Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NHS Freedom Day

It was the so-called ‘Tax Freedom Day’ yesterday, and Cassilis has written a post much like the one that I would have written had I noticed this momentous occasion – although he’s done it probably less sarcastically than I might have, so everyone’s a winner.

He says: “Just as at budget times we should be wary of the 'average family' formulation the 'average taxpayer' scenario used here is equally suspect.” And: “It completely ignores the 'value for money' question.” And: “Looked at over the last 40 years… it's floated around in the same 6 week window - never really earlier than early May and never later than mid-June. This relative stability (with no obvious correlation to the party of government) undermines the relevance of the whole measure surely?”

I’d add that if gimmicks for people who can’t understand percentages are what we want, then there’s no reason to do it in annual terms – you could think of it as a daily matter, where you work to fund public services from 9am until about ten to midday, and then for your own profit from then until 5pm (with a lunch break).

And of course, there’s always the other side of the coin: tax pays for spending. As Cassilis asks: “why don't all those who object so strongly to working 'for the state' for so long vow to be genuinely independent of the state for the remainder of the year?”

Quite. I think the Adam Smith Institute (for this national feast is their baby) should start celebrating ‘NHS Freedom Day’, the point by which you have to have had all of your healthcare for the year and are then cut off to heal thyself. This year, with NHS spending at 7.8% of GDP, I calculate it would have been on January 28.

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