Friday, April 30, 2010

Politicians & The Perspective Of Time

An e-mail was sent to me that is making the rounds in the UK. It applies equally as well on this side of the pond - and although the list of new taxes is different, it is no less applicable:

The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

- A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

- A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

- A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

- A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

- A billion Pounds ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

* Stamp Duty
* Tobacco Tax
* Corporate Income Tax
* Income Tax
* Council Tax
* Unemployment Tax
* Fishing License Tax
* Petrol/Diesel Tax
* Inheritance Tax (tax on top of tax)
* Alcohol Tax
* V.A.T.
* Marriage License Tax
* Property Tax
* Service charge taxes
* Social Security Tax
* Vehicle License Registration Tax
* Vehicle Sales Tax
* Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago...and our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt...

we had the largest middle class in the world... and Mum stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?

Can you spell 'politicians?'


Ted Leddy said...

As my wise father always says. I don't mind spending money but I hate wasting it. If only politicians were as prudent with the public finances.


OBloodyHell said...

This thing is apparently something like 20 years + old.

A billion seconds is 31.7 years.
1959 was more than 50 years ago.


> As my wise father always says. I don't mind spending money but I hate wasting it. If only politicians were as prudent with the public finances.

Ted, The problem here is that there are four classes of purchasing (I seem to recall F.A.Hayek defined these, but I might be wrong):


1)You spend money You earned on Yourself

2) You spend money You earned on Someone Else

3) You spend money Someone Else earned on Yourself

4) You spend money Someone Else earned on Someone Else

--- Now, consider:

For Class 1, you tend to get the best buy for the best deal. You have a doubly vested interest on both sides of the equation.

For Classes 2 and 3, you still have a substantial interest in getting good value.

For Class 4, who gives a damn? It ain't your money and you'll get no benefit from it (This assumes the "someone else" in both cases is some utterly random third party, and not a friend or loved one).


The key is to realize that all government expenditures are class 4. Every last one, pretty much...

The spender has no vested interest in getting good value of any kind.

And the less honest ones can and will rig it so that they get a piece of the action, too, via various inevitable kickback mechanisms.

And THIS is why government spending is pretty generally a bad deal. It takes an unusually prudent and self-responsible individual to do a good job with public funds. And, let's face it, "conscientious" is not a commonly applicable word when describing politicians, is it now?

So the real fact is, expecting politicians to be "prudent with public finances" is kind of like expecting a liberal to consider the consequences. It's possible, but it's a consistently bad bet.