Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
The sheer size and scope of modern government is incomprehensible. When the levels of government spending are highlighted, and the consequent borrowing needs taming, there are two basic responses: either taxing the rich can pay for whatever is wanted, or spending is curtailed only by cutting the most unpopular programmes. Inspired by Bill Whittle’s Eat the Rich video, we should select a year of government spending, and then try to pay that year. We will assume that government spending is uniform throughout the year, 2012. In the fiscal year 2011-12, the UK government spent £694.89bn, which is £1.90bn a day, £79.1m an hour, £1.32m a minute, £21,975 a second.
Let’s start on:
January 1st 12:00 AM Corporations are often accused of hoarding money, and of homogenising our high streets. Let’s take the all of the 2012 profits of Tesco: £5.26bn. This bountiful haul takes us to…
January 3rd 6:29 PM Well, that’s disappointing. We’ll just have to take the rest of the 2012 operating profits from all the other FTSE 100 companies. That’s about £160bn, bringing us to…
March 27th 12:59 AM Those corporate directors have been paid a dream, promulgated by the work and effort of their employees. The pay of CEOs of the FTSE 100 totalled £480m last year, enough to run the government for just over 6 hours.
March 27th 7:00 AM Time to turn our gaze to the rich, as we cannot pluck the money from corporations alone – the rich must be soaked. Rather than tinker with a 50% tax rate above earned income of £150,000, we confiscate all earned income above that level. The Treasury estimates that this is about £67.9bn. The rich has submitted their income to us, and the calendar flicks to…
May 2nd 1:24 AM It’s not even my birthday yet. Rather than taxing, let’s slash some spending. We’re told how colossally wasteful the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are, so vanquish the entire military – the 2012 annual budget of the Ministry of Defence was £37.25bn.
May 21st 4:17 PM Money is a corrosive force, and we should excise it from our political system. Party political donations from April 2011 to April 2012 totalled £34.5m. This amount covers government spending for about 26 minutes.
May 21st 4:43 PM Perhaps we should get serious. The richest person currently residing in Britain is Lakshmi Mittal, a steel magnate who owns £17.5bn. Suppose Mr Mittal meets with an ‘accident’, and we’ve just legislated for a 50% inheritance tax. Our calendar now rolls to…
May 26th 7:19 AM It’s my birthday! To celebrate this event, we enforce 999 more ‘accidents’ and take half of the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK, which totals a cool £198.38bn.
September 7th 7:01 PM We’re crawling towards the target. Forget taking only half; let’s confiscate all the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in Britain.
December 25th 9:19 PM Merry Christmas! There are scarcely less appropriate moments to suggest annihilating all foreign aid, but that would cut government spending by £7.87bn.
December 30th 12:48AM Almost there! We have just under a day of spending left to finance. Now, every man, woman and child in the country should pay £30 for the upkeep of their government.
January 1st 12:00 AM Happy New Year!
The government spent £694.9bn last year, and intends to spend a similar amount in 2013. There are numerous vagaries with presenting figures of this magnitude, as they often go beyond human limitations, and lead people to have a distorted view of wealth and government. Following this plan of confiscation, our country would be defenceless and the rich liquidated. Billionaires do not suddenly sprout out of the soil, ready for the next tax harvest. The critical question is: what will we do next year? We consumed the rich, but still remain famished for the years ahead.