Death And Taxes
The previous paragraph is a lie. What really happened is this: While Steve consumed a delicious looking fish pie bake thing (I suspect Mrs Dribbler is a cordon bleu chef) and Pa Dribbler railed against everything to do with business rates and how crap the police are, Steve suggested I do a blog entry.
So here it is.
Most of us pay our taxes, don't we? Dutifully, for fear of prosecution, we shovel millions and billions of coins of the realm into the vaults of the Exchequer so that Chancellor Gordon Brown is able to be prudent. All well and good, I hear you cry, it's a necessary evil in a civilised society. If we didn't pay our taxes where would roads and schools and hospitals and sanitation come from?? Who would fund these fine things if we didn't cough up 27% of our salary to the Inland Revenue? Of course, 27% only applies until you arrive at the higher 40% bracket. B@stards.
So, we've established that we pour a not inconsiderable sum of dosh into the country's coffers. Now we get to the difficult bit. What do we get in return? Do we get value for money? Are all taxes fair? The answers are: not much, you must be joking and not in my lifetime.
Number one: road tax. Here in the UK we pay car tax. It used to called Road Fund Licence (now called Vehicle Excise Duty). If you own a car and use it on the road then you pay a yearly tax, introduced to fund the building and maintenance of the road network. Our then glorious leader, Winston Churchill (be upstanding) removed the association between road tax and roads. Nice one Winston. However, successive governments have increased this road tax, based on engine size/emissions or some such to encourage us to be green (unless you drive a hairdryer). All well and good except that, of the £43.5billion raised per annum, only a small proportion (a very, very small proportion, about £10billion if we're being generous) is spent on the road network, or even on any transport related scheme at all. In addition, we pay tax and VAT on fuel. We pay tax on car insurance (!). Where the bloody hell does all this money go?
Number two: national insurance. A simple idea born of the Welfare State and the National Health Service. A sum is deducted from your wages to fund healthcare and pensions. Fine. No problem with that at all. Except it's collected by the Inland Revenue and not the Department of Social Security. It's a tax. You think your NI contribution goes towards the Health Service? Dream on.
Number three: have you ever noticed that if you owe money to the tax man he will charge interest on late payment? But if he owes you money that doesn't apply?
Number four: dearly beloved works in our local hospital, in theatre, cutting people up and reassembling them in a number of inventive ways. They go home happy and cured of whatever it was they stuck up their rectum that weekend. Gosh we've got a lot of batteries in our house. She works ridiculous hours for no thanks, and is regularly told that she's exceeded her budget. Now, the simple fact is that the powers that be have employed so many bloody managers that, after they've been paid to sit on their arses and dream up new logos and mission statements, there's no money left to fix the sick people.
Number five: our tax monies pay for such things as outreach workers. What the fu(k is an outreach worker, why do I need one and why am I paying for it??
Number six: here in the UK you pay an annual charge to the local authority for bin emptying, street cleaning and so on. Sounds ok. It's based on the value of the house you live in. The more valuable your house, the more you pay. Fair? Not in a million years. My Dad lives in a large house. He worked bloody hard to buy it. Now he's on a state pension. But he still has to pay more than the well paid young guy just down the street who lives in a smaller house, with his wife and 2 (over 18) teenage kids. He produces less rubbish. He travels less distance. Is less of a burden on the system. But he pays more because he worked hard and bought a nice place to live.
Number seven: inheritance tax. You work hard. You pay your taxes. You save. You retire. You die. And then the b@stards tax you on what you leave behind!
This could go on for a very long time, but I'm in danger of spontaneously combusting so I'll stop now. Remember, the government always gets in, whoever you vote for. And the only things that are certain are death and taxes.
Until next time.