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“Generally” is doing a lot of work here

There are complaints in the rightwing press that the British “tax burden” has reached the highest level as a proportion of GDP since the second world war. Yet it is well below that of most European countries, which are generally acknowledged to enjoy higher standards of living and public infrastructure than we do. (“You get what you pay for.”)

The Italian tax burden is higher than the UK. So is the Spanish, the Portuguese. There are very, very, few who would suggest that living in those countries, on local wages, provides a higher standard of living than being in Britain on local to Britain wages.

14 thoughts on ““Generally” is doing a lot of work here”

  1. Taxation is not a ‘burden’. It’s Brexit that weighs Britain down
    William Keegan

    Horribly old man shits out opinions again.

  2. All the North and West European territories with lower tax burdens than the UK, and I can name 8, have higher standards of living and public infrastructure than we do.
    As does our second biggest trading partner the USA.

  3. Speaking for the Spanish, I can think of a lot of reasons other than high taxation why Spaniards mightn’t have higher standards of living than Brits. Spanish attitude to work, for a start. The Spanish have raised incompetence to an artform. When they work.
    That said, their infrastructure has to be better than the UK’s. A health system that delivers. A modern efficient rail network. Roads the UK could only dream of. Clean streets. Actual policing.

  4. On the roads thing. Every day I drive through a tunnel 2½ kilometres long, 4 lanes each direction, goes straight through a mountain. Dropping down from Teruel to Valencia, there’s a stretch you spend 50km up on bridges over deep valleys. There’s stuff like this all over Spain. UK’s a country it’s a piece of piss to build roads on. Mostly you just grade & tarmac. What bridges & tunnels you do build you regard as rare wonders. Project like HS2, Spain would have finished in the time the UK took over the planning stage. Not saying the trains would have fit in the tunnels of course, but Spanish.

  5. “Right wing” is basically meaningless. “Rightwing” means the writer is a twat.

    And, sure enough, “Taxation is not a ‘burden’”, says a twat who obviously has no problem paying it.

  6. Define ‘standards of living’

    Many of these countries have very different attitudes to what is a ‘standard’

  7. That higher taxation is partnered by higher borrowing and debauching of the currency to maintain the illusion of a higher standard of living, because essentials are provided ‘free’ via the State so people can have more money to spend on goodies that make them happy.

    They are in majority too dumb to realise that it’s a case of robbing Peter selectively to pay Peter collectively, and the belief they are all Peter.

  8. Isn’t the cause and effect the other way around? If you have a high standard of living – because of a thriving economy – you can afford high taxes. It’s akin to saying that warm wether makes the sun come out.

  9. BlokeinSpain…amazing what countries can do when they put their minds to it. China has built 40,000 kilometres of HighSpeed rail. since 2008. I recently did a couple of trips on it. I see the UK has been working on a line from London to Manchester since 2003 and so far hasn’t, laid any track.

  10. “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  11. When I first visited Spain, forty years ago, the roads were far worse than the UK – the N roads were OK, but single carriageway and full of lorries, while the local roads had giant potholes and were liable to revert to actual dirt track for kilometres of their length. It was fun to drive in a hire car, but I wouldn’t like to have tried it in mine.

    Now there are 4/6/8-lane autopistas and autovías everywhere you look (and high-speed rail, too) all paid for by EU subsidies (in large part from UK taxpayers). Meanwhile UK roads are degenerating.

  12. BIS,

    “A modern efficient rail network.”

    Britain has the trains it needs. It isn’t France or Spain which used to have loads of people flying Paris to Lyon or Madrid to Seville, so there was a demand that would pay for an expensive train (and even then, TGV has still lost money over the decades). Most of our demand for rail transport is between Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and London, which you can generally do in 2:30. When people are travelling to Cornwall or west Wales, it’s to go on holiday at which point a car is always a better idea.

    If people wanted to go London Manchester so much faster, we’d have flights from Manchester to City airport. But 2:30 hours is fast enough. It means you get up early, get a train, go see a client, have some meetings and you’re home late that evening. 300 miles becomes more like 3.5-4 hours.

    I’d generally argue that Britain has more trains than it needs. All those rural services carrying 2 men and a dog. Beeching II is long overdue.

  13. ” It isn’t Spain which used to have loads of people flying Madrid to Seville.”
    Except that never happened. There weren’t. Spain has a large & very efficient autobus network. The big attraction of the new rail networks is they’re quicker than bus & cheaper & easiier than driving. Just paid for some train tickets from here to Madrid. 60€ for a bit over 500km.

  14. @bis, any idea what the “true” unsubsidised cost would be? (Not that it’s very easy to find out this kind of info.)

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