Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Joining the dots

  • The Tory Scum are cutting child benefit (but not nuclear weapons) to reduce the deficit (Cameron says he's 'sorry' he forgot to mention this massive vote-losing idea during the election. Oops).
  • But married couples are going to get a tax cut to make up the difference, because the children of married people need to eat more, or something.
  • According to the Daily Mail, Ed Miliband isn't married and we should hate him.

Hmm. Could the Tories be that petty? Yes, yes they could.

Oh, and what happens when the 'Big Society' (i.e. Tory activists) disagrees with what the Tories are doing? The meetings get cancelled. What a surprise.


Adam said...

He's only cutting child benefit for the rich... Oh wait, Labour aren't calling higher rate tax layers "the rich" anymore, they're now known as "the squeezed middle"... wasn't it Labour who squeezed them in the first place?

The Plashing Vole said...

You're not rich in London on £44,000 - the mortgage payments alone account for a lot of that.

I do agree though that the 'squeezed middle' is an invention of the Daily Mail and darling of New Labour.

The problem is that a couple both earning £43,000 will still get the child benefit, whereas a couple in which one person is earning £44k and the other isn't working won't get it at all.

I can see the attraction of removing child benefit from the rich, but there's a fundamental problem: the Welfare State was set up to include everybody so that the well-off didn't resent funding the poor (while being quietly taxed more to make up the difference). Once you cut them out of the system, they'll just get greedier and more selfish.

Adam said...

Fair points but I think universal benefits are an anomaly that need closing down. Having one bureaucracy designed to take money off you (HMRC), and another to give you it back (tax credits, child benefit) is just absurd. If you must to "reward" the well-off for their contribution, then just charge them slightly less tax. And if the poor need money to bring up their kids, or to help them escape the benefits trap, then just don't tax them at all.

The Plashing Vole said...

I do largely agree with you, but I still think that the social benefits of keeping the well-off in the net just about outweigh the administrative difficulties.

I still hanker after super-tax - even Thatcher didn't repeal that!

Adam said...

I don't think the well off need any bribes to pay tax. Everyone benefits from the NHS, and the police, and the fire brigade, etc. As long as the system is seen as balanced and fair, and as long as the taxman is neutral and not seen as politically motivated, then people will continue to stump up. The idea that once you earn above an arbitrary amount you lose all your compassion is cynical and false. As long as the amount charged is fair, then most people don't have problems paying it. It's only when the cant about "squeezing the rich" starts, or stories about benefits claimants living in mansions and receiving more in benefits than those in work get paid, that the problems start... Perhaps the Daily Mail really does run the country after all?!

The Plashing Vole said...

I agree that the rich shouldn't be bribed to pay tax, but the seriously rich just aren't paying it: avoidance and evasion is at massive levels - partly individuals like Philip Green and partly corporations. I can understand why the middle classes are reluctant to pay their fair share when their social superiors aren't paying any: the owner of the Daily Mail built a £25m mansion in Wiltshire but is 'domiciled' in France for tax purposes. The Daily Mail DOES run the country, while avoiding paying for it.

OK, the idea that above an arbitrary level causes people to lose empathy is a little cartoony (and I know you haven't), but there's something in it: our culture encourages individualism, and it's particularly apparent in the rich - hence the dreadful tone of The Apprentice or whatever. In Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, one of the marks of decadence he notes is that under the Republic, the rich competed to furnish the public with good works: food, baths, water supplies etc., while under the Empire, they built higher walls and installed more and more luxuries for private use, leading to social upheaval. Gibbon's point was that this happened while he was writing too. I can't help thinking that the Philip Greens and footballers and hedge fund managers (and your boss) are the contemporary equivalent.