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'Pasty' Tax Battle Burns British Politicians -- and Possibly Your 401(k)

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Pasty PastiesIf there was any hope left that Europe might get serious about fixing its debt problems -- making the tough spending cuts and tougher tax hikes necessary to repair its fraying national balance sheets -- then this latest news out of Britain this week should put an end to that.

Over in Britain, consumers are throwing a veritable conniption over a government plan to levy taxes on a popular baked good known as the "pasty." (Insert joke about native British complexions here.)

The food in question resembles what we know here as a "Hot Pocket," except that it's sold fresh, not frozen, and has historically been exempt from Britain's value-added tax levied on other takeout foods. What the government was proposing was a modest step of taxing one food item -- just as it already taxes others -- in hopes of raising $54 million toward closing Britain's near-$200 billion fiscal 2012 budget deficit.
Pasty politics and taxes
It was not to be.

Amidst accusations that the British government is "out of touch" with the common man, Britons took to the streets to protest the pasty tax. And now the government has caved.

Henceforth, pasties will remain untaxed. What's more, as an extra measure of apology for its attempt at fiscal sanity, the government further agreed to cut the tax on towable mobile homes from 20% to 5%.

Tempest in a Teacup?

Now, if you're shaking your head and tsk-tsk-ing over yet another "Europeans are crazy" story, but thinking this doesn't really affect you at all... then think again.

On Wednesday, revived fears that Europe may be unable to come to grips with its pervasive debt problems helped push the U.S. stock market into a nosedive. If British politicians' response to criticism of a tax that would address all of 0.027% of its budget deficit is to duck and run for cover rather than face the heat, then it's worth asking: What is the likelihood that Europe will take the far more painful steps necessary to solve its budget imbalances? What are the chances they'll ever get this mess fixed, and remove the overhang that's killing our 401(k) returns here in the U.S.?

As they might say in Britain: Not bloody likely.

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Thomas

What happened to my comment I posted (literally) seconds ago?

June 03 2012 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

"Over in Britain, consumers are throwing a veritable conniption over a government plan to levy taxes on a popular baked good known as the "pasty." (Insert joke about native British complexions here.) "
Would the author of these stupid words write the same sentence had the food in question --- or any
food for that matter --- been black, namely "(Insert joke about native central African complexions here.)"
Of course not, because he knows it would cause a ruckus of multifaceted proportions --- but it's quite
safe to say practically anything about whites and Christians. Honestly, this so-called writer, this Rich
Smith, should be ashamed of himself. In fact, I wish he would have the "balls" to respond to my words,
so I can tell him a few words more.

June 03 2012 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tomjet529

arent pasties those annoying little things that reduce my enjoyment at the strip club?

June 03 2012 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
billlesd

Back to the same old issue. The problem ISN'T that government ( no matter where) lacks revenue. The PROBLEM is that government SPENDS TOO MUCH. Until they stop, there will be a never ending quest to drain more and more out of the taxpayer wallet. Even a penny at a time, eventually you run out of pennies.

June 03 2012 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mcgunegleb

Pasties are well known across the northern tier of states in the U. S. as a result of Cornish miner's coming to work in the hardrock mines.

June 03 2012 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dontcalld

all of these problems stem from a lack of paying income taxes - pay attention america, then pay your taxes

June 03 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mingo

Time to get the money from the so called royalty of England They has been living the good life at the expence of their people Wow that kund of sounds like our politicians .

June 03 2012 at 9:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mingo's comment
billlesd

The "so-called" royalty brings in a ton of tourist dollars for Britain. Witness the Queen's Jubilee celebration this week. The Royals are hard working and raise a huge amount of money for charity as well. I am American but I like them very muich and think they do an excellent job.

June 03 2012 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

The royals, right; because judging by the way you speak, you're probably neither producing nor contributing anything of value to the British society.

June 03 2012 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tranacria

I hope that we never have a VAT tax here.

June 03 2012 at 7:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TINKDAY

Maybe the europeans feel they did not cause the finanicial diaster that befell them. Maybe the blame falls squarley on our wall street, banks, insurance companies and the S.E.C. and the bond rating agencies that were both neglagent and criminal. Remember only those five countries bought the crap we were peddling. Food for thought.

June 02 2012 at 9:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mikco99

This is a country that still lives under a constitutional monarchy. How much money is being wasted for the four day celebration of sixty years under the same queen? She has no power, yet the British still support a lavish life on her and all the royals. Total waste of money. Also, how many aren't going to work during the four days. Civilized indeed!!

June 02 2012 at 7:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mikco99's comment
Setanta

always has been both their privledge and problem and the rest of us know the roYAls for what they ARE-
the wealthiest welfare family in the western hemisphere.

June 02 2012 at 7:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply