Tuesday, September 13, 2011

50% Tax Rate - Political Panto

The issue of cutting (or not) the 50% tax rate is the latest episode in the political panto that passes for discourse in this country. We are led to believe that this is an ideological issue that pits 'heartless Tories' on one side, and their 'heartful LibDems' on the other, urged on, of course, by the Labour Party looking on from the side-lines. In reality it's another non-issue that obscures the reality of an entrenched consensus that likes to offer us the illusion of choice. There's more choice in Coke vs Pepsi than there is in our political class.

Rather than being an ideological issue, it ought to be one of empirical economics. The evidence shows that cutting taxes works - it increases the overall tax take. We need to do more than just cut the 50% rate, we need to cut rates across the board and to take low-income families out of the tax system completely. But that's not going to happen because that requires a decrease in the size of the state - and for all their fine words, none of our politicians believe that is a good thing. Instead we have the political theatre of arguing about the 50% rate in isolation.

You'll notice that the issue is never placed into a broader context that looks at how the public purse is pilfered by large corporates and large landowners in the guise of fighting climate change. There is no linkage to the reverse flow of money from our taxes into the pockets of those building subsidy farms across the country. Why should there be? All our politicians think this is a good thing - and it makes no difference whether this is for venal reasons or an unthinking belief in the goodness of the cause.

It would be interesting to compare the figures - the tax take from the 50% rate versus the cost money that goes into feed-in tariffs and other green taxes.

We see the same thing in the political spectacle of our so-called leaders arguing about the extent of EU powers. There's the same posturing, but that's all it is. The reality is that our politicians are firmly in the EU camp, and they share the same ideological conviction that trans-national bodies (EU, UN etc) are better than national ones.

You do not have to be a Situationist to realise that Guy Debord's central thesis that we do live in a 'society of the spectacle'. Politics is an illusion that is played for the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many.

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