Tuesday, November 15, 2011

War!

Prime Minister Donald Tusk is deciding whether to liquidate a tax break that allows journalists and any profession with copyrights of their intellectual material to pay tax on only half their reported income, according to the daily Rzeczpospolita. If Tusk does decide to do so in the Friday presentation of his "new-old" government's policy, it will be as good as a declaration of war on journalists, artists and scientists.

Tusk might not care one iota whether journalists will be hurt. Many of them -- including we here -- have bitched and moaned for months and months about the lack of "real" fiscal reform. And, in terms of solidarity, why shouldn't an artist or a journalist also feel a little bit of fiscal pain. They are not usually starving

Tusk, if he does decide to remove the tax break, will clearly play up the fact that his government has taken a real step by sticking it to a bunch of whining journos.

But one thing I would counsel Tusk in is that removing the tax break might hit journalists, but it will also hurt those like university professors. Making it harder for university profs is not exactly in line with the government's oft-stated goal of boosting education.

Polish artists and musicians are far more the starving kind than the Hollywood sort, so hurting them to some degree hurts the very resurgence of a moderate tolerant Polish identity.

Moreover, journalists, university professors, artists, musicians and the like all back Tusk's Civic Platform (PO) in droves. They help raise the public profile and to some degree give free positive PR to the party, particularly in relation to the heaps of negative PR afforded Tusk's main rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Law and Justice (PiS).

Considering the savings of getting rid of the tax break are akin to a rounding error in terms of the public finance problem itself, they would produce limited gain for state finances.

If Tusk does decide to remove this tax break, it will be very much like declaring war on himself, hurting his voters and not doing one bit to help public finances.

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