Tuesday 27 March 2012

Taxing times

Well I've read a lot of stuff over the last two days regarding the so-called "cash-for-access" affair, like it's any sort of news. One side calls out names, the other side replies, "Yo' momma!". Then the newspapers get in on it and, of course, it's a free-for-all which has the delightful effect of utterly obscuring right and wrong whilst simultaneously polarising opinion further. 'The Left' gleefully points and shouts, "same old Tories", 'The Right' starts naming Labour millionaires and counter attacks with "cash for honours". And of course, just as one columnist argues for the status quomore or less, another argues for public funding.

Amid the din the losers are always the same losers. The people paying for the party, whichever party they believe in; the tax payer. Income tax, national insurance, corporation and capital gains taxes. Import taxes, export taxes, road fund licence, VAT, stamp duties,  television licence, council tax... Then there's the tax you pay on income you've earned from savings and investments (if you can afford to save) from money you've already paid tax on and even when you're dead there are numerous ways the exchequer can get its hands on your dosh. If you die with no net worth then your ultimate tax rate was 100% as every penny has gone back into circulation.

We pay public servants out of taxation and then take back some of that pay... as tax. We pay tax on purchases of goods by those same departments. We tax private sector workers to pay pensions, then tax those same pensions. And the state employs extra people to collect the taxes from people paid by the state, which includes themselves. And on top of all that the treasury takes in tax from every possible source, then hands it back to the very same people as tax credits, child benefits, etc, and employs still more people to work out how much goes where. And it's all Napoleon's fault.

So, what went wrong? Why do we pay so much frigging tax? The first question, surely, has to be, if it's not for fighting Napoleon, what is it all for?

"From each according to his ability," plagiarised Marx, "to each according to his needs." A laudable sentiment, you might think, coming from a time when peasants were starving (although the soundbite was an alteration of an earlier call for rewards to be commensurate with effort). This seems to have transmuted into "You work your balls off, because you can - and we can make you - while he sits on his arse because he feels like it."

Instead of thinking "what can we spend all these taxes on?" governments should be thinking,"Is Napoleon still out there and can't we cut back a bit?" When 'need' covers such things as TV subscriptions, the classification of obesity as a disability and broadband for all, something radical has to change. And, yes, we're neatly back to population control.

Given that a large part of the tax take is spent paying people to pay it back to people who gave it in the first place. And that large government departments spend fortunes on themselves, their advisers and their advisers' advisers. And a large part of government time seems to be spent on justifying how they got the cash, where it's gone and why, isn't the solution obvious? The tax burden can reduced across the board by reducing the part of the population most responsible for wasting it.

So, a call to arms against a sea of troubles. Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Yes, my loyal subjects, in the United Dingdom there will be no need for big government. The cull begins in Westminster!

Follow me! I'll be right behind you!

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