George Osborne was forced to admit today that his grandiose plans to slash the national debt by 2015 were in chaos.
He has been told by critics that cutting pay, pensions and jobs and savaging the public sector would worsen the situation by reducing tax receipts and pushing more people onto benefits.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls calls Osborne's judgement "woefully lacking."
If economic growth was the Chancellor's priority, he would have a point.
But neither economic growth nor cutting national debt is of supreme importance to him or his austerity programme.
Austerity amounts to a systematic transfer of national wealth from labour and the poor to capital and the rich to boost corporate profits.
When Osborne claims that big business and the rich will pay more in tax, he is taking us all for mugs and, if we were to believe him, we would be.
Does anyone believe that it came as a bolt from the blue to Osborne to learn that Starbucks, Google, Amazon and countless other companies are, as the Commons public affairs committee says, "immorally" minimising their tax bills?
Of course not, just as he wasn't shocked by Philip Green's tax-avoidance schemes that benefited him to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.
If anything, this systematic self-enrichment qualified him to become a government adviser.
Big business and the rich are increasingly in the firing line for their employment of various means to dodge paying the sums in tax that their incomes dictate they should be paying.
The response of their apologists is always that what they are doing is legal, which is generally true.
So easy is it for big business and the rich to swim through the holes in the tax office's nets that it becomes clear that successive governments share a common belief that taxation is a duty for the weak but an optional extra for the strong.
Politicians often tut-tut about companies and individuals making use of tax-avoidance havens to minimise tax liability in Britain, but most of these havens come under the jurisdiction of the British crown.
It should be crystal clear that continued tolerance of these bolt-holes for the rich is not a mistake. It's a deliberate policy.
HMRC threatens to take a tough line with self-assessment taxpayers who fill in their tax returns late and this toughness is likely to rake in around £100 million a year.
Where is this tax-gatherer toughness when it comes to transnational corporations that play ducks and drakes with Britain's tax system?
Starbucks would have us believe that deep soul-searching has caused it to reconsider its approach to paying tax here after previously insisting, laughably, that despite a massive turnover in Britain it had made no profits in the past 15 years.
It is the bad publicity engendered by the positive public attitude to UK Uncut direct action against Starbucks outlets that has prompted a response.
Why should it be up to Starbucks to offer crumbs from its table?
Why has no government given the order to HMRC to go after a whole swathe of companies that pay little or no tax?
It's because governments of all stripes are in thrall to big business, sharing an expectation that working people, pensioners and the poor should pay for economic crises while the rich and powerful go scot-free.
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