Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Feeling good


According to the Guardian,

British taxpayers should expect to feel worse off under whichever party wins the general election next week, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

What a weird circumlocution! We’re not saying that people will be worse off, only that they will feel that way. We’re not even really saying that that they will feel worse off, only that they should expect to feel worse off. And what will be the basis for that feeling? They will be paying higher taxes which, as taxpayers, is all those people care about. It may be that British residents will be feeling better if Labour is elected — their children will have more and better school places, they won’t have to queue at the hospital A&E, they’ll have access to better social services in times of need — but British taxpayers will be down in the dumps. Maybe there’s some way we could get them to meet up, even for the residents to share some of their good fortune with taxpayers.

The funny thing is, the report does not use the expression “worse off” (except in reference to a particular proposed tax change with a cliff-edge effect, leaving some people in a particular income band worse off than if they had lower incomes). It doesn’t include broad statements about people’s general subjective well being, or even their financial well-being. It simply suggests that all the parties are going to raise taxes somewhat, make minor changes to benefits, and overall make the system slightly more complicated and less coherent.

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