Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Billion

Our politicians talk in billions these days and it can be a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting the figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago nobody walked on the earth on two feet.

A billion pounds ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

Stamp Duty
Tobacco Tax
Corporation Income Tax
Income Tax
Council Tax
Unemployment Tax
Fishing Licence Tax
Fuel Tax
Inheritance Tax
(tax on top of tax)
Alcohol Tax
Marriage Licence Tax
Property Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Vehicle Licence Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and Britain was one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt.

We had the largest middle class in the world and Mum stayed home to raise the children.

What happened?

A visualisation of $ billion can be seen here.


Bill said...

Interesting way of looking at large numbers. However, I think the UK started to have national debt, in the modern sense, to fund the Napoleonic Wars (specifically Waterloo), so that's almost two centuries now.

Keith Ruffles said...

Ah yes, 100 years ago - when colonialism was at its peak and the average life expectancy in the UK was in the mid 40s. When infant moratality ran at some 140 deaths per thousand births compared to around 5 today. When the horrors of the First World War and the subsuequent influenza epidemic were just around the corner. When so often the station of one's birth would dictate the rest of one’s monotonous life.

*Sniff* It verily brings a tear to the eye...

JohnB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnB said...

Oops, very obvious spelling mistake in last post. I blame Apple's new O.S... Anyway:

I was going to post something but Keith did it so eloquently on my behalf.

100 years ago Britain was a rotten spider at the centre of a web of conquered nations, raping their wealth which accrued only to the Nobility and the elite mercantile class.

Now we have massive public debt to finance private casino banks and hedge funds. And they're not thanking us for it: look at real interest rates folk are paying whether on their home, business loans, etc. Cuts in essential services and benefits to the old, the poor and disabled.

Bill - oddly enough I was also going that the British State is still paying debt for the cost of funding the Napoleanic Wars!


Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Strange comparison Keith when you consider these statistics were caused in the main by the population explosion and the concentration required by the industrial revolution.

Similar happenning are now believed to have occurred towards the end of the Agrarian age when relatively large concentrations of people converged without understanding or appreciating the threat of sanitation.

So how does that relate to this post. After all the threat applied today is neither natural nor in any way biological -except in the manner that it's self imposed on mankind through psychological traits that place matter over mind. when its really only the mind that matters.

If you're saying we have only capitalism to thank for this inventiveness and progress, I have to disagree.

It may have played a major role in the marketing of each but its method of distribution has been false, callous and divisive.

Capitalism that evades its responsibility to the society and genus that feeds it is as much, if not more, of a danger to humanities well being as any plague.

Richard said...

Ah - I understand now John. Those evil bankers are to blame. Same as in Greece where I believe the bankers are to blame for the country's economic meltdown because, err, they loaned the money that now can't be paid back. I'll remember that one when my next bill arrives from Barclaycard.

Back in the real world, the bank bailouts amounted to about 7.1% of our current, national debt. It should have been a lot less than that but Gordon was too busy saving the world to worry about which banks should have been allowed to go to the wall.

Since UK government expenditure started exceeding its income in about 2002, the single biggest bill landing on the governments doormat has been for welfare. 100 years ago, poor people were left to starve. The safety net envisaged by the post-WWII Labour government has degenerated into a grotesque parody of itself where immigrants obtain six figure incomes from welfare, people with acne obtain disability pensions and you can get a free BMW through the Motability scheme.

Roughly one quarter of the population live off welfare and the government spends a third of its income supporting them. That's how Gordon Brown managed to run up a trillion pound debt in 10 years.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Well, the "mom stayed home to raise the kids" is a myth.

In a middle class family they hired a woman who could NOT stay home and raise kids to care for theirs. And other women got the honour working to do laundry or care for the kids of that woman while hers were tied to the leg of a chair at home or of slaving in factories for next to nothing.

Let's not fall into the "things were wonderful when Britain oppressed half the world" myth. Two Opium Wars anyone--so the British could make a profit on addicting half of China...

However, other than that, you have some good points.

Brian said...

Compare the list of taxes with this short article on taxes and duties.
Council Tax is a modern version of rates.
Whether or not one needed a rod licence a century ago depended on the particular rivers authority managing the water. Generally, if there were licences, the money was used to pay for water bailliffs and flood management etc.
Dog licences were introduced in the 19th century and abolished in 1987.
Until the pre-WWI Liberal Welfare Reforms, central government primarily concerned itself with defence and foreign affairs. Public health and state education (such as it was) were the responsibility of local government.
Society has become more complex in the past century and more needed to be provided by government for it to function.

William said...

As Richard's post demonstrates, most people don't have the first clue about the debt, why it came about, why the deficit arose, the difference between the payments we are due to make and those due decades in the future. And so on.

There's a crisis of confidence and understanding. People are measuring things, like personal debt and pension liabilities, that weren't previously measured and as if they are all due to be paid tomorrow. People are allowing themselves to be stressed or intimidated by numbers they previously would never have considered in their lives.

Everyone needs to just calm down, have a cup of tea and let things sort themselves out. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew 6:25

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Now Richard you're being cynical.

We can all cherry pick our criticisms.

Could it be possible the rise in welfare is down to the incompetence of governments to keep abreast with the advances in technology?

Is it possible for you to equate capitalism and free markets with philanthropy?

And are the bankers and capitalists moguls free of blame to the extent they should be as Tribunes with every right to the tributes they demand.

And, to end on a pedantic point, to claim a trillion was spent on welfare over ten years, you would have to include the NHS and state pensions in order to come any where near that amount.

And as to the benefits gained by the welfare system. Do you feel relatively safe within society or would you prefer the foraging of the have-nots for their survival should be reduced to the chaos of all take and no give.

None of that means I'm in any way against competence or efficiency nor for that matter the stifling of entrepreneurship - that would be foolish as its a 'given' in the biological make-up of humanity and as such should be encouraged but not in a way that removes responsibility.

So in reply to your retort I ask the question - suppose none of that so called trillion had been spent on welfare as you allege, would we be any better off as a nation; or would as I suspect, we find ourselves in much the same position with perhaps a trillion more of highly suspect 'investments'?

In short Richard my world feels 'real' to me whereas your's, with all its failures, is frankly bewildering and suspect - a myth desperate to form a mythology instead of rolling up its sleeves and firing its synapses in order to get the 25% you moan of into meaningful and motivating occupation.

Brian said...

This graph of UK national debt as % of GDP 1900-2010 is illuminating. And why is the problem now worse than between 1920-70?
Perhaps we need to go back to workhouses and almoners for the poor and needy so that our wonderful bankers can gamble away more money they will then lend HMG to refloat the economy. How much more quantative easing on top of the £200 billion printed already will be needed?

subrosa said...

Bill, perhaps it should be national deficit rather than debt.

subrosa said...

Doesn't the station of one's birth still dictate the rest of the lives of most of us Keith? We still hear about 'he is a miner's son and hasn't he done well' type of talk.

subrosa said...

What do you think of Lion JohnB? Thinking about it here.

Back to the topic. We're obviously more comfortable these days but everything's relative - such as child mortality. We still don't have an understanding of cot death or cancer yet I remember back in the 60s hearing cancer will be cured in 29 year's time.

subrosa said...

Good comment Crinkly.

subrosa said...

With reference to Motability Richard, my friend who died early this year qualified for one. A couple of years ago she had to renew her car and was amazed she could have had a BMW. Then she was angry so wrote to her MP complaining how ludicrous it was. If I remember correctly she wasn't impressed by his reply.

subrosa said...

Sixty years ago here Jeanne most women stayed at home to raise their children. Dundee was quite unique insofar as it had the jute mills and the women had taken over the jobs of men who had joined the army. The women enjoyed the money so were very reluctant to give up their jobs when the men returned from the war and the employers were quite happy because they paid women much less than men for the same work.

Many jobs would not employ married women, such as teaching, until the late 50s/early 60s.

My mother went to work when I went to school because she hated being a housewife. In the tenement where I lived she was the only mother who did. That was lucky for me, because these women became my 'aunties' and cared for me until my mother came home.

subrosa said...

Brian, in this part of Scotland rod licences were only necessary for the main rivers such as the Tay, Ericht, Isla etc and the money was used exactly as you say.

I can remember on the odd occasion my grandpa (one of Scotland's leading anglers) used to take me with him for a day, running into various shops to get his licence. Than we'd trundle off to the river. How he managed his mass of equipment on the bus then walk to his destination still baffles me. He also had to carry the picnic basket, stuffed to the gunnels with enough food for a family of 10, and proudly provided by my granny.

His pals, when they used to see me, knew they'd have a slap up meal at midday. :)

subrosa said...

Sadly, some problems need human intervention William.

subrosa said...

Interesting graph Brian and interesting question. I suggest greed is much more involved today than before.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, I take issue on two points, Jesus walking and the a big middle class in 1911? What happened? Two world wars manufactured by the Banksters and the loss of profit from the Empire which again was greatly manufactured by the Banksters and paid for by the blood, sweat and lives of the Armed forces, who killed the natives in great numbers, in countries they shouldn't have been in, under some pretext or other, much like today.

subrosa said...

I think the writer is referring to what we would have called working class in those days DL. Difficult to break down society into classes these days or any days perhaps.

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