Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Invisible Highwayman.

Just time for a quickie. It's curry and booze night, a traditional British evening combining a tongue-melting curry with cooling beer (not too cold, the shock can make your eyes pop out) and then continuing with further imbibing to a level that will turn Don Shenker purple with rage. We might even phone him up and tell him how many units we've had. And there will be smoking. At the same time. Indoors. Both at once. ASH can stick that in their pipe and bubble it because Smoky-Drinky places are not public places. Even if they ban it in our own homes, we won't be stopping. That was unanimously agreed last week. Many words and phrases starting with 'F' were used.

At least this time I won't have to sit down and slide there. The rain has washed the snow mostly away, apart from a few tenacious lumps. I can see the grass in my garden again - some patches have not been clear of snow since Christmas.

So, as I said, a quickie.

The Eurozone is melting faster than the snow and their economy is approaching Labour levels of shittiness. As always happens when the money runs out, the blame is flying.

'You people cost too much of my taxes' is the usual cry. Pick your group, it doesn't really matter. Smokers, unemployed, drinkers, fatties - oh, make up any group you like because you're wrong anyway.

None of these groups are costing you or me any money. The only reason we pay tax is because we go to prison if we refuse. What happens to it, once paid, is immaterial to the individual paying.

If you were burgled and someone stole your TV, would you rant and rage because they used it to watch Eastenders? That's pretty much the same thing, you know. Instead of ranting about the theft, rant about the use to which the stolen item is subsequently put.

Suppose you get held up at knifepoint by a druggie, who then relieves you of fifty quid. You report this at the police station by saying -

a) Someone held me up at knifepoint and stole my money.

b) Some damn druggie is wasting my money on drugs.

The reason the thief took the money is immaterial. The taking of the money is what you object to, even if he wanted it to buy his grandmother some flowers.

For some reason it's different with tax. We shout about what the money is used for but rarely complain about it being taken at all. Many people don't even see that the tax is taken under threat of violence. They don't hear the 'pay up or else' part.

The government does not need to run ninety percent of the things it runs. They don't need to spend all that time and money, and fund all those people, just to tell us how to live. They don't need chaffeurs. If they're too incompetent to handle a car, then they are far too incompetent to be in public office. They don't need second homes, if they work away from home they can use hotels like the rest of us and pay for it themselves like the rest of us.

We don't need 646 MPs unless, if recent revelations are anything to go by, we need that many to reach a cumulative IQ somewhere higher than 'dolt'. In which case, perhaps selecting some intelligent ones might be an idea?

The fact is, the government doesn't need to spend all your money on fripperies and control-freakery and 'initiatives' so ludicrous they make a mockery of the word. The government should not be funding any charities at all because that is not how charity is supposed to work. If government restricted itself to doing only what a government needs to do, there would be little need of tax at all.

The reason we pay tax has nothing to do with the groups that benefit from it. We pay tax only because we'll be dealt with severely if we don't. What the highwaymen do with it afterwards is not relevant at all. They take more and more because they can, and then they misdirect the blame by saying 'Look how these benefits cheats are stealing your money'.

Benefits cheats are not stealing our money. It was stolen long before they saw it. With the threat of force.

As long as people look past the thief and only see those he supports, the thief will continue to get away with it.


Mark Wadsworth said...

"Benefits cheats are not stealing our money. It was stolen long before they saw it. With the threat of force."

Good point.

But what about 'privately collected taxes', i.e. income that individuals and businesses get purely as a result of State-protected monopoly rights (primarily land ownership, but there are plenty of other examples), which the State creates and protects by force?

If we are going to complain about rent-seekers, then let's not draw a line between the quangocrats and useless civil servants (who live off publicly collected taxes) and other rent-seekers, corporatists etc (who live off privately collected taxes).

Uncle Gus said...

Hmm... No taxes. Are you a lbertarian or an anarchist, Legfe?

Anonymous said...

When I hear the word Libertarianism
I have visions of Dark Satanic Mills and Lowry Landscapes,of
rickets and old soldiers with a leg missing seeking cig butts in the gutter outside fancy cafes
frequented by the self annointed.
How much freedom and for whom.

Dun Voting

Uncle Gus said...

Funny, I visualise megalomaniac yuppies in mile-high skyscrapers. Or an alternate version of New York where duelling is legal. Something Promethean and interestingly insane.

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

The only group I want to complain about is politicians. We certainly don't get our money's worth from them.

Oh and quangos.

Do without the two groups and I think we'll soon be back in business, the books balanced, with little in the red.

Pavlov's Cat said...

So very true.
We have no say what so ever in how our taxes are spent.
From the time they disappear from our wage packet (those of us on PAYE) or in our shopping receipts (VAT) The Government of the day is free to spunk it on whatever scheme they wish or even just give it to themselves.

wv: unted (I think there's a C missing)

Anonymous said...

Spot on as usual, L-I. People who complain about those “on benefits” or “the unemployed” or any other number of people who are getting “their” tax money never seem to ask why, even when a policy is implemented which is claimed to have caused massive savings of some kind, their own take-home pay or the cost of the items they buy never goes down as a result. The motorcycle helmet law, the car seat-belt laws, the smoking ban and, of course, countless Health and Safety rulings are just a few examples which spring to mind for which one of the justifications was that they would “save costs” to the over-burdened taxpayer. So where, then, were the big reductions in NI contributions or tax following all of these much-trumpeted “hugely successful” laws, rules and regulations?

Leg-iron said...

Mark - true, but I'm not too clued up on the details of tax. You'd be able to explain it far better than me.

Uncle Gus - that's the 'black or white' trap you've fallen into. Government needs some income to run things like the army, the police, the fire service etc although a lot of that could be local-level taxation. Councils could handle it if they were pruned sufficiently.

So it's not 'no tax' but 'considerably less tax' and I'd be more infavour of taxing what you spend rather than what you earn.

That way, those buying a brand new Lexus would pay much more tax than those buying a second hand Mondeo, those buying 60-inch TVs would pay much more than those buying 20-inch, and so on. So those with the greater income still pay more tax but if they have a huge income and are happy with a second hand older car, they'll save money. Up to the individual.

No tax on essential food, clothes, housing, but there are plenty of non-essentials and luxuries that could be taxed.

Would the rich pay for them? Well, they'll have a lot more money to spend with no income tax.

And no, I haven't worked out the detail. I'm not an accountant and have a poor track record of money management myself. It's just an idea.

Leg-iron said...

Dun Voting - my vision of a Libertarian world one in which, while I can't just do as I please because there are still laws, I am almost totally left alone by the State.

Consider - I pay tax and NI on my income, I pay more tax on cigarettes, and the people who take all this money put 'no smoking' signs on non-enclosed bus stops and now want to regulate me in my (child-free) home. I pay more tax on booze, to people who tell me how much I can drink even though I don't cause any trouble when drinking.

It's bad enough that my own government attack me from every angle, but I'm paying them to do it and I since I have absolutely no say in what they do with the money they take, I have no means to stop them doing it, and no means to stop paying for it.

Every time you come up against a bit of politically correct nonsense or health and safety lunacy, remember you paid for it. Every time you hear the government announce that they are going to add another layer of useless managers to the NHS, remember you paid for it.

Every time the army is sent by our government to invade another country, you paid for it.

It's not an all or nothing argument. It's neither the yuppies nor the homeless worlds in the comments.

It's personal responsibility without constant government interference, and it's having a say in the big decisions, such as whether we should attack another country that poses no threat to us.

Government should be doing the essential parts of running the country. It should not be running individual lives. If it stuck to its core job it would cost us all a hell of a lot less than it does now.

Uncle Gus said...

I haven't fallen into anything, LI. I just wanted to know where on the spectrum you place yourself.

Now I know.

Leg-iron said...

I'm not sure myself. On some things I'd sound like a socialist, on others I'm further to the right than Thatcher, on yet others I'm almost an anarchist. Depends what the topic is. One of the big issues for me is self-reliance. I cannot understand why so many people are willing to spend the only life they have being told how to live it by someone else.

I've never joined a political party. I just don't fit any of them. Libertarians are the closest to most of my thinking but even then, I'm not fully 'in'.

Maybe I should form the 'little bit o' this, little bit o' that' party.

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