We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Germany better than Britain?

Paul Marks laments attitudes in Britain to anti-tax protests.

Those people who know me will know that I like family owned enterprises (more common in Germany than in Britain these days) and that I like the people who are at the top of manufacturing companies to be trained in such things as engineering rather than such things as law (I sometimes feel that many British managers think a “machine tool” is something to do with kinky sex). But, have no fear, I will say no more about my personal prejudices – and I fully accept that Germany has higher government spending and (in some ways) more government regulations than Britain.

However, something has caught my attention recently. In Germany a pop song denouncing the German government’s tax increases has reached the top of the charts.

In Britain taxes are increasing much faster than in Germany (government spending and regulations are increasing at a faster rate also) and, sure enough, a pop song has been written that attacks this increase in taxation – and the song was mentioned on B.B.C. Radio 4’s “Today Programme”.

But in Britain the anti tax protest song is not being treated seriously even, it appears, by the man who wrote it. Nobody expects this song to get to the top of anything – even though the British government have also told lies about tax and are increasing taxes more than the German government is.

Is the basic culture of Britain so collectivist that a protest against statism is automatically a joke?

Paul Marks

4 comments to Germany better than Britain?

  • David Carr


    Distinction duly noted. The problem in Britain (and elsewhere I suspect) is that the left have very successfuly equated tax cuts with ‘greed’ and ‘selfishness’ i.e. it means abandoning the poor and needy to a dismal fate. This idea now dominates popular discourse. Tax cuts are not just very unpopular in this country, they are seen as downright immoral.

    It is a culture that is very hard to challenge and may never be successfully overturned.

    Also, let’s not get too excited about the success of the ‘Anti-tax’ song in Germany. Europeans are every bit as anti-reform as their British counterparts. They may grumble but when it comes to elections, the chilling threat of cutting back the Welfare State will, in all probability, drive them once again into the warm, safe embrace of the ‘business as usual’ left.

  • I don’t think it’s the culture- that can be changed. I used to think the same about Australia until we elected a non-labour government; the government is still as dedicated to pillage as ever, but the willingness of people to cop it has declined.

    Things CAN be done, but it does need a lot of work and patience. It might also need a Tory PM.

  • Paul Marks

    Has the election (and reelection) of a liberal government in Australia led to any tax cutting at all?

    On David’s point – yes the German want lower taxes (and are prepared to openly say so), but are they prepared to accept lower government spending? I suspect David may be right.

    I must apologise to Mr Jones (the writer of the song), he clearly does take it seriously and is a good man. I am sorry for being stupid enough to be mislead by the B.B.C. (who clearly wished to present the matter as a joke).

    Finally on the point of B.B.C. invited academics that anti tax songs are against the tradition of popular music – anti tax songs were the bread and butter of folk music for at least a thousand years.

  • I suspect the real difference between the two songs, Paul, is a British snobbishness about a pop song having to be well-made, unusual, and wittily in fashion.

    I have not heard either song, but it seems possible to me that either:
    a] the Germans have a better song
    b] both songs are tacky as songs, but that Germans, being a Continental people respectful of discussing and acting on ideas in groups, are willing to let this pass and support the song anyway as a means for protesting against taxes.

    We British are a bit too pleased with ourselves sometimes, and probably the notion of supporting an anti-tax song just sounds too clunky, embarrassing, ‘naff’ for many image-conscious UK people.

    I’m afraid it might just be that superficial.