It appears that Zoe Williams has become a libertarian

Ar the ASI.

12 thoughts on “It appears that Zoe Williams has become a libertarian”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    Naaah, still the same old dim bulb she has always been. But she sort of has a point:

    You cannot collect tax unless you believe in tax; likewise you cannot pay tax gladly unless you love it, not for the useful stuff it might buy but in itself.

    I can collect a tax even though I don’t believe in it. If you give me the power to do so legally. But British people do pay taxes because they believe in them. The British used to be trusted to self-assess their income taxes. Without any undue problems I believe either.

    The State simply cannot coerce us all. If we declined to pay, we would not pay. They cannot throw millions of people into prison. You know, see Greece, Italy, Spain etc. We pay because we believe our money will not be wasted – or at least we used to pay because we believed our money would not be wasted.

  2. British people do pay taxes because they believe in them…and that our money will not be wasted…

    That’s a rather enlightened attitude.

  3. Thing is, I don’t think people mind paying taxes for the useful stuff. Sweeping the roads, wiping old people’s bottoms, feeding and housing those in genuine need.

    The statists hate groups like the Tax Payers Alliance for digging up waste, but really, the statists are the problem. They can’t just stick to the knitting. They give the state a bad name by building millenium domes and supersonic aircraft.

  4. The alacrity that Joe Public demonstrates when he thinks he can get a better deal (‘If I pay cash can you knock the vat off?’) when it comes to spending his own money suggests that the revealed preference regarding tax is rather negative.

    However I think that Ms Williams and her ilk are less of a libertarian view when it comes to tax and more of the view that the public need ‘re-educating’ to love paying tax………..most likely in camps if necessary.

  5. if we assume any government will extract and spend as much tax as it can then the determining factor for the tax level is the aggregate willingness to be taxed. In that light I would see Zoe’s article trying to shift the tax supply curve to the right.

  6. Andrew M, I saw that whinge from Pharmacists about having to do even basic checks. My first thought was “what would be their reaction if someone just swiped half a dozen packs of paracetamol off the shelf and walked out without paying? Somewhat different, I imagine”.

    So, they are happy to do something about it when they bear the cost. The whole “patients trust” thing is bollocks. So, the Government should have been clever here and got the pharmacists to bear the cost of this fraud. Quite how, I don’t know. But as it’s someone else’s money going missing they don’t give a shit, and why would they?

  7. Rob,
    Fair point indeed. I was only using it to illustrate that people actively avoid paying money to the state, even when it’s for their supposedly beloved NHS.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    Bernie G. – “That’s a rather enlightened attitude.”

    I am rarely accused of being enlightened. But it is supposed to be descriptive, not normative. The British do pay their taxes honestly. At least they always used to. There was not enforcement of the income tax for a long time. They asked what you earnt, you told them and they believed you. Even after WW2, if they disputed it, it went to a panel of local notables who decided, not the tax office itself.

    The British, unlike the Greeks for instance, have been amazingly law abiding. They are asked to pay tax and they pay it. I think this is breaking down now because the trust between government and citizen is breaking down but it was there in recent times.

    The Stigler – “The statists hate groups like the Tax Payers Alliance for digging up waste, but really, the statists are the problem. They can’t just stick to the knitting. They give the state a bad name by building millenium domes and supersonic aircraft.”

    Indeed. If they had any appreciation of how hard most people work for their money, they would not p!ss it away so casually. They live in an insane bubble where a few billion here, a few billion there does not amount to real money. Where tax is concerned, there is an unstated trust – we pay our money, but they treat it with the respect it is due. The second half of that is breaking down and so the first half is too.

    Andrew M – “You can’t even get people to declare their taxes honestly when asked. A lot of people falsely claim exemption from prescription charges, costing the government an estimated £237m a year.”

    Allegedly. That is different. You are asking people an obscure question. I don’t know what exemptions I have. If asked, how am I supposed to know? I am likely to take the path of least resistance. That is not fraud, it is confusion.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “if we assume any government will extract and spend as much tax as it can then the determining factor for the tax level is the aggregate willingness to be taxed. In that light I would see Zoe’s article trying to shift the tax supply curve to the right.”

    But that is not the right way to do it. There are only really two ways to shift the tax supply curve – you can conspicuously show that you are not just gouging the tax payer for whatever he is paying. Cutting taxes shows that you are working to keep taxes to the minimum and hence any taxes you do raise are necessary. Show that you are not spending whatever you can take, but taking what you really need. The other is that you can spend wisely. Show that the tax payer is getting value for money by spending carefully.

    I would think neither condition has been met and anyone who pays a penny in tax over the bare minimum is a fool.

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