Can we please drop the nonsense of ‘tax payer’s money’?

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Can we please drop the nonsense of ‘tax payer’s money’?  The phrase is just political advertising, intended to manipulate us in to accepting cuts and constraints which are not good for us or the economy.   (Christopher Bacon explains why it’s a nonsense in his article ‘The Myth of Tax Payer’s money’ which is copied below.)

However, like all successful advertising slogans, the phrase ‘tax-payer’s money’ invokes what psychologists call a schema…. a whole body of emotions, experiences and knowledge which mediate our response.

Hence, ‘Tax payer’s money’ is intended to create a direct link between government spending and the individual.  You are invited to visualise your hard-earned pennies being frittered away unwisely ……. which is hugely convenient for a politician intent on running down public services, so that they can be privatised.  Also implicit in the schema is the threat that if the government spends more, you’ll have to pay out, depleting even more of your income.

And like so much of neoliberal-speak, it is contaminated by deliberately confusing government spending with household spending.  The phrase ‘tax-payer’s money’ comes from the same stable as ‘maxing out the credit card’ or ‘mending the roof when the sun is shining’. It is bunkum.  Government is not like a household.

And of course, you know that really, when you actually think about it …. Government spending is nothing like our own.  But as Drew Weston wrote in ‘The Political Brain:  The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation’, …..‘the nature of political campaigns are where “rational minds collide with irrational thinking”

Drawing from the fields of psychology and cognitive neuroscience, Weston, a clinical psychologist and political strategist, demonstrated the extent to which candidates’ speeches and political ads, are emotionally laden with words and images designed to provoke strong feelings…. And by re-writing the actual speeches using alternative wording, he was able to illicit a very different set of responses.

Weston explains that these messages activate networks in the brain and become the avenues down which true or false political messages travel, connecting to the unconscious emotions of the voter in a nano-second and involuntarily triggering us to react emotionally and without ‘thinking’.

So let’s keep ‘thinking’ and not allow the Right to infect our minds with their manipulative false analogies….  and can we please drop the nonsense of ‘tax payer’s money’.

 

The Myth of tax payer money Christopher Bacon

We are told, time and time again, that the government should spend taxpayer money wisely, efficiently, and sustainably.  Often these pronouncements are followed by promises to use taxpayer money well by cutting government spending and making efficiency improvements.  There is an assumption behind these statements that is utterly inaccurate and dishonest, however.  Namely, that there is such a thing as “taxpayer money.”

Not only is there no such thing as taxpayer money, it is not the case – ipso facto – that the government spends taxpayer money.  To see how this is so, assume that taxpayer money exists and assume that the government spends it.  As we shall see, these assumptions actually lead to a paradox.

In this world, where the government spends taxpayer money, the following situation holds. The government invokes a tax on the population – say, an income tax.  This income tax takes money from the people who qualify and adds it to the Treasury account.  The Treasury, then, takes that money and spends it on whatever the government wants to buy: a new hospital, school, submarine, or whatever.

Where does this money come from, assuming God does not randomly drop it from the sky?  Well, it is “taxpayer” money.  So the money, presumably, belongs to the taxpayers – so it must come from them (i.e. the taxpayers must issue/print it).  Well, that is all well and good, but it does not represent this world.  Taxpayers, in the UK, do not print pound sterling. That would, of course, be a criminal offense.

In order to tax someone, there must be something there to tax.  Since taxpayers do not print their own money, there is nothing there to tax.  And in order for the government to spend, the government must first tax.  But since there is nothing there to tax, the government will never collect tax and so will never spend.

Clearly, this description is not one of our world.  In this world, the government does spend, and taxpayers do pay their taxes.  Something has to give – our initial assumptions must be wrong:  there is no such thing as taxpayer money and/or governments do not require taxes to spend.

If we jettison the second assumption, then it turns out that the government must spend before it collects taxes.  This is because if it does not spend, then there will be nothing to collect – remember, taxpayers do not print their own money and it does not magically fall from the sky.  Spending precedes taxation, by necessity.  Now that we can see the money in circulation is government money – money issued by the government – it follows that taxpayers do not own it; so the first assumption is jettisoned.  Therefore, the notion “taxpayer money” ceases to have any content.

Brighton Fringe – #MMT with the one and only Prof. Bill Mitchell #Lab17

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Many of us now realise that the scares about deficits and debt are nothing more than useful devices to justify cuts and sell-offs of our public services.  Austerity is a political choice.  There was/is nothing necessary about the last 7y of Tory asset-stripping.  If you’re in Brighton for LP conference (or any other reason) come and hear Professor Bill Mitchell explain how the economy really operates.  You don’t need to be a LP member and it doesn’t cost you anything to be informed by a world class economist.

Monday 25th September, 2pm until 5pm at the Brighthelm Centre (just a few steps down from Brighton station).

Why the hell doesn’t Corbyn put the bell around the cat’s neck?

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‘Why the hell doesn’t Corbyn put the bell around the cat’s neck?’

Cryptic?

No. It’s the Aesop’s fable that springs to mind when I read the various Princess and Princeling (elected or not) posturings and complaints about Corbyn and Copeland:

The mice call a conference to try to decide on how to stop the cat catching and eating them. One ‘princeling’, or it might have been a ‘princess’, got up and announced that the solution was to put a bell on the cat. At first, the other mice were all pleased and excited to have a solution. Then someone asked ‘How are we going to put a bell on the cat?’ ‘Oh’ said the prince/essy mouse ‘If you’re not going to listen to my advice, I’m off’. And with that, she/he flounced off.

Like all the rest of the mice, I’m left wondering if I’ve missed something … but no. That really is the sum of it.

In fact, there is another fairy story which fits … The Emperor’s New Clothes.

 There are two fraudsters who manage to persuade the Emperor that they have tailored him a magnificent set of clothes which only the intelligent can see.

The Emperor doesn’t want to admit that he can’t see a thing. So he pays the men a huge amount of gold and wears his new ‘clothes’ in a procession down the High Street. The people, suitably primed that they must be stupid if they can’t see the wonderful clothes, ‘ooo’ and ‘argh’ about the magnificent appearance of their King.

All that is except for one little boy who shouts out that the King is as naked as the day he was born.

No-one ever says what happened to the little boy. I guess that he was pilloried by the combined weight of the press and BBC… and by right wing MPs of all political parties. The entire weight of the establishment would have come down on the little boy’s head.

And the people in the crowd?  Well, I imagine that like all groups of people, they won’t all have thought the same thing.

Some will have persuaded themselves that they really could see the non-existent robes. Others will be more cautious and want to give the fraudsters the benefit of the doubt.  Another group will have seen exactly what is happening but won’t want to be pilloried like the little boy and decide that it’s better just to play along with the fraud because it’s too difficult to go against the establishment.

 Then there will be those who see the fraud as good thing… good for them that is.

However, there is a final group. These will be those brave and honourable souls who will gather around the little boy, standing up against the fraudsters regardless of the jeers of the press and public.  Those who realise that it is better to see the world as it really is rather than as they fear or want it to be… because it is only by recognizing the lies, the frauds and the sleights of hand that they will be able to fashion a better world which works for ordinary people and not the vested interests of the establishment and global finance.

It speaks volumes that there is more reality to be found in the words of Conservative journalists like Peter Oborne or in the comment threads on ConHome than there is from a majority of the PLP.

I will finish with an except from a Danny Finkelstein article about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters:

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There are two Labour parties now. The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

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The Great Ron Rafferty says*:

A brief history of the world …. From the time of Kinnock, there was an ever-increasing vetting procedure of new Labour candidates.  That started off from a relatively weak administrative point from the Central Office perspective, but it quickly became more and more controlling over the past 30 years, and what better cover than deciding that only people from certain groups could stand as candidates.  So we ended up with a massive percentage of “on-message” MPs.

Now fast forward to last summer, and the sudden realisation by the on-message ones, that they were no longer on message with the people they claimed to represent.  Their own manifesto demonstrated this.  As the media had tried to paint Ed Miliband as Red Ed, the Labour Party machine moved forever towards the right until in several aspects it WAS to the right of the Tories!  This is the “being in power” bollocks that is constantly uttered.  Being in power …. for what?  If being in power is to be worse than the Tories, then it IS actually better having the Tories FFS!

The election of Corbyn, who, despite efforts to paint him almost as a communist (the new Red Ed) was centre-left, saw a whole cadre of the Labour machine rejecting him, and rejecting their membership.

He was never ever given a chance to be a leader.  Sniping from the Coup-ers** NEVER stopped.  They used social media to keep in contact with the mainstream media (oh, how hollow their protests now sound about others using social media …..), placed anti-Corbyn stories, and the continuing line that only the coup-ers were true Labour, not their leader, and certainly not their membership!

Planning for a coup for 10 months.  No principles.  But the membership – now there’s a bit of a problem!

The coup, which was intended to psychologically attack the leader failed, because he stood up to the outrageous deceit and bullying.  (In any other context on earth, the Guardian would have railed against the bullies, and quite rightly!).  But Corbyn wasn’t broken.  Did the coup members bother that this was anti-democratic?  Did they bother that it was against their memberships expressed wishes?  Did they bother that it was against the wishes of most CLPs?

As that didn’t work …. over to the NEC, and the same coup-ers not quite in charge of things.  Sob stories about representatives being threatened (a bizarre bit of histrionics compared to what they had attempted on Corbyn!).  No sticking to the normal rules of committees, and what is the solution to the membership “problem?”  Cut off as many members as possible!  Stop the membership meeting in the CLPs!

This is NOT a group of people trying to “save” the Labour Party.  This is a group of people who believe they OWN the Labour Party, and will do precisely what they want.  It is a right-wing takeover.  And the people hark back to the days of Blair where they say one thing, and mean another, where war is good, where the class from which their members are taken is good as cannon fodder without equipment, where a useless and expensive piece of nuclear gear is more important than ships that work, and where those same poor folk will continue to pay for the errors of the rich.

But, there again, time after time, it is the rich who pay for their coup “friends.”  A few millions promised here, a few hundreds of thousands there, a “helpful” but restricted legal challenge (that’ll do nicely).

There are TWO Labour parties now.  The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

Whose side are you on?

 

*Comments thread https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/15/labour-death-spite-bullying-working-class-base

**coup plotters

NB This is important

Wise words – ‘Keep Calm and Support Corbyn’

‘The last thing anyone on the Left must do in response to these outrages is to be outraged however. There will be more to come.

More members will be suspended. Applicants for registered supporter status will be excluded – even in some cases if they have been accepted as Labour Party members (after the January cut off date). Other local parties will face unjustified administrative sanctions.

All of this has a dual purpose. First – and vitally – to diminish Corbyn’s support in the election. Secondly – and this is not unimportant – in the hope of provoking an angry response which can feed the narrative that the left are vile bullies.’

jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/…/keep-calm-and-support-corbyn…