taxpayers' money is often deployed as the clincher in
political discussions where a politician has little other justification for
their policies. (So, most discussions.)
We don’t, the MP will say, as they remove their monocle and begin
want to waste taxpayers' money.
Some will even go so far as to claim that it is a fundamental right, equal in importance to the right not to starve to death.
I am all in favour of rights,the Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) said.I am also in favour of the rights of taxpayers not to have their money abused.
That’s a right now, huh? We’ll come back to that.
It’s interesting that it’s even referred to as taxpayers' money, rather than
citizens' money. By definition, once tax is paid, it’s no longer owned by the
payer. And when I say
by definition, I mean the definition of
tax. That’s the entire point of paying, really.
And while there isn’t really any fundamental right for taxpayers to avoid having their money abused, there is a widely recognised right that everyone should have representation. And this means that tax revenue is owned by every citizen, to an equal extent — no more by a citizen who pays more tax than one who doesn’t pay any at all.
What this language really means is,
we believe that those who pay more tax
are entitled to a greater say in public policy, no matter whether it’s sensible
The irony is that invoking
taxpayers' money is pretty much always used to
justify irrational use of tax, through policies that are emotionally
satisfying to the wealthy but end up costing more and being less effective than
alternatives. And nonsensical allocation of public funds clearly is an abuse
taxpayers' money, so for all the posturing about it, anyone using this
phrase doesn’t actually respect such a right after all.