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]

And Moses said unto Pharoah…

The trouble with all this free-market capitalism (according to every reliable and sound authority on the subject) is that it results in a cruel, dog-eat-dog society where the strong and the rich grow stronger and richer while the poor and weak get trampled underfoot in the headlong stampede for endless profits.

This is why markets must be subject to the moderating influence of a compassionate government which must deploy a range of taxes, regulations and laws to stave off the worst predations of naked greed and help create a level-playing field and decent living conditions for all those poor and feeble people.

Here endeth the first lesson in received wisdom: [Note: link to article in UK Times may not work for readers outside of the UK]

THE black economy does Britain good because it helps to keep poor people off the breadline and develop their “entrepreneurial skills”, a report commissioned by the Government has found.

Efforts to stamp out moonlighting — including a year-long £5 million advertising campaign — were misguided because tax dodges were a way of providing the needy with a financial safety net, the study commissioned by John Prescott’s office found.

It may cause some cognitive disonance to reverberate around the corridors of power to be told that the best way to help the poor is to let them out of the prison that has purportedly been built for their benefit.

4 comments to And Moses said unto Pharoah…

  • Hank Scorpio

    “Efforts to stamp out moonlighting — including a year-long £5 million advertising campaign”

    What in the hell? Is this really a serious problem in the UK? Is your economy that shaky that someone holding down two jobs is really doing that much damage to society? I can’t fathom trying to “stamp out” moonlighting… Someone working multiple jobs is to be commended, they probably shouldn’t be the target of an advertising campaign geared towards having them work less.

  • Guy Herbert

    Hank, the British social context is misleading you. In the US working in multiple jobs legitimately is common and approved. In Britain doing so is rare (working hard at all is highly disreputable in some circles), and “moonlighting” is widely taken to mean some sort of fraud: working while taking unemployment benefit, or doing work on the side at the same time as you are supposed to be doing something else. It implies at the very least something secretive and disreputable. British people may have loved Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, but the title of the show was as incomprehensible and inapplicable as if it had been called Squigglybump.

    This is exacerbated by the British tax and benefits systems being devised around a conception of work as a single weekly or monthly paid employment for a large organisation with near-fixed regular hours and rewards based on time worked. Anything else causes chaos: people doing a correctly-taxed second job will pay a vast marginal rate and hurl their employers into a (worse) bureaucratic nightmare. Even the system grudgingly allowed (and increasingly denied) to the self-employed operates on a hidden asssumption that income will be regularly received throughout the year and is monotonically increasing.

    Despite David’s good spin for it, one thing that is notceable about the report is the way it doesn’t actually comprehend that the free market is a good thing. What it is really doing is groping for Third Way-ish arguments to treat the poor more leniently than the not-so-poor when their way of earning a living comes into conflict with the system. Because as every social science researcher knows, the poor are morally more worthy because they are poor. It is soaked in patronage and double standard.

  • zmollusc

    Individual avoiding payment of tax: BAD.
    Company avoiding payment of tax: GOOD.

  • John Harrison

    I do resent people claiming benefits aimed to help the unemployed, while working but the solution to reducing benefit fraud must be to reduce benefits while increasing the incentive to the individual to do some real work. Allowing people to earn more before being taxed is essential. Ultimately ending all taxes on income should be possible and along with daily signing-on at the dole office to collect unemployment benefit would make it more hassle than it is worth for anyone to claim benefits while actually working.