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Samizdata quote of the day – heavier taxes edition

“Today’s Autumn Statement was the latest confirmation that at some point British politicians replaced the idea that ‘people should be able to live well’ with ‘pensioners should be able to live well, and damn the rest’. You are expected to scrimp, save, forgo the pleasures of youth, postpone having a family, and possibly never have one, in order that your money and earnings can be directed to the most noble cause there is: propping up the value of rental properties, and paying for the healthcare and pensions of Boomers.”

Sam Ashworth-Hayes.

As I noted earlier this week, there is a problem with a lot of people not bothering to get a job, and there are issues there. Some of you have argued that young people, weighed by debt and alarmed by where things are going, are giving up on work and ambition. I think this is a bit glib – gaining work skills and character is still important, for all economic and political weathers. There’s no doubt though that the sort of message coming out of today’s autumn statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is that if you are ambitious and fortunate enough to be earning a lot of money, even more of that is going to the State, and in many cases, to support the older generation. We are seeing, I think, the politics of ageing right in front of our eyes.

34 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – heavier taxes edition

  • Kirk

    This is something I’ve been pointing out for years and years, but nobody wants to examine the implications.

    It is why Big-S Socialism kills societies, because the younger generations aren’t encouraged to even be brought into existence, let alone become successful.

    Why should the younger generation get on the treadmill in the first damn place? Mom and Dad are hanging on at their jobs, cluttering up the job market with their ancient ways and ideas. Go look at the number of French and Italian young adults who’re still living at home into their thirties. It’s nuts… And, the US is headed down the same road.

    Socialism is a roach motel of an ideology; you go in, but you don’t get out without world-changing damage. The idea was “We’ll upend the way everything works, make people’s lives all better…” End state? Net gain of misery, world-wide. It’s like a vast social Ponzi scheme, and nobody notices it until it’s too damn late.

  • john in cheshire

    The body politic is infested with rats, snakes, cockroaches and vultures.
    Until these unclean parasites are are physically gone, nothing will change.

  • Yet Another Chris

    I know I’m setting myself to be shot down, but hold on. In our working lives, the wife and I have paid half a million pounds in tax and NI. In return our state pensions are £17.5k combined. Why is that a problem? What’s more, I’m still working part-time – a couple of hundred hours per year on a project basis. So I’ve been working 55 years. I’m not sitting on my a*se unlike some. I suggest looking at all the money our government is p*ssing up the wall starting with – well you decide.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Young people SHOULD get jobs … ANYWHERE in the world OTHER than the UK.

  • Chris, it’s almost as if putting the government in charge of people’s pensions comes with a massive downside, eh?

  • Yet Another Chris

    Perry, yes.

  • bobby b

    My numbers on US Social Security neatly match Yet Another Chris’s numbers.

    I would have no objection to the US moving to a means-tested payout (I currently get my $21k no matter my wealth) if it meant that the US would spend that much less.

    But when it simply means that it would open up more money for new green crap and racial equity programs and higher funding for teachers’ unions, no.

    I’ll stick with our original deal.

  • Ferox

    Turns out that the Free Ponies are not free after all … and nobody is queueing up to pay for them. Quelle surprise.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    For all the good this ‘grown-up orthodoxy’ is likely to do for the SME businesses that are the real drivers of economic growth, might Hunt just as well have called his Autumn Statement ‘Directive 10-289‘ instead and be done with it?

  • SkippyTony

    Is anyone genuinely surprised that the most feckless and selfish generation (yes Im a boomer as well) will vote themselves anyone elses money to protect their lifestyles?

    As long as boomers can vote, no one elses livelihoods or future gets a look in.

    This is not news folks…..

  • Alex

    Chris, you may have paid in half a million pounds but if you live twenty years after retirement your state pensions will cost £350,000. Take into account healthcare and I think it is unlikely you would have been better off investing it privately if the NHS didn’t exist. I think it’s awful personally but you have to admit it’s likely that the average 85 year old has had more than £200,000 worth of healthcare, appalling though the standard may be. I know that the sole person in my family to have reached such an age certainly has.

    My grandmother retired at 52, is now 92. She’s had state pension for more than 30 years.

    On the other side of my family we all are the state actuaries friends and die nice and early. My mother got five months of her state pension, after a life of ceaseless work. Her sister managed a little better and survived more than a decade after reaching state pension age. I expect to never reach state pension age unfortunately, even if it had remained at 65. I think I may well beat Chris’s contributions to the rotten edifice and die without collecting a penny.

    None of this takes away from the fact that the UK state pension is and has always been a Ponzi scheme.

  • Paul Marks

    The Chancellor said, at times, that today’s package was a mixture of tax increases and spending reductions – but the figures show that government spending will continue to go up (indeed, to be fair, the Chancellor admitted that in his speech – indeed he boasted of it). Even totally discredited projects, such as “HS2” (a railway scheme Money Pit) will continue (in defiance of what J.B. Say and Bastiat explained about the folly of government “investment” some two centuries ago) – and, of course, more money will be spent on the health, education and welfare schemes.

    The actual performance of such organisations as the National Health Service, people waiting for hours for ambulances, vast waiting lists for medical treatment, and-so-on will be no bar to it’s getting more money. Indeed, if people are not getting health care it must mean the National Health Service is not being given enough money and must be given even more – no other conclusion can be considered, to even think of some other conclusion would be Hate Think, a desire to make the old, the poor and the sick suffer and die – “compassion” the Chancellor explained, at great length, is shown by government spending and regulations (regulations such as the “Living Wage”). Compassion is nothing to do with individual action (the human virtue of benevolence) or voluntary cooperation – again the Chancellor was very clear on this point.

    So – the plan is, higher government spending, higher taxes, and (also) lots “incentives” and other schemes and regulations designed to modify how people behave.

    There were also a lot of strange statements. For example, the economic mess is not the result of the more than 400 hundred Billion Pounds spent by then Chancellor Sunak on “lockdowns” – no it is the fault of “Putin”. And the “Public Health” policies followed over the last couple of years have not been a disaster – the policies administered by Sir Patrick Valance and Sir Chris Whitty were “brilliant”.

    The one positive thing that can be said is that we know where we are now – with First Lord of the Treasury Sunak and Chancellor Hunt, we know exactly where we stand. Their philosophy and line of policy is crystal clear.

    What someone thinks about today’s package depends on what their own moral position is, and what their beliefs about economic policy are.

  • Paul Marks

    To clear up one possible area of confusion – how could the Chancellor, in the same speech, say that his package was one of tax increases and spending reductions AND say that government spending was continuing to go up. Was he lying? Has he gone insane? NO he was not, in modern language, lying or insane – please allow me to explain.

    I first noticed in 1979 that a spending increase could, by both government and the media, be described as a “cut” or “reduction” – if (IF) it was lower than a planned increase.

    Say one has a plan to increase spending on something by a billion Pounds, and then one “only” increases spending by 800 million, then (to the modern mind) this is a “cut” of 200 million Pounds, even though spending is going up by 800 million Pounds.

    So, if the Chancellor spends less on, say, energy subsidies than it was previously suggested the government might spend – this is a “cut”, even as many billions of Pounds of extra spending proceed.

    It is just the way modern people speak.

    This is nothing to do with “inflation adjusted” – as even after inflation is taken into account government spending will continue to increase.

  • Paul Marks

    It must also be pointed out that the policy of increasing government spending is not just about the old – it is about just about everything. Health spending (yes possibly age related – but wait), education and training spending, defence spending, “infrastructure investment”, and so on.

    As I have pointed out – the philosophy and line of economic policy of the First Lord of the Treasury Sunak and Chancellor Hunt is crystal clear – this is not just about an aging population, this is a general policy to increase the size of the state in government spending and taxation, and the scope of the state via regulations (various regulations were specifically presented for praise in the speech, and new regulations suggested).

    Again, one’s view of all this will depend on one’s general moral philosophy and one’s view of economics.

  • Roué le Jour

    Public accounts often strikes me as making Hollywood look like a model of rectitude. It doesn’t seem to add up and yet at the same time it obviously does. Setting aside the obvious fact that the pound you paid in tax 40 years ago was worth a lot more than the pound you pay in tax today, and of course it’s really you that pays “employers” NI, UK citizens have their income taxed when they spend it as well as when they earn it, so figuring out how much anyone has really contributed is almost impossible.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland (London)
    Chris, it’s almost as if putting the government in charge of people’s pensions comes with a massive downside, eh?

    Just to put it in perspective — if the same money was invested over 30 years at just 3% annual interest Chris and his wife could be taking home $45,000 a year rather than $17,500. If at a more reasonable 5%, they could be taking home $70,000. If at the stock market average of 8%, they could take home at least $150,000 a year, in perpetuity.

    But it is good to know that the Government is taking care of you.

    BTW, there is this idea pushed by the government that the government pension funds are insolvent because of changing demographics. That isn’t true. The reason they are insolvent is that government systematically stole all the money Chris and his wife, and everyone else, paid in.

    BTW, in reference to the guy who mentioned the cost of the NHS, maybe I am crazy but I thought the idea was the VAT was what funded the NHS. I checked the numbers and the VAT revenue is roughly the same as the NHS budget.

  • figuring out how much anyone has really contributed is almost impossible.

    I haven’t “Contributed”.

    It was not a voluntary whip round, it was money extracted with threat of violence and closer to £1 million quid for myself.

  • Alan Peakall

    Fraser, I think it improbable that the idea of VAT funding the NHS is that deeply embedded because the NHS dates from 1948 but VAT was not introduced (as a replacement for Purchase Tax) until the UK joined the (then) EEC in 1973. If some are now trying to it on the grounds that it might be a good wheeze to limit growth of NHS spending to the growth of the (allegedly) regressive VAT impost, they are likely being tool clever by half.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    I’m somewhat with Yet Another Chris.
    Like John Galt, my “voluntary contributions” total c £1m (ignoring accrued interest)-say £800K. Until some recent healthcare I had received nothing back (I mean nothing as I’m not accounting for council tax which pays the emergency services budgets and rubbish collection, or road tax which supposedly maintains the roads or VAT, and state education is (on balance) not worth anything these days*) except defence.

    Moreover, funded pensions are not as expensive as people think. We’ve averaged 7.8% return on the UK’s FTSE 100 for the past 40 years. On that basis my £1m turns into £11,061,164 (allowing for uniform salary increases from my starting pay and the market return). That sounds like enough to fund my state pension and some health care.

    The state is not your friend.

    *rhetorical exaggeration

  • Paul Marks

    To repeat the point – this “Autumm Statement” was NOT a matter of “the old versus the young” or anything like that – this was a general philosophical (yes philosophical) decision to increase the size and scope of government.

    Taxation, even as proportion of the economy, is to be at all-time record high. Government spending is also to be INCREASD (not reduced as some people appear to think)- not just on the elderly, on many aspects of government. And government regulations are also to be increased – there is to be no great deregulation, quite the contrary. As the recent “G20” gathering made clear – such things as “vaccine passports” and-so-on are very much still on the agenda of international governance.

    This is not about trying to win over the elderly – this is a decision of basic principle to expand the size and scope of the state.

    For all his very many faults I am glad I voted for Mr Alexander “Boris” Johnson against Mr Hunt, and I am certainly glad I voted for Elizabeth “Liz” Truss against Mr Sunak (the Mr Sunak who was, with Mr Johnson, responsible for more than 400 Billion Pounds of spending on insane “lockdowns” – in line with the international governance agenda, with “Public Health” being used as an excuse).

    If there is anything left of the “free market” (as such people as the late Milton Friedman and so on understood it) the market will now crash.

    But, sadly, I suspect that financial entities (backed by the Credit Money of the Central Banks) dominate the markets – and they are very much on board with the agenda of international governance (“Stakeholder Capitalism” – the Corporate State), with their “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” agenda as part of the “Enviornmental and Social Governance” international agenda.

    The people in control of such financial entities have nothing but hatred and contempt for “reactionary, backward, bigots” who think a business is about producing quality products at competitive prices.

    I repeat – what happened yesterday was NOT “old versus young” (remember such things as the education budget and HS2) this was a decision to increase the size and scope of government, spending, taxes, regulations.

    It was actually a decision of principle, yes principle, bad principle – but still principle.

    I hope people now understand.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Tobbias Ellwood M.P. recently said (with approval – he is happy about it) that “the free-market experiment is over” harking back to times when compulsory guilds controlled production and many (most?) people were serfs.

    It is NOT that Mr Ellwood wishes to return to the Middle Ages – he wishes to see a modern (high tech) version of the end of freedom (because he sincerely believes that people are happier when they do not have the burden of freedom – of personal responsibility), with international governance regulations controlling all aspects of life – for the good of the people (his intentions are pure, he wishes people to be happy and believes this is the way to achieve happiness, remember “you will own nothing and you will be happy”).

    Mr Ellwood M.P. is by no means an isolated case – on the contrary his opinions are in line with the Legion of people, politicians, officials, “experts”, and corporate managers (loyal to vast financial entities created and sustained by the Credit Money of the Central Banks and the pet Credit Bubble commercial banks) who are working to create international governance.

    They are all “educated” people (they really are) – this is what their education, at school and university, has taught them to believe. It is the ultimate objective of Progressive “Social Reform”.

  • Yet Another Chris

    For the avoidance of doubt, I should point out that I only included income tax and NI in my half a million. My wife’s share is small. She was a stay-at-home-mum, working part-time when the kids grew up. We have four children, two of whom pay top rate tax.

    I’d hate to think how other tax we’ve paid – VAT, council tax, duty (red wine, whisky, fuel) ….. to name some of the other ways we’re screwed.

    And I’m still paying. The state pension is counted along with my private pension and part-time analyst work.

    Tend to agree, Clovis, the state is not our friend.

  • Stonyground

    Is it possible that deliberately restricting your energy supply until most of your major industries disappear to foreign lands might reduce opportunities for younger people?

  • John

    From the OP:-

    You are expected to scrimp, save, forgo the pleasures of youth,

    Yes, that’s precisely what my generation did. No foreign holidays, no regular nights out clubbing, making do with a 10 year old car which you or a mate serviced, work all the overtime you can get. After a few years you have hopefully scraped together the 10% deposit for your first property. Then for the next few years eat at home, repair your clothes, holiday in the UK if at all and generally do whatever it takes to service that mortgage.

    Yet each new generation are encouraged to resent the fact that people who went through all this while young now have something (their own home) to show for their sacrifices.

  • rhoda klapp

    |I didn’t have any option. My vote achieved nothing because promises were not kept. I accept no blame for the current situation. I would like to say for the younger generations who feel hard-done-by, take responsibility for your own future. If you don’t do stupid things you’ll be OK.

  • Yet Another Chris

    John at 3.12. That’s the story of my life exactly. I might be a bit older than you because, as a child, I endured post war rationing. My mum kept my ID card and ration book, which I now have. At least I don’t have a sweet tooth!

  • Paul Marks

    It is not about young versus old – it is about who is for a bigger state and who is against it. Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak are for a bigger state – look at their deeds, both yesterday and long before yesterday.

    Yet again – remember that much of this increase in government spending has got nothing to do with spending on the elderly.

  • Roué le Jour

    Think what a citizen costs the state. Education alone is north of 100k, plus pension and healthcare. Then imagine what fraction of the population is going to pay more than that in tax, and you can see why taxes are so high for the few who manage to make a decent amount of money. It’s a Ponzi scheme alright, but it’s not us old buggers who are the cause of it.

  • Kirk

    @Roue le Jour,

    I’d challenge a few of your assumptions, there. “…costs the state.”, for one of them. Who asked the state to spend any of that? Who authorized them to collect up from the “fraction” of the population who can afford that?

    The other end of the equation isn’t much better… Average out what the usual Social Security recipient gets from the system vs. what they pay in, and you start to have a few questions about the entire proposition. None of it works out.

    Nobody asked the government to get involved in education or much of anything else; they just took it upon themselves to take all that over, and now that they’ve made a hash of it, they’re saying it’s too much trouble.

    Had the government left well enough alone, in the first place, people would be doing what they used to do, which is “fend for themselves”. The government and all of it’s varied numpties and do-gooders decided to domesticate the human animal, and are now presenting the spectacle of trying to fob that newly-domesticated creature off as someone else’s problem to take care of. If they hadn’t have tried putting them all under care in the first place, the unfit would be either getting their act together, or dying off in job lots. With the wonders of government intervention, we’re all now burdened with their care.

    Not sure I see the value proposition in any of it. Government should be limited to keeping public order, and keeping outsiders off our backs. The rest? Up to the individual, and if you’re unable to cope with that, well… I’m sure things are better somewhere across another border.

    The really messed-up thing here is that people are looking at the failures inherent to government overreach, and saying “Oh, dear… Nothing works!!” Sad fact is, nothing with the government involved works. Less you put in their hands, the less there is for them to f*ck up.

    Somewhere along the line, the insane idea that “There ought to be a law…” took everything over. Now, we’re at the end point of that logical extension, and what we’re finding is that actually, no, there oughtn’t be a law; the law does not lend itself to much past actual criminal behavior, and even that, we are learning, does not do well under government sponsorship.

    I can’t see how much worse off we’d be, in a state of total anarchy. The current setup just reeks of cronyism, rent-seeking, and Ponzi-scheming bastardry, in all endeavors coupled with government.

  • Roué le Jour

    Hi Kirk,
    I was commenting in response to others who complained of paying far more in tax than they received in benefits. A large part of the population, most, probably, consume more in benefits than they contribute in tax, that’s why.

  • Kirk

    @Roue le Jour,

    And, who said the state had any right or obligation to set things up that way?

    None of the stuff we’re discussing is the proper purview of “the state”, which has a tendency to muck up those things it sticks its nose into.

    People go awnanawnanawn about “public good”, but they fail to grasp that there’s an equal and opposite: Public risk. You turn your government into the all-powerful in your life, and you’re essentially setting it up as a secular god, getting into things it has no business in. Sure, it’s nice to have a public health system, but what does it actually cost you? Set things up such that you’re obligated to the government for your health care, that means that everyone else who is involved in that situation gets a say in what should properly be between you, nature, and your doctors. You look at Canada, where they’ve gone down the same Nazi rabbit hole of euthanasia for the “unfit”, and… Well, there you are. To wish for the one, having someone else pay for your health care, means you’re automatically signing up for the other: Giving someone else your medical autonomy. And, in the end, who winds up running those systems? The least morally fit; the very people you don’t want making your personal health care decisions.

    It’s like that all through the system of “government-involved” anything; the teachers you have the government in charge of teaching your kids? They’re not interested in the benefit to your kids or you; they don’t care about perpetuating your beliefs, your culture… They want to perpetuate theirs. Their bureaucracy, their belief systems, their world-view. Doesn’t matter how dysfunctional it is, it’s a vicious, self-reinforcing circle of the less-than-virtuous aping virtue, telling you that what’s convenient and good for them is actually what’s good for you. Which it most often… Isn’t.

    Government ought to be involved only in those things which are absolutely necessary. That’s not education; that’s not health care, that’s not much past the core concerns of what should be government, national defense and external affairs. More you put into its purview, the more it will mess up. Observe the world around you, and consider how things were done before we chose to get government involved. Are they doing a better job? Is the world a better place, with government-supported numpties are suggesting euthanasia as a solution? Is that really any better than just letting people die of their own accord, on their own?

  • @Roue le Jour, And, who said the state had any right or obligation to set things up that way? (Kirk, November 19, 2022 at 10:24 am)

    Well, certainly not Samizdata commenter Roue le Jour, or me, or, I guess, almost anyone here.

    “Unasked politicians keen to buy votes with the promise of taxpayers’ money” is one answer. “Voters ready to be bought with such promises” is another. “Professional groups (e.g. educators) eager to escape the power of their customers by making the state enforce payment regardless of what those customers think of their service” is a third answer – that may outshine the other two when the question is not “Who asked for this?” but “Who initiated this?”

    An education in the true meaning of power is my explanation of how one of these rackets could be straightforwardly shut down by a government with the will. Many another such racket could be shut down similarly, but not all. Briton’s NHS (for example) was created unfunded as a cost for the next generation to meet, their health costs in turn being met by the generation after them. Getting a particular generation to meet, not pass on as much as they still can of, these NHS promises (built in, as they are, to the saving-state plans and realities of so many Britons) needs more than just acquiring the will of a UK government to defy the official mindset, hard though that alone would be.

    Despite that, much could be (could have been) done by a government that did not prefer taxing the productive.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall Kilmartin – as you know (but other people may not) the National Health Service was not inspired by the “Friendly Society of Great Western Railway employees” or “a Welsh mining village” – or all the other absurd lies one finds in official history texts, government documents, and BBC programmes.

    The NHS was a copy of the Soviet health service that was created some 20 years before. That system still exists in Putin’s Russia today. But most Russians do not regard it with the religious reverence that the NHS is regarded in the United Kingdom.

    If Mr Putin demanded that people go out from their homes and “clap for the health service”, as Mr Johnson did, Mr Putin might finally get the bullet in the brainpan he deserves.

    By the way – some good medical treatment (“care” is the wrong word) does exist in Russia, if you are prepared to pay for it. With the free Russian medical service – you get what you pay for (and you paid nothing).

    When Jordan Peterson was dying (Western medical care having basically given up on him – indeed it was the drugs that Western health care gave him that messed him up) he went to Russia.

    He was told two things – “we will either cure you or kill you” and “I hope you do not care much about pain – because we are Russians and we do not much care about pain”.

    Russian health care, the sort you pay for, is not gentle (it is very aggressive)- but Jordan Peterson is alive.

    “But Paul. Russians are orcs” – no, actually they are not orcs, they are human beings, brutal at times (very brutal), but human.

    And I would remind people that the orc medical care that Merry got in the “Lord of the Rings” worked – it was very painful, and it left him scarred, but it worked, and it worked swiftly.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – never pay up front. Agree how much you are going to pay up front (so you do not get hit by an inflated bill), but only pay after the good or service has been delivered and you are happy with it.

    For example, why should Russian doctors try and save your life (costing themselves time and money) if you have already paid up front?

    “Out of the goodness of their hearts” – ah of course, silly me.