Friday, 22 January 2010

On marriage tax breaks...

LD was chatting with an up and coming Tory about marriage tax breaks earlier.

He was arguing, as Danny Finklestein has I think, that the current Tory policy was badly sold to the public.

The idea that you can actually socially engineer people to get, and stay, married was never the purpose, he said.

The policy, which would probably not make a whole lot of financial difference to a couple, was simply meant to be recognition that marriage is the right thing to do.

It was, he said, meant to show that the Tories “supported marriage” in a general sense – a sort of symbolic gesture.

It would of course be a hopeless waste of money if social engineering was the goal.

Unfortunately it is also a hopeless waste of money to squander much needed public funds on a symbolic gesture.

I’m all for marriage, in fact I’m just about to get married, and I believe that kids from married couples do have a better start in life.

My first reaction, though, is that freedom of choice dictates that it’s none of the Government’s business whether people opt to get married or not.

If Cameron must meddle in this sort of “encouragement”, do it through the education system and through the media. Not through tax.

3 comments:

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

But we use public policy and taxes all the time to 'socially engineer' society surely?

Currently the tax system 'symbolically' supports families to seperate. Why not alter things? After all the message we send out as a society is important, not every return can be measured in profit or tax revenues.

Besides, when we see minimum pricing doesn't this aim to alter social behaviour? Why not seek to promote stable families, through making families that little less pressed by the state? The future of our children deserves an active and not withdrawing state.

tris said...

"The right thing to do".

Scary.

What's the next right thing to do?

Church every morning, whilst tipping your hat to the Laird?

Who says it's the right thing to do?

The government? Oh, the government that doesn't want to interfere with people's liberties?

It won't make much difference he says....?

Well, either they are planning to make the sum so small that that is true, or what he means is the odd thousand pounds won't make any difference to the likes of him.

I worry....

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Unfair Tris.

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