Saturday, July 18, 2015

Whose money, whose decision?

The mantra since the Thatcher-Reagan years (I think based on Milton Friedman's model of the economy) is that the money the government spends is tax payers money. It isn't. Tax payers have paid it to government for them to spend, according to the programmes on which they were elected.

I expect my government to act justly with the money that it has been given stewardship of by the nation's tax payers. For this reason, I expect two things. The first is that everyone who owes tax will pay tax - whether that's individuals or corporations; they will not look for sophisticated ways of avoiding paying what government (elected by all of us - or in our current government's case by barely 25% of us, but that's another blog entirely!) has deemed people should pay.

The second is that I expect government to spend according to principles of justice and equity, fairness and what is in the interest of the well-being of the majority of citizens. I think this means that in moral terms, governments should make decisions ethically. For me that would mean that governments would take seriously what the bible says about money and community, about shared prosperity and the well-being of all. I appreciate others might take a different view, based on a different morality.

So Europe's tax payers are not bailing out Greece, as though Europe's leaders had gone round dragging Euros from reluctant citizens' wallets and purses. No, Europe's governments are using their money (that gathered in taxes which is now theirs to disperse) to do the right thing by Greece. At that very least, it means that Europe's leaders must explain why they have taken the decisions they have and not hide behind their taxpayers. We do not know what they want.

Curiously, we do know what the Greek taxpayers want because they expressed their view on this single issue and an overwhelming majority of them wanted something different from what they are being offered. The fact that Europe's leaders ignore the democratic will of the Greek people nails the lie that they have any interest in the tax payers of any country.

What they do, they do in their own interests and we the people should not be implicated in their ineptitude.

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