Today is Budget Day in the UK, in which our financial fate is traditionally sealed at least for the year ahead. In theory we could be waiting in trepidation to find out what our blessed Chancellor of the Exchequer (the UK Finance Minister) has in store for us, a bit like naughty children waiting in a queue outside the head teacher’s office.
Actually we’ve already been well warned about what is coming up since government now announces well ahead what is being planned. Anything very controversial then gets argued about for at least 6 months. Then there’s a string of “leaks” otherwise known as government testing out an idea and also “authoritative” articles by financial journalists with a ear to some politician close to proceedings. Thus we’ve a pretty good idea what will happen. So, what’s the big deal, particularly when it’s more about cuts and funding deficits rather than any give-away? The latter tend to come near election time, which is now 2015 as they are now fixed dates.
The big deal is probably taxation of the rich, depending on your point of view. Currently people’s incomes over £150,000 are taxed at 50% on that proportion, which has resulted in a big campaign in predictable quarters for its abolition. The Liberal Democrats in the coalition want some other “wealth tax” to take its place. The Tories would be happy to simply see it go.
However, the context is a generally felt view that it should all be “fair”, whatever that means. Thus we’ve been seeing the press commenting on the ability of the rich to avoid taxation in one form or another, although it isn’t always also said that most do tend to pay a lot of tax as it is. However, you might already, by your own reactions as you read this, start to get a sense of how emotive this subject is, for or against.
We’ve just had a major financial crisis, caused by factors we may debate, and we’re paying for it now, and there’s a sense that the burden should be spread “more” evenly, while others might argue that higher taxation of wealth is counter-productive economically. We can get quite indignant about it. By the way, similar debates are happening in other countries.
Who gets what of the cake, especially when you are feeling squeezed? What is fair? And in the end, how do I manage financially in the year ahead?
The emotive bit can be about different perceptions of “fairness” and “justice”, especially as regards comparing yourself with others. But it’s worth also reflecting about what can be behind that for many people, in different circumstances. After all, what sorts of issues does money stir up for us? The self-aware person might therefore ask: what’s this telling me about me, my attitude to others who are better or worse off (as I see it) compared to me, and my belief in how we are each treated by others and how we manage our own lives. One might be an opinion, but behind that can be our own stuff about money, justice, how we are treated, and the myriad of other ways in which what happens “out there” has to tell us, potentially, about “in here” too. For example, our feelings about money can stir up all sorts of fears and anxieties, and anger towards others, and we may in particular hold a lot of fear about survival, a good ego subject, wrapped up in our fears about money.
And all this collective “stuff” comes out on Budget Day. So, maybe it’s also a time to be compassionate, not just for our own stuff, but of all those other people who also have their stuff going on, which today will get directed at the hapless Chancellor Of The Exchequer.
This man is an clever, ambitious and wealthy heir to a once-Irish baronetcy apparently! Well, there I go….!