Party in the UK

December 18, 2013

Good news continues to come out of the United Kingdom. Today its unemployment fell to a new low of 7.4%. GDP and jobs numbers in the UK have also painted a rosy picture for a while now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, wrote a piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on how Britain has been managing its recovery.

Critically, the UK has improved its tax system substantially. It is moving towards a more competitive, more neutral tax base that treats all sorts of economic activity equally. While they have been willing to increase sales taxes – a neutral, simple tax – they are also reducing the costly corporate tax. Corporate taxes tend to substantially reduce the welfare of everyone – both the owners of corporate stock and the workers who depend on heavy capital investments. They have also abolished crippling financial transaction taxes.

Britain’s tax system is far from perfect, but its recent improvements are substantial and praiseworthy. Mr. Osborne fundamentally understands the idea that countries must compete for new investment. Investments – like new manufacturing plants or shopping centers – help ordinary people conduct economic activity and be productive. The recent tax reforms in the UK are, by and large, excellent policy designed to improve the economic prospects of everyday individuals. It is heartening to see how much those prospects have improved in 2013.

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