Analogies

So many things upset me about this.

Conservatives are not generous, altruistic people. The main tenets of conservatism are faith in the capitalist market, traditionalist values and an unobtrusive state. This builds an agrarian model with privatised services and market economics. People are expected to plan for the bad times by working hard and saving. The state’s responsibility for citizens is minimal. Tax cuts are expected as the state is shrunk due to there being less for the government to pay for (and more for the individual to, according to their priorities and budget).

The analogy is skewed.

People don’t take issue with paying different amounts of tax. Poor people don’t have a sense of unadulterated, violent entitlement. The rest of society does not drive out the rich. It’s a deliberate, cynical and transparent way of trying to make people who want the rich to pay their tax look selfish and shortsighted.

The analogy puts nearly half of the population on a zero-contribution status. That is just not the case in the UK. Pensioners are not zero-contributors, they are simply outside of the tax system because they’ve spent the rest of their lives contributing to it. In 2012, the figures were thus:

Of the 34.1 million people of working age in the UK some 30.1 million pay income tax, leaving just 12% not contributing. Using [the] …registered voter method — including other groups such as the elderly — that figure rises to 35%.

Even if these men included non-workers, 5 out of ten non-contributors is not reflective of British society.

The objection as lodged by the sixth man is a misnomer. Taxation is worked out on what you earn and what you own. The sixth man knows he saved the most proportionally. He is paying less, and getting the same service and volume. His complaint is disbelievable.

The argument made in the example becomes utterly garbled at the point of complaint. The first four men claim they are being exploited, despite being no worse off. This is not a reflection of what happens in a tax cut. Those who do not pay anything and continue to pay nothing do not complain. They are grateful that the cost of living has been reduced, and feel relief that other areas of their lives may become more pleasant. They fear the re-increase.

Those who have received benefit from a tax cut are not in the habit of complaining that wealthier people also receive benefit, especially if that benefit is proportionally less than their own. However, this rarely happens. As mentioned above, the higher rate tax bracket falls so far down the scale, and is not (currently) gradated as in the example to mean that the wealthiest receives less saving than the moderately wealthy.

If the example was more reflective of the current UK income tax system, perhaps it would run something like this:

The first two men are out of work so paid nothing, and continue to pay nothing (0% saving)
The third man earns the minimum wage so he paid £1, and still pays £1 (0% saving). Sometimes one of the unemployed men is working, and then he pay £1. Either way, he doesn’t save anything in this analogy.
The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh men earn less than the higher tax bracket, so paid £3 and now pay £2.70 (10% saving)
The eighth and ninth men earn over the higher tax bracket threshold so paid £9 and now pay £8.50 (5.5% saving)
The tenth man is superwealthy (not one in ten is super wealthy, but we need him in this example) should have paid £69 in the old system but only paid £50, but the barman didn’t call them up on it because he’d rather have £90 than the hassle and embarrassment of pointing it out and he didn’t tell the group that this was happening. Now the tenth man should pay £52.20 but only shows up once every three months and pays £20 because he says he doesn’t use the toilet or stand on the carpet as much as the others.

The system was broken before, and it’s broken now. Fixing it is almost impossible, and no one wants to take it on. The analogy is skewed to make you feel like it’s not wise to make the superwealthy put a huge amount into the system. It’s skewed to make you feel that we need them to stay, or our country will fail. It’s skewed to make you feel that we give the less wealthy a better deal than the superwealthy.

It’s an argument by a Conservative economist for Conservative economics. Let’s say he has a vested interest.

No matter what you think, hopefully you agree that we don’t need this kind of bullshit confusing things with skewed analogies.

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