Archives for posts with tag: Government

Governing a city or country and having responsibilities for shared resources like the planet tend to vary between the generations. For example, the sentiment among many teenagers after the Brexit referendum in 2016 was ‘we don’t even have a vote yet, and we’re inheriting a mess that will last decades. You sold us down the river.’

So it is with the current environmental hand-wringing, where it takes a 16-year-old Swedish girl, speaking perfectly in her second language – or third for all I know – to agitate us adults of voting age and / or governing authority for genuine change.

You have this catch-22 situation. Older people have the power, authority and experience to govern and things like the environment are less of a concern for them because they’re not going to be around in 25-50 years time. Younger people are the ones who will shoulder the increasing burden throughout their lifetime, a burden which might not be recoverable, yet they’re not ready or given the chance to govern. People look after their own interests; it’s a natural, in-built, protective mechanism.

Plus, people in power need to see a return on their policies within their governing term, otherwise they won’t be in power much longer. They’re therefore less likely to enact change that will bear fruit for future generations, in half a century’s time.

I think this is why we’re starting to see the kind of language among younger people that incites civil disobedience. We’re approaching one of those inflexion points.

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Value Added Tax, now there’s a misnomer if ever there was one. Is it a tax on value added goods, or in fact almost anything of value? Or is it the tax itself that is adding value? It’s confusing. Is it virtually fat-free milk or virtually fat-free milk?

We pay tax on our income, we pay a national insurance contribution, and depending on the country we reside in we pay a range of other taxes as well, like the Irish ‘universal social charge’, corporation tax, property tax, community tax and inheritance tax. Nothing wrong with tax of course, as long as national and local governments are providing good value in the form of social services for the income they make. There’s that word value again.

Scandinavian countries pay very high taxes, but people are very highly paid too and those countries lay on a superb array of social services.

Value Added Tax, or VAT for short, is a huge earner for governments, and an increasingly large number of different goods and services get drawn into the VAT net. How long before children’s items and basic items are forced to join the fold?

The level of VAT varies too. In Ireland it’s 23% for example. In the UK it’s 20% but a glance at the history books will tell you that it’s been creeping up from a low of 8%.

But really it’s the name that jars with me. Before VAT was called VAT in the UK it was called purchase tax, which is much closer to the mark.

I think I’ve always preferred the US term ‘sales tax’. Because that’s what it is. Simple, really. It’s no longer a tax on ‘value added’ good and services, it’s a tax on most things that are sold.