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Winston Churchill on Earned and Unearned Wealth

By Tom Papworth
May 23rd, 2012 at 8:21 am | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

Formerly the only question of the tax-gatherer was, “How much have you got?” We ask that question still, and there is a general feeling, recognised as just by all parties, that the rate of taxation should be greater for large incomes than for small. As to how much greater, parties are no doubt in dispute. But now a new question has arisen. We do not only ask to-day, “How much have you got?” we also ask, “How did you get it? Did you earn it by yourself, or has it just been left you by others? Was it gained by processes which are in themselves beneficial to the community in general, or was it gained by processes which have done no good to any one, but only harm? Was it gained by the enterprise and capacity necessary to found a business, or merely by squeezing and bleeding the owner and founder of the business? Was it gained by supplying the capital which industry needs, or by denying, except at an extortionate price, the land which industry requires? Was it derived from active reproductive processes, or merely by squatting on some piece of necessary land till enterprise and labour, and national interests and municipal interests, had to buy you out at fifty times the agricultural value? Was it gained from opening new minerals to the service of man, or by drawing a mining royalty from the toil and adventure of others? Was it gained by the curious process of using political influence to convert an annual licence into a practical freehold and thereby pocketing a monopoly value which properly belongs to the State—how did you get it?” That is the new question which has been postulated and which is vibrating in penetrating repetition through the land.

It is a tremendous question, never previously in this country asked so plainly, a new idea, pregnant, formidable, full of life, that taxation should not only have regard to the volume of wealth, but, so far as possible, to the character of the processes of its origin. I do not wonder it has raised a great stir. I do not wonder that there are heart-searchings and angry words because that simple question, that modest proposal, which we see embodied in the new income-tax provisions, in the land taxes, in the licence duties, and in the tax on mining royalties—that modest proposal means, and can only mean, the refusal of the modern State to bow down unquestioningly before the authority of wealth. This refusal to treat all forms of wealth with equal deference, no matter what may have been the process by which it was acquired, is a strenuous assertion in a practical form, that there ought to be a constant relation between acquired wealth and useful service previously rendered, and that where no service, but rather disservice, is proved, then, whenever possible, the State should make a sensible difference in the taxes it is bound to impose.

Liberalism and the Social Problem – Winston Spencer Churchill (1909)

(Hat-tip to Jock Coats)

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What does it mean, to be governed

By Tom Papworth
May 17th, 2012 at 9:07 am | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.

To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

― Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.

(Hat-tip: Jock Coats)

Public Health Success?

By Editor
May 16th, 2012 at 8:00 am | 5 Comments | Posted in health

If, as some campaigners would have us believe, obesity is more of a health risk than smoking, the data suggest that 50 years of massive investment in the public health industry have yielded very little in the way of overall risk reduction.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – USA

I do not believe that the relationship between smoking and obesity rates is simple but this graph suggests that as a society we should at least consider taking a more holistic look at health issues.

For far too long now, health policy has been dictated by a dangerous combination of single issue campaigning and statistics based “evidence”.

People are not numbers, they do not conform to the rigid norms dictated by the public health industry and many will choose to accept certain health risks in pursuit of what they consider a more enjoyable if potentially shorter life.

I have no idea how much of the rise in obesity in the USA was fuelled by ex-smokers displacing one potentially harmful activity with another.  Similarly, campaigners have no idea whether trying to reduce young people’s access to tobacco and alcohol might lead to increased uptake of other substances that are potentially more acutely threatening to their health.

One thing that we do know, or should if we bothered to learn the lessons of history is that many public health interventions have had unintended negative consequences and the more illiberal and draconian the intervention then the greater the risk and impact of such consequences.

Chris Snowdon deals with this subject in some depth in his book The Art of Suppression. It is an informative well researched read for anyone interested in the reality behind the rhetoric.  Until I read it, amongst other things I was unaware that Heroin was originally promoted by the pharmaceutical industry as a non-addictive alternative to morphine.  Snowdon covers a range of issues including the disaster of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the EUs illogical ban on oral tobacco and the growth in designer drugs as a consequence of Ecstasy prohibition.

He questions why prohibitionist policies remain attractive to many in the light of their historic failure and concludes that “in the end, fear is more intoxicating than hope.”

By Chris Oakley. Chris has previously posted on Liberal Vision:  Smokers-State Aprroved hate and Intolerance is UK policy,   Alcohol is Old News – Minimum Pricing for Digestives is the “Next Logical Step” , Soviet Style Alcohol Suppression Campaign Called for By Public Health Activists , Alcohol Taxation: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth , A Liberal Tolerant nation? and  What hope is there for liberty if truth becomes the plaything of political lobbyists.

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A letter to a constituent regarding equal marriage

By Tom Papworth
May 15th, 2012 at 2:07 pm | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Lib Dem Voice have published the text of an email that I sent to a constituent earlier today.

He wrote to me to ask about my views of the government’s proposals “to re-define marriage”, which he believes “will have far-reaching consequences…[that] will have an adverse effect on the stability and flourishing of our local community.”

I beg to differ.

Happy Europe Day, Bill Cash!

By Leslie Clark
May 9th, 2012 at 5:25 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in EU Politics

Bill Cash, the preeminent Tory Eurosceptic MP for Stone, has an article published on ConservativeHome that places the centenary of the creation of the Conservative and Unionist Party within the context of the Liberal-Conservative coalition of 2012. Coincidentally, today is also Europe Day.

Unsurprisingly for the backbencher who likes to see everything to do with Europe in apocalyptic terms, he contends that the pro-growth policies needed in Britain and the EU cannot be achieved without putting an end to legislative burdens and “generating policies that the integrationists in Europe – including the Liberal Democrats – simply refuse to allow.”  He concludes by affirming that the British government “cannot achieve growth because the Liberal Democrats, as part of those arrangements, have silenced the Prime Minister’s promise to repatriate, among other policies, burdens on business. It is called 57 votes and the keys to No. 10.” 

Now I’m sure Mr Cash is a committed subscriber to the Daily Telegraph so I am surprised that he overlooked the wise words of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills a few days ago. The majority of EU states, clubbed together in the Like Minded Group, want to see more deregulation, less red tape and an expanded Single Market (the latter of which was happily signed up to by Margaret Thatcher). For the benefit of those with their fingers in their ears and to separate reality from Mr Cash’s caricature, here’s a snippet of what Vince Cable wrote,

On the Working Time Directive: “I have continued to fight a rearguard action, so far successfully”

On our flexible labour market: “the last thing we need is the imposition of a new set of regulations potentially costing the economy billions a year”

On the ECJ: “I am not just fighting to keep the opt-out. There is also a battle to fend off damaging rulings by the European Court of Justice…I have instructed my officials to roll back these damaging rulings wherever possible…”

On fighting our corner in Europe: “We achieved agreement in Brussels to exempt around 1.4 million UK small businesses from burdensome EU accounting rules. When foolish and costly initiatives come out of Brussels, it is tempting to wave the Union flag and plead British exceptionalism.”

We need to put an end to Cash’s false dichotomy: you can be pro-market and pro-EU. One doesn’t need to unflinchingly subscribe to everything the EU does in order to support our continuing membership. There is, as Vince Cable said, a progressive majority in the EU replacing the dinosaurs of the past – it’s just a shame that some Tory Jurassic Park politicians cannot recognise the facts.

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