The governments that preserved us from coronavirus now start giving us the bill

“National insurance hike sets UK on path to record level of taxes” (CNN):

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to hike payroll taxes to raise billions in funding for health and social care will raise Britain’s tax burden to its highest ever level, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Johnson described the plan as “the biggest catch-up program in the history of the [National Health Service],” which is grappling with a chronic backlog of non-essential treatments that has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

UK government spending coming out of the pandemic is set to reach a record peacetime level, according to the IFS.

What are folks in the UK paying for? In the COVID Olympics, the country has suffered 1,992 deaths per million tagged to COVID-19, a somewhat higher rate than the U.S. and 1.4X the rate in give-the-finger-to-the-virus Sweden.

Proof that “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have”?

Where does this end? Now that most people in most countries have begged for salvation at any price (and simply decided, without any precedent and contrary to W.H.O. pandemic advice through 2019, that muscular government action actually could prevent us from contracting a respiratory virus), are we going to enter a new era of much bigger government?

OECD data show that the UK government was previously spending a somewhat higher percentage of GDP than the U.S.:

Note that most countries include health care in “government spending” and some include nearly all higher education costs. If we add 10 percent of GDP to the headline U.S. number to adjust for these factors (i.e., the money that we have to spend on health care and higher ed privately that would be included via our tax bill, e.g., in Denmark), the U.S. government spending is about the same as in Sweden or Italy (and a larger proportion of the economy than in the U.K., even after Boris Johnson’s latest raid on the residents).

Same story, WSJ:


  • Wave of death among the elderly bankrupts Social Security (if governments and media are telling us the truth about COVID-19 killing reasonably healthy people, governments with big social insurance obligations, such as the UK and the US, should actually be flush with unexpected cash (due to beneficiaries having died 5-10 years prematurely))

11 thoughts on “The governments that preserved us from coronavirus now start giving us the bill

  1. The government is going to expand even more. Much of the middle class is entirely dependent:

    It starts with housing, where an increasing number of people somehow manages to get a rent-controlled subsidized apartment (e.g. in New York, Berlin) by entering a waiting list during college. They can never move again, but they are the fortunate ones. Others spend 50% of their income on rent.

    Risk free capital accumulation for the middle class is gone. In the 1990s, one could get 5-8% (!) interest rates on a savings account. People gradually built capital back then.

    In the days of quantitative easing, a technique pioneered by Hjalmar Schacht, 0% interest rates prevent that.

    0% interest rates also prevent private insurances from functioning, because their models of risk free investment of the customers’ payments no longer work.

    This leaves the pyramid scheme of active workers paying for everyone, which makes everyone dependent on the state.

    • Only about 1% of NYC apartments are rent controlled & that is typically poverty level housing. More are “rent stabilized,” which basically means that rents increase in line with inflation as determined by some city agency and residents have certain legal protections. New construction is basically unregulated and the large percentage of NYC housing that is condo and coop are not subject to any regulation. These coop/condo conversions largely occurred around 30-40 years ago to get out from under regulation. I am quite familiar with NYC housing and have never heard of anyone applying for a waiting list during college. Rent control is not an issue for most New Yorkers of any affluence these days though who knows what the future may bring?

    • Jack: So the government sets the price that a landlord can charge for an apartment, but that is not fairly characterized as “rent control”. It is only “rent stabilization”? English is a wonderful language!

      Separately, in light of the ongoing “14 days to flatten the curve” emergency, it seems worth noting that much of the rent stabilization (not “control”) apparatus is operating under the “Emergency Tenant Protection Act” (see ). When did the current “emergency” start? In 1974.

    • This “rent stabilization” is to mitigate municipal policies that limit height of residential buildings and results in steady rent increases each contract continuation and large rent increase for when tenants change.

  2. You should consider yourself lucky to be among the few survivors of such a terrible pandemic, rather than complaining. Who cares how much it cost. At least you’re alive! Now go say 10 Hail Faucis as penance for your lack of gratitude.

  3. As best I can recollect, almost every decision that has been “taken” in Great Britain during the course of this pandemic has been mirrored in its appropriate incarnation in the United States. That’s a loose approximation but I think generally accurate.

    Question of usage and grammar: why do they say “take” a decision in their version of English and why have so many Americans borrowed it. I always thought we said: “make” a decision?

    • “why do they say “take” a decision instead of “make” a decision?”
      Modern British do not want to be implicated in thought crimes, as making decision implies independent thinking.

    • “take” vs “make” usage is probably 1:10 even in the BE. My contact/BE native speaker(London) claims that “take” sounds a bit affected and is more typical with corporate and government bureaucrats. However, “take” is quite old, going back to the 18th century at least. The usage was probably patterned after the French “prendre une decision”, to make the speaker sound more educated, “aristocratic” even, as opposed to hoi polloi. Similarly, today when the elites are speaking to the deplorables.

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