But Polly, why should spending be at 2010 levels?

Polly Toynbee tells us that whatever the Chancellor announces he’s going to be spending it’s not enough Because there’s £60 billion at least that needs to be spent to get back to the service levels of 2010.

All in all, the IFS says it would take £60bn to get back to 2010.

But why should spending get back to 2010 levels? One good reason why not coming in her very next sentence:

Pay is still not back to 2008 levels.

If we the people who pay the taxes are poorer then it seems reasonable and fair that less is collected in taxes to fund those services really. If total resources are less then so will the righteous level of spending on any particular sector.

We can lay this out more formally too. Wagner’s Law tells us that as a country becomes richer more will be spent upon state services. The argument being that such state services are luxury goods. No, not luxuries, but things we spend more of our income upon as our income rises.

We have our doubts about that. We think it’s more to do with politicians and bureaucracies learning how to pluck the population better over time. But accept that statist contention for a moment instead. We’re poorer therefore Wagner’s Law goes into reverse, doesn’t it?

We might also think this through in a different manner:

Things less visible include Natural England losing half its budget and 1,000 staff;

What is there to tell us that Natural England’s budget in 2010 was correct? Rather more importantly we’ve had three elections since then - and are likely to get a fourth - and what is an election if it isn’t for us, the taxpayers, to change how we’re taxed and what that’s spent upon?

That is, if elections don’t change how much Natural England gets then what is the point of this democracy in the first place? Tony Juniper does, after all, work for us and aren’t we actually supposed to have a say in how much of our money he gets to spend?

And all that heedless, needless cutting was for nothing: breaking the fiscal rules proves this was about pure ideology, not economics.

Just for the sake of the argument we’ll agree. And what are elections and changes of government supposed to be about if not ideology? There are, after all, some out here who think that ever more government isn’t the solution. Sometimes we even vote that way too. That it all happens the way we vote is the point of the system, not a problem with it.