Speaking With Forked Tongues

I have some sympathy with this statement:

"This analysis misleadingly claims to represent the average situation, but it is undermined by the carefully-selected assumptions on which it is based."

What analysis?

Smith & Williamson estimates that the total taxes paid by a typical family with two children, buying an ordinary terrace house, have soared from 36p in the pound to 54p since 1997.

Well, yes. Only if they move house though and that\’s because a hige chunk of it is the stamp duty on a house which has soared in price. So it is very much a cherry picked number.

A Treasury spokesman said the tax burden on the average family had fallen since 1997.

But that I flat out do not believe. It is clearly not true in nominal, monetary terms.  I doubt very much if it is true in percentage terms. And if we remember that to spend (even to promise to spend) is to tax, then it most certainly isn\’t true. For we\’d have to add in to the tax burden all those wonderful promises for the future, like public sector pensions, the future PFI payments and the Trreasury debt itself.


7 thoughts on “Speaking With Forked Tongues”

  1. “A Treasury spokesman said the tax burden on the average family had fallen since 1997.”

    Typo. “average” should have a capital letter. It took them months of searching through the phone book to find a family called Average who had a lower tax burden.

  2. Agreed.

    But difficult to prove either way. Official government spending as % of GDP has ‘only’ gone up 2% of GDP since 1997. BUt then there’s the public sector pensions and PFI liabiliites to add on, but you can deduct an increase in welfare spending (which you could see as negative taxes).

  3. The typical family with two children has had two children and so has very probably moved house, at least once, to accomodate them.

  4. Official government spending as % of GDP has ‘only’ gone up 2% of GDP since 1997.”

    I’d really like to know the citation for that claim. According to OECD Economic Outlook for December 2006, General Government Total Outlays for the UK as a percentage of national GDP increased from 41.6% in 1997 to 45.3% in 2006:

    Despite that increase in government outlays:

    “The big increases in education funding since 1999 have not been put to good use, the government’s statisticians said on Tuesday.”

    “A string of government policies aimed at boosting pre-school children’s educational achievement in England has had no impact, research suggests.”

    “The proportion of young people in England who are not in education, training or work appears to have gone up, despite government efforts.”

    “The government’s flagship Sure Start programme is setting back the behaviour and development of young children in the most alienated households, according to the first big national evaluation of the scheme. Though the £3bn programme is benefiting some poor families, the government commissioned study published yesterday concluded that children of teenage mothers and unemployed or lone parents did worse in Sure Start areas than those in similarly deprived communities elsewhere.”

    An accessible piece in The Economist for 26 August 2006 showed that Britain is unusually well-endowed with low-skilled young people compared with other major economies in Europe :

    “Britain’s teenagers are among the most badly behaved in Europe, a study by a think-tank has suggested. On every indicator of bad behaviour – drugs, drink, violence, promiscuity – the UK was at or near the top, said the Institute for Public Policy Research.”

    “Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced.”

    “The UK has the worst standard of care for stroke victims in western Europe, with thousands of patients dying unnecessarily every year, a senior doctor said today.”

    “A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America. England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest.”

    “Cases of murder and manslaughter have risen by almost a quarter since Labour came to power, Home Office figures have revealed. Since 1997, the number of homicide victims, including solved and unsolved cases, has averaged 737 per year. In the period from 1990 to 1996, the average was 601. The number of homicide victims has averaged 737 per year since Labour came to power.”

    “The Home Office figures – which exclude crimes involving air weapons – show the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun attacks in England and Wales soared from 864 in 1998-99 to 3,821 in 2005-06. That means that more than 10 people are injured or killed in a gun attack every day.”

    It’s an utterly dismal record of achievement according to independent reports.

  5. Smith and Williamson made this ridiculous claim last year too. If it involves the same calculation it includes the equivalent of 7 years stamp duty in one year, ie seven times too much.

    Are they a well-respected firm? I find it hard to believe.

  6. “A Treasury spokesman said the tax burden on the average family had fallen since 1997.”

    Fuck I just gave myself a hernia laughing… Have the treasury taken on a new member of staff perchance, the old Iraqi minister of information? 😀

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