Finnegan's Take

Some businesspeople want government to leave them alone; others want a bailout and shelter from the storm. They can’t have both.

It’s (still) SME Week and I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs in the last couple of days. They are interesting people: dreamers, risk-takers and chancers in varying measure.

But I note a philosophical divide between those who plead for the EU and governments to just get out of their way – to be ‘invisible’ as one entrepreneur put it, and those who a screaming for free money, soft loans, cheaper rents, tax breaks, free phone bills and so on.

Can they have both?

In a way, the answer seems to be yes. The Small Business Act includes elements designed to cut red tape on the one hand, while introducing pro-business legislation on the other (e.g. the Late Payments Directive).

But fundamentally, there is a contradiction between libertarian free-market thinkers who want to be unencumbered by pesky regulation and taxes – while at the same time tapping public funds at every opportunity.

They don’t want to be taxpayers; they just want taxpayers’ money.

It reminds me of the extreme end of right-wing thinkers dominating the Tea Party movement in the US, one of whom recently told Fox News of how he was a self-made man who never asked the government for help. “I was on food stamps; I never asked anyone for a hand out.”

This was on Fox so nobody bothered to point out that the government uses taxpayers’ money to provide food stamps for those who cannot afford food.

Consistency is a virtue.

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  1. They don’t want to be taxpayers; they just want taxpayers’ money.

    This is interesting, considering the tax status of different bureaucrats working for the EU. I know that they are taxed, but for some it is quite a limited amount.
    Perhaps this position is just the Rawls Theory of Justice default for all Western independent individuals, which is why the government is supposed to enforce taxes but still try to encourage individual innovation and entrepreneurship. Its the natural tension between citizen and government, pursuing your own interests while also participating in groupthink.

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