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Archive for January 2nd, 2012

Late last year, Spanish voters kicked out a socialist government and elected a new government led by the supposedly conservative People’s Party.

Is that translating into smaller government and more freedom? Doesn’t look that way. It seems that Spanish right-of-center politicians are just as useless and statist as the faux conservatives in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

The ballots haven’t even gotten cold and the new government is proposing a bevy of new taxes. Here are some of the grim details from Tax-news.com, including a class-warfare increase in the top tax rate.

…the incoming Spanish government, headed by Mariano Rajoy, is to introduce higher taxes from 2012 contrary to the party’s pre-election pledge. …The government has announced numerous tax hikes worth EUR6.2bn, for introduction in 2012, including income tax increases across the board, ranging from a 0.75% increase in the tax rate applicable on income of EUR9,500, to a 7% hike for those earning above EUR300,000. Savings income will also be subject to higher taxes under the proposals. Personal savings of up to EUR6,000 will be subject to a 2% rate; with additional rates of 4% on savings income up to EUR24,000 and 6% above this threshold.

By the way, all these tax hikes are in addition to an increase last year in the value-added tax, which was boosted from 16 percent to 18 percent.

Could it be, though, that tax increases are necessary because Spain has already cut spending? As you might imagine, that’s a joke.

According to OECD data, government spending jumped from 39.2 percent of GDP in 2000 to 45.6 percent of GDP in 2010. Equally relevant, EU data shows that government spending almost doubled in the past 10 years.

In other words, Spain is screwed. The new government is just as bad – or perhaps even worse – than the previous government. I wrote two years ago that Spain was in trouble because of over-spending and I see no reason to change my analysis now. Actually, I have changed my analysis. Spain is going down the toilet even faster.

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In June of last year, I posted several examples of idiotic government policy from both the United States and United Kingdom and asked which nation had the dumbest bureaucrats and politicians.

Since then, we have found new examples of brain-dead government and jaw-dropping political correctness from England, including an effort to stop children from watching Olympic shooting events and (what must be) the most pointless sign in the history of the world.

But American politicians have been busy as well in recent months, with impressive displays of incompetence and stupidity such as preventing a girl from boarding a plane because her purse had an image of a gun and a local school calling the police because a little girl kissed a little boy in gym class.

The competitive juices must be flowing, because there’s a new example of government stupidity from the United Kingdom that is hard to believe. As reported by the Register, you now need an ID to buy teaspoons.

Are you under 18 years of age? Do you have an urgent need for teaspoons? Well, avoid Asda’s Halifax tentacle where the powers that be are determined to prevent this potentially-lethal item of cutlery falling into the hands of murderous yoof. …According to the background info, the lady shopper in question was told by an Asda assistant that she’d have to prove her age “because someone had murdered someone with a teaspoon, and therefore ID was now required”.

Actually, I suppose I’m being unfair to blame the public sector for this nonsense. The story doesn’t actually say this is a government-imposed policy. So perhaps the store inexplicably decided to antagonize customers and hinder commerce with this new requirement.

But if that’s the case, I’ll still blame government because the store manager doubtlessly was (mal)educated at a government school.

Some American readers may be feeling a bit gloomy at this point. After all, how can politicians and bureaucrats in the United States possibly match the stupidity of their cousins on the other side of the Atlantic?

Well, don’t be depressed. America still has a strong claim to the top position in this contest about government incompetence. After all, cops in Indiana arrested a grandmother for buying cold medicine for her husband and then (gasp!) buying cold medicine for her daughter before the end of the seven-day waiting period.

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