J.K. Rowling on taxes and the welfare state
I imagine J.K. Rowling has a tax attorney working to make sure she gets whatever tax breaks she can, but I nevertheless agree with her sentiment here:
I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s. ….A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism.
The problem is that while paying taxes is indeed a patriotic thing to do, paying taxes that are much too high and are mismanaged by an inept government may in fact not be the best way to spend your money and may not, in fact, have the redistributive power one would hope for. Indeed, I’m not at all put off by the notion of a welfare state – I am put off by the notion of a badly mismanaged welfare state. Rowling is right to praise social safety nets. I believe they are an important part of a civilized society. But certainly that can be achieved without the sorts of abysmal tax rates that the British face. Far less intrusive and less expensive healthcare systems can be found in other European nations, for instance.
The point is you cannot simply boil it down to “pro-tax/pro-welfare state” vs. “anti-tax/anti-welfare state” and have a reasonable conversation. I don’t mind paying taxes but I do start to wonder at what my tax dollars are being used for. The past decade it appears a good portion of them have been used to make bombs, and that makes me more than a little uncomfortable.