Welcome to my day: 3 October 2022 – any fool can cut taxes…

And so it becomes clear that, in order to cut taxes in a way that “disproportionately benefits the wealthy”, there will have to be cuts in public spending. In truth, that’s exactly what you’d expect from the boys at the Institute of Economic Affairs, given their belief in a small state.

The problem is that, instead of dealing with economic models and “rational behaviour”, the proponents of the policies coming out of Downing Street are faced with people and a vast array of existing inequalities. The societal model is not perfect at the outset, and thus the theoretical concept is flawed. It is not possible for people to simply work more hours, or get better paid jobs, if those hours, those jobs, are not available or accessible.

I do also wonder what would happen if the low-paid in certain sectors, say social care as an example, all decided to find better paid jobs?

People don’t start equal, and with systems that reinforce that inequality, they aren’t offered the freedom that allows them to make choices that are available to the more fortunate.

Of course, you could mitigate that if you campaigned for public office – voters have a tendency to raise awkward questions and challenge your preconceptions. But the gentlemen from Tufton Street don’t really do retail politics, and don’t apparently care much for the public as individuals – odd, really, given how fanatically they campaign for individual freedom. But they’ve found a home host in the Conservative Party, who, likewise, only really believe in freedoms for those they approve of.

But they’ve persuaded the new Conservative leadership that, if only they would tear down the state, a new Jerusalem can be built on the ruins.

I’m reminded of the time when the Berlin Wall fell and a bevy of Eastern and Central European states emerged blinking into the democratic light. Big Bang marketisation was the call, tearing down the old socialist structures and allowing the free market to create wealth. The problem was that, in the interim, there was tremendous suffering amongst those whose financial support dried up, creating the space for communist parties, and then the far-right, to exploit their despair.

What that means is that, if you’re going to make radical changes, you need to bring the people, or at least most of them, with you. And if you don’t really care about the effects of your policies on others, you won’t bother to do that. Which brings us to recent events. It appears that someone didn’t think, or care, about the effects on the British economy, whereas the markets, whose livelihoods depend on betting the right way, apparently did.

They’ve said out loud what some have always believed, that the poor only respond to the whip of reduced benefits and grinding hardship, whereas the well to do need incentives in order to thrive. Setting the “cut-off mark” at £155,000 per annum was an unexpected move politically though, as most people know just how far away from that they are. The usual format is to claim that your tax cuts benefit “hard working families” – and most people believe that this includes them – whereas letting quite a high figure gain credence excludes many of your key supporters.

Any response has to revolve around finding ways to challenge the superficial appeal of a “low tax economy”. You can start by pointing out what a “low tax economy” actually means in terms of public services, but the ultimate goal must be to build a society where citizens feel that they’re getting value for money for the taxes they pay. And yes, that means improving government efficiency by improving how it works, simplifying things where possible and desirable, and making the case for public spending where needed.

Liberals believe in a new Jerusalem as much as the next person. And if ever motivation were needed to offer alternatives, the events of the past fortnight have provided it in spades…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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5 Comments

  • Peter Davies 3rd Oct '22 - 8:09am

    Apparently one fool can’t

  • For a week the 45p tax cut was an essential part of the ‘fiscal plan’; then it wasn’t!

  • Graham Jeffs 3rd Oct '22 - 9:46am

    Any fool can be an extremist.

  • Mick Taylor 3rd Oct '22 - 11:09am

    I I remember my Moleworth correctly the phrase your reaching for is ‘as any fule kno’

  • David Garlick 4th Oct '22 - 11:09am

    The same people who voted them in will be amongst the loudest to moan when services are not available.
    As any fool should know… You get what you pay for!

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