Saturday, November 04, 2006

Legal Plunder

As Iain Dale highlighted earlier today, David Cameron has unveiled a new Sustainable Communities Bill. Essentially the bill proposes to grant local government the power to determine how central government funds are allocated in their area (I oversimplify of course). I must admit to having no problem with the underlying premise of the bill, i.e. that a determination must be made as to whether tax-payers money is being utilised in the most appropriate manner. However I submit our action as conservatives, based on this premise, should extend much further than simply granting local government the power to redistribute spending.

As conservatives we would do well to remind ourselves of the concept of legal plunder as expounded by Frédéric Bastiat, and Barry Goldwater’s warning against viewing the raising of taxes as anything other than an issue of individual liberty.

Perhaps we should consider devolving power over spending to the taxpayer. Obviously certain things should and must be publicly funded; the military for example. Accordingly there should be no possibility of opting out of the part of one’s taxes which go towards national defence etc. However there are a great many things which tax-payers’ money currently goes towards, which may or may not be viewed by the taxpayer as something that taxes should pay for. In this regard it is worth bearing in mind that believing that something should be done, is different to believing it should be done by government.

If we believe that the government which governs least is the government that governs best, and that individuals are much better at spending their own money than the state, then surely individuals should as a matter of principle have much more control over how their income is spent. Bastiat would certainly agree with that.

If therefore person X does not wish to support the arts (and so-called art) why should that individual be forced to foot the bill, through legal plunder, for artist productions? I submit they should not be so forced.

I offer the preceding merely as food for thought. Sadly at 1am I have no desire to write a comprehensive proposal on the subject (although perhaps I should).


Cllr Green (Rep-Kent) said...

I'm really becoming very impressed with your analysis of problems that aren't necesarrily in the public eye!

Tory in the Wilderness said...

Thanks a lot. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog. Apologies for the lack of updates recently, I've been busy with the mid-terms in Maryland and Virginia.

Cllr Green said...

Whom do you think will win the senate races in Maryland and/or Virginia?

Tory in the Wilderness said...

It's difficult to call. But I think Allen will win Virginia thanks to GOTV, Steele will lose Maryland, and as for Erlich I'm not so sure; it appears to be a toss-up at the moment.

towcestarian said...

My own idea for devolving spending to the tax-payer involves giving them extra votes in elections. Everyone gets one vote that you get extra votes depending on how much you contribute financially.

The idea has the beauty of being a negative feedback loop that is self balancing. When taxes are high, people who pay the taxes vote for tax cuts, that then reduces their relative electoral influence.