Monday, January 25, 2010

Matt McCarten wants your money

Given he believes in a bigger state, he believes in compulsory welfare, state monopoly education and health care, it is hardly a surprise.

However, he has an odd view of "fairness".

He thinks, as do most socialists, that the imperative behind those supporting the free market in wanting lower taxes is greed. They think simply that people who are relatively successful want more of their own money and to hell with everyone else. The concept that we actually are suspicious of an ever growing state, see abject failure in the state addressing poverty and social mobility, is beyond the likes of Matt.

You see he loves the state, the state for him is the embodiment of humanity. It is a democratic expression of the "people's will" and it both protects and serves. The more it does, the better we all are for it. Given Matt spent much of his political career advocating for the Alliance, an openly socialist political party, this is hardly surprising. He sees the state as an instrument to take by force from those he deems rich to give to those he deems poor - the rich implicitly having not earnt their money "fairly", and the poor, well it isn't their fault, is it?

Matt says: "We need our public services". Hold on. Who is this "we"? Most would accept that they need health care and education, but separating who pays for it from who provides it creates all sorts of problems of performance. Matt doesn't believe this though. He thinks that when people pay taxes they can keep the state health and education sectors accountable for what they receive, even though it's clear that this works rather badly. However, he has spent much of his life representing suppliers, as in workers. He hasn't ever represented consumers of services, and certainly not those paying for it.

He then goes into his favoured taxes, like capital gains tax and death duties. Then he brings up the tired old nonsense of financial transactions tax, without blinking an eyelid as to how the financial sector could avoid much of it by engaging in most transactions offshore.

He says "Most of us wouldn't even notice it. But those who buy big-ticket items would. That's why the ruling class won't do it.". If Matt put down Das Kapital for a second he might think that "big ticket items" might get bought offshore with offshore bank accounts, and there will be other useful techniques to avoid the tax. However, he's cleverer than those who seek to protect their money.

That's a phrase he doesn't understand. To Matt (and many others on the left) taxes are not the money of those who own it, but the state's money - so it can be used for the benefit of the vested interests who best convince politicians to spend it on them and then all others.

Then he makes something up: "Twenty-five years ago we were told that if we cut taxes for the rich and raised taxes on the poor then we would work harder and earn more. It was nonsense then. It's nonsense now."

Who told you that Matt? Who ever called for raising taxes on the poor? In fact, name ONE report or one person who ever supported this? It's a bright Marxist red herring, as nonsense as he says.

The bigger argument is what the role of the state should be. The welfare state in its current form has produced a culture of dependency and entitlement that is not earnt, and needs to be urgently addressed. By keeping those who pay for health and education far apart from those who deliver it, patients and parents find it difficult to influence outcomes and to ensure that those providing those services are accountable to them.

Other countries have adopted significantly more consumer friendly approaches to both health and education that are hardly radical. Sweden's voucher approach to education is difficult to rebut as a significant first step to increasing diversity and accountability for that sector. Singapore's approach to health care has also resulted in far higher degrees of accountability for service delivery, and a greater interest by individuals in their own health care.

Matt prefers the world of - you earn more, you consume less, then you pay more taxes to pay for the health, education and welfare of everyone else (few of whom are ever grateful for it). He likes state monopolies in those sectors so that the workers can command ever increasing incomes from taxpayers by organising themselves as labour monopolies, so that there are more workers, less work and more pay.

You see the very greed and so called selfishness Matt attributes to the rich is exactly what the trade union movement of which he is a part of, demands for its members.

Absolutely none of it is to do with fairness, none of it is to do with users of state provided services and certainly none of it is to do with taxpayers getting value.

It's just from each according to their ability to each according to their means for Matt.


XChequer said...

Nice post. Spot on. That over-used expression "The Politics of Envy" comes to mind yet again.

Matts version of egalitarianism (i.e. a fair go for all) only extends as far as those HE chooses to be fair to. Where's my right to a fair go to live as I please?


Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown wants your money too. Maybe you should vote him out: Link.

StephenR said...

"Who ever called for raising taxes on the poor? "

Mightn't that be a reference to the introduction of GST?

Anonymous said...

@ XChequer, yes the expression "politics of envy" is certainly over used. It was a favourite of Allan Duff and all the other commentators on Radio Liberty back in the '90's. Hackneyed, trite, it was thrown up by right wingers whenever they found themselves backed into a corner and unable to robustly defend a position. Wish Radio Liberty would come back though. I didn't agree with a lot of it but it was certainly a breath of fresh air.