In the arcane British political system, nothing is called by its right name. So the fact that the Minister of Finance is given the rather abstruse moniker "The Chancellor of the Exchequer" should surprise no one. The current incumbent, Gordon Brown, is a humourless and driven man who contains all of the self righteousness of the son of the Manse that he is, with little of the humility.
His approach to the finances of the United Kingdom is to micro manage. His fervent belief is that taxation can be used as an effective agent to create social justice. Now around half the population of the UK receives different tax credits or support payments. Mr. Brown is, however, oblivious to the cost. The huge bureaucracy that his collection and payments system supports is enormously expensive. The British tax code is now vastly complicated- with even the most simple tax return requiring an accountant to arrange it. As the Chancellor ties himself in ever greater knots moving payments around from one part of the economy to the other, the costs get greater and the drag on the economy greater still.
Yesterday's statement from Mr. Brown was the beginning of the end. The global slowdown reveals the inefficient and expensive policies of Mr. Brown in a harsh light indeed. Tax simplification is an idea whose time is coming. Whether a classic flat tax- as Cicero would prefer- or not, the vast system of transfer payments needs to be done away with and replaced with lower, simpler taxes.
At least now, we do not need abstruse language to describe the position that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now finds himself. His economic sums do not add up, his policies have failed, his outlook is bleak. The Gordian knot of taxation that Gordon Brown has tied, will have to be cut- and for all his bluff yesterday, he will be remembered as a failure.