Posts Tagged ‘tax’

“Consider the following sequence of cases, which we shall call the Tale of the Slave, and imagine it is about you.

1. There is a slave completely at the mercy of his brutal master’s whims. He often is cruelly beaten, called out in the middle of the night, and so on.

2. The master is kindlier and beats the slave only for stated infractions of his rules (not fulfilling the work quota, and so on). He gives the slave some free time.

3. The master has a group of slaves, and he decides how things are to be allocated among them on nice grounds, taking into account their needs, merit, and so on.

4. The master allows his slaves four days on their own and requires them to work only three days a week on his land. The rest of the time is their own.

5. The master allows his slaves to go off and work in the city (or anywhere they wish) for wages. He requires only that they send back to him three-sevenths of their wages. He also retains the power to recall them to the plantation if some emergency threatens his land; and to raise or lower the three-sevenths amount required to be turned over to him. He further retains the right to restrict the slaves from participating in certain dangerous activities that threaten his financial return, for example, mountain climbing, cigarette smoking.

6. The master allows all of his 10,000 slaves, except you, to vote, and the joint decision is made by all of them. There is open discussion, and so forth, among them, and they have the power to determine to what uses to put whatever percentage of your (and their) earnings they decide to take; what activities legitimately may be forbidden to you, and so on.

Let us pause in this sequence of cases to take stock. If the master contracts this transfer of power so that he cannot withdraw it, you have a change of master. You now have 10,000 masters instead of just one; rather you have one 10,000-headed master. Perhaps the 10,000 even will be kindlier than the benevolent master in case 2. Still, they are your master. However, still more can be done. A kindly single master (as in case 2) might allow his slave(s) to speak up and try to persuade him to make a certain decision. The 10,000-headed monster can do this also.

7. Though still not having the vote, you are at liberty (and are given the right) to enter into the discussions of the 10,000, to try to persuade them to adopt various policies and to treat you and themselves in a certain way. They then go off to vote to decide upon policies covering the vast range of their powers.

8. In appreciation of your useful contributions to discussion, the 10,000 allow you to vote if they are deadlocked; they commit themselves to this procedure. After the discussion you mark your vote on a slip of paper, and they go off and vote. In the eventuality that they divide evenly on some issue, 5,000 for and 5,000 against, they look at your ballot and count it in. This has never yet happened; they have never yet had occasion to open your ballot. (A single master also might commit himself to letting his slave decide any issue concerning him about which he, the master, was absolutely indifferent.)

9. They throw your vote in with theirs. If they are exactly tied your vote carries the issue. Otherwise it makes no difference to the electoral outcome.

The question is: which transition from case 1 to case 9 made it no longer the tale of a slave?”

Nozick, Robert (1974). Anarchy, State and Utopia

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Child Benefit Cut in Popular with Public Shock – from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17255753

Apparently people earning more than £42,475 having their Child Benefit removed is a popular with about 77% of voters. Perhaps the most shocking thing about this statistic is that only 77% of taxpayers polled backed the scheme. You’ve gotta wonder about the other 23%. Note that isn’t families earning £42,475 but individuals. So in the future if both parents have respective salaries of £42,475 they will still qualify for child benefit. That’s a combined salary of £84,950 – and they will still receive this tax free subsidy. I could wax lyrical about the inherent ludicrousness of such a scheme but I think I’ll restrain my argument to a few salient points. First off, I simply can not believe that almost every family (regardless of income) currently qualifies for Child Benefit under current legislation. Secondly, it would seem to me that these changes plainly do not go far enough. People who do not need this hand out will still qualify to receive it.

What irks me most about this type of government spending however, is the patronizing molly coddling of the welfare state. Not capable of planning for the costs of parenthood themselves, individuals are deemed too incompetent to provide a basic standard of living for their own children. Anybody who earns anything like £42,475 but requires a government hand out to support their children is clearly lacking more than just the £20 a week they will get under the scheme (for the first child). And under the present system there are people earning FAR more than this and still qualifying. Of course, there will be many families with much lower incomes to whom such a benefit has become essential. The fact that such a benefit has become essential to any family raising a child is in some ways the crux of the problem. That a family could only afford to raise a child with a leg up from the state is a truly depressing state of affairs. This is not to say that raising children on low income is in any way an easy task. Far from it. Rising prices and stagnant wages must surely be an intolerable strain on any family struggling to make ends meet. But there are much  better ways of supporting these families (such as raisng the personal allowance on income tax to £12,000) that wouldn’t encourage the same level of dependency.

I think the main point is that people should try to plan for raising a family. Sure, accidents will happen. Some form of limited government assistance may be deemed necessary, charity should also help. But part of the reason why people can afford to be so reckless in these affairs is the knowledge that the government will bear some of the strain. Anyone considering the most important decision of all – to bring a child into the world – would do well to remember that it is their responsibility to plan for, provide for and protect the welfare of this new life.