Ted Yarbrough is studying law, and blogs as Texan Tory. He has written a thesis on Thatcherism’s effect on British culture.
A lot of British conservatives seem to be down on their country these days. Reading the comments under newspaper articles, or under my own blog on British politics, you would think the UK is going to hell in a hand basket. What the Conservative-led Government achieves is seen to be “never enough” for the UKIP-sympathetic Tory; when the government does do what he or she wants, there is something rotten in Denmark. As an American conservative, this perplexes me – especially since we live under a left wing president and bureaucracy, and would give anything for your government.
I am therefore writing this to give my perspective on why I think things are going relatively well in Britain, and why I wish we had a government like yours in power. I’m going to focus on three areas specifically: Economy, Culture and Governmental Structure. This first piece specifically addresses the economy.
Boy, are we jealous of you on the economic issues. Since reading long statistical arguments is often hard going, I thought I’d make my points in more easier to read bullet points, as follows:
• Economic Freedom: According to the CATO Institute, the UK ranks 12th in the world and the US 18th in economic freedom. Why is the US less economically free? Well, American businesspeople not only have to deal with federal OSHA, EPA, HHS, HUD, USDA etc regulations (as Britons do with their own bureaucrats), but they also have to deal with the issue doubled – with state bureaucracies, inspectors and general pencil-pushers. And if you have the misfortune to live in NYC under “nanny” Bloomberg, throw city in as well. However, it’s not only the ever increasing regulations they have to deal with, but taxes and the bizarre new healthcare law as well.
• Taxes: Technically, the UK has a higher top rate than the US, but that does not take into account the 38 states (+DC) that, together with federal, equals a higher top rate than the UK. Besides the obvious supply side problems of a high top rate, most businesses in the US are small and have to pay the personal top rate. The corporate tax rate is lower, but is the highest in the industrialised world, at a whopping 39 per cent! Be small and pay as an individual, or be bigger and be a corporation, the IRS is still coming after you! (The IRS also comes after you if they politically disagree with you sometimes). Even worse for us, and luckily for you, under the coalition tax rates from the top to the bottom, as well as corporate, have been lowered. In the US they have risen under Obama. The US suffers from one of the highest effective tax burdens, worse than the UK.
• Employment: Technically, the “unemployment rate” of the US is lower than the UK – 7.6 per cent in America, 7.7 per cent in the UK. But that statistic is completely misleading. The US now has a record amount of people out of work (those not pursuing employment are not counted as unemployed), as workforce participation is now only at 63.2 per cent! Conversely, in the UK there is now record employment – the most people working since the government began keeping statistics on workforce participation.
• Debt and the Deficit: The US under Obama has seen its national debt jump from $9 trillion in 2009 to $17 trillion today, more than the entire US GDP and a higher percentage of national debt than the UK. On top of the spike in debt the US has experienced, in the first four years of Obama the US has run deficits over $1 trillion, and the only reason it will be less in 2013 is a series of random, un-targeted, mindless cuts called the “sequester”. The sequester (as a political compromise on the debt ceiling) cuts things like national park tours but does nothing to address problems such as the record food stamp usage in the US. The UK, conversely, has cut the deficit by a third under the coalition’s time in office, making strategic, planned necessary cuts and is reducing borrowing. (Even the Guardian, grudgingly acknowledges the progress).
• Welfare: The UK Government’s progress on welfare might go down in history as the Conservative-led coalition’s grandest achievement, not least capping welfare at £26k, or roughly the amount one can make on a minimum wage job. In the US, 35 states have it much more profitable to be on welfare than work, and that number has exploded under the Obama administration after it rolled back most of the 1996 Welfare Reform law. Britain is moving to tackle government dependence, whereas in America it is being encouraged.
• Growth: The UK has higher forecast growth than the US. Despite the UK economy suffering an arguably deeper recession than the US, by the end of this year the UK will be experiencing higher growth than the US and the eurozone; a testament to what Conservatives can do in three years, but leftists cannot do in five.
The Conservative-led coalition is making progress and taking bold decisions that are showing enormous benefit for the UK. America’s leaders have reverted to failed quasi-socialist policies that have left the US more debt-ridden, and in hardly a better economic position than we were in when Obama came to power in the global financial crisis of 2008. Having now compared the progress on the economy being made in the UK and the lack of it in the US, my next two articles will focus on culture and the structural governmental problems of the United States.