Monday 4 November 2013

More like the sheriff of Nottingham...

Giving Wales the right to vary income tax is something of a double-edged sword.  It’s a power that is unlikely to be much used, I suspect.  The package of other tax measures likely to be devolved as part of the announcement made last week by Cameron and Clegg is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  On top of all of that, it seems likely that given borrowing powers, the Welsh Government is likely to blow the lot on one hugely expensive and environmentally damaging road scheme in the south east corner of Wales for which the rest of the country will end up paying for decades, if not generations.
None of that, however, is a reason to oppose the proposals, and if referendum there will be, then as a nationalist, I cannot vote other than ‘yes’ to the next step along the tortuous path.  Having the powers, and what we do with them, are two entirely separate issues, and separate they should remain.  I may not feel any huge enthusiasm for what the Welsh Government will do with the powers, but I’ll vote for the proposal, although somehow I can't see them rushing into calling a referendum.
The joint statement by Cameron and Clegg tells us something about the sort of society they both believe in.  It’s not a surprise coming from the Tories, but I suppose there are still some people out there who don’t understand that the Lib Dems have signed up to a very similar agenda.  One sentence in particular caught my eye: “one of the best ways to raise living standards is to cut people’s taxes”.
From the point of view of those whose taxes are cut, this may well be true, or at least feel as if it’s true.  More money in the pocket always pleases people.  But there are two sides to the ‘lower taxes’ coin, and the other side is ‘lower government expenditure’.  That in turn affects the services and benefits which people receive, and those most dependant on those services and benefits are likely to experience lower taxes as something which lowers rather than raises their living standards.
What the Tories and Lib Dems are both, in effect, saying is that they support improving the living standards of the most well-off whilst reducing the living standards of the least well-off.  Maybe children from their social background were fed a rather different version of the Robin Hood stories than the one that I read.


Anonymous said...

Think sensibly Man! When has a government ever been able to spend money more effectively than the original owner of that money? Never!

Peter said...

I would counter the argument of Anonymous by saying, it depends who the owner of the money is.
The owner of the money may be spending on alcohol, drugs, gambling or living a profligate life. In that case the Government will spend more effectively.
The real question is How do you measure whether spending is effective or not? that enters the realm of political philosophy. Much of Government, some would argue all of Government, is the distribution of wealth.

Effective spending is not based on Government bad, people good. It's much more complicated than that.

Spirit of BME said...

Ref your para 1 – totally agree.
Ref para 2- as a nationalist I would vote against this pathetic “giving the children some pin money” as it’s not good enough. To get a secure tax stream Wales needs to tax the export of water, but the Great White Queen`s Government in England would see that as far too dangerous.
As a good nationalist I believe it’s my patriotic duty to pay as little to HM Treasury as possible and people controlling their own lives and money is always the best solution. Anon 4 Nov 10:08 summed it up perfectly. Anon 5 Nov 00:45 – well it was late.

Anonymous said...

I take issue with you're last paragraph, The most well off usually pay little or no tax (good accountants and tax heavens etc) whilst the least well off, the working poor who receive little or no benefits, would benefits most from a reduction in the tax burden.

John Dixon said...

Anon 16:36,

Certainly there are rich people who pay little or no tax, although it's not as 'usual' as you suggest. Equally, there are people among the 'working poor' who are worse off than some of those on benefits. But to generalise both into being the 'norm' in the way that you do here is to fall for some of the myths being peddled by politicians and media. Besides, looking only at benefits is a very narrow way of looking at the way in which reducing government expenditure impacts on living standards.