The IFS Are jolly Cross Indeed

Today the IFS have ratcheted up through the John Cleese scale and that scale is so funny I’m going to reproduce it (without permission) in full. We could all use some cheer to keep our spirits up and remember who we are. (Source EET)

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s Get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far, no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person

On the scale of National Treasures he truly sets the standard. So what is it that has caused the Institute of Fiscal Studies such pain? They think the political parties are not being entirely honest with the Great British public. I am sure the aforementioned Great British public are reeling from the shock. Or perhaps they may just share my feeling of what do you expect? They’re politicians and there’s an election on for fu.. goodness sake. So what are the politicians telling tiny fibettes about now? Apparently both the Tory and Labour spending plans don’t add up. I’m sorry IFS you are talking out of your ar… backside, of course they add up. I’m getting very worried about the IFS it has taken a very serious turn for the worse recently and this should worry us all.

Let’s start at the top and describe what the IFS actually is. It is a highly respected neutral think tank, it’s source’s of funding are in the public domain and as good a place as any to start for independent analysis. So what’s got the bee in my bonnet buzzing? Well it seems to me it is starting to become the Institute for Household Economics just when more and more of the public are becoming aware that the state is nothing like a household or business. I know why you do it, it’s easy that’s why. It’s also plain wrong. The politicians all play this game too because they think it’s how voters relate to state spending. The journalists love it because they can ask “tough” questions such as “where’s the money going to come from” and “who’s going to pay for it”. Those questions aren’t tough, they’re a combination of stupid, irrelevant and over simplified. The only thing that surprises me is that politicians are still stumped as to how to answer them. (Answers in tomorrows blog)

There are two things you should never try to predict, the future and the public, that way wrongness and madness abound. that’s why this humble corner of the interweb just looks at directions. here the IFS is spot on.

If the party wanted the advantages of a bigger state, “they should be willing to candidly set out the consequences – higher taxation affecting broad segments of the population,” the think tank said. (Source BBC)

Now we are getting to brass tacks. Do we want a high tax big state economy, you know the sort that work everywhere, or a low tax small state that has never worked for an advanced economy anywhere ever? Sorry did I ask that in a loaded way? It’s the truth. What the public really wants is the advantages of a big state with someone else paying the tax necessary. The reason the public thinks this is because they believe that taxation funds public spending. That is something else I wish to throw back at the IFS because they encourage that myth. They also encourage the myth that taxes are hypothecated in some way, they are not. Evidence? Look at all the people who think that because they paid Nation Insurance they have paid into the system. You didn’t. All that money you paid was destroyed because that’s what taxation is.

The IFS sets itself a very lofty goal, that of independently reviewing political parties spending plans and informing the public of the consequences of that spending. To do so accurately it must calculate the amount of spending, how it will affect behaviour, how much will be spent, how many times it will be spent, what will be saved, what will come back in tax, what will leave the country and what further investments will be made with that money. That equation is not exhaustive but it’s a tad difficult to solve. That’s why it’s absurd to expect fully costed policies from any political party. It’s impossible.

The final word will be to those who actually favour the low tax small state policy. There are other places for you to go such as Briebart and Fox News, links pointedly not provided. There are also a host of small time bloggers desperately aping them. A few words to the wise. They are fronted by Nasty Selfish Bastards, funded by Nasty Selfish Bastards who want to turn us all into Nasty Selfish Bastards.

I hope I broke that to you gently.

Update. Ann Pettifor over at Prime Economics is also on the IFS case a strongly recommended read.