A very interesting number emerged over the last few days. It’s a real mind-concentrator, and it goes like this: while net National Insurance receipts this fiscal year are forecast to be £106bn, benefit payments will be not less than £207bn.
In round figures, this means that Westmonster must either cut benefits on all fronts by 50%, or find new ways to raise the difference. The pols will not find new ways because they don’t do big new ideas: they will instead look for new ways to tax us.
None of this is original observation, but it is a small part of what will be, I’m sure, a mega-trend during this decade and thereafter: people avoiding any and all utility/tax cost increases by making their own arrangements. If it takes off on a big enough scale, then government in the UK is going to find itself starved to perhaps a greater degree than it has yet understood. So too will the privatised suppliers suffer serious income fall-offs. And as water, food, gas, electricity, oil and petrol will only go up in price on the supply side, the room for price-cutting among those selling and distributing such things will be negligible.
In this sense, one could see a mad but nevertheless understandable need for taxes and utility prices to keep going up and up. This in turn would generate illegal consumption of life’s vital needs by those unable or unwilling to produce such things themselves. (Greeks cut off from the electricity supply already routinely call in the local spanner-man to switch it back on again: given that half of Athens is at it, there’s not much the utility companies can do).
For anyone in a rural location in the EU, for example, ‘going it alone’ requires an initial investment; but after that, doing without utilities and taxed items isn’t that hard. Well drilling is a major growth industry in France, as is geothermal heating at the top end. Two acres is more than enough to produce all the vegetable and eggs/milk required for a healthy diet, while protein can come from nut (and vitamin C from fruit) trees. Barter with farming neighbours can top that up with additional meat as necessary. Rivers have fish in them.
Even if geothermal heating is out for cost reasons, generators using wind power, solar panels storing hot water, and efficient roof-gutters, piping and below-ground storage can in turn add to the naturally occurring well water. Taxes on petrol can be avoided by anyone fit enough to ride a bike, or avoided completely by looking at electric automotive offerings where your own generator or storage system is doing the charging.
Council tax looks at first sight like something one can’t avoid, but that’s simply not true. Buy a large mobile home, order a bespoke bus-home conversion, or buy a Winnebago. No more grid bills, no more hotel bills, plenty of campsites, but above all….no Council tax.
Drop the landline phone and use it for internet via a digital TV reception deal. Keep mobile calls to a bare minimum, send texts and emails, and enlist with Skype: it’s free for direct screen-to-screen, and for ringing provider numbers, it represents a vast reduction in price.
And finally of course, there is the dreaded ‘direct’ tax. Draconian tax increases alongside falling incomes only ever produce one result: a huge increase in the black market cash economy. This will happen in the UK within two years at the most. The more desperate the State becomes for money, and the more services it cancels, the more tax evasion becomes a national sport.
Street markets, car boot sales, P2P networks and barter…all of them will be used by more and more people to evade declaring an income, and avoid VAT. Not that I am encouraging tax evasion, perish the thought: to do that, you see, is illegal. But an unenforcible tax law, for government, is worse than its abolition: you have all the collection overheads and little of the income.
Large utility companies, multiple grocers, retail bank deposits and Treasury incomes will all suffer…as must telecoms suppliers, durable retailers, car manufacturers and oilcos. Rural property and land prices will rise. Personal supply hardware sales will sky-rocket. Urban and suburban house prices could easily slump as limited cultivable land acts alongside rising local taxes as a double-whammy upon folks with less and less disposable income.
But perhaps most important of all, irresistible pressure will be applied to the political food chain. It will come from two sources: social unrest, and big business. If families can’t afford what they regard these days as the basics, they will cut up rough. If globalists and national multiples are dying on their feet, they will send in the lobbyists.
Gradually, policies will change, elites will be ejected, and more States will grasp that their continued existence as leeches on the citizen is far from guaranteed. It is for this and a thousand other reasons I am certain that credit-consumption-volume globalist capitalism will, in time, give way to a far more devolved model involving less emphasis on this mercurial thing ‘growth’.
Most developed countries will end up with economies powered variously by personal, mutualised, private or bank/bourse businesses….only in a much more evenly spread form than now, with less centralised government, and consequently with less power attaching to Might. But in the meantime – and we could easily be talking thirty years here – the greedy will attempt to make their insane model function. They will fail: but we are all in for a bumpy ride until such time as that failure is recognised.