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September 18, 2007

Hammer the rich!

Yes, Polly's in the paper again today:

'Hammer the rich!' At last a political leader has the nerve to say what pollsters find most people think.

Jealousy is just so unseemly, isn't it? Not, one would think, a great basis for public policy, either.

Alas, Adam Applegarth, Northern Rock's chief executive, is no James Stewart. He did not hurry to give hard-hit shareholders back any of his pay: if he took 10 times less, he'd still be left with £140,000 - and that's not counting his pension.

He's very likely not to have a job soon enough: but much more interesting is this:

Despite promises, there is far too little money to help more people buy their own home, and this cheap mortgage collapse will make it worse.

Now what Applegarth has been making his money from is offering "cheap mortgages". Mortgages to those who had low incomes, offering high multiples and high valuations. That might be a good or a bad business idea (we don't know yet: all we know so far is that funding such loans from the commercial paper markets wasn't). But it was a business idea which offered aid to those other's would not lend to.

So Polly is both condemning the collapse of this aid to the poor in getting their foot on the ladder and condemning the person who made it possible.

Is Doublethink now actually a requirement to write for The Guardian?

There is, as ever, at least one true line in her piece:

All these the chancellor of the exchequer should steal wholesale for his next budget: think what he could do with £13.5bn in a very tight spending round.

Taxation as theft? Who would ever thought to have heard Polly say that? And, as ever, there's one thing in her article which is batshit insane:

We are a low-tax nation.

According to the OECD (in 2004) our tax to GDP ratio was pretty much right on the average for OECD nations. As the tax share of the economy has risen since then I think it's fair to say that we are in fact a high tax nation.

September 18, 2007 in Idiotarians | Permalink


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Why is tax as a proportion of GDP the right measure anyway? Doesn't economy of scale apply to countries?

Tim adds: Not really, I would have thought. So much of government is actually income redistribution, something not really subject to returns to scale.

Posted by: andrew | Sep 18, 2007 9:36:04 AM

Like she said herself: "That rare commodity: knows economics and can write"

Back luck Polly, back into your socialist hole please. Taxing the rich for the sake of it will drive our economy into the ground.

Posted by: Letters From A Tory | Sep 18, 2007 11:44:56 AM

"Doublethink": Polly? No bloody think at all, more like.

Posted by: dearieme | Sep 18, 2007 11:47:32 AM

Hmm - I'm certainly not that rich, but since having a kid feel like I am being hammered. 2 incomes, one kid, huge mortgage, virtually overdrawn at the end of every month. Work doesn't pay if you're in London quite obviously...

Tim adds: But then you work for the public sector. Just think of the pension!

Posted by: Glenn | Sep 18, 2007 12:55:12 PM

I'm having difficulty feeling sorry for Glenn. I also am virtually overdrawn every month without a kid, but he has one so he's getting some of my money anyway. If you can't afford it, mate, don't do it.

Posted by: Ian Bennett | Sep 18, 2007 2:15:30 PM

Too right Ian.

Dearieme, are two entire pay packets PLUS the childrens tax credits whereby you get given some of MY money, and you're still OD? That sounds like just bad planning.

Bad planning on my part too not realising that the socialists were bound to get in so my plan of not not having kids is kind of down the pan as I'm now paying for your kids...

Posted by: Zorro | Sep 18, 2007 4:57:20 PM

"As the tax share of the economy has risen since then I think it's fair to say that we are in fact a high tax nation."

Hardly in European terms but arguably so among other English-speaking countries.

This extract from the OECD Factbook 2007 is perhaps a better data source for Total Tax Revenues as percentages of national GDP for OECD countries from 1991 through 2004

Otherwise, see the options menu for Tax Revenues at:

On this source, with provisional percentages for 2005, Britain seems to have a lower tax burden than most other EU countries:

Unless I'm missing something, only the Czech Rep., Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and the Slovak Rep., in the EU have lower tax burdens than Britain (UK) and EU tax burdens have been generally rising.

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 18, 2007 7:14:14 PM

What's this? "Other's", Tim? "Other's"?

Surely with all these paying gigs you can afford an editor nowadays?

Tim adds: "Surely with all these paying gigs you can afford an editor nowadays?"

Sadly, obviously and clearly not. I shall simply have to scourge myself.

Posted by: Bishop Hill | Sep 18, 2007 7:19:12 PM