On the nanny state and low taxation

Two of FREER Director Rebecca Lowe’s latest ConservativeHome columns:

1.)Fight for the right to choose of the poor, the fat and, yes, the stupid’

Somewhere between the banning of junk food adverts, the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing, those annoying bus-stop signs telling you how many calories you should eat for lunch, and Jamie Oliver’s hypocritical piousness, there’s a shouty line between a nudge and a shove.

I’ve always disliked the taste of sugary soft drinks, but my distaste for the government’s drive to reduce British consumption of them is much, much greater. Many smart pieces have been written about the regressive nature of indirect taxation, and I hate that policies like the “sugar tax” hit the poorest hardest, not only because they tend to be unit-based, but also because they’re often directed at the products that those on lower incomes tend to consume disproportionately. But what I hate more is that these policies are premised on the idea that the state should step in when people are making “bad” choices.

Click here to read more

2.) ‘Why aren’t more politicians making the moral case for lower taxes?’

There have been many complaints about the NHS’s bumper birthday present. These mostly fall into two camps: complaints that £20 billion is not enough, and complaints about uncertainty over where the money will come from. It seems likely that the boost won’t simply come from a ‘Brexit dividend’ – although I remain positive about the long-term economic benefits of leaving the EU – but if that’s so, then the key point here, to my mind, isn’t to do with deception.

Rather, it’s to do with tax. Why have so few politicians made the somewhat obvious point that the UK tax burden is already extremely high, and that raising taxes further, therefore, must come with serious costs? Sure, there may be decent arguments for increased spending, here or there—alongside better ones for greater efficiency and necessary reform—but it must be recognised that pretty much all public spending comes from tax revenue. Effectively, all of it is money from the taxpayer, whether now directly, or later, as in the case of state borrowing.

Click here to read more