A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Where does the axe fall?

Post 1

Storm


I met the ex-Prime Minister of Sweden at a conference he was talking about austerity as they had their financial crises earlier than other European Countries. He talked about having to go to America and talk to the markets about what Sweden was doing. One question he was asked was: why is Sweden maintaining generous state pensions?

He replied that Sweden had decided that this is what it is about. This is what they wanted to protect.

In the UK we don’t seem to be having this debate; if we accept the need for cuts where should they fall, and what don’t we want to give up?


Where does the axe fall?

Post 2

Maria


Maybe Sweden pensioners are supporting their families, that´s happening here in Spain, grandparents are feeding their children and grandchildren.

I guess that is one of the reasons people aren´t protesting more around here, the protective net that offers the family.


<<<<<In the UK we don’t seem to be having this debate; if we accept the need for cuts where should they fall, and what don’t we want to give up?

Cuts shouldn´t be accepted. There are other forms of optimising the spends, other ways to save money, but money for social services musn´t be cut at all. On contrary, it should be increased because it would create more jobs and more happines to people. That should be the aim of politicians, protect the people, nor the uber riches.

The measures for austerity that are being applied not only are a complete failure but also they are increasing the unemployment, the recession, poverty, suicides...

So, why are they applied? People are scared and confused with this crisis that is the perfect excuse to wipe out citizens rights that so much pain, fights, jail ... cost to win.

That is the aim of austerity.

So, cuts? yes, of course, but only those provided by a guillotine.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 3

Just Bob aka Robert Thompson, plugging my film blog cinemainferno-blog.blogspot.co.uk

It seems to me that, in Britain, we decided to spread the pain, in the hope of minimizing the damage to any given part. Everything is being cut a bit, so that nothing has to be cut a lot.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 4

2legs; a thoroughly used sub sometimes with a purple collar, sometimes a black one.. Filthy funny and strange, apparently. incorruptible. - I am not a badger.

That is exactly what we did not do in the UK. We decided to protect the rich, protect the directors, shareholders, and instead subsidise their continueing wealth, by putting the bill for their failures, onto the poorist in society. The elete, the government, has, just for a change, decided to do that which best profits themselves, and their peers, and use the oppertunity to ensure the vast gap betwen the wealthy and the poor remains or even grows, bigger...
And, they have had choices so it wasn't like it was entirely 'necessary' for them to do it this* way round, only its the way that best suits them; E.G., with housing benifit, they decided to cap the benifit itself, rather than actually do anything about the housing crisis in the UK, and the huge profets those with money can make in rental markets.
Then again, this wasn't exactly unforseeable with a conservative government back in power again.. smiley - groansmiley - 2cents


Where does the axe fall?

Post 5

swl

Just as an aside, the top 1% of earners in the UK contribute nearly 30% of all income tax. 90% of income tax is paid by only half the working population. It could be argued that the tax system is heavily, grossly even, weighted towards extracting money from the wealthy. Not saying that's a good thing/bad thing, just that it's distorting to run with the mantra "Tax the rich" without realising we already do - with gusto.

The 50p rate of tax is actually counter-productive, something known and understood by the Labour Party who maintained the 40% tax rate from 1997 for 13 years until 2010, mere weeks before the General Election. The 50% tax rate was a political hand-grenade designed specifically to damage the economy and place the Tories in a difficult place politically.

Where should the axe fall? - on the politicians and their bloated support organisations. Not so long ago I was represented by 3 politicians - a local councillor, an MP and an MEP. Now I am represented by 3 councillors, 8 MSPs, 1 MP and 6 MEPs - 18 of the buggers all told, most with their own offices, staff, expense accounts etc. Is our society 600% more democratic because of the growth of the political classes? Is it eckaslike. We have hundreds upon thousands of unnecessary political leeches busily coming up with things to ban, regulate, inhibit or destroy all paid for by us. We have no control over their numbers which rise exponentially.

Let's start the cuts there - with the politicians.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 6

swl

I'd also add that the other pastime of politicians is spending other people's money, often on lavish accommodation and luxury extravagances for themselves but usually on hare-brained social engineering schemes or just change for change's sake, costing billions for no visible benefit. It follows that less politicians = less spending = less austerity for the rest of us.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 7

Storm

SWL -I'm inclinded to agree that the more time politicians spend away from running the country the better.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 8

hygienicdispenser


>>the top 1% of earners in the UK contribute nearly 30% of all income tax.

Does anyone know what percentage of the UK's wages does that 1% get paid? (I could probably look it up somewhere but I'm lazy).


Where does the axe fall?

Post 9

Storm

I think it's about 20% of wealth , but if you look at the institute of fiscal studies report you will find that they pay less % of their income in tax (around 4.5%) than those in the top 10% (around 25%). These figures are never as straightforward a they seem; however I think around 60% of people are net beneficiaries. The difference between the richest and the rest is large and growing.

http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

Ted Wilkinson talks about why this is bad for society.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 10

Maria


I agree that there are too many politicians , most of them known by having a problem for every solution. So yes, out with the suckers.

About taxes, No idea except that there exist a huge amount of tax avoiding, tax exasion to tax havens and a non progressive taxing system, which for me is telling a lot about the great unequality of the taxing system ( everywhere)
And that, without considering the international transactions that have The City as the neural centre. That is the place to apply the Tobin tax.

Meanwhile, do you British know about this?

http://www.wdm.org.uk/action/fsa-regulate-banks

<< The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is supposed to be the UK’s 'independent' financial regulator, but is involved in behind the scenes lobbying for food speculation.

won´t you sing the letter?


Where does the axe fall?

Post 11

Storm

This is interesting

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/datablog/interactive/2012/jun/22/how-wealthy-you-compared

Find out who we mean by the top 10%, is it you?


Where does the axe fall?

Post 12

deb - 37 down, 37.5 to go...nearly half-way there!!

According to that 64% of people are poorer than me. I only have a very small mortgage (around a quarter of the value of my 3 bed ex-council semi) but after fixed outgoings (including regular car costs like fuel & insurance but excluding groceries) I have around £350 a month for food, clothing, home & car repairs, entertainment & gifts.

How does that compare to other people?

I think if I had a full mortgage to pay I would struggle to get through the month and 64% of people earn less than me smiley - yikes

Deb smiley - cheerup


Where does the axe fall?

Post 13

Z

I have no idea what my household annual income is after tax. I mean I know how much I bring home, but I don't ask Mrs Zen how much she brings home.

Is this weird?


Where does the axe fall?

Post 14

deb - 37 down, 37.5 to go...nearly half-way there!!

Not weird at all.

When my husband was alive both our wages would go into the same account. If we wanted to buy gifts for the other we'd use our own credit cards but otherwise it was just joint finances.

Different strokes and all that.

Deb smiley - cheerup


Where does the axe fall?

Post 15

Storm

93% of people are less wealthy then me. Which clearly puts me in the bracket of the super-rich. So when I say tax the rich then that's me. Yikes! Still tax the rich!

This surprised me as I tend to think of myself as in the middle. I'm just in 40% tax bracket and my husband isn't. We have professional but not stella careers. Our mortgage is quite high but I suspect child care is our biggest expense.

We were better off as a result of the last budget. In fact we gained more than my brother who earns the national average wage (£24000) doing long hours and supports a wife and child. this is wrong.

Z- not weird if you have enough to pay the bills but it does suggest your not struggling. Says me. I'm super-rich.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 16

Keith Miller yes that Keith Miller

Hmm, interesting reading about Europe and the UK and the seeming basket case they are and meanwhile here in down here and up there(Aus+Asia) we're going gangbusters; can't get it out of the ground quick enough and onto boats to the world, highest growth figures, lowest unemployment, currency higher than the US peso(a jape), collecting immigrants from the UK at an ever greater rate and also another boom in Greeks+Italians+Mandarin speakers flooding the shores as economic emigre's and the latter as income positive emigre's.

Cyclic?
Or the oft mentioned shift in world economics and indeed focus away from the perceived sick men of Europe; drowning, suffocating, gasping from state sponsored socialist leaning voodoonomics, unrealistic retirement schemes, struggling America, and into the heart of the bulk of the planet's population with a huge aspirational middle class. India's numbers 400million plus let alone the growing Chinese middle class and Indonesia's 200million plus.

While Europe and the UK look to cuts and an axe swinging with a lot of debate...down here the axe is a more ruthless instrument and it cuts first and then the 'chattering classes' can cry into their Chardonnay and latte all they want after the fact and rage and jump up and down all to no avail: Public service jobs(Civil service) tens of thousands gone with the swipe of a media advisors memo to the media, out-sourcing of thousands upon thousands of menial jobs to more menial savvy countries, emasculation of as many unions as possible and dismantling of workers rights hard thought for in times gone by.

This is what we do here and we do it well.

France-62 year old retirement point...pfft! Get real.
Greece 50 something retirement age...yeah right.
and the list goes on.

Here discussion is taking place to lift our retirement age from 65 to 70 and cut access to many social benefits via income tests.

Yep, where does the axe fall indeed, we live with it's constant tap tap tap...bang! Slash slash, and that caring, thinking, kind society that all people want just gets a bit further away and everyone gets a little bit meaner.

Our success does come at a price and it'll be interesting to see how a Tory directed UK and a mixed up grab bag of countries masquerading as a unified group goes about the nastiness that will have to come soon and come harshly if they're to survive in a way that their populace recognises.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 17

Storm

When I studied economics at university we talked about a famous illustrative tool to understand wealth distribution. If you imagine that all the people in the world were going to walk past you with their height determined by their income the first few people would tetter past impossibly tall with their heads in the clouds. Then fairly quickly we’d reach the people of avreage height but we’d have reams and reams of dwarfs and midgets to balance those first impossibly tall people.

The Guardian thing is slightly false as it looks at income rather than wealth. Many of those who are rich have inherited wealth in addition to any income which changes the picture a little. Many of those of younger generations have far higher mortgages and may be in negative equity whilst a good number of people have gained on the property market.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 18

2legs; a thoroughly used sub sometimes with a purple collar, sometimes a black one.. Filthy funny and strange, apparently. incorruptible. - I am not a badger.

Hurrah, I'm in the top 10% smiley - wow oh... oops... wrong way round... make that the bottom 10% smiley - snorksmiley - blush
Which is a bit kinda misleading, as although I have basically no income whatsoever, I'm at least £1000 better off than I would be, living where I do, were I to have to pay rent to live in this area and size of house... but that's just kinda weird as I have a non existant income but own the house outright smiley - weird


Where does the axe fall?

Post 19

Just Bob aka Robert Thompson, plugging my film blog cinemainferno-blog.blogspot.co.uk

Apparently, I'm on the edge of the poverty line.


Where does the axe fall?

Post 20

CASSEROLEON

Eric Hobsbawm's "Short History of the Twentieth Century" explains that the Scandivian countries suffered terrible economic depression during his "Age of Catastrophe 1914-1945": and this followed on from that period of Scandinavian "exodus" to the USA- "The Little House on the Prairiee" era. The result was a Scandinavian version of what one might call "National Socialism", most obviously perhaps in the Norway of Quizzling but also in the Swedish neutrality during the Second World War. The vital iron supplies from the northern Swedish iron-ore fields that had to come during the winter freeze from Norwegian ports like Narvik were a vital factor in both the British Norwegian campaign and the German conquest of Norway.

I suppose that neutral Sweden could argue much the same as the Irish Free State that they really should observe the principle that "charity begins at home", that really their own national interest should be paramount, and that meant and means practicising a "national" rather than "international" socialism.

A recent reading of George Stewart's book "Burying Caesar"- a comparative study of the careers of two of the major UK political families, the Chamberlain's and the Churchill's, with a focus on Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill- both Chancellors of the Exchequer and Prime Ministers- constantly reinforces the way that thoughout that often difficult inter-war period all British governments were pretty well hamstrung because of the legacy of National Debt from the First World War when the UK not only had to pay for its own war, but often for its Allies too.

I seem to recall from Stewart that even in the Thirties c40% of UK taxes were needed to service the War Debt: and in the age of the Welfare State, though Britain moved from its Imperial Status towards "splendid isolation", there is still an expectation that the UK must "punch above its weight" in world affairs.

Perhaps British people are still the inheritors of this idea that the option of just "passing by on the other side" is just not British- certainly not for the English who adopted Saint George, the errant saintly knight as their patron saint: and an Anglo_Scot Socialist like John Ruskin created a campaigning group named after St.George.

Delusions of grandeur perhaps, but there is a genuine moral debate about whether "those who can" should first help those who have had all kinds of advantages and opportunities within their own nation and not really taken advantage of them, thanks to the politics of the "redistribution of wealth": or whether the new global "working class" and those who have never really had a life chances in the developing world are more deserving.

Cass


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