Here’s to Warren Buffet, the Richest man on the Planet, who once said, when asked about the inequalities of the tax system….
“It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.“
The World has entered a new chapter, full of blank pages. What used to be market truth, has become greedy nonsense. The noise made by the laissez faire wealth jamboree embraced by the rich as “true freedom” is slowly dying down. There are still those who insist that tax hikes and Social transfers kill productivity (despite that fact that Sweden spends around 30% of it’s GDP on Social projects compared to 13% in the USA – and the growth rate of GDP per person in Sweden was as high through the mid-2000s as that of the USA – according to Jonas Pontusson) and insist on screaming about how big Government is part of the problem rather than the driving force behind emancipation, civil rights and other aspects of life that the market has literally no control over. Between 1948 and 1970 social spending shot through the roof – Medicaid, the war on poverty, added investment in schools etc. In fact, it rose from 16.5% to 27.5% and with that, GDP and Productivity grew more than any other time (even during Reagan’s years…. although he cut income tax and shifted the burden to payroll tax like an increase in Social Security and Medicare taxes), the next time huge advances in productivity appeared, was in 1996….. after the Clinton tax increases. Big government isn’t the problem at all. Selfishness is the problem. Lack of compassion is the problem.
Big government in the USA, extended social security to ten million more workers during President Eisenhower’s term. It spread to farmers, teachers and dentists among others. Under Eisenhower, the government financed the National highways system. Before that, under Truman, the government passed the G.I Bill of Rights, to provide aid to War veterans for homes and college. It benefited 8 million returning Soldiers, who now went to college and had their mortgages guaranteed; and America benefited economically over the next sixty five years. Anti-polio vaccines, National Institutes of Health and it’s Research and Development, National Defence Education Act, the Internet with it’s origins in the Defence Department, Medicare, integrated school system, Civil rights, and food Administration – none of that is the result of a wondrous market system. Government provides the framework for a market to run successfully; Government works to cope with the change in the mentality of the people and nothing Obama does, is going to kill the superiority of the American market system. Even Churchill, the most famous Tory in British History, supported a strong Welfare system, having remarked years before his eventually primacy “It seems clumsy to let people starve…” he then went on to support the Beveridge report on much needed Welfare action.
I appear to have digressed. Back to Sweden for a second. As suggested earlier, Sweden spends around 30% of it’s GDP on Social products. Significantly higher than the USA (Whose Conservatives seem to believe any public spending, is a big evil). Not only that, but Sweden is listed as sixth in the Human Development Index whereas the USA, is a measly fifteenth. For all the attacks on Europe I hear from Conservative Americans, when it comes to the Human Development Index, ten European countries rank above the USA. This of course, is without mentioning that Sweden ranks top of the Economist Democracy Index whilst the USA ranks at 17th, below thirteen European Nations. All this from a Nation that has been run by Social Democrats from 1994 to 2007. Much closer to Socialists than President Obama could ever be. Don’t seem to be doing too badly for themselves. Big Government is not the problem. Small government is not the problem. Inefficient government whether large or small, is the problem.
A study by Sven Steinmo met up with a Swedish Volvo Executive, who was asked…
“Why don’t you leave (Sweden)? Certainly, you would pay a lot lower taxes and probably also have a higher salary in the U.S.”
“Yes, of course, I would have a lot more money in my pocket. But I would also almost never get home before 7 o’clock and I certainly would not have the vacations everyone has a right to here… and you know what else, I would have to spend a lot more money on insurance, college for my kids, and travel back home to my family. In the end, I’m not really sure I would be any better off.“
That way of thinking, is the way those of us who do not have a deep fetish for money, and who do not have a deep resentment for those less fortunate think. Unfortunately, the Thatcher years over here in England provided us with a new breed of young Conservatives who take the opposite view, coupled with the Republicans in America who profess to be strongly “Pro-life” unless that life needs urgent healthcare and can’t afford it; the Swedish state of mind was slowly losing ground since the Thatcher/Reagan days. Now however, it’s finding itself again.
For decades we’ve been told that the Government cannot afford the extra million pounds to give our public servants, like the Police force, the pay rise they were promised. Or that we could only afford to pay our fire fighters an extra 11% pay, to protect us from burning to death. Or that the coal mines needed closing because they weren’t profitable, meaning thousands of people lost their jobs and weren’t retrained; whilst the UK now imports more coal than we have in years. Cuts to the NHS, because it was “wasteful spending” and produced a “dependency culture” emerged. We were all told that smaller government is better. We were all told that we didn’t have the money to pay the firemen, the NHS, the police, to fund better public education and make sure the poverty rate fell rapidly. For years we’ve been told that buying your house is the best investment you’ll ever make. When did a house cease being a home and become a money making venture?
But then, all of a sudden, we have £400bn to bail out the rich. Not only do they take that £400bn of public money, the bosses take six figure pensions whilst their employees lose their jobs and face losing their houses, the same houses that Conservatives get touchy about saving with tax payers money. I cannot help but echo John Stewart’s sentiments to the Conservative brigade who have no problem funding an illegal war, who have no problem funding the plight of the rich, who have no problem with corporate tax loopholes but who have severe issues with helping those less fortunate – “fuck you“.
Here’s to Warren Buffett, the richest man on the planet, who once said when asked about inequality in society…….
“If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.“