You Owe Me!

Jamie Whyte writes for the Wall Street Journal

The U.K. government is trying to cut its spending. This so-called austerity strikes many commentators as not merely harsh but unfair.

For example, the government will no longer pay "family benefit" (roughly £1,000 a year for each child) to parents with an income over £60,000. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, says this change is unfair. Similarly, according to Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, a website for mothers, "people are saying it's unfair" that the government does not subsidize childcare for "stay-at-home mums."

Parents are not the only supposed victims. On any day of the week you can hear someone declaring the injustice of insufficient government spending on this or that deserving group: the ill, the old, the unemployed, university students, filmmakers, rail passengers, you name it. Yet they rarely explain why it is unfair. They speak as if the injustice of it ought to be obvious to any decent person.

Perhaps it is obvious to most people, and especially to members of the allegedly mistreated groups. Nevertheless, it isn't true. They want the money, of course, but they have no proper claim on it. This is easier to see if you recognize that "government spending" is no such thing. The money is provided by taxpayers, who part with it on threat of imprisonment.
 
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