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In Praise of Taxation

Here’s a brief argument: it is short, believe me, simply because it’s simple and clear, and it comes from a little news item that was debated today on a discussion show. While all my ‘right-leaning’ friends have an inbred disdain for government taxation, they miss the basic value and merit that good taxation and spending brings to society i.e. everyone who lives under such a government.

Amidst all the austerity cuts we are facing, it is clear it’s not just ‘welfare scroungers’ and ‘wasteful councils’ who are being dealt the bad hand. It is slicing away practically everything that we hold dear in our society, but if you have people in power who have no real belief that society ‘exists’, what were you expecting? Perhaps the most incredible of these cuts is in policing, since even the most venomous libertarian who cries for minimal taxation and minuscule government wants protection from the criminal elements in our society (sorry for using that ‘defunct’ word, but what else should we call it?). As the rich grow ever further away from those beneath them, one inevitable result is that criminals come calling to their houses to rob them of their vast hordes of money. Yes, they will face criminal elements, or even those who have found themselves choosing crime over any other means of eking out a living since being law-abiding members of society (oops!) doth not butter any of their parsnips.

The wealthy borough of Hampstead in London has seen a rise in violent crime, but also saw their 100-year old police station close due to cuts! So the residents (well, some of them) have decided they could get together and pay £13/ year each for three extra officers for their borough, but these officers would not be allowed to be diverted to any other events outside their borough if needed. The basic story is here. The debate then inevitably ensues that it may not be right that wealthy boroughs can simply pay for extra policing while poorer boroughs have to put up with less police, and cannot even call upon the police from the wealthy boroughs if things ever get bad. Then the proposal is made that maybe these boroughs should be allowed to pay in a ‘contribution’ to policing in general, and they get half the extra officers and the rest of us get the other half. Maybe their borough postcode could get a gold star?

Then the next question, of course, since this is not taxation but a voluntary choice, is “what if one millionaire in their mansion pays this charge, but their neighbour doesn’t?” They shouldn’t all get that gold star! Surely that would also mean that the ‘extra police officers’ would only be allowed to attend to the houses of those who have paid! They’ll not be allowed to apprehend a criminal on the lawn of the neighbour’s house! So… this becomes compulsory, if the majority of residents decide they want it, and so you have a local tax! It’s the only way it would work!

Hold on! Why don’t we all just agree that we do all live in one big society (‘Big Society’ – anyone get the sheer irony?), and accept that we all just pay our taxes and allow the revenue to cover things like law and order and the criminal prosecution service, and our roads and street lighting, and our children’s education, and… is this not just plain common sense?

Grace be with you.

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