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Tales from the kingdom of the mad

The Chancellor Gordon Brown has long been hailed as an economic wonder, a giant, a prince among men; a proto-tyrant possibly, but nevertheless an economic God. What a load of old spoons. Those feckless Tory MPs in the House of Commons may be scared of his bombastic rhetoric, his curling lip, and his comprehensive knowledge of the canon of John Kenneth Galbraith; well, at least the idiot’s guide to John Kenneth Galbraith. But let me tell you of a tale, to put a sword to the lie of this risible greatness.

It began yesterday morning, at 10am. The phone rang. A certain Englishman, of Scottish, Irish, and Jewish extraction, picked up the phone.
“Hello, is that Mrs Duncan?”
“No, who’s this?”
“It’s the Inland Revenue, in Liverpool. Can I ask you some questions?” The man panicked. Did he ‘owe’ £10,000 more in Corporation Tax? Had his company secretary, or accountant, failed to send in Form IR-XYP/9100/97/a.30, his thirtieth of the year? He decided to go for the polite response, in case this was being taped.
“But first, you will need to answer some security questions…” This went on for some time. I had to give my date of birth, and my postcode, just to find out whether I could help the Inland Revenue’s poor girl, or not. Then she asked me some intrusive questions about my children, and demanded to know what my child care costs were. Whew! It was not a Corporation Tax underpayment. I told her to phone my wife back, who had these details.

My wife and I regard it as our God-given duty to get back as much of our money stolen from us, by this rotten government, as Gordon Brown tells us we are ‘entitled’ to; all the better to ruin his borrowing projections with.

So, to cut an irritating story short, it is apparently everyone’s duty in this country, if claiming child tax credits, to inform Gordon’s minions if your child care costs ever differ by more than £10 pounds in a week. This has caused chaos in every Inland Revenue office, across the country, because if you can find a couple whose child care costs do not go up or down by £10 pounds a week, every couple of months, I will show you two people flaunting their duty to obey.

My wife has spent days trying to get through, to permanently engaged IR lines, trying to fulfil this duty; they phoned her back on a Saturday morning, when she was out. Great.

But leaving aside the intrusion on our liberty, the inconvenience on our time wasted, and the small matter of the state needing to know the inside leg measurements of our children, let’s do a back-of-the-envelope economic analysis on the Great Man’s child tax credits policy. (If the back of an envelope is good enough for his famous five tests, done in the back of cab with Charlie Whelan, then it is good enough for us!)

Our initial tax payment: £1,000
My wife’s unanswered phone calls: £30
My time proving who I was: £10
My accountant’s time, helping with our claim: £50
My wife’s time, checking claim: £20

Our total costs: £1,110

IR form production and checking: £50
Help centre and phone-line maintenance cost: £30
IR Girl’s hour on Saturday morning: £40
IR amendment of our claim details: £20
Estimated IR cost, on inevitable repeat process: £100
IR background costs, per couple claiming: £50

Total IR costs: £290

Our Final “Benefit”: £710 (£1,000 tax – £290 admin)

Robbing Peter to pay Paul used to be the Old Labour fraud. Now they are robbing Peter, to pay Peter. But as the money goes round, they have taken, wasted, or destroyed, over a third of the hard-earned capital inputted into the initial transaction.

In what way, Gordon, is this ‘economic’? Even if we’d stuck to a Burkeian Old Tory way, and increased child benefit to £1,000 pounds a year, this would’ve wasted no more capital, and we’d have been £400 pounds a year better off; the poor Girl in Liverpool would’ve been doing something productive with her life; we would not have needed the new IR helpdesk, and my wife and I would not have been wasting our time on telephones, on a Saturday morning, when we had guests round, answering state-intrusive questions.

Even better, of course, to have just cut our tax in the first place. If the admin of child benefit costs the government £100 pounds a year, per couple, this would’ve been a £1,100 tax cut, or a whopping £500 pounds increase in our benefit gained. And we would have spent that £500 pounds usefully, in the productive sector of the economy, not made it disappear into the smoke, and the recycled paper troughs of unnecessary Inland Revenue offices designed to redistribute my Tory money to Labour-voting Liverpool.

It is this continuous waste of capital, Gordon, which has caused your economic stagnation, which you are bamboozled by, and which will soon cause a great big bust, once you have succeeded in wiping out Margaret Thatcher’s immense economic legacy, whose incredible achievements you still claim as your own. Which is bizarre.

I am currently up to page 169 of Murray N. Rothbard’s ‘Man, Economy, and State’, and it becomes clearer, day by day, Gordon, as I stagger through its pages, what a complete economic no-hoper you are. I suggest, James Gordon Brown, My Lord and Master, whose wages I wish I could avoid paying, that you buy this book. You might learn something. No, you will learn everything.

To every Tory, on the front bench, buy it too; find out why Gordon Brown, our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer, is such an economic clot, and the true economic reasons why his New Labour policies are all failing. This book, as they say, is unputdownable.

11 comments to Tales from the kingdom of the mad

  • I sympathize with your plight, but was amazed that you gave personal details on the phone to someone WHO CALLED YOU. Unless you have a lot less identity theft across the pond, that can be a recipe for problems.

  • Hi Cracker Barrel,

    Like I said, the stupid Englishman panicked. He should’ve got the nice young lady to prove who she was first. But the Inland Revenue in this country provoke such fear (at least, they do in me), and we’ve all been brainwashed so much (especially me), by a lifetime under the jackboot of the state (government hospitals, government schools, government housing estates, government run universities etc), that our instant generalised response to an alleged government agent demanding information, especially before the morning’s first cup of tea has been drunk, is that we obey their request without the process of thinking coming into it, first.

    Many of us are a bit like capped humans, in John Christopher’s Tripods, in that respect, meshed in, and ready to serve.

    But your point is a very good one, and next time I will be more careful. Thanks for the advice! 🙂

    In my defence, I did know my wife had been trying to contact the Inland Revenue (though I didn’t know which office), so it wasn’t entirely out of the blue. But next time they can prove who they are, before insisting I prove who I am, with information they shouldn’t be broadcasting around the telephone system (and which, in the first place, I’d rather they didn’t have at all).

    Fortunately, because we’re not yet tagged by ID card, or an all-pervading social security number which has to be displayed on every document, identity fraud is slightly harder here, than it might be. No doubt Blair’s incompetent police state will soon put that right, and I’ll be getting arrested for car thefts 200 miles away; ah, the joys of always believing what the police computer tells you! 🙂


  • Stephen Hodgson


    I can only echo Cracker Barrel Philosopher’s concerns about your apparent readiness to hand over personal details on the phone to a complete stranger who might have been working for the Inland Revenue.

    I once received a phone call (out of the blue) from a government department who told me I’d been selected to complete a survey for them about their level of service. The bureaucrat on the other end of the phone implied that I was obliged to answer her questions to help them out – and demanded personal details such as my name, address, date of birth and other such information which an identity-thief might require. I declined to answer a single question and they rang me back the next day insisting that I hand over the information! After having twice refused to co-operate they seemingly gave up and decided to harass another innocent taxpayer instead. (This happened before I was even 18 and a full-blown adult in the eyes of the law.)

  • Johan

    “So, to cut an irritating story short, it is apparently everyone’s duty in this country, if claiming child tax credits, to inform Gordon’s minions if your child care costs ever differ by more than £10 pounds in a week.”

    Complete madness.

    Why would a government institution have the right to know your “child budget”? Probably a stupid question since that’s the way it is, but I see no reason why the State should have an insight in your, or my, affairs. I’m not grown-up yet with a family and kids, but when that day comes I’ll probably be in the same position as you when it comes to the romantic relationship with the State – and I know for sure I’ll despise it. If they call again, follow the other commenters advice (on not talking to someone one the phone asking those questions) and tell her that “my mama told me to not talk to strangers. I don’t know who you are. Bye” 😉

  • apl

    The whole business is a cruel waste of time. The form you are required to fill out amounts to twelve pages of intrusive questions about yourself, your ‘partner’ and your children. The only necessary piece of information on the form would be the names and dates of birth of the children claimed for, and the claimants National insurance number.

    The National Inusrance number gives the Inland revenue ALL the information it could possibly need to determine based on last years tax return, your eligibility for the tax credit. Any adjustment could be carried out in next years tax coding.

  • Andy, what a perfectly ghastly story, yet well told. You ought to shop it around to one of the newspapers or magazines. You might get back a little of the money that the whole episode wasted for you. Or at least, you might get a larger regional forum for your well-taken points.

    (UK)IR & (US)IRS delenda est. Hands across the water and all that. Hang in there.

    –Just Another California Tax Slave

  • Dave

    “I’m sorry, all my tax issues are dealt with through my accountant. May I ask her to call you?”

    Works every time for me. Best £300 odd pounds I spend. Last year she saved me over £900, while it probably is a bit of over kill for most people. As soon as you reach an income threshold which makes them send you a tax return, its probably worth it.

  • dickweed

    Jeez, what a nightmare. Why aren’t the British rioting in the streets against their government? Why is there not a general revolt?
    Oh, yeah. Only government and criminals (and Mohammedan terrorists) have guns.

  • Hi dickweed,

    This may sound strange, but there are many in this country who like the current situation. That’s every Guardian reader, virtually all of whom work for the state in one well-paid capacity or other, who’ll be retiring at 55 for ‘stress’, on full index-linked lifetime taxpayer-guaranteed pensions.

    There’s also millions of Daily Mirror readers, mainly union members, or workers within the state industries.

    And there’s a huge amorphous mass of Middle England people, who’ve suckered themselves into feeling Marxist warfare class ‘guilt’, and who therefore think it’s their duty to pay higher taxes.

    And then it’s that long process of statism, begun, I think, with income tax during the Napoleonic Wars, and then really ratcheted in, during the 1914-18 war, when the State really started eating into the GDP, especially once it hoodwinked us off the gold standard.

    Then the 2nd world war really gave the state all the excuse it needed to take over completely, with the 1945 socialist government almost taking us to the brink of communism, and the full direction of nationalised labour. We came back from the brink, of that.

    But when the Tories took over in the 1950s, they resigned themselves to managing decline, failing to privatise the NHS, or abolishing the worst excesses of the welfare state. These Tories are still heavily represented (think of John Major, Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten, Kenneth Clarke, etc), all statist defeatists.

    Since WWII, a typical pattern of life, is like mine. Grew up on a government subsidised housing estate, went to a government subsidised school, had all my health care from a government subsidised health service, went to a government subsidised university, to qualify for a government regulated position within the government-run health service.

    It’s a nightmare. We’ve been turned into battery chickens, all servants of the social democratic state. If you want to know what’s happening here, honestly, just read Atlas Shrugged. It’s all in there. We vote in governments we hope will tax other people we’re envious of, to pay for the services we should be providing for ourselves. And we all get into line, and queue up, for what we’re given by mostly useless government departments.

    There’s (guessing wildly) about 2%, if that, people in this country, who aren’t statists. That’s why we’re not rioting. It’s a disgrace, but I have hope.

    I believe if we keep fighting, we can turn this around and free ourselves from the grey gloop of social democracy. It’s not going to be easy, and as you can see from other posts on Samizdata, we’re surrounded by unreasoning emotive irrationalists.

    But if I didn’t believe we could free ourselves, I’d run screaming into the cold waters of the Atlantic; though I would leave you my David Grey album collection! 🙂

    And no, I don’t have a gun. But I did spend some time in the Territorial Army. So I do know how to use one. Let’s hope I never have to put this knowledge into practice, in anger, or send my son off to do this. I fear it will come to that, if the present UK government gets another term of office to sell us down the river, into the European Utopian hell. But don’t rule out New Labour winning again.

    This country is filled with so many righteous moochers, and looters, working for the state, they’d have to work really hard not to win.

    What a banana! 🙂

  • Dave O'Neill


    Why aren’t the British rioting in the streets against their government? Why is there not a general revolt?

    Most people will never deal with the tax agencies. The current lunacy of child tax credits aside. If you earn under $60,000 (ish) a year you’ll normally never even see a tax return, so people don’t care.

    OTOH: People do riot in the streets and they do revolt, often quick effectively against the government.

    You may recall the fuss over the Poll Tax? Your guns don’t really help much when the government has tanks, but civil disobeydiance can still work a charm. Ask the French.

    Andy, invoking Atlas Shrugged? Shame on you 😉

    With regard to the future: Hmm… I doubt if the Tories will win. The anti-Tory vote is still pretty strong and people have seen what tactical voting can do now. I suspect, based on the current situation, a hung parlement.

    And we know what that means to the people terrified of Europe – the lib-dems might get some political control; PR, the Euro and the other nasty things that lurk in the nightmares of Europhiles.

  • Dave O'Neill

    And we all get into line, and queue up, for what we’re given by mostly useless government departments.

    Of course, with regard to this, the real problem is the British didn’t do Russian style communism. Given the way Britain was in the 1960’s we were practically there already 😉