For people like me, Thursday night’s are a misery in front of the TV. BBC Question Time is compulsory masochism. I have to watch it but I know I will despair at most of it.
It show cases the very worst of invertebrate politics. I know from experience that the Parties prepare their participant with great care prior to departure for the host City, and even then we get the traditional “tell ‘em whatever they want to hear” rubbish.
Tonight’s super-miserable moment came with the inevitable question on the repayment of tax credits. The debate went something like this:
"Ooh, isn’t it awful. Those poor people have been given the money and now they have to pay it back and they can’t afford it. It’s so unfair, but it is our money and we can’t just write it off. Those forms are terribly difficult to fill in and maybe people forgot to inform the tax people that their situation had changed. Are you calling them cheats, Minister? Of course not, I am sure they just forgot. We must do something to restore confidence in what is fundamentally a good thing. I speak to lots of people who have been liberated by tax credits……………….”
STOP, right there.
Tax credits are a fundamentally bad thing and it is simply impossible for anyone to be liberated by something that ties you inextricably to the benevolence of the state and income support.
Tax credits are without question the most devious and insidious dependence mechanism ever created and done so deliberately by this most anti-liberty chancellor.
Nobody can possibly be "set free" by having to fill out a 60 page form to claim a “credit” which they then become dependent upon and must fill in another 60 page form whenever the most minute detail of their life changes. Liberty is to be free from interference or control of the state and other individuals. Tax credits are shackles and it astonishes me how anyone who did not absolutely have to, could so willingly and so thoughtlessly put them on. I for one will never claim a tax credit no matter how many I become eligible for.
What pissed me off most on the programme was the fatuous response by Francis Maude. So bent on wanting to appear “caring” and “emotional”, he was completely incapable of setting out the naturally conservative position on solving this problem:
Yes, the poorest recipients of this money and now victims of this Whitehall cock-up should be freed from the burden of repayment, but tax credits can NEVER work and will always be liable to this sort of bureaucratic catastrophe.
The real solution is to give people this money through not taxing it in the first place. By raising the tax threshold, by reducing the basic rate of tax and by taking a ruthless scythe to a bloated and useless government bureaucracy. We can’t pay tax quickly enough to feed this army of unproductive tax collectors, inspectors, blanket stackers and bean counters.
An overhaul of the benefits system to encourage people into gainful and productive employment and then leaving more of their wages in their pockets - now that’s liberating and that is fundamentally good.