Friday, 9 November 2012

“I’d be happy to pay more tax” – yeah, as if!

The poet and Cambridge academic A.E. Housman voluntarily sent a cheque to the Treasury during the First World War. I can’t remember how much it was for - £2,000, I think. He was in his mid-fifties at the time – well past serving age – and, as he didn’t have any dependents, saw it as his duty to use his savings to help his country at a time of need. Of course, he could have been pretty certain that it would be spent on the war effort, rather than on, say, Overseas Development or wind farm subsidies. (Needless to say, Housman was a conservative.)

There must be other instances of people being voluntarily generous to the state with their own money (rather than other people’s), but I’m not aware of them.

I’ve been involved in a spat over on the splendid Flimsy Cups blog with a Scottish female leftist, who, after I’d complained about the amount of English taxes being used to fuel her homeland’s rampant dependency culture, assured us that she would happy to pay more tax. If I had a pound for every left-winger I’ve heard make that claim, it would probably cover my tax bill for this year.

In case anyone imagines that “I’d happily pay more tax” means what it appears to mean, let me unpick it for you.

First, it means “I am a good-hearted, generous, caring person”. It’s an easy way of claiming the moral high ground, where enlightened left-wingers have been pitching their tents for the last 220 years.
Second, it means “I would be happy to pay more tax as long as people who don’t want to pay more tax are also forced to do so.” It’s a way of punishing unbelievers who feel that the state already squanders far too much of their money by making them feel mean and greedy and small.

Third, it actually means “I would be happy to pay more taxes if the money was then spent on left-wing things like green energy, state-sponsored leftist propaganda, the NHS, teachers' salaries, university education for the ineducable, extra benefits for mascot victim groups and such-like”. If they were told that the extra tax would be spent on nuclear weapons, traditional energy sources, more police or tighter border controls – you know, right-wing stuff that keeps people safe and warm – their enthusiasm would rapidly evaporate.

So what it boils down to is what all left-wing attitudes boil down to: I want other people's money to be spent on things I approve of. 

Let’s face it, that sort of warm-hearted generosity is enough to make one cry!

Now, where's that chequebook?


  1. There must be other instances of people being voluntarily generous to the state with their own money (rather than other people’s), but I’m not aware of them.

    Michael Winner, 13 September 2006, The Spectator:

    ... in the 1960s when top tax was 98 pence in the pound, I stashed some money abroad. It all came back to the UK over 20 years ago, but I’d diddled the Revenue out of tax on the interest. I salved my conscience by leaving them millions in my will. Then I decided not to keep them waiting. So I told them about it! ‘What do I owe you?’ I asked with rare nobility. This produced a marvellous man, Peter Thackeray, an investigator from the Special Compliance office in Bristol, who carried out a thorough four-year examination into everything I and my companies had done for the previous 20 years. Of course he found nothing else wrong. Peter (‘call me Pete’) Thackeray had a terrific sense of humour. He fought like a tiger on behalf of the Revenue. But I greatly admired and liked him.

    Some years ago a group gathered in my house to settle matters and I happily passed over a cheque for millions of pounds. Mr Thackeray said, ‘Now you’re respectable Mr Winner.’ I replied, ‘That’s the only thing that worries me, Peter. I’m not sure I want to be respectable.’

    1. Good story - but, unfortunately, it doesn't qualify, because Winner was only paying what he basically owed. (Nit-picking, I know.) The worrying thing is that it took four years to investigate his companies and their activities. Hell, it only took the Israelis seven days to win a war!

      Interesting to note that Winner is another right-winger, while the two politicians currently in the news for cheating on their expenses by falsifying invoices (allegedly in one case) are both believers in spending more tax-payer' money.

  2. I was once famously (in my own mind) read the riot act over there when I complained about my tax bill.

    I didn't mind it was fun to argue. I've always let people have their say. Even when, based on my own cultural expectations, people were a little rude.

    I have warned...more than once...that when it comes to the issue raised in my last post, please tread lightly. Everything else is fair game but, I will not hold my tongue on this one.

    I have no idea why it should have taken the turn it did. It wasn't meant to...and, you weren't the one that started it. :)

    1. Even though I didn’t start it, I certainly managed to pour oil on the flames! Sorry if I helped lose you a regular reader and commenter. I’ve been tempted to respond to her leftist comments in the past, but her bizarrely insensitive choice of quote followed by a call for us all to leave our ridiculous prejudices behind, combined with references to the terrible treatment of the Scots by the English caused a red mist to descend. Then, when she basically told us all not to pass our horrible values onto our children (I presume that’s the job of the state) I was about to fire off another volley – but you got in first. And how!

      Why a foreigner familiar with your blog would seek to lecture you on your attitudes to the North – I haven’t a clue! All she needed to do once she’d realised her mistake was to apologise and shut up – and have a straightforward ding-dong with me instead, which I’d have enjoyed. I guess it’s because, living in the left-wing bubble that is Scotland, she probably only ever argues with other socialists, and therefore assumes that anyone who doesn’t share her assumptions is a bigot and that it’s her duty to lead them to the Promised Land of social justice and equality and supra-national brotherhood (sisterhood, probably).

      Anyway, she evidently really enjoyed your blog, so it’s a shame she’s stomped off in a huff, and I unreservedly apologise for whatever part my comments player in her decision.

      The attitude over here – apart from a few sanctimonious left-wingers - is that we have an inalienable right to moan about paying tax, because most of it will be pissed away in any case. I assume that making adverse comments about tax will eventually be declared a hate crime against the state.

    2. Please don't apologize. She obviously didn't enjoy it enough to hang around through a little heat.

      I will miss her but, I don't get the exit.

      If you're going to push you have to expect a little push back from time to time. As I said, she and I have swerved into this territory before and every time I've patiently bitten my tongue. As a foreigner, she can't be expected to have a full understanding of these issues.

      This was not complicated. This was evidence of a food fight between the author and some anonymous idiots. Where I'm from, in a situation like that, you don't stop figure out why the fight started, or ask why any we must figth at all, or point out that the food could be better used to feed the World's just pick up the nearest fried chicken wing and hurl it at the anonymous idiots.

      She also, unwittingly I assume, pushed some of the wrong buttons. I let my upbringing down and lost my manners. I am afterall a host over there...the fault for her departure is mine.

      The dog barks and the gypsies pass.

  3. I think there's also a guilt thing evident in people who believe that all good things must come either from the state or with its approval, along the lines of " I really shouldn't be celebrating getting this new job after years of slogging for it because there's a family of 12 up in South Shields whom I've never met who are all on benefits.".

    It's a pity EF won't be drawn on the meaning of the 'United' in USA. It would be interesting to hear what he thinks.

    1. I think it falls more under the heading of "malign compassion" - it's more to do with making other people feel guilty about their lack of guilt. Luckily, I don't give a toss about the family of 12 in South Shields, who really should have weighed up the pros and cons of having children they couldn't afford. However, if I was a left-winger, I'm sure I would describe the situation as "obscene".

      Agreed re e.f.'s thoughts on "United" - does he see it as on a par with the "Union" in "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics", or as enthusiasts for Scottish and Welsh independence view the "United" in "United Kingdom"?

  4. That is a fascinating study in its own right. The EU is in effect a United States of Europe in all but name already. It has its own flag, anthem, constitution and legal personality, with a court to interpret and enforce its own law, which has supremacy over the national law of its member states. It can't declare war or set taxes but defence and security policy was on the agenda in the early stages of the negotiations on the abandoned Constitutional Treaty. They'll come back to that one soon enough. And it looks likely that the Eurozone countries will cede their national taxation responsibilities to the Commission to prop up the Euro before long.

    So, with all that, what's the point of being a nation state? A very senior Italian Eurocrat told me during discussions on the Maastricht Treaty that it would only be possible to solve Italy's own problems of financial recklessness and corruption by removing its right to govern its own affairs. He predicted, correctly, that subsequent Treaties would have this effect. Unlike other EU nations, we still have a relatively strong sense of national identity. But look at the increasingly vocal Belgian and Spanish separatist movements and the Northern League in Italy and you can see why their Governments are so worried about what they see as the complicit acceptance by the Coalition of the Scots' right to self-determination. If it catches on, it might lead to their countries disappearing. Poor things. They should have read the small print.

    Is this the e.f. bartlam point? We Brits have always assumed that Texans, Californians and Floridians are unbreakably united in their allegiance to the Union and prepared to accept, for example, imbalance in wealth creation across the nation in the wider interests of the US as a whole. Is there 'something happening here', to quote Mr Stills?

    Come on e.f. You're among friends in Gronworld.