Taxpayers’ money

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May I register a plea against the ridiculous popular and journalistic overuse of the phrase “taxpayers’ money”?

The expression is meaningless because, in the first place, all government actions are funded by taxation and in the second, no fraction of the money concerned ever belonged to any individual taxpayer.

When I was in paid employment, “my” money was the sum deposited in my bank account at the end of every month.

The fact that this represented a larger amount from which a part had been deducted as tax was of no consequence to me, since that part was never in my possession and I certainly never had any say in how it was to be spent.

Although the phrase “taxpayers’ money” has no real meaning, the meaning intended by the people who use it is of course perfectly clear: they mean “money spent on a project of which I don’t approve, and/or spent by a government which I don’t like”.

Their reasons for disapproving of the project or disliking the government may or may not be valid, but in no case is the use of taxpayers’ money an argument against them – it is not even a good debating point.

Derrick McClure

Rosehill Terrace

Aberdeen