Is work good?

For the next few days I am going to explore work and jobs. Today I want to explore the political paradox about work.

Both Labour and the Coalition praise the idea of everyone of working age having a job. Most politicians buy into the proposition that if you can work to support yourself and your family you should do so. Some think this from Cbristian and Protestant roots, some from the Marxist labour theory of value, some because it just seems like common sense.

Both pursue policies they say are designed to make it more worthwhile or more likely people will go to work rather than stay on benefit. Political rows are about who has the best way of doing that.

Yet both Labour and the Coalition in office tax work. They tax jobs through National Insurance, and tax pay through Income Tax.The Coalition has  cut Income Tax on the lower paid and removed some Labour increases in NI which helps, but has had to stay with heavy taxes on jobs and work. Both governments have used strong rhetoric against those who choose to work long hours in order to earn high salaries and dividends from their businesses. Overall the rhetoric is anti financial success, with all the attention on how hard working people can be made to pay more of their income in tax.

It would be better if more of the tax burden were shifted away from taxing jobs and earning. That way here would be more jobs and the would be less need for top up benefits. We ended to create a virtuous circle where people keep more of the profits of their labours so they need less financial support from the state so the state needs to raise less in taxes. One of the main reasons we have such a high benefits bill is hat we tax earning and creating jobs too much.

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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