Missing stuff

Today is the first day since we’ve been here in Mumbai that I have, very specifically, missed my stuff. Not family, friends or food (although my kingdom for some fresh milk, a decent coffee and a schooner of draught beer), but stuff. My husband and I have a lot of stuff. Some of it has sentimental value, some actual value, but mostly not. I like furniture, and had pretty much purchased the maximum amount of furniture that could fit in a small terrace in Surry Hills. Most of it, except for the Ikea bookshelves and a few other things that were sold or given away, is now in storage. I miss my chairs and table. Our flat in Powai came with funiture and a lot of built ins that are actually quite beautifully made, but also quite pimpy. It’s no bad thing that we’ve been living more simply since we’ve been here – although when the time comes to pack I’m sure the reality of that will be questioned – but I do miss my bits and bobs.

‘Let corporate leaders have a say in how taxpayer money is spent’ (actual headline)

You have to admire the cut-out-the-middlemen directness of this campaign by the Times of India.

In summary:

In his budget speech on February 28, 2013, finance minister P Chidambaram announced a 10% surcharge on those with taxable income exceeding Rs 1 crore. He also announced that the surcharge on domestic companies would go up to 10% from 5% where the total income exceeds Rs 10 crore. [Approximately $200,000 AUD] As a means of raising resources, such measures makes little economic sense. The experience of the last two decades and more has shown that moderate tax rates encourage tax compliance and actually boost revenues.

A far better way of balancing the fisc [budget/books] would be to cut down on wasteful expenditure. As things stand, the government is accountable only to Parliament on how taxpayer money is spent. In other words, the political class has a monopoly on determining how this money is spent. Common sense tells us that the instincts of the political class will be to spend money on what they perceive to be most populist, not on what makes most sense in economic terms. What we need, therefore, is a mechanism to act as a check on these populist instincts. [emphasis added] We suggest that the best way of doing so is to constitute committees of eminent and credible corporate leaders representing various sectors of the economy to advise the government on expenditure. These are people who have a wealth of experience in managing large sums of money and who are not constrained by the need to ‘buy’ votes.

So, in short, the best way to deal with budget shortfalls is not to increase revenue, but to appoint a committee.

It’s interesting that the campaign assumes that the public service and Parliament are occupied by the ‘political class’, a discrete body.  Again, can’t tell whether that’s refreshingly clear eyed or a symptom of a broken system.