02 April 2012

A tax guide favouring collectivism

Mention the world ‘tax’ to most people and their first – and often only – reaction is to ask for ways they can cut their tax bill. But once you ask those self same people if they want cuts in education, the national health service, road building or local street cleaning and their response is almost invariably ‘no’. (Tax Handbook 2011/12, published by Which?)

It seems disingenuous, to say the least, to bracket such things as ‘education’ and the NHS with such things as road building and road cleaning. I would wholeheartedly advocate the abolition of state-funded and compulsory ‘education’, but I admit that I would like some usable roads around where I live, although I am not sure that a better arrangement for paying for them could not be found than by paying tax to dubious and unprincipled collectivist bodies such as national and local government.

But it is true that, since roads enable the displacement of persons and objects across areas that are larger in size than any one individual’s territory, there is justification for devising some collectivist system for maintaining them, rather than having each piece of road paid for by the owners of the land along each side of it. However, if the payments for maintaining it are paid into a collectivist entity which is also responsible for maintaining other collectivist activities, there will immediately arise the problem of blurring the exact allocation of a specific portion of the taxes paid in, as has happened so notoriously with pensions.

In the case of collectivist oppressions such as medicine and education, people are being provided (at least nominally) with something that is specific to the needs of the individual, so the arguments in favour of collectivist road provision do not apply.

What an individual will in practice receive under the headings of ‘medicine’ and ‘education’ is what other people wish to impose upon him. This is no substitute at all for what he might wish to pay for on his own account, and the effect of taxation is merely to diminish his ability to do so.