We don’t need more taxes – we just need to collect them better

“A giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out the game stopped.” 

- Marine Eccles, chairman of the US Fed 1934-1948, on how a fast rise in inequality caused the Great Depression (thanks to David Blake). 

The above quote will have a familiar ring to it. After all, there is a growing body of opinion – and one we have written on many times – that suggests that our own great financial crisis has been caused by pretty much the same thing. See my blog below and these ones from earlier in the year: How the bonus culture caused the financial crisis – and how we can stop it happening againWhy workers aren’t getting their fair share; and Bonus culture is killing opportunity.

Look around you. Look at the falling real incomes of most people and the vast wealth of the top 0.5% of the global population, and you might well end up thinking that the once democratic world has effectively been hijacked by the rich over the last few decades.

Everyone will have their own examples of just how this has happened (banks, central banks and Mitt Romney being the first ones that come to mind – this Rolling Stone article is a must read) but there is a neat one in the US that sums up what we might call ‘political capture’ by the rich.

In last week’s Sunday Times Money section there was an interview with US financial guru Suze Orman. In it, she told us all about how she spends her time between her houses in South Africa and America, how she keeps $2m in cash, likes to hold high-paying dividend stocks and would take stocks over property as an investment any day (“I think it won’t be until 2023 when we start to see real estate as a solid investment again”).

But amid all this sensible stuff there is mention of one investment not available to UK investors – municipal bonds. ‘Muni’ bonds are issued by states and cities to fund various infrastructure projects. She owns bonds from “all over – from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania”. Why? Simple: she owns them because the income from them is tax free: “municipal bond income is often exempt from federal income tax as well as many state and local taxes”.

This is not a strategy for the poor, of course – “you should have at least $200,000 to invest if you are buying individual bonds”. But if you have the money you can, says Orman – who has 95% of her money in municipal bonds – end up with a tax-free income of 4-5%.
 
Orman isn’t the only one who is on to this. In 2011, 35,000 US citizens with an income of over $200,000 paid no federal income tax at all. They used various wheezes for this, including the charity tax relief that irritates us so much. But how did most of them do it? As Josh Barro of Bloomberg notes, 66% of them did it like Orman does – by receiving all their income as tax exempt interest from munis.

The bondholders will say that it isn’t really they that benefit from the tax free status of the bonds; that all it does is allow US cities to issue their bonds at a lower interest rate than they would otherwise. In that sense it is not a subsidy offered by the central government to the rich, but one offered by the central government to its states and cities.

But that isn’t entirely true. The Congressional Budget Office says that the issuers end up getting about 80% of the value of the tax subsidy. But that still means that about 20% of the subsidy (so about $36bn over the next five years, says Barro) goes to bondholders.

To the outside eye this makes little sense. If you want to subsidise the financial disaster that is local infrastructure (see this week’s magazine for more on this) why do it indirectly with billions of dollars’ worth of ‘leakage’ to the already rich? Why not just subsidise directly? Give cash, or follow Barro’s suggestion of directly subsidised ‘Build America Bonds’. I’ve now spent several hours reading the arguments against this (Google “abolish tax free munis” and you can read the anti-Barro fury for yourself) and I still can’t see the reason beyond because that wouldn’t be nice for people who like to get a tax free income.

It is this kind of thing that makes some people receptive to the idea of the kind of wealth tax that Nick Clegg is suggesting. Everyone knows that both here and in the US the very rich don’t necessarily pay their way. So there might be some satisfaction in forcing a percentage of their accumulated wealth out of them.

But that doesn’t make it a good idea. Why? Our tax system, like that of the US, is complicated and corrupt. Depending on how you define them, you could say that we already have three wealth taxes –inheritance tax (although this could also be defined as an income tax on the recipients of inheritance), capital gains tax (as it isn’t inflation linked it taxes real wealth), and of course stamp duty.

We have also already had a good go at the ‘sort-of-rich’. We’ve taken away income tax allowances from everyone earning over £100,000. We’ve put in place a permanent income tax top rate of 45% (remember the 50% was temporary so in that sense it is the Tories, not Labour, who have raised income tax). And we have pushed up stamp duty on very expensive houses. It is also worth noting that wealth taxes are hideously impossible to calculate and collect – the apparatus needed to do it (inevitably badly) would be huge and expensive in itself.

So what do we do instead? We put in place the ‘tycoon tax’ I thought Osborne was getting at in his last budget (a minimum rate of income tax everyone has to pay). We insist that the super-rich stop using the UK as a cheap portfolio manager via their huge London houses on which they pay no tax. And we get rid of every single loophole there is – from charity tax relief down. Then we stop. We don’t need new taxes. We need fewer taxes  – just better collected.

97 Responses

  1. 30/08/2012, JimTaylor wrote

    I agree with the sentiment of this article.
    What we need are simpler and fair taxes that are more difficult to evade and better collection.

    If the Government concentrated on the right things they would have more support from the general public.

  2. 30/08/2012, Don wrote

    Looks like you could use the Fair Tax in Britain as much as we do in the US. It’s not just the well off, we have far too many that contribute nothing at all.

  3. 30/08/2012, Scotfree wrote

    I agree with the author.
    The more complex the tax system – and the US one is absurd – the more it benefits those who can afford to hire experts to navigate it. And the more nooks and crannies there are to hide in.
    Simple, clear, universal – these should be fundaments of a decent and just tax regime. And then collect it rigorously and robustly.
    Clegg’s rabble-rousing “tax the rich” is a pitiful cry from a fatally wounded politician to rally his base ahead of conference season. Coming from someone who voted to abolish the 50p rate it looks, like most things he says these days, like crass hypocrisy. He lost all credibility two years ago and is simply railing against the dying of the light.

  4. 30/08/2012, Martin wrote

    For me the people who pay as little tax as possible are heroes. They make our lives way much better. I don’t understand why people in MoneyWeek did not get it yet.

  5. 30/08/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #4 Martin. If that is the case, in the words of the great Bonnie Tyler, …”we don’t need another hero”.
    I’m sure we’d like you to expand on just how tax evaders make our lives better.

  6. 30/08/2012, Martin wrote

    Tax evaders risk imprisonment. And why do I think that we benefit from that? Because the Goverment (or better to say people behind that word) never gets enough. No matter what amount of tax they collect, it will never be enough. If they collect too much (hypotetically, of course) be absolutely sure that they spend the money in a heart beat. And how do they spend it? By creating a list of unnecesary bureos, offices, ministries, rules and laws, that will only make our lives more complicated and miserable. And why do they do that? To create places where their relatives and friends(or their voters) can work, at our expenses.
    My point is that by collecting tax the Goverment gets power. More money they collect, more power they get. And more power they get, more influence they have over our lives. So thats why I think the tax evaders are heroes. They restrict the power the Goverment could otherwise get to use to screw our lives up.

  7. 30/08/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #6 Martin. I can understand a few tax evaders using this as their moral justification for not contrinuting to the common good. The “Government is wasteful” mantra often helps win the toffs a few more votes. I’m interested to see at what point you think there may be too many “heroes”. Is it once our society can no longer afford to tarmac the roads? Maybe it is when we can no longer care for our elderly or teach our children.Perhpas you are an extremist and will only be happy once we have the Cholera back in our poorly sanitised cities. If everyone was a hero we’d be stuffed (apologies Rick for using yourfavourite doom word).

  8. 30/08/2012, Martin wrote

    Can we afford to tarmac our roads at the moment? We are in debt up to our eyes,if you don’t mind me to remind you. Can we look after our erderly? Are you not listening to the radio? Scandals about the level of care in the homes for erderly on almost everyday basis. Teaching our children? 90% of our teenagers can’t even speak properly. Just ask yourself who is responsible for getting us into the mess we are in at the moment. The Goverment. That Goverment you want to send even more money to. They will never get things right, because that’s not their priority. Their priority is to enrich themselves as much as they can, at our expenses. Who do you think you rob if you don’t pay tax? If you want pay more tax, please do so. I don’t mind. It’s your money. Not Goverment’s.

  9. 31/08/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    Think the tax system needs to be looked at as a whole – to simplify it, close loopholes, reduce evasion and encourage and reward work, growth and certainly in the medium to long term increase total tax revenues. At the same time we need to get people who simply ‘choose’ not to work off their dependence on benefits and stop fraudulent claiming of benefits – more people in work and a lower tax rate would further move people off benefits. Clamping down on the shadow economy would also mean those people are paying their way rather than avoiding income tax. Then cut wasteful / poorly targeted government spending… and for my next trick ;)

  10. 31/08/2012, Steve S wrote

    I agree with sentiment expressed by the author. The tax system should be simplified and loopholes eliminated as far as possible. Raising taxes and the rally cry “tax the rich” is not the answer.

    Those rich people who pay less tax than you or I would be addressed by the simplification and loophole closing steps. Raising taxes, however, does the opposite – it provides more incentive to find legal means to evade tax. Those countries which have put in place lower taxes and a simpler tax system have actually collected MORE tax than when they had higher taxes. The cry “tax the rich” is just a vote winner, it doesn’t actually work in terms of producing more government money. Politicians who say things just to win votes? Whatever next.

  11. 31/08/2012, Beta Adjusted wrote

    Martin, 90% of our teenagers can’t speak properly? well, you can’t spell and your grammar is fairly poor. I doubt you would have got a C grade in the recent English exam debacle (at least I hope not!).

    As for your other arguments, I have some sympathy. But I think the race to the bottom that seems to have been a consequence of not having a unified tax system in Europe is an utter disgrace, and british people are 3rd-class citizens in their own country as a result. I think the solution to this is at the European level however.

  12. 31/08/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    @Steve S – exactly – the problem is politicians are populist and often jump on the ‘tax the rich’ band wagon – even if raising taxes had the effect of reducing growth / tax revenue in the medium / longer term. Lower taxes (at all income levels) give people more money in their pockets – therefore reduce their reliance on benefits or more money to spend (which in turn creates jobs / is taxed anyway). Lower taxes encourage growth, reward working and reduce evasion.

  13. 31/08/2012, Glenwyn wrote

    The essence of the tax avoidance argument seems to be ‘ I don’t pay taxes becasue I don’t like what the government does with the money’ If only the main tranche of middle class workers who pay through PAYE had this option the tax take would plummet. The fact is if you choose to live this country and even more so if you generate your wealth in this country then you should be paying your way. Just as it is the aim of companies and individuals to reduce their tax bills it must be the aim of the government to collect all taxes due, and to close loopholes where they occur. At the same time, with power (i.e. government) comes responsibility. In this case to use that income wisely and not squander it on soundbite policies with the main aim of getting re-elected.

  14. 31/08/2012, DickyJim wrote

    I agree that we need a simpler tax system (flat rate please) that negates the possibility of evasion and in return takes a lot less from people. However, statements such as “Everyone knows that both here and in the US the very rich don’t necessarily pay their way.” don’t serve that purpose and are frankly pretty stupid since they are self evidently incorrect. There can be vanishingly few rich people who in aggregate pay so little tax that they don’t even pay ‘their’ way. Come off it.

    When over 50 % of the British people now directly receive more from government than they pay in tax the relatively few rich people and the tax they pay is not where the problem lies. If tax on the rich was doubled and raised an unlikely 20 billion it would not stop the ship from sinking.

  15. 31/08/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    @DickyJim – the problem is regardless of their actual contribution there will always be people who think the rich(er) should pay even more and it’s human nature that you pay too much tax but someone earning more does not pay enough! However, the reality is the top 1% of earners pay 12.6% of all the income tax, the top 5% pay 25.3%, the top 10% pay 34.9%, the top 25% pay 54.8% of income tax. When you add up their share of all taxes paid it will certainly be even higher.

  16. 31/08/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    @Martin – “So thats why I think the tax evaders are heroes.” – except you could also argue that as a result of their actions ‘everyone else’ has to pay more? Not paying your road tax or car insurance is similar – i.e. you choose not to pay, it’s a crime and everyone else has to pay more as a result.

  17. 31/08/2012, Alastair MacMillan wrote

    Whilst I agree with many of Merryn’s comments, the anarchic sting is at the end. Though it would seem like a good idea to remove charitable tax relief, this would lead to an enormous drop in income to charities. Whilst taxation has to be simplified one perhaps has to look at the reason why Munis are tax exempt or why charities can reclaim the tax on donations. Charities are regulated bodies deemed to be doing desirable things in Society and as such the Government reimburses the basic rate tax paid on the money paid to them by taxpayers. I don’t want to see that abolished just because a few very rich people pay lots of money to charities rather than to the Government in taxation.
    What Clegg and GOsborne fail to understand is that there is a point when increasing tax rates reduces tax take and decreasing them increases tax take. We have seen with VAT going from 17.1/2 to 20% virtually no increase in the amount collected.

  18. 31/08/2012, Loaf wrote

    This article is self-evident common sense. In which case, if the powers that be (TPTB) wanted to achieve it they would have done so a long time ago. So by implication they do NOT want a simple, fair tax system. Why not? Because political parties throughout our Western ‘democracies’ are funded by the rich & corporations (headed by the rich) most of whom want a very complex system. As usual the root cause of the problem is political funding. Virtually every social problem you can articulate has this as its root cause. Fix political funding first and foremost, everything else will follow. You think that’s difficult? Nah, trivial. I could design a reasonable system in 1 hour. But then, I’d like to see this in place because I’m not rich, whereas it’s TPTB who decide what actually happens… :o(

  19. 31/08/2012, dr ray wrote

    Merryn,
    I think you miss the point about munis.
    Having to sell munis to individuals keeps the local authorities in check. If they squander the money they raise they are unlikely to get any more from private investors or have to pay a higher rate. If they got it directly from central government from general taxation they can waste as much as they like and keep coming back for more. Also munis are not a risk free investment in the same way as Spanish or Greek bonds and 4-5% tax free doesn’t seem excessive to me.

  20. 31/08/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @7, Boris

    I’m tired of your moralising and disparaging comments, your insinuation being that anybody that disagrees with taxation and/or government entitlement programs is somehow immoral and evil i.e. a person who disagrees therefore believes in starving the poor and leaving the sick to die

    If you must insist on moralising however, consider this, taxation is the act coercing money from others through the threat of force, in other words stealing.

    Stealing is stealing Boris, it makes no difference if the person/people doing it say they have piece of paper that allows them too do so, because they say someobody voted for them to do so, they say they’re going to heal the sick and feed the poor, or it’s being taken from some arbitrarily defined undesirable person or group of people i.e. “toffs”.

    You seem unable to see the difference between the government and a feudal lord extracting rent from their serfs, the later of which you would denounce bitterly.

  21. 31/08/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    And whilst I’m about Boris, can I ask if you hand all of your excess income over to charity or to HMRC at the end of the month? For the common good? All and any savings are fair game are they not, as the government is running a deficit every month?

  22. 31/08/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    One final comment, I object to taxation because I would rather spend that money on helping my family, my friends, and my local community, rather than having it taken by people we have never met and spent in ways we do not ask for and which are sometimes outright harmful.

    Although, I’m sure you would have us all believe the average person would blow all their savings on hedonistic and destructive pursuits, and that therefore a group of people is requred to force everbody to spend their money in the “correct” way (I would like to see that scroll of truth!).

    From your comment it seems to me that you believe that charity, health care, education, and transport would cease to exist if the government did not provide it, and that therefore government is the only means by which to create these provisions?

    I can assure these things existed long before the government decided to interfere, and provide the services of questionable quality we are now forced to recieve (and fund).

  23. 31/08/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    Yes Boris, regardless of whatever changes probably may or may not be made to taxation we are, failing a suitable miracle, all stuffed; what is an unknown is when.

    But, in principle, I would have no qualms concerning having a single rate tax *IF* the ‘playing-field’ was perfectly level.

    It isn’t. Furthermore, take careful note of what is said @18. Loaf. TPTB want a complicated tax system so that there are loopholes there to be taken advantage of.

    A more sensible system, especially in the prevailing cicumstances, would be to tax accrued wealth rather than income and expenditure. Would TPTB agree to that? Huh! The Public Sector needs to be pruned drastically; pruning the Public Sector reduces incomes and expenditure, reduces the tax take.

    TPTB won’t agree to that, miracle excepted, so Budget Deficits won’t reduce. Further to the greed of TPTB, UK global competiveness won’t improve; Balance of Payments Deficits will not reduce. We’re all eventually stuffed.

  24. 31/08/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    Politicians (and Boris) need to appreciate that increasing tax rates does not necessarily increase tax revenues and it is often purely populist / for political reasons rather than for economic ones.

    It ‘sounds’ as if it should “yes make the richer pay more” – but in reality it discourages work, harms growth and everyone loses out. Benefits should be for those genuinely in need – not just for people who make a choice not to work. Imagine a situation where you could be as well off working 0 or 3 days a week or 5 – who would work 5 days…?

    Simpler taxes would be easier and cheaper to collect and would reduce the chance for (legal and otherwise) evasion.

  25. 31/08/2012, Dean wrote

    I find it difficult to believe that so many have really missed the mark. The problem starts at the top, consider the wealth of those that are making the laws on taxes and how they are implemented. They are not going to cut off their own financial supplies, get real, unless the structure of government and wealth tax is addressed nothing is going to change for the betterment of the average Joe.

  26. 31/08/2012, Peter Whale wrote

    Very easy no tax havens allowed, global corporations pay tax in proportion to the value of turnover in that country and everyone pays the same tax structure and rules, ie politicians pay benefits in kind and everyone gets the same structure and allowances for expenses.

  27. 31/08/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    Thank goodness for #25Dean and #26Peter. Voices of reason.
    #20-22 Andrew. I’m glad my “moralising” annoys you. It is fully intended to, but at least you acknowledge my points are moral ones. Taxation is the price of civilisation. It is pointless asking those who can barely make ends meet to fund the cost so it falls largely on the wealthy. Look at #15 Barkingmad’s usual barking nonsense. The fact that the rich pay so much is a function of just how rich they are ,not a result of any unfairness levelled at them. And that is what they fail to see. They bleat about paying some tax at 45% but have 100, 500 ,1,000 times as much as everyone else.

  28. 31/08/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #15 Barkingmad. Wrong as usual. According to HMRC the top 5% (top is an emotive word) pay 23.8% of income tax. But they sure as hell won’t pay a larger share of all taxes. Firstly they pay just 2% Nics on income over £37,000 and VAT etc.. has a much smaller overall impact on huge incomes. It is in fact the very poor who pay the highest marginal tax rates. But you would not want this publicised as it dampens your misplaced agenda.

  29. 31/08/2012, 4caster wrote

    Boris wins hands down over Andrew, whose rant (#20-22) did his case no good at all.
    I suppose Andrew never attended a state-funded school, nor does he use the roads and the NHS, being unwilling to pay his share of these benefits. If mugged or burgled, he would not expect the police to help, and if swindled he would not use the law courts. And the defence of our realm would be safe in the hands of private sector funding.
    Before the government provided a safety net for those too poor to buy sufficient basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care, there were Workhouses: also charities, and churches which levied tithes for churchwardens to administer under the Poor Laws. Their resources were pitifully inadequate. Roads were really rough.
    Governments rarely spend their tax revenues efficiently, but mostly they spend it honestly. If Andrew objects to the way all this is managed, his remedy is to get himself elected to the public body he most wishes to change.

  30. 01/09/2012, mic wrote

    collect it better -yes
    but Govts. need to learn how to ‘spend’ it better-
    govt after govt. waste billions of pounds- no proper control or explanation- no one is acccountable-

  31. 01/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #30 mic. I fear we are all too ready to point out the wasteful bits. If I wanted I could jump into my motor now with a hamper of ginger ale and cucumber sarnies and drive the 700 miles to Scrabster in N Scotland. I could do this journey toll free on excellent safe well lit/signed roads in under 12 hours. Just 100 years ago the same journey would have taken three days with a 20 times higher risk of death. Should I have an accident an ambulance would collect me and deposit me at the nearest hospital to be restored to health free of charge and no questions asked (other than where does it hurt). I am unlikely to be beset by bandits like in the third world ,because we have a reasonably trusted and uncorrupt police. If I were over 65 I would be given £108 each week to help fund the picnic hamper and deisel. Thanks to my fee geography O level ,I can find Scrabster on a map without GPS. It is these mundane matters that we pay our tax for. Stop carping and be thankful.

  32. 01/09/2012, mic wrote

    boris @31
    what are you going on about–???
    nothing you have said contradicts what i have said-
    And nothing you have said refers to govt waste-To suggest that one should not comment about Govt. waste and refer to it as ‘carping’ makes me think you are far too generous with your comment ‘tag’.
    Simply using ‘Donut’ in future will suffice and perhaps before coming back you may consider making some contructive comment please.
    For my part I repeat- Govt. WASTE is intitutionalised regardless of Govt. party, created by institutionalised incompetance and is wholly unaccountable.

  33. 01/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #32mic. What i’m going on about is that while there is always some wastefulness in large enterprises like the UK Government, the vast majority of what is spent is done wisely and with worthy utilitarian ends that have hugely improved the quality of most peoples lives for the better. I didn’t mean to pick your comment out as unique, it just seemd like yet another post trying to justify reduced taxes “because Government is wasteful”

  34. 01/09/2012, Romford Dave wrote

    Toll free except for the 58p fuel duty along with the 23p VAT for every litre of diesel used to travel the 700 local council tax payers electricity funded illuminated mile of roadway, where should you have the misfortune of being involved in an RTA, your motor insurers will pick up the bill from the emergency services involved, pending recovery from every other motorist in the land through their next premium + IPT

    I wouldn’t worry to much about bandits in this gangsters paradise we live in, they can’t afford the licence fee.

    Happy trails……!

  35. 01/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @27, Boris

    With regard to morals I am making the point that nobody has the definitive moral template, not even you (although several religions would claim otherwise), although anyone who disagrees with your opinion and ideology your immediate response is to call them immoral through some bizarre and ill thought out moral argument.

    It’s not an honest argument when you attack opposing opinions with rhetorical statements claiming immorality and pejorative labels, it’s dogma.

    Why can you not argue using the facts?

    Still on the point of morals, why will you not consider the act of the extortion of money by government. The same thing is considered illegal for individuals and groups of individuals (for example the mafia)

    It’s the same act, regardless of the ends. It’s equivalent to a mugger claiming defence on the grounds that they “were going to donate the stolen money to the local hospital” (please point out where I’m being inconsistent).

  36. 01/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @29 4caster, 27 Boris

    Where does this bizarre belief and baseless assertion, that “civilization” would not exist without taxation, come from!?

    Firstly, you conflate the state, and the existence of health care, transport networks, etc., as part of the same argument, when history shows that these things existed long before the government was involved (which is how you justify the “people who want to see a smaller state = baby killers argument”)

    4Caster then says, “ok they existed, but they were inadequate”, and goes onto justify this through a comparison between 19th and 20th century technology.

    This is not an honest argument, health care, transportation, etc. have improved as humans have learned and discovered more, not because the state have decided to interefere!

    If this were true the scientific and industrial revolution in the UK would not have taken place, which occurred long before compulsory state education.

  37. 01/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    Here are some example that seriously call into question your rehtoric (Boris and 4caster). I wish there was more room because I can think 100s of example.

    - Michael Faraday, one of Britiain’s greatest scientist, was born into a poor family, had no formal education, started as an apprentice in a bookshop.

    - Charles Dickens wrote of the life of a doctor as one of a great deal of hard work for little pay. It is only since the state has started funding physicians that they have become expensive.

    - Great Ormond Street Hospital was founded in 1852 and became a leading centre for pediatric medicine from purely charitable donation and patronage, long before the NHS was created.

  38. 01/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    - 4caster, you mention the state of the UK road network in the 18th century whilst conveniently forgetting both the UK canal and rail networks were constructed during the industrial revolution by private enterprise (I would also note that the state was responsible for closing 50% of stations and 30% of the lines under the Beeching Axe, and that rail journeys have increased to record levels since privatisation, not seen since before the railways were nationalised).

    Your rhetoric would suggest that the UK would be a nation of thieves, beggars and ignorant yocals, bereft of compassion or charity if it were not for the efforts of the government, when history is literally overflowing with examples that show this is completely wrong.

    The essence of your argument is that the needs and wants of every person and every social problem can be fulfilled/solved by allowing a small elite (the government) to steal from everybody else!

  39. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    p.s. I should also address 4casters comment regarding the “poor laws”.

    I’m assuming that 4caster is refering to the “new poors laws”, which followed the “old poor laws”, inerestingly the former was introduced to address the spiralling costs of the old system (the costs doubled, the UK was also on a gold standard) because it was suspected that people were undeservedly claiming help (a similar debate appears to be happening with regard to the modern welfare state).

    Given that the poor laws were a glaring example of the failure of state intervention, it’s a poor example to use in favour of such an argument, and intellectually dishonest to use as an example of the failure of private enterprise.

  40. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    What 4caster fails to mention is the good work done by private organisations such as mutuals, friendly societies, and charities in their efforts to provide social support where the state so badly failed.

    One example being Dr. Barnado’s which was founded in 1870 and helped rescue 100,000 between its foundation and 1905.

    I don’t expect a logical or honest response from either of you (particularly Boris who doesn’t appear to like reading, nor writing too many comments through fear of offending MW).

  41. 02/09/2012, MartinRC wrote

    @ Andrew H. Thank you very much for your comment, sir. I could not express my thoughts on this topic more clearly! I hope there will be more and more people who could really understand what is going on when it comes to taxation.
    One good example: I was listening to the radio (BBC Bristol) when a lady from the local council was talking. She said that the Bristol council was the biggest employer (?!) in the area! Now tell me how difficult it is to become one of the biggest employer in the area when you violently force people to pay you for the services you did not ask for. And then imagine that all the people in the area worked for this biggest “employer”. Where would they get money from? How sick and misleading are such comments from people who in reality don’t create any whealth?

  42. 02/09/2012, MartinRC wrote

    Correction: …..when you violently force people to pay you for the services they did not ask for.
    Sorry, I am not a native English speaker. I was born and educated abroad.

  43. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #Various. Andrew H. It is difficult to know where to start with the sundry outpourings you vent. You seem to start from a purely self -centred viewpoint. You worry about how Government policy directly affects you. You feel a personal slight at them “stealing ” from you. Do you not think you will have “stolen” form society yourself? I’m thinking particularly of you as a child. The benefit of free healthcare and a decent education to age 16 , 18 or whatever. You had this for free. Perhaps you feel guilty enough to reimburse the cost.
    #41 MartinC .One of the reasons local authorities are large employers is that they employ all the teachers, many of the care staff for the elderly and ensure our environment is not filthy and unhygienic. I just cannot grasp why you would prefer it otherwise.

  44. 02/09/2012, r wrote

    632738I think 29 @4caster has made a point which everyone has missed.

    “If Andrew objects to the way all this is managed, his remedy is to get himself elected to the public body he most wishes to change.”

    I am not writing about Andrew but the point is that we all have it in our power to change the Government. There have been many references to the self-interest of successive governments but 25 @dean makes a very good point which sums this view up quite well:

    “The problem starts at the top, consider the wealth of those that are making the laws on taxes and how they are implemented. They are not going to cut off their own financial supplies, get real, unless the structure of government and wealth tax is addressed nothing is going to change for the betterment of the average Joe.”

    more . . .

  45. 02/09/2012, r wrote

    The tone of most of the contributors above is that each one tends towards either the traditional Right or Left party.
    These parties (and I lump the wishy-washies with the left), in my opinion, are so close together in their views and policies, as well as the type of person who becomes an MP (rich!), that we are never going to see a change. Consider, for a moment, that, despite all the rhetoric by the present coalition to reduce spending, to increase taxes, to impose austerity, it is still spending more than it receives in total.

    This will be paid for, eventually, by our future generations by inflating sterling – that is the policy of every Western government now. They borrow a pound from you, reduce its value over a period of several years and then repay you with a pound + a smidgeon of interest.

    more . . .

  46. 02/09/2012, r wrote

    I think WE need to rethink our strategies and stop trusting the political parties. Going back to 29 @4caster’s point, we now NEED a government who represents GB! There is still a place for the left wing but the historical reason for the Labour party has largely gone; we are a rich nation. There are many references above to “the poor” but I think the most important people to be protected in our society are our members that have suffered injury or disablement so that they cannot work; followed by those that have been made unemployed. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the poor who are poor because they don’t want to work, who choose a nomadic life to avoid accountability, who come to this country with extended families for its benefits, who produce families that they are unable to afford etc.

    more . . .

  47. 02/09/2012, r wrote

    It’s in our power to get such a government. We are never going to change the style of the existing main parties and, as “The problem starts at the top”, that’s where we need to start as well.

    People have got to be retrained to be responsible for themselves and their own actions. That includes bankers and the likes as well as the hangers-on. It is in the governments power to tax money earned in this country but it is not in its will to do so. Time for a representative government of real people, people that can balance a housekeeping budget and lock its back door.

    r.

  48. 02/09/2012, r wrote

    It’s in our power to get such a government. We are never going to change the style of the existing main parties and, as “The problem starts at the top”, that’s where we need to start as well.

    People have got to be retrained to be responsible for themselves and their own actions. That includes bankers and the likes as well as the hangers-on. It is in the governments power to tax money earned in this country but it is not in its will to do so. Time for a representative government of real people, people that can balance a housekeeping budget and lock its back door.

    r.

  49. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @43, Boris

    You are still not addressing the arguments, (neither mine, or Martin’s points), and blatently refuse to refute or perhaps acknowledge that you are conflating the existence of social services with the existence of government.

    The NHS, education, etc., are not free, they are an expensive monopoly paid for by taxation, taxation of future income (bonds), and inflation (seigniorage), over which the people do not have a choice.

    Can you not see, given historical precedent, that if the government allowed people to keep their incomes they would make their own arrangements?

    Martin also makes a very pertinent example of the government taking away peoples’ ability to provide for themselves, throwing them back a few crumbs, and then saying “what would you do without us!” (I’m assuming that the facts that the caller on the radio show to which Martin was listenting were correct, I’ve not checked them).

  50. 02/09/2012, MartinRC wrote

    Boris, my point is that you have no control over the money you pay as a tax. You, for example, could pay for private school to educate your children but you still have to pay the same tax,no matter that your kids are in private school. You can look after your elderly relatives and save the council some money, but that doesn’t change your tax either. You can have a private medical insurance, but that doesn’t change your national insurance contributions. Goverment (council) has monopoly to run some services and you are forced to pay for them, doesn’t matter if you use them or not. And as it stands right now, I don’t even remotely think that councils run their services the most effective way.

  51. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @43, Boris.

    Let me put it another way, you appear to have a strong conviction that services of a social nature can only be provided by the state, and therefore without a state specifically doing so, social type services are not a possibility.

    Your appear so convinced by this belief that you seem sure that curtailing the states activities in this context are an attack on the very fabric of civilisation, and as such anyone advocating smaller government is by default an uncivilised barbarian who would be content to see the poor ground into the dirt, and children deprived of health care and education.

    By the same token you also appear to see private enterprise as therefore only serving the visceral and hedonistic needs of human beings, and as such in a circular reference to your first belief, a government is therefore required to force people to embrace social needs in addition to hedonistic ones.

  52. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #49 Andrew H. Do you seriously expect me to engage with someone who has ranted 10 times on what is meant to be a comments page? I will comment that it is exasperating that people like you even exist. Self important, self centred and massively out of touch, to the point where you think if taxation and Government did not exist folk would “make their own arrangements”. Would they now. Would they really provide prisons for the murderers and a legal system to help retain the integrity and value of property? Would they provide a comprehensive education and healthcare for all? Surely you are making a joke.If not you need to see someone about the paranoia

  53. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    The aforementioned appears to be the crux of all your argments, and I have attempted to counter this, through historical precedent, that services of a social type have existed long before the government decided to create a monopoly in such things, and therefore humans beings do make social choices, or needs, and therefore private enterprise can exist to provide such services.

    I have also addressed your moralising too, although in retrospect this wasn’t necessary because in questioning the core of your argument, it becomes quite clear that your moralising is a visceral reaction on your part because you feel that without a state civilisation does not exist, but it is also a tangential an unecessary distraction.

  54. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #50 The control we have is called deomocracy, and many people fought long and hard to achieve it. Your pitiful references to private education and healthcare betray your roots. I’m afraid for 94% of the population these are not choices. You need to re-adjust to the real normal. Could I refer youy back to my point about the actual wealth of the rich.Many are 100 ,500,1000 times richer than average.This does not mean they are a bit better off,but living in a different stratosphere. If councils don’t run themselves efficiently then what about private industry. Is it efficient to pay senior execs with no clue about what is going on £25 million a year (Bobby the Diamond)?
    #51 Andrew H. You are making a fool of yourself . Trying to guess what I think and slag it off anyway. I’ll make one prediction about you. …………public schoolboy with the emphasis on boy.

  55. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    However, I have pointed out that it if you must insist on moralising, you must consider it is inconsistent if you believe the solution to social problems is to accept that we should allow a small elite the authority to extort and steal from everybody else, particularly if you are making accusations of people who oppose your argument, claiming that they are adovcating barbarism, when in actuality they are favouring peaceful and voluntary cooperation as a means to achieve social ends.

  56. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #55 Andrew H. My level of compassion and empathy for my fellow man will never sit comfortably with the self interested. Trying to be fair to the weak and vulnerable is not really moralising it is what my grandad called doing the right thing.
    We already have a world where a small elite extort from everyone else. The so called top 0.1% have massive wealth, international immunity from tax and anonymity, so the rest pay for the services. Your advocacy of Victorian philanthropists and other charities,while worthy, is hardly a runner as regards replacing the National Health Service or our schools. It is a shame you cannot be proud of our nation’s achievements in respect of our poorer neighbours.It is a shame to hear this indignant carping from the well off. It bodes ill for the future.

  57. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    Asserting that you do not wish to argue with someone who has made 10 comments as part of a discussion, is no argument at all.

    Claiming that I’m a “public school boy”, even though I find it quite amusing, is not an argument.

    The strange comments about Bob Diamond and CEO’s, I’m not sure what it is supposed to mean, but it certainly doesn’t look like an argument.

    In truth Boris, your are just visceral reactionary, with no clear idea what you believe, why you believe it, and no coherent arguments with which you can counter.

  58. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #57 Andrew H . Did I just see a straw being clutched?
    The Bob Diamond argument is simple enough. It is in response to the accusation that Councils are inefficiently run. Is Barclays efficiently run when it spews £100 million a year into the pockets of a few disinterested fatcats ? I also find it alarming/laughable that someone, who wishes to revive the Elizabethan poor law and the concept of sturdy beggars, sees me as a reactionary. Let’s face facts we disagree, partly baecause your arguments are contemptible,mainly because we want differnet things. I want fairness and happiness. You want the moon on a stick…….and probably just for yourself.

  59. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    Claiming that you have compassion for fellow human beings that exceeds others, is rhetoric, not an argument.

    Insulting me or claming I do not respect our heritage is not an argument.

    Rhetorically appealing to the politics of envy is not an argument.

    Claiming that education and health care were basically non-existent before the advent of state services without evidence is not an argument (for example, infant mortality rates were falling quickly long before the creation of the NHS, the industrial revolution occurred without compulsory state education).

    In order to prove your point you have to show me that social needs cannot be fulfilled by private enterprise.

    Prove to everyone reading this, that education, health care, and transport for the masses would not exist without the state providing a monopoly.

  60. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #59 Andrew H. You win the prize for being irritating. Of course these things would exist. They would just be run without due regard to fair allocation.In your sepia tinted Ruretania of generous philanthropists and grateful poor all is well. In reality, in 16th century Britain the poor could obnly travel from one parish to the next with the permission of their parish elders and betters (the rich).Your so called efficient world pre-supposes too many restrictions on general liberty. Choice for the rich, crumbs for the poor is what we put behind us in 1919.It is not big or clever to re-nvent it 100 years on.

  61. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    This is what my old Nan called a lively debate. I am a great lover of tax for the simple reason it tries to ensure all those able to contribute fairly and able do so and then distributes it such that very few are left needy.It is a simple concept and a modest wish. It is a great shame that the likes of MW persist in seeking to undermine it and knock it at every twist and turn and to try to subvert the idea to enrich the few.

  62. 02/09/2012, MartinRC wrote

    Boris, the Bob Diamond case is absolutely pointless as an argument in this debate. Barclays is a private company and you as a Barclays client have a choice to close your account there and move your money somewhere else if you don’t like the way they pay their CEO. Can you stop paying your council tax and pay someone else to run your local services if you are not happy? You know the answer to that question.

  63. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris

    Your argument regarding 16th century peasants is not intellectually honest.

    I would firstly point out that serfdom did not end fully in England until the early 17th century.

    You appear to blaming their (the peasants) inability to move from parish to parish on free enterprise! When in the same sentence you say that they could not obtain it without the permission of an authority figure.

    Fair distribution? That doesn not mean anything in itself.

    To demonstrate fair distribution you’ll have to provide a master list of every single resource and every single activity in which they should be employed, that list will of course also have to be in agreement with the current and future choices of millions of other people (if not, the distribution of any items on such a list is by definition unfair) .

  64. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    Free enterprise restricts liberty? The definition of free enterprise is economic activity that occurs in the absence of coercion.

    The core of the statists’ arguments is the curtailment of liberty, unless of course you can demonstrate that the state only seeks voluntary cooperation and does not coerce at all?

  65. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #63 &64 Andrew H. This is pointless. You wax lyrical about the good old days then say they aren’t the utopia you wish for. Many Victorian philanthropists coerced their workers, some even did not pay them other than in tokens to be spent in the company shop. Serfdom was as good as dead in England from the Black Death onwards (1350).It was officially ended in 1574 by Elizabeth I. In Scotland it survived until just after Culloden around 1750.
    To claim that the state has not liberated the vast majority from ignorance, ill health , want and filth is bold and of course wrong.

  66. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #62 Martin. You want to be able to say public sector enterprises are badly run but exempt the private sector from the same stringencies. Clearly no lover of the level playing field. As for could I pay someone else to run my locals services. I suppose I could move to France or just exercise my right to complain, a right that most other countries either do not have or simply ignore. In your eagerness to bad mouth our society you forget how lucky we are to be British, a bit more civilised and more trustworthy than most others. Try not to be seduced by America and it’s uncouth ways.

  67. 02/09/2012, MartinRC wrote

    Yes Boris, you are right. Thumb up for you (it’s called a Like in the Fakebook society). You certainly deserve it for perseverance!
    I’d like to hear your opinion when this country collapses under the mountain of debt, despite the fact the taxpayer money are being spent so efficently by our goverment.

  68. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    I’m afraid you’re mixing up your definitions.

    You first describe the life of a 16th century peasant, who does not have permission to leave their parish without the nod from a superior i.e. you’re describing serfom, but attribute this to free enterprise and liberty.

    When I challenge this, you then claim that serfdom finished around about the time of the peasants revolt. So were 16th century peasants free to move or not? And if so, was free enterprise responsible?

    You then describe coercion in Victorian companies, and then blame this on voluntary cooperation.

    Spontaneous ideas, invention and technology are the real drivers behind the distribution of knowledge and improvements in health and social well being , countless of these occurred long before the creation of government monopolies in the 20th century (I’ve provided a few examples), such that your argument does not hold water.

  69. 02/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #67 Martin. This country will not collapse under the weight of debt. You have read too much DailyMail scare-mongering I fear.
    #68 Andrew. You are impossible. I did not raise the issue of peasants or serfdom, you did. I referred to the inability of ordinary folk to move about freely in the “un-regulated” olden days,while average Joes can move around freely today in spite of the over-bearing state you so despise. You are trying desperately to pick at my posts without the advantage of sufficient general knowledge to cast doubt. The restricted movement was to avoid surplus poor ending up as a burden in non-native parishes. Nothing to do with serfdom, everything to do with the lack of a welfare state. Read some history.

  70. 02/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    You’re still mixing up your definitions, parish councils (local government) restricted movement and you are attributing this to liberty and free enterprise?

    You’re arguing the difference between two types of coercive government, and then use this to claim that the government who implemented the welfare state has liberated us all?

    So your argument is thus, the welfare state allows freedom of movement? And that liberty and free enterprise is the cause of coercive goverments?

    I find this amusing.

  71. 03/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #70Andrew H. Thank goodness you are able to explain to me both what I think and what i’m arguing.
    I hope what I am saying has been digested by those less thick skinned than yourself. I am saying that the modern World, for all it’s faults, is a better place for the vast majority, than any previous era. A slightly intrusive and perhaps at times inefficient bureaucracy is a symptom. An inevitable consequence of progress and modernity. It is a check on extremism and at least an attempt at being fair to all.
    I too am amused, by your faith in free markets to solve all ills. Or is it merely the hope that it would cost you a few quid less?

  72. 03/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    Furthermore, the settlement act of 1662 was repealed in 1834, the large numbers of people internally migrating within the Britain during the industrial revolution just do not fit your picture of people being forcibly returned to their birth place and not being allowed to settle elsewhere.

    A look at the 1851 census data shatters your supposition, for example, three fifths of people living in urban areas were migrants who had moved at least 16 miles from their place of birth.

    Everything you say is just wrong, a tissue of rhetoric and suppositions unsupported by data. Life expectancy, infant mortality rates, migrancy within Britain, scientific discovery, etc., were on the increase long before the government created monopolies in education, health, and other social services.

  73. 03/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    Yes, I can agree with you in part on this one, the modern world is better, thanks to a greater understanding of the natural world and advances in technology, a process which started long before William Beveridge dreamed of the welfare state I would add.

  74. 03/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #72 Andrew H. You seem to be on a Wikipedia marathon to gainsay anything I mention. I do not dispute that there was more freedom of movement by 1851. I was referring to the era of the original poor laws, the concept of the sturdy beggar arose around 1570. The difference was that in 1570 you could only move if you had a job (or husband) to go to, by 1850 you moved if you didn’t have a job at all. The intensification of production that accompanied the technological improvements of the 19th century shattered families, communities, health and prospects in the name of a profit margin. Some balance was restored with a little dignity and a voice for ordinary folk with the advent of proper social provision. Not the well meaning inadequate piecemeal charity stuff you admire, but a commitment to help everyone, which unfortunately has to include those less willing to help themselves.

  75. 04/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @Boris,

    I get my information from a variety of sources, but that’s besides the point.

    I have shown that you were being deliberately dishonest in your argument and trying to push the debate at a tangent. Many of the points I have been making have been about the time of the industrial revoltion up to the time of the creation of the “cradle to grave” welfare state, and the NHS at the end of WW2.

    You said of my contribution so far that, “To claim that the state has not liberated the vast majority from ignorance, ill health , want and filth is bold and of course wrong”.

    I’ve got facts and figures that suggest this is incorrect, and that this was occurring before the state created social type service monopolies.

    The burden of proof is now on you to show otherwise.

  76. 04/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    i.e. that it is not just our better understanding of the natural world and advances in technology that have improved our lives, rather this alone was not enough for these changes to take place, it also needed the creation of state monopolies.

  77. 04/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    Which all goes to show that taxes must be paid and taxes must be collected.

    Those charged with running our national society (for one) have acted irresponsibly whilst running it primarily in their own best interests.

    Our national society’s finances are way out of balance; taxes received are far less than expenditure, a lot of which is paying interest on loans. Our trade with the rest of the world has left us with a significant deficit for practically each and every year for the past 3 decades. Due to the compromise of the integrity of our banking system, our potential liabilities are astronomical.

    A small sector of the society has made gains in wealth totally disproportionate to what effort they have put into the society; made possible by a corrupted playing-field. A sensible tax system of levies and collections would have acted as a governor on any corruptions of the playing-field. But the corrupters didn’t want a governor.

    And now ‘Nero fiddles whilst Rome burns’.

  78. 04/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #77 Rick. Well said. How refreshing to hear some genuinely well thought through vitriol.
    #75&76. Andrew H. I’m beginning to feel like i’m trapped in a lift with a nutter. Just because someone disagrees with you does not make them “deliberately dishonest”. There is no “burden of proof” on me, I am not in a court of law. I fear many of your points are clouded by a lack of real understanding of either history or human nature. But fair play to you for having a g and you make a good point about technological progress. The state can’t take the credit for all our advances, just most of them.

  79. 05/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    Thanks Boris. We have our disputes but I believe that to a point we share a sense of fair play; that attribute of genuine goodwill which is largely missing from so-called civilisation and that which ultimately contributes to the destruction of the fabric of a society.

    Quote:
    Critic Al Rick:

    ‘Civility in the real world is generally but a very thin veneer.’

  80. 05/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #79 Rick. Don’t build your hopes up but i think in a bowl of light you may have cast the stone that put Andrew H to flight.
    ” I’ve got facts and figures you know….”

  81. 05/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    @ 80.

    I doubt you’ll not ‘hear’ from Andrew again.

    Well, I suspect you’ve got access to facts and figures. I also know how adept you can appear at manipulating them to suit your ends; all part of the job, is it Boris?

  82. 06/09/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    @Boris – you said “Wrong as usual. According to HMRC the top 5% (top is an emotive word) pay 23.8% of income tax.” .

    ‘Top’ may be an emotive word for you but most (other) people understand ‘context’. Also I said 25.3% as that is what the PDF I have from the HMRC said for 2011-12 (although perhaps they have been revised) – but you see fit to make a (pointless) issue out of the difference between 25.3% and 25.8%.

    But thank you for proving my point (further) in that they already pay a very big share. Of course you would have them paying more – indeed in Boris World perhaps everyone should earn the same – whether they work more or less or not at all… in fact why should anyone bother to work at all?

  83. 06/09/2012, Barkingmad wrote

    @Boris – you say “I want fairness and happiness.”

    But that depends on your point of view – you want to take from someone working hard(er) and give to someone who does not want to work at all – is that fair?

    You pick on super high earners and especially bankers but ignore more normal people at more normal wage levels – surely it’s fair (after you exclude the distortion of the personal allowance) that if you work 20% more or earn 20% more you pay 20% more tax?

  84. 06/09/2012, Boris MacDonut wrote

    #83 Yes, I agree that is fair.
    #82 The difference between 23.8 and 25.3 is quite small ,it is only 6.2%. I would indeed have the very rich paying more.
    #81 Rick. I do not manipulate facts and figures. But I do use them to point out when others are wrong. Again, sorry if the truth hurts sometimes.

  85. 07/09/2012, La La Land wrote

    Wow – it took some time to read through all those comments and the only one that cheered me up was the idea of us getting a new political party. What a great idea. Can we put on the manifesto the following:
    Get rid of the house of Lords RIGHT AWAY (what a waste of tax payers money) Cut the numbers of MP’s by at least one third and insist that while MP’s they cannot do other jobs. (incidentally just a little aside were MP’s claiming expenses twice or three times from other employers during the scandel – did anyone check on that?) Have a maximum wage saying it cannot be more than 100 times more than their lowest paid employee. Get rid of the EU. Cut local government and the civil service . Drop the honors list – Lords and Sirs – how pathetic in this modern world. I have many more suggestions but running out of space. But can we have Nigel Farage as leader?? He always make me laugh.

  86. 07/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    @ 85. La La Land

    Welcome aboard!

    I’d be willing to try Nigel Farage as leader. But I fear the electorate is stuck with the type of governance most of it deserves. A great tragedy for the rest of us.

  87. 07/09/2012, La La Land wrote

    Critic Al Rick

    Thank you for your welcome – I think I must be losing the will to lead a real/normal life out in the world – I am beginning to prefer writing blogs and wondering what Boris looks like and what he did/does for a living before he became chained to his computer.

    Anyway tax will be the least of our worries if Israel gets her way and starts firing off missiles at Iran. Perhaps also we wouldn’t need to be paying so much tax if Blair and now Cameron hadn’t been America’s patsy in their bid to be the world’s no 1 supplier of weapons of war. Oh! and men to use them. Somebody please tell me how much all that has costs the UK tax payer so far or can we sent the bill to the U.S.A.?

  88. 08/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    Hi La La Land

    I feel that a lot of these wars are being orchestrated with a view to further enriching a few very power and wealth greedy selfish individuals.

    Call me a ‘conspiracy theorist’ but I wouldn’t rule that possibility out. And that power is above Govts but assisted by Govts in a way which feeds their selfish greed but betrays the rest of us.

    At the other end of the scale is sheer incompetence.

    Whichever way, conspiracy, incompetence, or some hybrid of the two, we’re dearly paying for it through taxes to say the least. Taxes the conspiratorialists/ incompetents and their cronies and incidental/deliberate beneficiaries seem well able to largely avoid, relatively speaking.

    That those who benefit the most from a corrupt system can legally avoid paying taxes on the scale that they do is a gross misjustice which I think is becoming more and more evident to more and more people.

    May the Occupy Movement prosper. But in the meantime …

  89. 10/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @77 Critic Al Rick,

    I’m not sure I understand your argument.

    The powers that allow government to raise taxes, issue debt, and have monopoly on currency issue (not strictly true, but HMRC demand payment in goverment issued currency which creates a monopoly by virtue) have been utterly abused by those in charge, and was a major cause of the current financial crisis.

    These powers continue to be abused (i.e. bank bail outs, money printing and interest rate setting) and the crisis continues as a result, very much to the detriment of those not receiving such favour from the government.

    You acknowledge this in your comment, but then use this as an argument in favour of governments to have such powers?

  90. 10/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    I would also add, it does not matter who is in charge, given such powers anyone would abuse them (such is human infirmity).

    The only effective ways to limit such powers and their subsequent abuse is for the electorate to either rescind them, or take away the monopoly and allow others to compete.

    However, expecting one day to elect a great, uncorruptible, leader, the true prophet who will lead us infallibly, and therefore utilise such powers for the good of all, is akin to waiting for godot, a fantasy.

  91. 11/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    @ 89. Andrew

    Not sure I understand your argument either!

    I don’t dispute that those in power are corruptively biassed with regard to *all* aspects of taxation. Does that clear things up?

    @ 90. Andrew

    It’s evolution; mankind’s destiny appears to me to be to bring about its own extinction. Can you dispute that it isn’t going the right way about it; furthermore, in multiple directions; probably all involving greed as the paramount driver?

    Of course, if TPTB wanted to change that trend a good place to start would be to instigate the taxation of accrued wealth rather than incomes and expenditure! I’m talking about a voluntary paradigm shift in attitude; yes, a miracle!

  92. 12/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    @91 Critic Al Rick,

    Yours and Boris’s coments are very frustrating, both of you bitterly reprove the actions of greedy politicans and corporations, as if greed is somehow solely reserved for people at the tops of these organisation.

    The implication being that, if we just had the right set of leaders, with the right plans, and everybody’s interests at heart, then the government would be an unfailing force for good.

    Unfortunately greed or self interest is a universal human failing that includes me, you, and Boris.

    Now also imagine the economy, and the billions of economic decisons made every day by each of us, and ask if it is possible for a person to make sense of all that information?

  93. 12/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    ..conintued.,

    Taking the two problems in concert it’s clear to see that when humans make economic decisions they can really only clearly understand such decisions in terms of how it may effect themselves, their family, friends, and to some extent their local community.

    Which is one reason why a small elite forcibly taking our money, and “redistributing” it as they see fit, is doomed to failure. Even if those in power try to act selflessly money will still be spent according that elite’s own prejudices and preferences, with very little understanding, apart from perhaps a few aggregated statistics that miss the overwhelmingly numerous fine details, as to how it will affect those outside their social circle.

  94. 12/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    ..continued..

    In addition to this a politician’s main job is to win elections every few years, and to do this, they promise favours to almost everybody, of course for the politician to honour those favours in the future, the money or resources have to be taken from somebody, thus ensuring that so many of these promises cannot be honoured.

    The result being a political system that gradually accrues more powers and becomes ever more kleptocratic and ham fisted because previous attempts to redistribute don’t achieve their aims, as such people demand more action from politicians on their behalf (hoping for a free lunch without knowing or understanding the effect on others), more redistribution occurs, etc., in ever decreasing circles.

  95. 12/09/2012, Andrew H wrote

    …continued…

    Calling for selfless, faultless, leaders with the brain power to record and understand vast swathes of information (way beyond human ability), and a plan to match, therefore, is really a silly thing to hope for.

    A better political system would be one that acknowledges human infirmity, that utilises these failings in cooperation and not force, or that at least makes them transparent to all, so that they do not result in the abuse of others.

    The system that comes closest to this is the capitalist system, with a government that has the sole remit to administer the law.

    It is far from perfect, but then human imagination will always be grander than our ability our resources at our disposal (another human failing).

  96. 12/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    @ 92 – 95

    Andrew, there’s no need for you to be frustrated with me (friend Boris, maybe). As far as I am concerned the Capitalist/Democratic system, in principle and purity, is good.

    But we don’t have a pure Capitalist/Democratic system; we have a Crony Capitalist/Democratic system with a reciprocal corruptive mutual feedback arrangement between influential Vested Interests and Politicians; the result of which is a plethora of Parasites (rich, poor and intermediate) upon the truly Private Sector.

    I’m sorry to disappoint you but NOT everyone is driven by greed and without abhorrence to the resorting of cheating their fellow countrymen; not everyone is unpatriotic as many politicians patently are. If I had been in the driving seat I would have been putting the long term best interests of the majority as top priority by running the economy as a single-business.

    cont…

  97. 12/09/2012, Critic Al Rick wrote

    … cont

    But the Crony Capitalist/Democratic system has, in truth, bankrupted many economies, including our own; I wouldn’t want the job, in whatever guise, now if it was handed to me on a plate.

    Besides, initially there having to be a damage limitation exercise even if there was a good chance of paying off the Gross National Debt, I’d be assassinated within a year!

    As truly Private Sector, I’ve got good grounds to bitterly reprove the Crony Capitalist/Democratic system.

    Which Sector represents your interests?

    Remember, in my book the truly Private Sector does not include the Cartel Sector (pseudo or otherwise, to include Monopolies [virtual or otherwise]).

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