Taxes Give Us Freedom, They Don’t Take It Away – The Critique Archives

[Image: Left Foot Forward. VP believes the source to be the Office of Budget Irresponsibility.]

[Image: Left Foot Forward. VP believes the source to be the Office of Budget Irresponsibility.]

Moving on from the concept that the Conservatives in the Coalition Government have been selling off publicly-owned assets to private concerns (on the pretext that this will allow them to be run more effectively), and having established that any claim saying we have been impoverished in the name of deficit reduction is a lie, it is reasonable to ask where this leaves us.

It leaves us with a government that has placed an increasing amount of power in the hands of a small number of corporate concerns, while removing the tax burden from a large number of us. The tax threshold – the amount British people can earn before they have to pay tax – is on the rise to £10,600 in 2015-16, and the amount of tax paid by higher earners is being slashed as well.

Here’s a piece in which Martin Odoni suggests a worrying reason why this might be the case:

No taxation will be allowed without representation – one of the lessons of Western history.

An occasional nuisance, as I say, but it is certainly not oppression. To prove that, we need only look at one of the most heavily-policed and unaccountable states on Earth; Saudi Arabia, governed by the absolutist monarchy of the House of al-Saud. It is one of the most repressed nations in the world today, with human rights of any description being largely an abstract concept. Partly theocratic, partly governed on the whims of the ruling House, movement is restricted, women are effectively the possessions of their fathers or husbands, and some of the most harmless and unremarkable behaviours, in Western eyes at least, are illegal and punished by corporal and capital means that seem almost medieval in their barbarity.

That is oppression beyond all doubt. But the interesting thing is, taxation seldom plays a role in it. For all the dreadful things that Saudi Arabia does to its people, it only occasionally levies taxes on its general population. By the right-libertarian understanding of the concept, and especially by their fixation on money, Saudi Arabia is not a particularly oppressive country.

But the reason why Saudi Arabia undoubtedly is an oppressive country but can get away with it is precisely because it does not need to tax its population in order to get funding very often. It is a nation with enormous reserves of petroleum oil that all of the richest nations on Earth desperately, hungrily need a constant supply of, and pay obscene quantities of money for. Thus, the House of al-Saud does not need money from its civilians very often when it can obtain all the funds it needs from outside. In the main, the Saudi Government simply places taxes on the corporate firms that extract the crude from the ground and export it. As the ordinary populace are not needed for much other than labour, their wishes can largely be ignored.

In short, theocracies in the Middle East teach us that the reverse lesson is equally true; no representation will be allowed without taxation.

The article goes on to suggest that governments with their own sovereign currency don’t actually need to tax their populations in order to have money to spend; taxation creates a demand for the currency and controls inflation. These things are necessary in a modern economy, so the UK government will continue to tax.

But if it only taxes a carefully-selected proportion of the population, it can ignore the opinions of the rest.

Such as yours, perhaps.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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