I’ve heard it far too often, the old, “Yeah Holland and Norway are all very well, but you pay such high taxes and I don’t want that.” This argument is so dumb it hardly is worth countering. But since it’s my blog I will do so anyway: First off the bat, it is amazing how few people understand what is meant by say a 52% income tax rate. I know this because many people complaining are not even earning remotely enough to come close to paying higher levels of income tax (the old Neocon carrot of anyone can be a millionaire). At the risk of offending more intelligent readers, income taxes are set at levels, so the higher rates only apply to the portion of income above a certain, relatively high level. So in Holland you pay 52% on income above €56000. If you are earning less than this, shut the hell up and engage your brain. For the majority of people it’s far more important to check the lower income tax bands.
Next up, what do you get for your taxes? Actually in a country like Holland you get a lot. You get a solid welfare state that ensures poverty is minimal. I don’t like living in a country where some neighbourhoods resemble the third world. I don’t like knowing that some old parts of town have lower literacy levels than whole states in India. Or that the life expectancy is worse than many African countries. I don’t like dealing with high crime levels or not being able to safely walk the streets at night.
Furthermore I hate roads full of pot holes. I don’t like that the motorway network ends 150km from major cities and that by keeping unsuitable road links (e.g. A9 to Inverness) it has cost the lives of so many people and prevents proper development in the Highlands.
I appreciate that my tax money does not fund nuclear weapons and is used to develop renewable energy sources.
And as a businessman I appreciate the subsidies that allow me to do research and development and to collaborate with other businesses. I appreciate that education is of a good standard and higher education is reasonably priced and within the grasp of all; and that I therefore benefit from a skilled, educated workforce. I appreciate that by eradicating poverty that the customer base and spending power is broader.
And any honest business owner will tell you that they benefit either directly or indirectly from government contracts.
Finally, in most high tax countries people also earn a hell of a lot more than in a so-called low tax land like the UK. Who cares about 52% tax on income above €56K if you’re earning 50% more.
So next time you go complaining that you wouldn’t want to live in Norway or Holland because of its high taxes, have a think and ask yourself what their taxes buy them? And do you really prefer the significantly lower living standards of the UK?