Taxation has been one of the major discussion points of the week, since George Osborne’s Emergency Budget. With the increase in VAT to 20% and other changes to allowances and tax rates that will leave many people worse off, it’s surprising that no one I’ve read has yet made critical comment about the attitude of government to taxation.
It can’t be just me who feels annoyance at the thinking that sits at the very heart of taxation today – a state of mind that seems to be casually accepted by too many of this country’s taxpayers. For every time taxation is discussed I am struck by the sense of entitlement to our money that Ministers and some talking heads possess.
The overall tax burden continues to rise, not fall. The percentage of our income sequestrated by the State is shockingly huge. Before we spend a single pound of our income over 30% of what we earn is stripped from us. Then we have Council Tax imposed on us to supposedly fund local services. Of what remains, on the majority of purchases (excluding energy, food, books, etc) 17.5% is added to the true cost of goods and services. But even on energy we pay hidden government imposed levies (thanks to the religion of global warming) before the 5% VAT is tacked on. Then on essential items like petrol and diesel, around 65% of the cost of every litre we buy is duty and VAT that goes straight to the government. These are just the very basic examples. And do not forget the huge cost of funding the ever expanding machinery of government that administers this financial three-ringed circus.
The prevailing attitude is one of ‘you have money so we are taking it’. There is no sense of regret or apology for doing so. Quite the opposite. Such behaviour is ludicrously described as ‘progressive’ and ‘fair’. It is nothing of the sort.
The idea of taxation is to provide basic public necessities, to ensure the Realm was defended and that provisions were in place for people in desperate need, temporary or permanent. But the bankrupt thinking that leads some people to believe that government can solve any problem and just needs funding in order to do so, has seen the state balloon in size and soak up our money like a sponge. It is the clearest demonstration of wasteful, lazy and overbearing governance. Of authoritarian, paternalist, control freakery that sees our money taken then used to bribe us so politicians can achieve and wield power.
Where is the outrage? Where is the deeper thought that leads people to question why we have allowed government-by-consent to be transformed into electoral dictatorship? Where are the people who are standing up and demanding that government only takes what is needed to fund the essentials and nothing more? The failure to do this has allowed government to absorb our money and fritter it away on wheezes and trivialities. It is insanity that the government gives money to groups to fund their ability to campaign for the government to spend our money on their special interests. It is disgraceful that we indirectly fund charities and associations, that we may choose not to support, through government grants and hand outs.
Just think how much better off we would be if we kept more of our own money and decided for ourselves how and where to spend it. Think how much better the goods and services offered to us by companies and sole traders would be. Think how many more jobs would be created to service the needs of a wealthier population, in turn reducing the need for state help and therefore the need to tax us so much. Consider, given our natural generosity, how much more money worthy charities would collect if we could better afford to contribute. Consider how much more free we would be with a smaller and less intrusive government, and how much happier we could be if we were able to make more decisions for ourselves.
Having thought about that, now ask yourself, why do we tolerate the status quo? Why do we not take back power and decision making for ourselves, rather than leave it in the hands of incompetent and self serving fools? Fools who, despite having billions and billions of pounds of our money to hand in recent years have managed to spend it all with little to show for it, borrow billions more on top that have been also been squandered, and who have contrived to leave this country deep in debt, supposedly necessitating the picking of our pockets to harvest yet more of our meagre incomes to repair the damage.
I describe them as fools. But in reality, who are the real fools in all this?