But we don't pay much higher taxes in the U.K. - that's the point. Yes, income tax is a bit higher than in the US, but not by that much.
Those who are living paycheck to paycheck are barely paying any taxes anyway, so your argument has no basis in the UK... you can't claim that those people are being put in a situation where they are paying such high taxes that they can't afford food... because they aren't actually paying any taxes (or are only paying a small amount in tax), and they may well qualify for government benefits to give them even cheaper rent/bills/food/healthcare.
We have less disposable income in the UK because overall salaries are lower, not because we pay massively high taxes. That's a problem with salaries in general, not with taxes.
A lot of food actually costs LESS in the U.K. than in the US, as do things like broadband internet and cell phone contracts.
As mentioned previously, I have a fairly decent salary with a good government benefits scheme - in fact, I work with the military (I brief air force pilots). I pay more towards my pension and student loan repayments each month than I contribute towards the NHS in taxes. Despite my so-called 'high taxes', I have more than enough disposable income (about half of my monthly salary is disposable).
In the US I would earn maybe 1.5 times my UK salary doing the same job, but I would likely have to pay thousands in health insurance per year, and my food would generally cost more, so I might not actually have much more, if any more, disposable income than I do in the UK.
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Most people in the 20% band are likely living paycheck to paycheck and struggle to sufficiently provide all the necessities they need. A lot of people well into the 40% band struggle with more expensive necessities like housing and transportation.
There's a fairly direct link between higher taxes and higher cost of living on one hand, and on the other hand lower salaries, less job creation, and less upward mobility. When you reduce the velocity of money, it causes those impacts.
As to food... US spending on food as a percentage of income is the lowest in the world. Actual item to item price comparison is lower in the US. So, if you believe you'd spend more on food in the US, either you'd be buying dramatically different items/quantities or you're thinking of something like manhattan prices versus somewhere in the North. On the whole though, prices are a lot lower in the US and that's largely due to low cost free trade with the whole of the world. Food isn't the point though. It is all necessities. When there isn't enough to go around and you require contribution towards one thing, then by definition something else has to give.
And by the way, I didn't attack the UK system. I was talking chiefly about the US system. When you force people struggling to get by to pay for health insurance when they cannot afford both it and other necessities, then either they pay the penalty with even less to go around, or they have to sacrifice something else.
I am not defending Obamacare, or what came before it, or the proposed replacement. All of that is a disaster. The individual mandate though is a problem. I would love for everyone to have access to high quality healthcare and be able to afford all their other necessities, but there is not the capacity to do it. What we've done with Obamacare is reduce access and quality while massively increasing costs on most people in order to extend relatively low quality coverage to an additional low single digit percentage of the population (excluding new Medicaid recipients) who didn't have coverage before. And yet still left well more than double that behind. That is a horrible result that makes society on avg worse off and does create more poverty.
The way to solve this stuff is not about treating the symptoms. That just exacerbates the problem, as we've seen. It is about attacking the roots by growing capacity and decreasing cost of living across all categories of necessities. If those are the objectives, instead of getting people health insurance no matter how bad it is or how much it costs society, then there are entirely different ways to go about that. Ways that increase rather than decrease the velocity of money and therefore create rather than destroy economic opportunities across all industries.
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