The whole argument about whether or not the budget was progressive was a foolish one for the Coalition to engage in. The left defines a “progressive budget” as one that benefits those on lowest incomes most. Since the population decile on the lowest incomes is overwhelmingly composed of those on welfare it means that no tax cutting budget, even if it disproportionately benefits the lowest paid by raising thresholds, can ever be “progressive”.
The only way the budget could be progressive would be by raising welfare payments to those who spend their days sitting on the sofa watching daytime TV. The corollary of the argument advanced by self-described progressive wonks is that we should pay the unemployed more to be unemployed, exacerbating the welfare trap.Fairness is a better battlefield to fight on. Is it fair to expect the minimum wage office cleaners, dustbinmen, burger flippers and night security guards who work long hours getting up whilst those on welfare sleep, to pay higher taxes to support those who don’t work? Effectively transferring income from the working poor to the workless poor. What is fair about higher taxes for the lower paid?
Intergenerational fairness is going to be a big issue as our population ages. Not only will our children have to pay taxes to pay for more and more unfunded public sector pensioners, they will have to pay the interest on the debts run up by those same pensioners when they were working in the public sector. The deficit financing of Labour’s years of prolifigacy isn’t fair either, it puts the debts of the old on our children and on our children’s children. There is nothing fair about mortgaging our children’s future taxes to pay for Labour’s past mistakes.
“A fair deal for all” is a better slogan than “higher welfare payments for the unemployed”. Steve Hilton should send out one of his famous memos instructing all to replace “progressive” with “fair” in their vocabulary.