Friday, 4 February 2011

Your tax dollars at work

Yes, it's Uppal time again. What's the cerebrally-challenged narcissist been up to this week?

First off, there's this incisive intervention:
Recently in [The Dark Place] we had a serious incident involving a dangerous dog. Does the Minister agree that police officers need adequate training to deal with dangerous dogs and the skills necessary to handle such situations?
Wow. Such astonishing insight. Not a soft, pre-organised question designed to make himself visible to a minister off the back of a dog attacking a child at all. Does he really think that the police aren't perfectly capable of dealing with a dog? Does he actually believe that the police were at fault here? You can't have a copper living with every canine in case it attacks. 

Sadly, the minister decided to indulge the idiot with a substantial answer. Apparently Tory policy is that it's very sad, people shouldn't take in strays, and police should be trained to deal with bad dogs. Wow. I feel safer already. If the Conservatives genuinely believe that dogs shouldn't bite people, then they've got my vote.

OK, next up in the cavalcade of selfishness:
I welcome the Government's moves to reduce the top rate and the small profits rate of corporation tax. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on having a single, flat rate of corporation tax, which would give UK plc a unique competitive advantage in the global economy?
Right. Back to Plutocratic Paul's favourite covert subject: his own bank account. Why is he in favour of reduced taxes for corporations and rich people? Because he's a multimillionaire property speculator (something he failed to mention in his election material) and he's always in favour of more cash for him, worse public services for us. 

He's immediately factually wrong: flat tax regimes have been tried in several places. The idea is that everyone pays exactly the same rate, without regard to your earnings. So the person on £10,000 per year pays the same percentage as the person earning £1,000,000. 

There's a debate to be had here, but my fundamental objection is that it's a secret subsidy for multimillionaires like Paul, masquerading as simplicity and fairness. Firstly, it's an income tax - leaving untaxed all the unearned profits and capital gains (often used to avoid paying income tax) taken by people like Uppal. They'd pay less, most of us would pay more. 

More importantly, every extra pound earned by a poor person is worth more to them than to a rich person: £10 more in a minimum wage earner's packet is better food, a bit more heat, new school shoes. £10 more in Paul's pocket wouldn't make the slightest difference to his life. The point is that tax is a sacrifice, and it's the amount of sacrifice rather than the amount of money which should determine how much tax one should pay. The poor person shouldn't have to sacrifice more than the rich one. (It's not me saying this: it's Adam Smith, the most famous conservative economist in history). 

Flat-taxers ignore this. They concentrate on the rich, and claim that if the rich were taxed less, they'd work harder, generate more money, and therefore pay more taxes. Really? Bob Diamond, the Barclays boss, takes home £75 million per year. Would he work harder if he took home £80 million? Or £30 million? It seems unlikely. Would I work harder if I took home a few more quid? No: I already work very hard, partly because I enjoy it and partly because I'd get sacked if I didn't. Meanwhile, the effect of the flat tax is that the state wouldn't be able to pay for social services etc - not that this bothers Paul because he despises the concept of government providing anything. 

The flat tax movement is simply a plot: cut tax income - expose government borrowing to make up the gap - cut spending on public services. It looks very much like Uppal's getting his wish. God, he's such a lazy thinker. 

If he wasn't so lazy, he might have a bit of historical awareness. There was another party which advocated - like the Conservatives and Lib Dems now - that taxes for the rich be cut, so that they'd have more money to spend on servants, reducing unemployment. Think of it as an early form of trickle-down economics. Its name? The British Fascists, minor rivals and predecessors to the British Union of Fascists in the interwar period. Like the modern Tories, they wanted to disenfranchise the poor and give the House of Lords a lot more power - the current government have expanded the (unelected) Lords to 800 and plan to cut the (elected) Commons to 600. Mmm, democratic!

I wouldn't mind Uppal being such a lazy MP: a lazy Tory is better than an active one - but having one who is a) unintelligent and b) acting solely in his own interests is like having an anti-MP, determined to retard the fortunes of his constituents while enriching himself and his narrow class of rentiers. 

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