Some 250 years ago, in 1764, Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778), a French philosopher and historian better known as Voltaire, stated that: “In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”
Similarly the French economist, Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), observed that: “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else.”
Since the creation of the welfare state and unemployment benefit, governments have been locked into an ongoing struggle to balance the books. This is caused by the good intentions of the social and liberal campaigners to assist the unemployed and needy on the one hand, versus the crippling taxes applied to all taxpayers on the other.
In the UK Labour governments have always increased benefits, either for altruistic reasons or to, in effect, buy voter loyalty. The downside of this is the welfare system soon became unaffordable. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) encapsulated this in a statement that: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”
Unfortunately the Labour Party has never understood that whilst high taxation allows for bigger government and more generous welfare and benefits it stifles capitalism and growth. Still today they talk of solving the deficit by increasing taxation of the better off.
Do they never learn that those with lots of money have created domiciles overseas and out of reach of the HMRC? Winston Churchill (1874-1965) summarised it beautifully by saying: “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself by the handle.”
The Liberals are even worse though, with green taxes to subsidise renewables unreliables like wind farms and solar PV generators. These taxes hit everyone regardless of income. Indeed those who are at the poorest end of society usually live in old and inefficient houses that waste most heat.
They always try to pretend they are on the moral high ground and regardless of the cost, or the truth, they intend to save the planet for all mankind. This was neatly summed up by G Gordon Liddy (1930 – ) as: “A Liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”
Most recently the Conservative and Liberal coalition with the majority support from the rest of Parliament made it a law that, unless repealed, all future UK governments would pay 0.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in foreign aid. That is a bit like committing yourself to loan payments based on a proportion of gross income instead of disposable income.
With tax and other government income running currently at 38% of GDP this means foreign aid will be 1.8% of disposable income. Worse than this, the government is already committed to spending more than its income by about £100,000,000,000 a year and has to borrow this from the IMF. One eighth of the deficit is money given away to other countries.
I quite like the altruistic attitude of the British people in the massive public support for disaster relief. Notably these are voluntary donations by the people and not money taken from us in taxes or borrowed from the IMF on the understanding that the British people will one day pay it back.
Now foreign aid being set in law there will be beneficiary nations that will now be able to rely on these payments to fund infrastructure, like in India to fund their space programme.
Quite a number of recipient countries that are south of the equator are governed by dictatorships. In these countries it is often difficult to find projects improving the well-being of the people that account for more than 20% of the aid sent.
Douglas Casey, a US publisher and libertarian, produced the well-known saying that: “Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”
Let us not waste money on vanity projects, nor give it to the EU to prop up the ailing Eurozone or to subsidise the poor countries of Europe, nor give it as aid to foreign nations until again we are in surplus. Let us spend this money on UK industry and infrastructure to stimulate growth and trade.
So let us not have our vote bought by unscrupulous political parties whose only REAL interest is getting into and holding onto power. As the civil libertarian James Bovard said in 1994: “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” Similarly John F Kennedy said: “Ask not what the country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” My response to that is vote UKIP.
Compiled by Antony Nailer from well known quotes, December 2014