Bring government to the people

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Discretionary Spend and Regional Spending

How well off am I? There are things I have to spend on, like health, pension (I will be old some day), Social Security (savings for when I'm out of work), security, safety, education for myself when I was young and my children. Food, clothing, water, energy, transport and mobility are all a little more discretionary - I need them but I can choose to have more or less of them. Then there are the truey discretionary spend items, such as recreation and leisure.
So which is the most cost-effective way to get the bare minimum of the items I have to have (assuming we can all agree on a bare minimum)?
Looking at USA, with a low-tax economy and many of the above provided by financial services companies through charitable providers, and Germany with many provided by local Associations, and Scandinavia with a high tax/high provision economy, the picture is clear - fuzzy round the edges, but clear.
Low tax and private or charitable providers very quickly turns out to be the most expensive way to do it. High central taxation provides the best services at the best price. And the UK model of high levels of input from local representative organisations (eg Local Area Agreements allow local government to set the agenda for NHS) tailors the services to my personal and my neighbours' personal needs.
Bring government to the people - central taxation and local decisions on spend. But bring the politicians out of London to see where their money actually comes from!


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