fredag, september 01, 2006

Sweden-abuse alarm

In today's Guardian, the Blairite MP Stephen Byers uses Sweden as an argument to abolish inheritance tax. According to Byers, we did so "out of recognition of its fundamental unfairness". He also say, as Blairites often say when they once in a while find somethink they like about Sweden, that "They were right, and we should follow their lead".

Byers' claims are fundamentally untrue. Inheritance tax was abolished after the government promised to do so in negotiations on the conditions for Swedish enterprise in 2003-04. It was a gift to big business with a very limited outcome as the head of Swedish Enterprise Ebba Lindsö was kicked out by hard core neo liberal types who hated Lindsö's drinking coffee and eating pastries with a socialist government. Abolishing the inheritance tax gave us nothing in return exept for little more inequality between the rich and the poor.

An old-time Social Democrat finance minister, Ernst Wigforss, used to say that inheritance tax is about sharing the inheritance between all children of society. By taxing inheritance, we make sure all children can have good schools and good opportunities in life.

I would say that inheritance tax is a true liberal idea - everyone shoulkd have the same chances, no one should be born into richness or poorness. But that kind of liberalism is obviously too left-wing for Stephen Byers MP.

4 kommentarer:

umu sa...

Now, really, the Inheritance Tax did so not promote equality in Sweden. I do not profess to know the particulars of the Inheritance Tax in the UK, but in Sweden, by the 21st Century, the Inheritance Tax was a penalty on low and middle income earners estates, and that is all it was. The estates of the rich and the super rich were already exempt, for various reasons.

And your claim that the Inheritance Tax made “sure all children can have good schools and good opportunities in life” is pure and utter BS… (If you pardon my French.) In the end the Tax yielded utterly small revenues, the last year something like 1 billion SEK, which, I’m happy to say, is little more than the change in Mr Nuder’s pocket.

For comparison, it should be noted that the proposed stay in the Estate Tax will cost substantially more than the abolition of the Inheritance Tax.

Peter Gustavsson sa...

The inheritance tax gave between 2 and 3 billion SEK a year to the public sector. This money was used for making the many being able to inherit some of the fortunes of the few, even though I agree that there were moral problems with some exemptions made.

However you try to put it and whatever the problems of the tax, the abolishment of the inheritance tax increased unequality in Sweden yet some more steps. The figure of about 1 billion is, as far as I can understand the government's figures, the incomes of the budget year 2005 i.e. payments made after the tax was formally gone and new incomes from the tax was stopped.

Speaking about the costs of the stay in the estate tax, I agree and I see that as well as a big problem. The perspective of equality is lost in the political debate, and that only serves the interests of the right wing.

umu sa...

Well, I think it’s just peanuts. Either way, I’m quite sure the Swedish Welfare Model will survive both the abolition of the proposed Inheritance Tax and a stay in the Real Estate Tax just fine.

However, as the UK is concerned, it’s important to realize that Mr Blair is not the Enemy – the next British government (tory) is…

And as Sweden is concerned, it’s equally important to realize that the tax cutting Mr Persson is not the Enemy either – the next Swedish government (right of center coalition) is…

Meanwhile – across the Big Pool – quite another development is taking place. It demonstrated itself in a vote on the Senate floor a month ago (the vote did not lack an odd connection to Inheritance Taxes). Right wing conservatism is falling apart and now the question is looming large how Democracy (in every sense of the word) will reassert itself. Read EJ Dionne’s take on the whole thing here.

O tempora, o mores! Why, why, oh w-h-y must Sweden be such a political backwater right now!? Electing Mr Reinfeldt Prime Minister now is r-e-a-l-l-y not a good idea (not that it ever was, probably). What's the Matter with Sweden? How the heck did the Conservatives win the heart of Sweden???

Peter Gustavsson sa...

Speaking about the UK, I think Bliar is the major political liability for Labour right now. Without Blair, the chances to beat Cameron would be much bigger.