free. I assume they realise that a lot of working class or poor kids will never get student loans, because the idea of giant debt is terrifying. It's terrifying for them and for their families. They are also smart enough to realise that some privileged rich kids should never go to university.
Being rich doesn't make you brainy or academic, it just opens big beautiful leadlight doors. A lot of privileged kids would be better off finding a trade or following their passion for music or art.
We live in a country (I've only realised this lately, because I've had my head so far up my own ass) that used to have free tertiary education. Then, for some fantastical reason that no one can really remember, in the late 8os a pseudo-Labour government decided it would be a brilliant idea to make students pay for tertiary education.
I never took part in any of this. I was given a scholarship to an American university that helped pay for my American education, and then took out a loan that I had to work off as I studied. I found it near impossible. I was working crazy hours just to pay off the loans, and then sleeping through classes. I was more often than not on academic probation, and begging my professors not to boot me out of the course. It wasn't hard. Classes were easy. I was just tired. I was tired and, possibly, having a little too much fun.
In Denmark and Germany and even Scotland they do not believe in the burden of giant student loans loosely tied as a noose around the throats of their university students. To make this happen, the well-off pay higher taxes.
When a returning Kiwi was stopped at the airport for not paying back their student loan, I didn't think, "scumbag freeloader!", I thought "What the hell are we doing in a country as rich as ours forcing giant debt onto our children?"
Holy crap, I don't want to pay more tax, but I don't want to strangle the hopes and dreams of people from every socio-economic level of this country.
I hate paying high taxes. I'll moan and groan and shake my head, but I also don't want to live in a country where our finest children's hospital is funded by private donations. Good God, the kids in this country deserve hospitals paid by our taxes. We shouldn't have to have them asking for money. They are saving our children's lives. The finest doctors and nurses in our country are saving the lives of children because they have charity drives to raise money for their hospital. Somehow that feels terribly uncomfortable. I bet they don't do that in Denmark. I KNOW they don't do that in Germany.
I never for a moment imagined myself, someone who went offshore to be educated and drown in my own pool of overseas debt, to be the one yelling that tertiary education must be free here, but it should. Tax me. Go on. Maybe I'll have to pull my belt in and stop living such a wanky "three avocados, thanks!" lifestyle, but somewhere deep down in my working class soul I know that both first-class paediatric hospital care and tertiary education needs to come without our charity and without debt.
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