About half the people polled in Britain say they would be prepared to pay a bit more tax if it went directly to the health service.
That is what they say but Tim Worstall points out what people say is not the same as what they do.
. . .The reason it’s not true is our old friend revealed preferences. We should never try to divine what people really want from what they say: we should instead look at what they do. And we do have a method of being able to pay extra tax: simply send the cheque to “The Accountant, 2 Horse Guards Road, London SW1″ and they’re absolutely delighted to apply it to whatever area of public spending you wish to inform them you favour. Admittedly it’s a few years since I looked into this but in that year an entire 5 people had actually done so and four of them were dead, leaving bequests.
So revealed preferences tells us that exactly one live person was actually willing to pay higher taxes for any reason at all, not just for the NHS. . .
Would a poll in New Zealand have a similar result?
Probably, but anyone in New Zealand could send money to Treasury or the ministry or department of their choice now but how many do?
I suspect it is very, very few.
I used to be deputy chair of a health board and we often got donations from grateful patients and their families.
A whole range of charities which work in areas where the government provides services survive on donations from thousands of people.
Would those people give as much if they paid more tax?
Would they prefer to pay more tax than to keep more of their own money to do with it what they wished?
They might say yes would but their actions suggest a very strong no.
Government services need our tax revenue but it takes more than a dollar in tax to provide a dollar of services.
Most of us would prefer to keep more of our own money and be free to donate directly to organisations where every cent gets to the destination we choose.
Every organisation has administration costs but with some administration costs are covered by local committee fund raising, and donations all go to projects. Save the Children is one which operates in this way.