Friday, May 7, 2010

Vote For Yourself

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” declared Churchill in a Commons speech in 1947.

Churchill, a giant in BB’s pantheon, made this comment after losing the election following leading Britain to victory in the Second World War.

His profound comment is worthy of consideration by the average man. Unfortunately most are uninterested in the perpetuity of prosperity for future generations and are only interested in their own lot.

'Pay me now' to the detriment of future generations who will have to pay later for ours and previous generations’ demands for social benefits is the hallmark of the modern western democracy. This creates debt, and mountains of it.

This week the Greeks, the architects of democracy, took to the streets in their thousands to protest the cutbacks in social benefits required by the government to secure IMF funding to avoid bankruptcy. Unfortunately, these occasions bring out the anarchists and the protests have led to violence and the deaths of innocent people, something very un-democratic.

Great Britain, the architect of parliamentary democracy after hundreds of years of serfdom, is still counting the ballots today in an election that will likely result in a hung parliament with no clear majority. This will just exacerbate the real problem – a public debt issue not too dissimilar to Greece’s and an inability for politicians to palate the level of public expenditure cutbacks required.

This situation arises as a result of successive governments promising voters a greater share of the public coffers in order to secure office and a mandate but not raising taxes accordingly to pay for it, most often resulting in huge debts. Like a pyramid scheme, it eventually collapses.

This is democracy in action. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

There is no free lunch. The maths simply do not work that way. Demanding greater government services and expecting that the government will take care of you is naive. You are the one that will have to pay for it in the end, one way or another, and most certainly at the expense of your children and grandchildren.

The next time you are complaining about your government and the benefits you are getting underpin it with some facts:

  • Calculate the gross annual tax you pay, including VAT
  • Compare this with what you take home, in your pocket
  • Compare this with your rent or your mortgage payment
  • Compare this with your car payment
  • Compare this with how much money you spend on your children
  • Compare this with how much money you spend on your holidays
Ask yourself, ”what am I getting back for my tax contribution, what value am I getting?”

If you work out a sensible and rational answer, please comment on this post because I would love to know.


P.S. Anarchists, the chronically unemployed and champagne socialists need not comment.


kyknoord said...

No comment.

DianeCA said...

I have to admit that I think the Norwegian system is quite good, even though the taxes are high. It will be interesting to see how things go in Greece, I am worried the situation might spread to other Southern European countries. We will hope that there is a good solution, but of course I have to admit the cuts are necessary if the economy is to survive. Unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

maths? on a friday night after happy hour? oh, bother...

but i do agree that the gravy train ain't free. in the US, i'm rather aggravated with our so-called "T.E.A. Party" patriots. "Taxed Enough Already" whining about ridiculous taxes, and wanting less government.

but they are the same dumbass inumerate bastards that are complaining that the government isn't doing enough about the oil slick off the Louisana shore, and trying to get brown people with accents locked up in Arizona.

something's got to give, you bunch of nimrods. you can't have it both ways...

Rob said...

Okay, who *ARE* you? And what have you done with Beaverboosh?!?

Hmmmm. Am I chronically unemployed? No.... Am I a champagne socialist? Well, I've certainly evolved in my thinking and now certainly have socialist tendencies..... Am I an anarchist? No, but I do harbour a secret desire for a worldwide calamity that might "thin the herd" a bit, so to speak.

In general, I have my 90% rule. That is, 90% of people are idiots. In the last while, though, I've had to consider revising that number upward to 95%. My only regret is that the idiots are bringing the rest of us down...

ian in hamburg said...

Greece might be raising taxes and cutting salaries and services, but a fat lot of good that's going to do in a country where tax evasion and the black market economy are national sports and corruption is rampant. Did you know that the average Greek pays 1600 euro a year just in bribes for simple things like making sure the doctors and nurses will see that Grandma gets her CAT scan? The rot there is systemic and what's going on right now - all this talk about reforms and calming the markets - is horseshit.
At least the Brits have their own currency, which is what I wish the Greeks had. Now Germany and the rest of us who pay our taxes on time and don't bitch about it are left to foot the bill for them. EVERY time they tell us it's for our own good, too, because the alternative is much, much worse. It was the same with the bank bailouts. Piss. Me. Right. Off!

Anonymous said...

Jesus, this is depressing.

nursemyra said...

Who else is in your pantheon BB?

daisyfae and dolce - I suggest we stop reading bad things about Greece until after our upcoming sojourn on Lesbos

jinjir minjir said...

As Churchill also said (or is quoted to have said), "The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter".

As a greek living in Alba, what makes the average voter think that the "other" is more vulnerable? Or, rather, what makes the average voter think that "we" are just as thin-skinned?

As a greek (full-stop - or rather, comma), I'm genetically bound to be an anarchist, chronically unemployed, and of course a champagne socialist - with the added advantage that your rules don't apply to me.

Don't worry. I'm not gonna burn this blog down.

p.s. The latest fashionable ringtone in the land of Attica, as I've had the opportunity to witness meself, is a parody of a football chant which, adapted to the EUIMF era literally translates as "You won't lay your hand on our Cayenne - Oli Ren, Oli Ren".

jinjir minjir said...

On the other hand...

RennyBA's Terella said...

It was actually not Voltaire who said it, but anyway:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

To me that's democracy too you know :-)

Michele said...

No free lunch indeed. Great post. The more I learn about Greece, the more shocked I am they were ever allowed into the EU, let alone the euro.

Return to Norway said...

Vive la revolution - now hand me the bubbly- chin chin

Zhu said...

As a French, I'm also genetically bound to be an anarchist, chronically unemployed, and a champagne socialist.

And I work on the Hill in Ottawa.

This is weird.

beaverboosh said...

kyk - well put

dianeca - norway has the good fortune of natural resource wealth with a small population... unfortunately cuts are necessary is most other counties

df - apologies tall order for a fri night... wanting it both ways is terribly human

rob - i'm back... my brain was occupied by rational thought... 90% rule must be a benchmark of our generation!

ian - never like the eu, never voted for it, always against it, except for free trade... too complex!

dolce - have a drink, but not in Norway, it is the land of the £8 pint

nm - Jesus, Aleksander, Ceasar, Cicero, Joan of Arc, Wilberforce, Pitt the Younger, Nelson, Churchill, Mandella... to name a few... Lesbos eh, I am envious, please send pictures...

jm - yeah whatever

jm - hahahah lol

renny - agree or disagree with what?

michele - for sure

caroline - chilling the bolly now...

zhu - maybe a bit schizo?

Anonymous said...

And would it be wrong to point out that the UK's debt crisis is caused by taking on the debts of bankers that were allowed to gamble without adequate control?

What do I get for my taxes, let me see, public health care, education, national defense, property rights, law and order, environmental protection, infrastructure, public transport provision, international treaties, shall I go on?

The underlying problem is that "the market" relies on personal greed but seems to have lost the concept of moral hazard. Just because a deal is worth millions or billions doesn't mean the work required is especially difficult and needs to be rewarded as highly as the Bankers seem to think it does. This leads to politicos that hobnob with said bankers to think that they also deserve large rewards, after all the department budgets are billions as well.

I think the UK needs a good dose of consensus politics. maybe it'll get the majority re-engaged and stop the elections being run by Rupert and the media, although judging by the result his power seems to be slipping. this time it wasn't "the sun what won it" to quote a depressingly less democratic claim.

beaverboosh said...

anon - welcome!

No I do not think it would be wrong to attribute some of the recent incremental debt to bankers as two major UK banks are now state owned.

That you appear content that you get value for your tax pound in the UK is refreshing. Having lived in the UK most of my adult life, you are the first person I have heard this from. You would likely be happy in Norway as well. Most people seem content to pay a high tax and VAT rate here because life is very good, and most certainly much better than most experience in the UK.

As with most things in life, there is no binary option, no dogmatic right or wrong, it is what is right or wrong, or maybe more appropriately good or bad for you.

The problem is not that 'the market' relies on greed. The market relies on price discovery. The problem is people. Some people chose to be greedy. This happens with communism, totalitarianism, feudalism, etc. It would be churlish to lay this at the door of the free market. The problems in Greece, for example, are primarily governance related.

While there is clearly room for better governance of the global financial system, bankers and capitalists have contributed greatly to the expansion of economies at an astonishing pace for the past 400 years, and Great Britain has played a key historical role in this. In turn, standards have been improved in health, education, employment and standards of living. Clearly, good government needs to be an active and proactive partner in delivering these outcomes successfully.

The UK may “need” many things. What I do know is that the level of public debt in most ‘western countries’ is running at 50+% of GDP, and this is most often generated to pay for benefits and services demanded by the voting public. Someone needs to pay for it and guess who, it is the voting public. Increasingly, this burden is rolling into the next generation, so you’re getting a free pass though I am not sure your children will be grateful.

That is democracy in action.

I do not feel I get great value for my tax contribution, nor do I wish to leave my children with a debt legacy due to the poor choices my contemporaries may make during my life. However, that is the price I pay for living in a western democratic country. I am in a minority. If I do not like it, I am fortunate enough to have choices and can move.