Monday, May 26, 2008

A lesson in politics for the young

Last week I sent the Sprog (he's 21) a text last week asking if he would like my bike because I am thinking of buying a new one. Being on just over minimum wage he will take what ever offerings he gets. We took him out for dinner last night and by the end he was angry and disillusioned, with all politicians.

He's always been interested in politics and, being young, is still a bit of an idealist, but for not much longer. When he asked me why I was buying a new bike I explained that the Government has a cycling to work scheme which means that I can get up to £1000 of bike and accessories for effectively half price because I get VAT back and the remainder is set against tax at the higher rate. The penny quickly dropped and the conversation went something like this:

Hang on, you earn about 15 times what I earn and you are getting tax breaks paid by me - Yup.

But you work 30 miles from the office - Yup

And its all motorway - Yup

Doesn't anyone check on these things - Nope

I then explained the madness of tax credits - we pay bureaucrats to tax one set of poor people to give complicated tax credits to another set, that the 10p tax debacle was really about trying to fiddle the stupid relative poverty numbers, that after nearly 15 years of growth the cupboard is bare etc. I then had a rant about the erosion of our freedoms and by the end and a general rant because I was in full flow.

He commented that its impossible to change anything and, to paraphrase him, the political class have got a stranglehold on politics. As he pointed out its not that he and his friends are apathetic, they are disillusioned with all the party's, having met a few senior politicians on his politics A Level course at Henley College.

It won't be long, I suspect, before he becomes a classic liberal free market proponent. I pointed him in the direction of the Libeatarian party as my parting shot.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Well done. Get 'em while they're young.

markc said...

And the low-paid subsidise the tax breaks for the well-paid and their pension contributions, and the low paid subsidise the surviving families of the formerly well-paid deceased whose funds are taken from their SIPP as cash at a 35% tax charge. And immediately-vested pensions are wonderful if you're on 40%. And ISAs only really work if you're on 40%. And interest-only mortgages backed by a private pension scheme, if you're a 40% taxpayer, have a number of advantages.

The poor always subsidise the well off. It's only the wealthy can afford socialism.

All these preferential schemes, if not done away with tomorrow to take the lower paid out of tax altogether, should be punitively taxed as benefits in kind with the same end. I'd tax final salary public sector pensions the same way, too; choice would be to have a private-sector-equivalent pension, or pay serious tax on the unfunded benefit of a public sector one.

Combined with the "New Zealand Pension" and the opportunity to keep whatever you can save, it'd concentrate minds and reduce the costs of the public sector. I somehow doubt that even Mrs T would have taken that on in her heyday. The ersatz bunch around now (of any party) are too busy lining their own pockets.