To 1,740,000 selfless people: thank you

Here’s a thought: how many people in Britain do you think are real net contributors to the Exchequer?

In other words, how many of us pay more in contributions (NI and tax) than we consume in public services?

I’m interested in this question, because it’ll show just how few people Labour’s harebrained profligacy is really hurting. These people, probably a surprisingly small minority who basically subsidise everyone else, never get thanked for their contributions, never get recognised by the majority who are net drains on the economy. They’re just seen as ATMs.

(I’m not blowing my own trumpet here. While I live in a city (lower unit cost of service provision), don’t have kids, and have private medical and pension – making me much less of a burden to the Exchequer than, say, you – I’m not exactly paying high taxes after a year at university, so for the moment I’ll consider myself a drainer rather than a contributor).

And I bet few of us realise we’re drainers. The cost of public services per citizen is approximately £7700 (or £9600 if only adults are counted) per year. The mean UK income is barely £21000, which carries a tax burden of about £5500. On this broad measure, you need to earn £30,500 before you’re paying your own way in the UK. (A modal distribution would of course be a better way to model this but I can’t find the figures.)

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn here. If you make under £30500, you’re technically not entitled to complain about New Labour’s wastefulness, because no matter how much our hapless Chancellor squanders, you’re not (directly) paying for his profligacy; you’re more likely a recipient of it. Presumably this is the only reason Labour ever gets to govern.

If you have children, you’re almost certainly a net drain, unless they’re in private school. If you work for Britain’s bloated public sector, you’re definitely a drainer, since the taxes you pay just go in a circle and back into your salary again; you make zero net contribution no matter how high your generous government salary is. (And in Brown’s Britain, public sector salaries are very, very generous – not to mention the sheer number of public servants, which has grown massively under New Labour.)

The same’s true if you live in the countryside: higher fixed costs of service provision (further for the garbage truck to go, fewer people to absorb a hospital’s high setup costs) may mean all countryside dwellers are drainers.

I have seen a calculation for Scotland only; it seems the figure may be as low as 150,000 net contributors, for a population of 5m. Imagine if the same proportions hold true for the UK as a whole. Fewer than 2m people make Britain’s fat wodge of public services viable for the entire population of 58m. The rest are simply spongers, wasters, or at best what management accountants call ‘contribution’: paying a bit towards costs, but not their fair share.

My new hero? Simon Cowell. His personal tax bill came in at over £20m – meaning he’s actually declaring his £50m income outright, instead of funnelling it offshore. What a guy. You thought watching Pop Thingy was fattening his bank account? Nope, he’s paying for the entire audience’s street cleaning.

I think these 1,740,000 people who support the entire UK deserve a word of thanks. Yet of course, from this ungrateful, spendthrift government, they won’t get one.

(Yes, the above is slightly tongue in cheek, since it doesn’t take account of corporate taxes or investment finance. But only slightly, because the principle seems sound.)

Thoughts, fellow drainers?

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