“Jeremy Hunt is urged to let workers keep more of their cash through tax cuts,” goes today’s headline in The Mail.
In this context that one word, ‘let’, has the same effect on me as the word ‘culture’ allegedly had on Dr Goebbels. For you can let anyone keep anything only if it legitimately belongs to you.
Hence that wording of this worthy plea amounts to acknowledging that the money we earn belongs to the state, which can then decide how much it should allow us to keep for our own petty needs. In other words, that headline in our supposedly conservative paper meekly accepts tyranny.
In response to that abject entreaty by some Tory MPs, the Chancellor with the oft-mispronounced name set out to prove one of two things: either he is ignorant of elementary economics or he believes that everyone else is. “As we start to win the battle against inflation, we can focus on the next stage which is growth,” he said.
As if those two things could be separated. Both runaway inflation and extortionate, growth-stifling taxes have the same root: excess government spending. And excess government spending is caused by the state’s commitment to socialism in its various guises.
The only way to cut inflation and ensure steady growth is to abandon or at least curtail socialist practices. A good start would be a massive educational campaign – something all governments know how to do – explaining to people that socialism is as morally defunct as it is economically ruinous.
As a former adman, I can assure you that a massive campaign in all key media wouldn’t take more than a month to soften the ground for a parallel cut in taxes and public spending. Then the government would be able to go into the next election with a growth of some three per cent and an inflation of less than that.
Also, since lower taxes would increase productivity and turn many tax consumers into tax producers, the taxation base would widen. Hence it’s entirely possible that lower tax rates could produce higher tax revenue, although this is by no means guaranteed – whichever way the Laffer Curve bends.
Moreover, a corporate tax rate of, say, 10 per cent, as opposed to the current 25, will stimulate business activity by encouraging both start-ups and import of capital. All this is the ABC of economics, and I lay no claim to blazing new trails.
Yet you know and I know and everyone knows that none of this will happen on any other than a purely cosmetic scale designed to produce a PR effect but none other. For Clinton’s guru James Carville was wrong when he uttered his famous adage in 1992: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
It’s not. Certainly not now and not even 30 years ago. “It’s the ideology, stupid” would be more accurate, or “It’s the stupid ideology”, if you’d rather.
The two antipodes, Marx and Hayek, both got it wrong. Modern, which is to say post-Enlightenment, societies are run along ideological, not economic lines. Whenever there is a conflict, ideology wins every time.
Take any country and any field of human endeavour, and you’ll find irrefutable proof. Modern governments are prepared to sacrifice economic prosperity for the sake of ideological virtue signalling. And not just sacrifice some prosperity – they will willingly set up conditions for an economic collapse.
Just look at the insane, potentially catastrophic drive towards a net zero economy. Net zero usually refers to carbon emissions, but it may just as well mean zero growth, zero prosperity, zero happiness (in the modern, pecuniary sense of the word).
I can’t estimate the cost of this folly, other than suggesting it will run into more zeros than one can find in the Mother of All Parliaments. Moreover, there is every chance that the experiment (for that’s what it is) will fail and more trillions will have to be spent to go back to normal.
And why are we doing that? There isn’t a single economist in the world who will argue that this massive self-harm is being done for sound economic reasons. Everyone knows the reason for it is purely ideological, based as it is on the pernicious, anti-scientific notion of global anthropogenic warming.
Anti-capitalist ideologues using a hysterical, mentally deficient child as their figurehead, waved a magic wand, and an unfounded hypothesis was turned into an unsound theory, then into an indisputable fact, and then into an ideological orthodoxy one can only resist at one’s peril.
Few people believe we can ever pull off the net zero trick. No one believes we’ll be better off economically even if we can. Everyone knows that the economic, and hence human, cost of this ideological experiment is staggering.
The same goes for taxes. Everyone knows that our current tax rates are ruinous both economically and, more important, morally. The government has systematically created a vast urban underclass sponging off the Exchequer and turning normal social ills into deadly diseases.
Writing about the decline of Rome, R.G. Collingwood wrote what was both penetrating analysis and unerring prophecy:
“The critical moment was reached when Rome created an urban proletariat whose only function was to eat free bread and watch free shows. This meant the segregation of an entire class which had no work to do whatever; no positive function in society, whether economic or military or administrative or intellectual or religious; only the business of being supported and amused. When that had been done, it was only a question of time until Plato’s nightmare of a consumer society came true: the drones set up their own king, and the story of the hive came to an end.”
Has the Chancellor read Collingwood? Probably not: he doesn’t have the face of a scholar.
Yet it only takes a modicum of common sense to arrive at the same conclusion, and that I’m sure he does possess. He is also aware of what exorbitant taxation does to the economy, and he even knows how quickly both the economic and moral health of the nation would improve should the welfare state be dismantled.
Yet here I have to cite the immortal word of Jean-Claude Juncker, whom I mocked mercilessly when he was head of the EU Commission, yet whom I now remember with gratitude for this adage: “We all know what to do. We just don’t know how to get re-elected once we’ve done it.”
He put his finger right on the most festering sore of modern democracies. Yet if it’s true that there is an opportunity in every crisis, then our Tory government has one of the greatest opportunities in its history.
The party is in crisis, heading for a generation-length stay on the back benches. Hence the government has nothing to lose – given the normal flow of events, it has lost already. So why not take a Hail Mary swing and introduce sweeping tax cuts, accompanied by a pari passu reduction in social spending? Why not replace our defunct NHS with a semi-private system that works much better on the Continent?
Alas, our government lacks one indispensable member, whom I can call for the sake of argument C.O. Jones (you know Spanish, don’t you?). So it’ll just sit on its thumbs, watching on complacently as the party slides towards defeat – and the country towards penury.
But please, can we stop talking about the government ‘letting’ us keep the money we earn? The money is ours, and we shouldn’t let the government extort it.
P.S. Does the reinstatement of Dave Cameron mean the government is planning to re-enter the EU? Is that the desperate ploy it’s counting on? I wouldn’t be surprised.