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Theodore Dalrymple
Austerity in the U.K. « Back to Story

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The US is not so different. Almost half of the people pay no federal income tax yet they can receive federal services they never contributed to.


A more technical analysis:
The Growing Class of Americans Who Pay No Federal Income Taxes
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/206.html

The Income Tax System is Broken:
43 Percent Of Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/15/politics/otherpeoplesmoney/main4945874.shtml

Nearly half of U.S. households escape federal income tax
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2010-04-07-income-taxes_N.htm
Britain is caught in the welfare trap sprung in the 1940's and never fully understood by but a few.
The nation and it's people would be far better off today had they steered a different course.
There's little sign anyone in government understands the position the nation finds itself in.
Britain is ill. A long and steady decrease in the size of the government footprint on the economy is the medicine.
Misinformed by journalists who themselves fail to understand, the patient appears to prefer the disease.
Where have all the great Britons gone?
In the absence of a politician of the necessary stature the decline of Britain will continue unabated.
David Cameron's belief in green mythology is touching but shows he really doesn't have the wherewithal. Is there really not someone more wordly to lead the nation out of it's socialist misery?
the good doctor is a tory, he'd like it if all, or most of the GDP went into the pockets of the wealthy few, and stayed right there. more like the 16th century too bad doc, born 300 years too late!
John (New Zealand) August 12, 2011 at 4:02 AM
Some correspondents seem to imagine Theodore Dalrymple is American. He is British, but the UK media do not publish his writing. Lefty censors. Only in the USA is his work readily accessible.
Bravo Mr. Dalrymple. Excellent article!
The man is a traitor. I hope he will be rewarded appropriately for it.

You've just had a budget crisis of your own, haven't you?
But what to do when the public sector is the employer of vast amounts of people? 56% of economic activity in Scotland flows from the public sector. There really is no private sector, so what have we to do? It's easy to say cut jobs, but who funds the benefit payments?, where are the private sector jobs to replace public sector jobs?
It would seem the American media and print press have saved us from knowing the condition of life and economy in Great Britain, perhaps so that we will not be unduly upset at the future planned for us by leading American compassionists in the Democratic Party and our bountiful President. Theodore Dalrymple is our present-day Paul Revere riding down our PC web browsers shouting "The British are failing, the British are failing!" And they are. And so will we, if we do not hide our powder, keep our children close at home, form committees of safety, and raise hell with the agents of socialism among us.
Make that "Hayek". Sorry
Recall that Heyak's "Road to Serfdom" was written about and for the UK and was dedicated: "To the socialists of all parties."
Fierce and honest, loved this article
The problem with most of the UK is that they want everything without doing anything, commie w***ers!!

I'm a Londoner and I loath the brits
What a joy to read Daniels' (Dalrymple's) ruminations on the follies of Blighty and, by extension, of the Cousins. One is rarely graced by such a combination of dazzling clarity halo'd by an almost celestial irony. A great treat. I only hope we may remember it, or parts of it, as the tumbrils bear us away.
-Jim
You would think, of all people, the Brits would have a Tea Party. Tally ho!
Very good article,
Especially expressing how difficult it is to unwind, as the people in charge of such an excercise would have to sacrifice their nice packages.
These stats should be published on billboards around the country.
ronald miles courtney July 26, 2011 at 6:49 PM
Excluding switzerland, the nordic countries and a few resource-rich nations like Australia, nothing is going to be able to prevent the west's inexorable slide into poverty. Political systems which reward traitor promise-all politicians and a myopically selfish citzenry have already taken us past the fiscal point of no return. Regarding our decline, for some nations (germany, the U.S.) it will take decades; for most of the rest, it will happen much, much sooner. Greece, Portugal and California are our future.
[A simple review of exchange rate movements between 1997 and 2007 shows that the value of the US dollar declined in value versus the GB pound from about $1.60 to about $2.00 during the time period selected by the author. So much of this alleged bloat of UK public payrolls (as measured in US dollars) can be explained by exchange rate movements.]

---

Yeah...a 2,500% increase in the number of workers making salaries of $85K over 10 years can be explained away by a 25% exchange rate change.

Keep throwing that sh!t against the wall until some of it sticks.
And we thought the vast catasrophic experiment in the USSR had at least the benefit of showing that socialism leads to poverty...suppose it looks to good on paper to be thwarted by mere reality...
I saw two video clips taken recently in battlefield,by foot soldiers; one Brit and one US. In both clips the men they filmed could only say the "F" word and seemed incapable of constructing a relatively coherent sentence.
My conclusion was that sentence construction in no way inhibits a soldier's competence at operating a machine gun.
The exact same thing has happened in New Zealand. We had 9 years of a Labour Government which increased the public service by 40% and increased government spending exponentially.

The present government is now fiddling at the edges while borrowing $300 million per week. What is needed is a drastic cut in government spending but there is no sign of any significant progress.
Excellent piece, but I fear that most of us reading it here will already agree with the central argument about the deleterious effects of excessive state spending. The real challenge is in spreading this message to a public which seems more enamoured with (or perhaps that should read 'resigned to') the welfare state than ever before.
Southern Yankee July 25, 2011 at 4:41 PM
Anyone who has not yet read Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" should read them immediately and weep because we are there.
The first thing that jumps out of this faulty essay is: "In Manchester, for example, the number of city employees earning more than $85,000 a year rose from 68 to 1,746 between 1997 and 2007."

We can assume the city employees of Manchester, England are paid in GB pounds, not US$$. A simple review of exchange rate movements between 1997 and 2007 shows that the value of the US dollar declined in value versus the GB pound from about $1.60 to about $2.00 during the time period selected by the author. So much of this alleged bloat of UK public payrolls (as measured in US dollars) can be explained by exchange rate movements.

Much of the rest of the article is also weak or unpersuasive, and the author doesn't even attempt to bring in real facts or data to support his vague judgments and conclusions.

City Journal should be more selective in what it publishes.
Very good insightful article. We in America will be joining you very soon. You are not alone
I believe that "less can be more"; that "free
enterprise" promotes unsustainable wants, i.e. cancerous growth; that more consumerism is the problem, not the solution. Political discussion ought to envision a different way of satisfying basic human needs, i.e. Housing, Health Care, Education and Nutrition. A study of Buddhism might
be a good start toward building a more satisfying
community.


B. Samuel Davis July 25, 2011 at 1:14 PM
"The press usually defends the public sector, viewing it as an expression of the general will and a manifestation of a rationally planned society, manned by selfless workers."

It is here Mr. Dalrymple that you have the genesis of the problem and the reason for its propagation. Not just the press, but nearly all media is in on this con, and the perception created by the mighty media machine is what really controls the debate. When you have people who from birth have been exposed to this indoctrination, without letup and without so much as a "Radio Free Enterprise' to counter it, then you have the great brainwashed, who expect the government to be the solution to every problem. There may, in fact, be nothing to be done but watch as the UK makes its way from first to second world. Maybe a great collapse somewhere else may change things, but it is doubtful - this type of attitude is impossible to modify. A society which is based on individual achievement and personal growth is something that may need to born from poverty, as is shown by the terrible difficulty that eastern Europe has had in the transition.

In any event, I don't have the answer, but the ultimate - and inevitable - collapse is coming. The gravy train will have to stop sometime!
Of course it is not right that half of the population (welfare recipients and the public sector)should be sustained by the efforts of the beleaguered private sector. However, all the time left-wing ideology permeates the public debate, nothing will change. We used to have 'left' and 'right', we now have 'left' and in opposition 'right-wing extremists'. The 'left' have suceeded in shutting down debate (aided and abetted by the mainstream media) by marginalising their opponents and therefore alienating a common-sense discussion, as no 'civilised' person will want to be seen to subscribe to views that have been deemed to be 'extreme'. No contest.
Lies, lies and nothing else than lies. The current debt problem in the UK is NOT due to lavish public spending by the previous government, but by the state bailing out the banks. Anyone could check the figures.

Cameron and Clegg are telling these lies so that they can shrink the size of the public sector, and of course TD has no interest in checking the facts. Pure propaganda.
John Keegan, perhaps the best military historian in today's Anglosphere, wrote that "Power corrupts, but it chiefly corrupts those who wait upon power", those who compete for advancement and power inside the regime. If so, then how is influence and power gained within a shrinking bureaucracy? How do the people at the top decide who is to get a seat vs. who is to be left standing when the bureaucratic musical chairs are gradually removed?
Like other readers who have left comments, I think this is one of Dr Dalrymple's best pieces.

The saddest thing, I feel, about the futile increase in the numbers of university students, is that a degree is not, on the whole, a key to wealth and success. In the past, when only a select few had even a first degree, it really meant something.

But look at Britain today: who are the rich and famous, the celebrities? Did Alan Sugar go to university, or David and Victoria Beckham? How about Richard Branson? Simon Cowell? Wealth is obtained, mostly, through business - which, increasingly, has a strong element of show business. It favours the self-confident extravert with a flair for public relations and networking.

Those who work hard to get bachelor's and master's degrees, or to a great extent even doctorates, usually end up as glorified clerks working for very moderate salaries in the employ of uneducated entrepreneurs.
"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic".

- Benjamin Franklin
get your facts right re Charlie Gilmour. you don't have any idea what you are talking about. This lad has suffered enough and been sentenced to more time than many serious criminals. He committed no actual crime.
There must come a time that those who do not contribute (through) taxes and solely rely on those who pay these taxes, that, through lack of contribution makes themselves ineligible to vote in a general election. To belong to a well run society one should qualify as a contributor to that society. One has no vote in any other society unless one has paid their required subscriptions (tax) in order to belong.
Not just since the time of the Fabians. Since the time (1536–1541) that Henry VIII looted the monasteries to found and fund new social classes of bureaucrats and minor gentry beholden to the Crown.

From time to time Britain was lifted out of this sump by technological innovation, but the uplift never lasted long.
_____

Since the 1860s the US has been following the same path downward, with the same chance (zero) of moving off it. Technological innovation has been keeping our heads above water until now, but not much of that has been happening in the past 15 years or so.

Facebook?
Patrick MacKinnon July 24, 2011 at 9:06 PM
This should be required reading for every US government member currently concerned with their financial debacle.
"Britain discovers that shrinking government is a lot harder than expanding it."

That goes without saying. We find the same true here in the U.S. Those on the dole, those feeding at the public trough, are hardly likely to give up their lives of apparent ease, and will vote accordingly. Those on the sidelines, looking unbelievingly at the rout, will be sorely tempted to give up and join the feeding frenzy.

Both our ships of state have turned hard to port, and it won't be easy to recover.

There are several reasons to go to university, because it makes you a better person (the Socrates effect), because the alternative this year is worse (no jobs out there) or to gain financially lucrative skills (the university as trade school). But for most it just the Red Queen in action - you need the bloody diploma to compete with others who have one. The other reasons don't matter nor does it matter if you learn nothing that is interesting or useful - you just must run to keep up.
Charlie Griffith July 24, 2011 at 8:07 PM
WOW!
.....and thank you Dr Dalrymple.....for your most clear and well written penetrating analysis of our American fiscal situation. Every word of it applies here. Ours is a distinct parallel to yours in Britain.
There are several reasons to go to university, because it makes you a better person (the Socrates effect), because the alternative this year is worse (no jobs out there) or to gain financially lucrative skills (the university as trade school). But for most it just the Red Queen in action - you need the bloody diploma to compete with others who have one. The other reasons don't matter nor does it matter if you learn nothing that is interesting or useful - you just must run to keep up.
We in the USA are only sightly behind what is going on in the UK. I have followed the writing of TD for a long time and I think this is the best piece he has written yet.