Thursday, March 23, 2006

UK Budget yawn

I thought about what to say about this - just more tax and spend, more throwing money at the broken inefficient NHS and the education system, letting Britain slosh around on welfare, a massive inefficient regulatory behemoth of a bureaucracy, dishing out subsidies to whoever shouts the loudest.
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For all I am grateful for with Tony Blair (reforming Labour to not be an outpost of the Warsaw Pact and a solid commitment to enlightenment values and Western civilisation), Gordon Brown reminds me a lot of Michael Cullen, except I think Cullen is better. Brown doesn't ridiculously overspend or ridiculously increase taxes, he doesn't rock the boat, but bit by bit he adds on extra spending, little discounts on taxes here and there, making the state ever more complicated and ever more intrusive. The idea that people should pay for what they use where practicable, and be taxed on a fairly uniform basis is light years away from Brown or Cullen. It is a trend since the end of Thatcher and Ruth Richardson that Budgets have been about satisfying interest groups with axes to grind. Axes they grind at the expense of the silent majority.
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Britain has had its halcyon days of heady reform, which brought it back from the brink - the only thing stopping it being the poor cousin of Europe is that France, Italy and Germany are worse.
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Look at this load of pork and thieving from the budget:
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- free off peak bus travel nationwide for pensioners and disabled people;
- establishing a £1 billion health research fund;
- establishing an International Business Advisory Council;
- increase to Enterprise Capital Funds scheme;
- Money for Elite athletes training for the Olympics
- Increase road tax for large so called "more polluting" vehicles
- Increased landfill tax credit
- Fiddling of stamp duty to increase net revenue (increase threshold, remove exemptions)
- Money for developing microgeneration technology
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Yes I know Cullen does that too, but the tax system in NZ is far simpler, and the subsidies are far lower for businesses and pork. In short, more of the nonsense was ripped out under Douglas and Richardson than under Thatcher.
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£552 billion of Brit's money is being spent by Brown, that's £9200 per person, £516 billion in tax is being raised, which is £8600 per person. So it's borrow and spend. Someone's getting a good deal, since I am paying more than that in income tax alone. The single biggest item is "social protection" at £151 billion - in other words, compulsory social welfare. Health is second at £96 billion, and it continues to disappoint.
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and anyone who thinks National Insurance pays for health and pensions needs to wake up - the total revenue from national insurance contributions is £90 billion. Hiding this cost helps to ensure the average Brit thinks he is paying the full cost of the NHS from national insurance - which is a lie.
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but I did learn the median income is £24000. Translate that into $NZ and you'll see that New Zealand has low incomes, and a lower cost of living (translating £prices into NZ$ prices would drive a kiwi mad here). Dr Cullen's rich tax bracket would hit the average income earner in the UK.
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oh well, it's daylight from 7am till 6pm now :)

1 comment:

uknz05 said...

Yep, it sure is a lumbering dinosaur of a state. Shockingly bloated would be the word; and the tinkering at the margins is reminiscent of shifting deckchairs on the Titanic. Makes NZ look lean and mean in comparison.

The thing which staggers me is the cost of housing- your average London house costs just shy of £280k, way above what your average worker can afford. How can this possibly be sustainable long-term?