Thursday, 30 April 2009

Over-taxed and Underpaid

Two unacceptable assumptions help mark out New Labour:

that taxpayers should pay what they are asked rather than pay what they must.

that being a member of Parliament is a job of itself, even a career, and that work undertaken by MPs not to do with Parliament and the representation of constituents is to be decried.

At least the Chancellor of the Exchequer has now accepted that we owe it to ourselves to arrange our tax affairs to our best advantage. He mentioned rendering to Caesar.

The second view is something of an innovation. Until the New Labour administration took office business in the House of Commons was arranged precisely so as to permit the earning of one's living elsewhere. It was only the pressure of the wimmin that pushed working hours into a notional working day and fixed weekends firmly free of commitments. But for many MPs the pay is very low - why else is there such a determination to have allowances for being there at all?

£66,000 a year before stoppages is not enough to meet a family's expenses if they do not choose to use state-provided services and subventions. It is a measure of how deeply inflation has bitten that it will barely cover lodging and transport costs for out of London MPs once the costs of a family home have been met, and that many of the expenses offered to help them are fully justified. Much of the outrage being expressed by the general public is that their wages too are not enough and their stoppages are too high. But they do not have expenses provision and are forced onto the state services they find so inadequate.

Abusing expenses, by whatever means and many of those means have been demonstrated recently, is clearly unacceptable. But expecting people to pay more tax then they need, and expecting people not to earn a decent living when they are already limiting their earning power by serving in Parliament is a mean minded attitude springing from long years of high taxation, low wages and the overlarge state.


Odin's Raven said...

There's a simple solution to the fuss over MP's pay and expenses. Pay them NOTHING at all from public funds. Let their parties pay them.

Anonymous said...

"£66,000 a year before stoppages is not enough to meet a family's expenses"

Personally I have never earned that much in my life and I seem to have done OK in terms of supporting my family.

There is a disconnect between the moneyed classes - including all national politicians - and everyday experience, which makes some people angry, and drives the contempt and disgust in which the pols are now held.

Those managing on the minimum, or even the average, wage - and many do, quite successfully - find it infuriating beyond words that there are others who say three times the average is not enough to live on.

hatfield girl said...

Anon., you have cut short the sentence. It reads:

'£66,000 a year before stoppages is not enough to meet a family's expenses if they do not choose to use state-provided services and subventions.'

You might be happy to use state services. Many would rather not. Forced consumption is a major characteristic of state-planned economies. We are supposed to be living in an advanced capitalist economy. Time to stop pretending that a real opportunity to walk away from state provision of education and health would not be grabbed with both hands by most people.

And if you and your family are happy with tax-funded state education I and my family were not. And I can see no reason why we should be made so poor by stoppages before we receive our wages that many are forced into accepting it.

Polly S said...

A problem is that MPs set their own pay. Other jobs have remuneration set by the market - the pay will rise until it is sufficient to attract a suitable applicant.
There is no shortage of applicants for seats in Parliament; probably no shortage of applicants just as competent as the present incumbents. It follows that their various emoluments could probably be reduced with no danger that seats would remain unfilled.

Why should MPs be expected to avoid state-provided services? They are ultimately responsible for the provision and funding of services, are they not? If the services are inadequate, let the MPs work to improve them. If we pay them so much they can go private, what motivation do they have to improve services for the majority who cannot afford to do without state services?

I doubt many of the MPs who have been fiddling their expenses are doing so because of poverty. The Home Secretary is paid a good fat salary, isn't she? Of course, she'll be out of a job come the election, but we can't be expected to pay her more now just to cover that. Ministers get fat handouts when they leave office, anyway, even if they resign of their own volition. Blunkett got £15,000 for nothing at all when he chose to resign over the Nanny visa affair.