As we write, Conservative Party of the United Kingdom is about to be engulfed by a war between one Liz Truss (who claims that she will cut taxes now) and one Rishi Sunak (who promises to cut them later). Overseas visitors: is this just a quarrel in a “small, far off country of which you know little, to quote Neville Chamberlain? Or is something relevant to us all going on?
We rather think it is, for it reflects a debate about taxes which assails all civilised societies. And it’s one which we think has become religious and theological, rather than economic and rational.
For those bought up on the Left, higher taxes are an article of faith, as they supposedly bring about a more egalitarian and therefore a more just society. Believers can cite endless sources and texts to support this view, just as is done by the adherents of major religions. There is some evidence to support this view, but it is not conclusive.
For those bought up on the Right, lower taxes are an article of faith, as they supposedly bring about a more dynamic and therefore a more just society. Believers can cite endless sources and texts to support this view, just as is done by the adherents of major religions. There is some evidence to support this view, but it is not conclusive.
We suspect that sometimes taxes should be higher, and sometimes lower, depending on the needs of the economy at that time. Meanwhile we would ask believers on both sides the following questions:
1 Do you believe that nations need collective systems for the safety of their citizens, such as armed forces, systems of justice and regulations on public health?
2 Does history show that even the bravest armies can fail if their weapons systems become outdated or their recruits are defective in health and education? (clue: study the history of Imperial Britain 1880-1945)
3 What happens to nations when the numbers of those who pay in to the common funds is exceeded by the numbers of those who take out? (clue: the History of France 1770-1789 might be instructive here)
4 If you are a patriot ready to lay down your life for your country, are you also ready to lay down some money?
5 Why should anyone work if a reasonably comfortable living might be offered by the work of others?
6 Is “the State” the accretion of government institutions, civil service, flags, army, monarch, judiciary etc? Or is it the small group of people (always rich, aggressive and male) who control the important decisions at any one moment?
We would be interested to learn your responses.
#taxation #direct taxes #indirect taxes #politics