Arunga: Tax us more, but give us free healthcare, walkable cities

Taxes should be proportionate and those who can afford must and should pay as a matter of national duty. 

The thing is, I doubt that the majority of people in Kenya would be against paying more taxes if we actually had some idea of where the taxes were actually going.

Unfortunately, from the outside, our taxes don't do anything but add to an already unsustainably bloated budget. We already know that last year's budget has been spent. The prices of everything are skyrocketing; fuel is reportedly going up by three shillings.

The President has already told us that he will not be able to keep his promise to make petrol cheaper. Flour is down, yes, and every penny you've saved there is going to pay for everything else, including electricity, which is getting less and less every month - and those are just the things I'm saying off the top of my head.

I know we're not even a year into the new administration, and much like President Obama with George Bush Jr, there are a lot of problems that have been inherited, but it doesn't seem like any action is being taken to make things better. The future looks bleak.

Is this one of those situations where things will get worse before they get better? The darkness before the dawn? It's possible, even if it doesn't seem likely, simply because instead of taking countermeasures, our government is puffing up the already large elephant in the room. So many articles have been written about the illegality and irresponsibility of employing 50 (FIFTY!) CASs (at a cost of Sh459 million per annum) that I will only mention it here as a supporting argument and salary discussion.

It is beginning to feel like all we are borrowing for is to pay fat cats in supposedly public office who sit in a parliament building we built with our own sweat and blood and make laws that make our lives worse.

Of course, they're fine with raising prices and approving more and more taxes for the common man, instead of going after the businesses (or - here's a wild thought - reducing their own numbers and monthly allowances) that can actually pay these illogical and punitive monies - they don't even know the price of bread, so it's easy to make sweeping declarations about things that will never, ever affect them.

And the government continues to work against the interests of the people, as did the last government. It seems that the deputy has learnt well from the head and has continued his tule. But what did we expect?

This post was prompted by a reckless and loose-mouthed politician, Boni Khalwale, who tried to make an illiterate point about how other developed countries are taxed far more than Kenya and therefore we should not complain.

It's interesting that he should say that because it implies that he has more than a passing understanding of what the word developed means and not much more than that. Obviously developed countries take a lot more taxes - apart from the benefits of free labour that colonisation gave them, they also have systems that work - i.e. you have to work a lot harder to steal, and even if you do steal, something has to come out of it.

America and Britain, for example? Lots of taxes, but also walkable cities, free healthcare systems (in the UK anyway, Trump managed to completely reverse a lot of that), welfare for those who can't access those systems... I'm not saying it's perfect, but there are visible representations of where the money actually goes. Their police departments, as trigger-happy and racist as they are, would be sued by the public in a heartbeat if they said some of the things our police say to us, like 'oh we can't get to the scene, we've got no fuel'.

It's idiotic to compare us to developed nations, and frankly it's disrespectful to try to make an analogy with other countries that are on a different level to us. And the painful part is that we don't even need to be on the level we are. It's not that Kenya doesn't have a great constitution and laws and functional, competent departments and Kenyans who want to do the work.

It's that our leaders, like Khalwale, are so far removed from the common man, so sycophantic in their pronouncements, that they can't even hear what we - or they - are saying.

And now there's a house tax. Oh, sorry - it's not a tax. It's a contribution that all Kenyans make, to a compulsory fund to which anyone earning enough to be taxed above a certain salary level must contribute. But it's not a tax.

Surely - if they've taken all our money and created an endless cycle of brain drain, endemic harambees, socio-economic warfare, poverty traps and entrenched corruption, how will they guarantee these loans? To a dying nation? What - if anything - is the plan here?