I'm a low-tax enthusiast, but the problem of tax is like that of energy consumption: the costs are hidden, diffuse and difficult to measure. How much energy does that desk lamp use anyway? The benefits of tax are big, shiny and it seems like something for nothing.
Notice, if you will, how everyone goes on about how we in the UK have "free healthcare". As if the biggest employer in Europe paid its staff and suppliers with cups of rainwater.
The once revered, then reviled Daniel Hannan points to this impressive bit of meme-hackery: a business that itemises the cost to the consumer of each of the multiple layers of taxation that represent the cost of doing business in the UK today.
We demand transparency from our politicians. Why don't we demand the same from the tax system? Wouldn't it be interesting if, when you presented at the A&E department, you received an itemised receipt of all the individual items that your taxes paid for on this visit?
At the same time, I would be interested in the political effects of having everyone write their own tax cheques to HMRC in the way that the self-employed do. The deceitful genius of the PAYE system is that it makes you think that your taxes are money that you never really had anyway. Writing out a cheque for £10,000 every January would provide a worthwhile reflection point. Are you happy with what you get for your ten grand?
Once you know what you're paying and what that money is paying for, perhaps we might be able to have a sensible debate on the size of the state. Imagine it - we could actually use mathematics to inform the debate. Wouldn't that be something? Imagine it was part of our culture to treat state-services as "our money paid for that" instead of "I got this for free from the Government".