Often, the left like to portray tax cuts negatively: as a vassal for the rich to be allowed to keep more of their money. Whilst most tax cuts do benefit the rich, that doesn't mean that they don't also benefit the rest of us. High levels of taxation and poor economic growth are linked beyond a reasonable doubt, and the more that the left argue that low economic growth is the major problem in the economy, the more that they are making the argument for tax cuts for us.
Having said that, tax cuts do not need to focus on the headline top rate of income tax. There are plenty of other areas which are in dire need of attention, where low-cost tax cuts could make a real difference to peoples' standards of living in the country. One such tax is the fuel duty, currently levied at an eye-watering 73p per litre (61p fuel duty, and 12p VAT on that duty -- yes, they tax the tax...), which has been named by small firms as a serious detriment to their growth. We all complain at the greedy oil companies, but not many of us realise that as much as 60% of the price we pay for fuel is tax, and as little as 3% is oil profits.
Yes, the government pocket as much as 2000% of what Shell do, every time you buy fuel.
A familiar premise to those of us who err on the side of libertarianism is the axiom that we should "tax wealth, not work". Other than anarcho-capitalists, we all believe that government needs some revenue in order to function.
One school of thought which appears to be gaining traction with liberally minded people is a land value tax, which would be levied at a percentage of the value of any land one might own on an annual basis. This is portrayed as a tax that would hit the rich hardest, but actually its advocates do not understand that it would likely affect the rich the least.
So who would it affect the most? Let's take a few examples and determine who would be most ill affected by a land value tax in the UK.
I was reading the Wonko's World post by the same title earlier, and found myself agreeing with much of the reasoning behind the suggestion. Now, the author of that blog and myself have some major differences: he is 'proud to be a Nationalist', where I am proud to be a globalist. Having said that, I think that confederalism is the only liberal mechanism by which to join countries.
If you accept that England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are sovereign nations which have the right to self determination, then it is only natural to assume that anything binding them to a union -- whether that is the British Union (UK), the European Union or the Commonwealth -- must be based on consent. No country should be forced against its will to be subservient to a union. The people of the country must have the right to determine their membership (or otherwise) of the union.
It irks me when EU-sceptics do not apply the same logic to Scotland's membership of the UK that they do to the UK's membership of the European Union. They accept, on one hand, that the British people have a right to be free of European rule, but not that the Scottish (or Welsh, or English) have a right to be free of British rule.
One argument they like to trot out is that we all have the same head of state, but this argument is invalidated already as Canada, Australia and many other countries share our head of state but are not members of the United Kingdom.
Something we are taught in this country, from a very early age in most cases, is that every single person should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now, we know that this right of men has been subverted in the United Kingdom, with the introduction of control orders and our media being all too happy to condemn suspects, but in the past 3 months, these subversions of liberty have taken an entirely new and more sinister look.
I'm going to talk about two recent cases where British courts have taken it upon themselves to punish people who have never been convicted of the crime they are being punished for: the case of Christopher Tappin and the case of Arran Coghlan.
These are two very different cases as Tappin has no prior run-ins with law enforcement, whilst Coghlan is known to the establishment, having received convictions for dishonesty and having been tried (and cleared) for three murders and drug smuggling offences. However, the common theme in both cases is that the burden of evidence has been hoisted upon to the accused rather than the accuser.
It's in-fashion to bash the unions, which makes me somewhat reluctant to do it, but I really can't say anything positive about the November 30th strikes: they are simply a gratuitous power grab by the unions. And not against the government. They are a power grab against us, the taxpayer; we, who pay the gold-plated wages and pensions of public sector workers.
But isn't it illiberal to say that they can't strike? Surely the right to withdraw one's labour is reasonable? After all, it just levels the playing field, right?
No, actually, it really doesn't. In an equal relationship, the worker must have no right to which the employer cannot have an equal right. This would mean that if the worker can suspend his/her labour, or essentially suspend his/her half of the contract, then the employer should be able to do the same: to withdraw pay at any time that he/she feels the labour provided doesn't meet his/her standard.
What, in effect, this would mean is that contracts would be utterly pointless. We could simply refuse to pay taxes whilst the government failed to meet our standards, and the public sector workers could withdraw their labour all they wanted, but at least it would be an equal relationship.
I was reading Pip Borev's blog earlier (really recommend it, fascinating stuff) and trying to work out how the Travellers had ever come to align themselves with the left in the first place. Surely an enterprising peoples who sell goods and services to market and receive little or no support from the public sector are about as natural libertarians as can be.
One would assume that the old right's sometimes less than accommodating approach to their communities may have something to do with it, but it's the 21st century and about time that we extended the olive branch to a people who live quite independently of the state, run what can only be described as small, for profit, businesses, and are, for the most part, hardworking.
Yes, you hear the horror stories about some traveller camps being a nightmare, thieves or vandals etc, but there are many which go without comment for good reason. There are good and bad people in any race, any community and any culture, and we need to be able to separate the criminal minority from the peaceful and non-aggressive majority.
Often, when dealing with the left over student fees, they go back to the age-old argument that students 'should be judged on ability, and not wealth'. This is actually a tenet which I agree with, so I hope some left-wingers will be able to agree with the suggestion I'm about to put forward.
Before I proceed, I'd like to mention that I don't think this suggestion is the best thing we could do to restructure student finance, but I do think that it is a far better package than we have now.
Fundamentally, my package aims to encourage students who perform highly whilst penalizing those who really shouldn't be at university or who drop out.
We would start with a £12,000 a year tuition fee. This would be taken out on a student loan platform like now, and paid back at 10% of all earnings above the minimum wage (£12000 a year approx).
The fee would be written down as follows, based on performance:
- 1st class Hons degree: 100% write down (zero tuition fees)
- 2,1 Hons degree: 66% write down (£4000 a year tuition fees) and payment threshold raised to £21,000 a year (the student would pay nothing back until they earn £21,000 a year)
- 2,2 Hons degree: 33% write down (£8000 a year tuition fees) and payment threshold raised to £15,000 a year.
- 3 Hons degree: No write down and payment threshold raised to £15,000 a year.
- Drop out or fail: No write down, and no payment threshold rise.
This system allows the working class student with ability to work hard, achieve a first and get a gratis degree, but prevents people from going to university for the easy ride and never paying their debts back.
This way, we can return university to its original mandate: to educate the best students, not the majority.
(Numbers might be off, obviously the scheme would have to raise as much as the current one, but with tweaking I feel it would work)
Up until yesterday, I was willing to brave out the hard times because I had a belief that the core tenets of the Liberal Democrat party were still in place. Transparency and honesty are cornerstones of any liberal device, but it seems like that party, much like Labour and the Tories, only support honesty and transparency when it's in their interests to do so.
At the General Election in 2010, the Liberal Democrats ran on the mandate of an in/out referendum on the European Union. I knew they would support the 'in' campaign, but they did offer this referendum. To back up this position, they had an official campaign for the in/out referendum on their campaigns site.
The more tech-savvy of you will notice that this link directs to the Archive.org record of the page. This is because after I spread the URL on Twitter, the party decided to simply delete the campaign page with no formal explanation. This happened on the 21st or 22nd October 2011. In my mind, this is certainly a betrayal of transparency.
Left-wingers, I'm going to be somewhat annoyed at you if you agree with the statement here but still campaign to keep Tescos out of your towns. Planning permission laws are ridiculous, and unfortunately it has taken people being forcefully evicted from their home of over a decade to make the left see what we've been saying all along.
In this instance, we're dealing with a special type of planning permission law, dealing with designated 'green belt' zones which are supposed to preserve wildlife areas between towns. When I talk about this, you're probably not imagining a concreted-over piece of land which was being used as a scrapyard, but that's pretty much what Dale Farm was in the 1980s when the Travellers started to use the site.
Found this little gem on Facebook and thought I'd share it...
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. 'Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.
But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. 'I only got a dollar out of the $20,' declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10! ''Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too.. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I! '
'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks! '
'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor! '
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man ( the richest) didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.