dinheiro público vs. dinheiro dos contribuintes

margaret-thatcherA propósito deste vídeo em que a ex-Primeiro-Ministro britânica Margaret Thatcher fala sobre como gastar o dinheiro dos contribuintes, resolvi pesquisar o discurso original que vai mais além do que é retratado no vídeo.

De uma forma simples, a governante desmistifica duas grandes “verdades”: a primeira é que não existe dinheiro público mas apenas dinheiro que é cobrado aos contribuintes («There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money.»). A segunda é que os serviços prestados pelo Estado não são gratuitos; custam dinheiro («People talk about a “free” service. It is not free. You have to pay for it.»).

Proferido há mais de 30 anos, este discurso mantém-se bastante actual. Principalmente, neste rectângulo à beira-mar plantado!

«One of the great debates of our time is about how much of your money should be spent by the State and how much you should keep to spend on your family. Let us never forget this fundamental truth: the State has no source of money other than money which people earn themselves. If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. It is no good thinking that someone else will pay—that “someone else” is you. There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money.

Prosperity will not come by inventing more and more lavish public expenditure programmes. You do not grow richer by ordering another cheque-book from the Bank. No nation ever grew more prosperous by taxing its citizens beyond their capacity to pay. We have a duty to make sure that every penny piece we raise in taxation is spent wisely and well. For it is our party which is dedicated to good housekeeping—indeed, I would not mind betting that if Mr. Gladstone were alive today he would apply to join the Conservative Party.

Protecting the taxpayer’s purse, protecting the public services—these are our two great tasks, and their demands have to be reconciled. How very pleasant it would be, how very popular it would be, to say “spend more on this, expand more on that.” We all have our favourite causes—I know I do. But someone has to add up the figures. Every business has to do it, every housewife has to do it, every Government should do it, and this one will.

But throughout history clever men, some of them economists, not all of them rascals, a few of them vicious men, have tried to show that the principles of prudent finance do not really apply to this Government, this budget, that institution. Not so. They always do, and every sensible person knows it, no one better than you, Mr. President, who had to deal with countries which flouted those principles and are now up to their eyes in debt. Who do they turn to? Those who follow prudent principles like us.

When there is only so much money to spend, you have to make choices, and the same is true of Governments. It is sometimes suggested that Governments can opt out of these choices. They cannot. Let me for a moment take the subject which we have so much debated, the Health Service.

People talk about a “free” service. It is not free. You have to pay for it. Five years ago, just before I came into No. 10, a family of four was having to pay on average through various taxes some £560 a year for the Health Service; this year that same family will have to pay £1,140 a year, more than double. Let me put it another way. This year, the Health Service is costing over £15,000 million—half the total yield of income tax.

The Health Service has one million employees. It is the largest employer in Europe. It really is our job to see that it is managed properly.» (daqui)

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