By Kris Sayce – Port Phillips Insider (Australia) –
When commodities prices were going through the roof from 2004 to 2011, there was a regular refrain about how these commodities were owned by ‘all Australians’.
It was a neat piece of jingoism.
Of course all that iron ore, copper, and bauxite in Australia’s Outback is owned by everyone.
It’s only right therefore, that governments should levy taxes and royalties on those resources, and then redistribute the revenue to its rightful owners — all Australians.
That was the theory behind Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan’s ludicrously infantile ‘super profits tax’.
The fact that they didn’t appear to be able to define the difference between a ‘super profit’ and a ‘normal profit’, made the whole thing even more ludicrous.
However, while it may have a nice ring to it, to say that ‘all Australians’ own Australia’s resources is not really true.
To claim that ‘all Australians’ own undiscovered and unexploited resources deep beneath the earth, is the equivalent of saying ‘all Australians’ own your physical labour. (Technically, thanks to income taxes, we guess they do. That doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.)
The real owners of the resources are the capitalists, business people and investors who put their money at risk.
Until these people get involved, the resources in the ground only have a theoretical value. Their actual value is nothing — until someone invests millions of dollars to dig them up.
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