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August 05, 2008


Neil Harding

Can't disagree with any of that.


Actually, let's put 3 & 4 together and say a simple tax system. The current one, which you'd be hard pressed to fit inside a truck, is a license for lawyers to fiddle the system. A simple tax code of no more than about 10-20 pages would yield far better results. (No I'm not an advocate of flat tax, just simple tax.)


Point 4 in particular is one we can definitely agree on - tax is way too complicated. A basic income is one way of improving matters, but much more straightforward would be to raise the personal tax allowance to something nearer £12,000.

This is something the left and right who butt heads all the time over other things should find some common ground on.

To a lesser extent, as is Point 3. We're getting into Polly Toynbee territory here admittedly. Her problem is that she never acknowledges that money given to the state isn't necessarily well-spent; she just assumes that pouring money into problems like social exclusion solves them, and dismisses the counter-arguments of e.g. the Taxpayers' Alliance with a wave of the hand. She does have a point, but she doesn't make it very well!


You don't need targets if you have (reasonable) choice and ways of exercising it. I'm fine with that, but many of those who oppose targets also oppose choice. They also tend to be on the Left. I do find that hard to understand.

As far as complicated credits for the deserving poor are concerned, there is a trade off between simplicity and equity and it's a bit more complicated than you suggest.


Let's see if I've understood this? Relatively low tax rates for higher income earners should be reversed as a good deal of their high income is rent-seeking and/or luck (FWIW no problem with this here). But the other day it was wrong to put a windfall tax on energy companies, whose currently high profits surely reflect rents and luck. Admittedly using windfall taxes to prop up the housing market was a poor idea - but if it were used instead to promote council or social housing projects?


Point 2 is misleading; when government "borrows" money it has no intention of ever repaying it - this entails raising the rate of inflation which leads to more money beng printed which decreases the value attached to the initial amount, additionally it decreases the value of the money pool in existence thus driving inflation, not growth.

This has occured through the abandonment of the "gold standard" which placed value against tangible assets - the equivalent the UK had to tangible assets was sold by Gordon Brown to pay for...more paper money! in the form of euros...

Say that we were to leave the job of creating money in the hands of the government for a minute; wouldn't we want the lending of it to do more work for us? This would be recognised by a moderately high interest rate (I would argue for a very high one to curb inflation effects caused as I mentioned in the first paragraph); the individual borrowing it would then have an indicator for performance - the ability to reward the lender for their investment; government has no such compulsion for this reason (and a whole host of other reasons) to behave efficiently or cost-effectively.

Richard Mann

Bayesian conservatism? Please don't smear perfectly sound probability theory with the poor decision making displayed by the gov't. Bayesian analysis provides a theorectically perfect means of updating beliefs in the face of new evidence, it is the ignoring and misrepresentation of evidence that it the problem. If I could guarantee Bayes' rule were applied I'm gov't decisions I'd sleep far better.

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