According to an article from medialens sent to me by a friend, in 2006 the United Kingdom spent 39,776,000,000 pounds on defence. That is the worlds second largest defence budget (trailing the US) to defend (according to Wikipedia) the 22nd largest population. Does this make sense?
According to the same medialens article replacing the Trident nuclear missile system will cost, all told, some 76 billion pounds. This to replace a system that was never used, never likely to be used, and that we could not use anyway without the complicity of the United States. Does this make sense?
When I talk about a taxless society I am, usually, deliberately taking a somewhat extreme stand. But this is because I find that so many people don't even think about how their taxes are spent. They talk about the government spending more on this or that, but dont' seem to connect that to it raising and spending all of our money.
There are a good many people employed in the defence business and I am sure that they are made uncomfortable by the idea of defence cuts. But in the same way that bread is a bad way of spending points on Weight Watchers (you get a lot of calories per slice), defence is a very bad way of spending taxes.
If we were to stop being paranoid for a moment and consider the real and likely threats to Britain (the world is not quite as it was in 1907) I would like to think that a few more people might agree that we don't require the worlds second largest defence budget.
The present government love to set (and then miss) targets. For example the eradication of child poverty:
In March 2006, the government had been forced to announce that it had failed - by a significant margin - to meet the first target in that project. It had boasted it would reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25 per cent - approximately one million - and missed by 300,000.
The cost of eradicating child poverty: 4 billion pounds.
So those figures again:
- Defence 39 billion. No problem.
- Poverty 4 billion. Can't be done.
In my view the less the government does, the less taxes it needs to raise. In many peoples view that makes me a heartless capitalist. If not wanting a huge leviathan of a government spending 39 billion pounds of our money on defence, and wanting us to have that money to spend on our priorities makes me a heartless capitalist then so I am.
If we could have back some (and clearly I am not suggesting that we should spend nothing on defence) of what we spend on defence then I would be happy to see some of the remainder spent on hospitals, social services, relief of the poor.
What I don't want to see is a government raising taxes to keep us all poor.