Thursday 27 November 2008

So stop doing it, then.

I don't intend to comment on the Budget, other than to say that it was predicted over ten years ago and that those who made that prediction were accused of lying and scaremongering. As usual. But there's something it does which all Budgets do, which all politicians do when talking about state finances.

The Chancellor says that pensioners need his help. They're poor, some so poor that they die over Winter 'cause they can't afford fuel. And he has come up with a way to help them. It's the same technique all politicians use. He's going to tax them a bit less.

I feel it says something about our recent history that this way of thinking has become so entrenched that it wouldn't even occur to anyone to call him on it.

If a particular group of people are poor, it is outright immoral to take their money. If you want to take their money, you can, of course, claim that they're not that poor after all, that talk of their poverty is much exaggerated. Indeed, in a sane world, you would have to if you wanted to get away with taxing them without finding yourself roundly condemned as an utter bastard. But the public have become so convinced by the idea that the Government taking a hundred of your pounds and giving you back twenty constitutes some sort of gift that such justifications simply aren't necessary — indeed, not only are they not needed, but the Chancellor can get away with doing the opposite: he can claim that people are poor, and then boast about he is therefore generously going to take a bit less of their money off them than he used to. This is like giving people first aid by easing up a bit on the kicking you're giving them.

Once you've made the claim that certain people are poor and need financial help, the only moral tax policy is to stop taxing them. Completely. Obviously. To claim that people are poor and then keep taxing them anyway demonstrates the sort of cruel vicious streak which... well, if you know a bloke like that who lives in your area, you cross the street when he's coming and you leave the pub when he comes in. Yet politicians, for some reason, don't need to hide this sort of thinking, as they can rely on being congratulated for it.

The longer I spend in the world, the less I understand it.

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