• Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.


    The above image is of the poet and man of letters, John Donne (21st January 1572 – 31st March 1631). His work, Meditation XVII: Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, Morieris. (Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.). This is a masterpiece of English literature and two lines: “ … any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. . . .” and: “No man is an island, entire of itself;” are some of the most oft quoted phrases. Both speak eloquently upon the present choice set before the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    Next month, the Brokeback coalition will announce the public spending cuts in order to try and reduce the deficit. There is no doubt that if the coalition is determined to seek a dramatic reduction in the deficit then these public spending cuts will be very painful. Many of the nation’s poor, sick and elderly are going to pay the price to get the nation’s finances back in the black. Many of these good folk will complain – with justification – that they are being asked paying the price for the excesses in the financial sector. Of course the pinning the blame for this state of affairs is a topic for a debate in itself but what is undeniable is that a lot of money has to be found to correct the situation.

    There are in fact four choices:

    1. Do nothing. Sometimes called the Greek option. Bad idea.
    2. Introduce public spending cuts.
    3. Increase taxes.
    4. A bit of each – cuts and tax hikes.

    The coalition has opted for option 4. Whilst the British Gazette does not disagree with option 4, it is of the opinion that the balance should be far more in the direction of tax hikes than public spending cuts. Where the axe should fall so far as public spending cuts is concerned are areas such as Arts council grants and so forth. Funding for sport too should be cut. Also reductions should be made to the foreign aid budget – an area that has been ring-fenced by the coalition. Other than these areas, there should be no reduction in public expenditure. Departments such as health, education, welfare and defence are vital. As for the idea of cutting the numbers of police on our streets, this is lunacy. Of course this will mean tax hikes for those of us who are taxpayers.

    There are those who will suggest that dramatic increases in tax for most taxpayers – do not be misled into thinking that “the rich” could be the sole Milchkühe – will damage the economy. The British Gazette would argue that such damage caused will in fact be less than the damage caused by opting for a regime of cuts not tax hikes. Why? Simply this: An increase in taxes to shore up public spending will in fact be taking money out of people’s pockets and putting it in the tills of British businesses that supply the public sector and keep public sector workers employed – who will be paying their taxes along with everyone else.

    The alternative strategy favoured by the Tories in the coalition will result in British businesses that supply the public sector suffering, public sector workers being made redundant – and inter alia a drain on the public purse. The money that was not taken from the pockets of those private sector workers not made redundant will of course be spent. On what? Well consumer goods such as computers, TV’s and so forth will feature. Where are these goods made? In China for the most part.

    So the decision we have to take is this: Do we part with our money to help our fellow citizens or do we part with our money to help the Chinese manufacturing industry?

    Simple isn’t it.

    Of course the coalition is composed of short sighted political cowards. The British Gazette therefore has an answer. Put the choice to the public in the form of a referendum. Let the people choose whether the public sector is ravaged or not. The mechanism of the choice can be clear and easily done: it requires a special finance act putting forward a massive across the board increases in income tax. With one proviso: the Finance Bill will only take effect should the British People approve it in a referendum. If they don’t then the spending cuts will take place.

    Of course there are those in the political establishment who will argue that this is an abdication of government. That such decisions are for governments. The British Gazette would respond thus:


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