Austerity – the rich need not apply

Well folks, on the political front, there’s so much been happening in my absence that it’s hard to know where to start but I think the child benefit fiasco is as good an issue as any to begin with.

First off, I know I’m not alone in being utterly bewildered by the fact that they are allowing such a glaringly illogical inequality to occur within the policy and it beggars belief that they can’t come up with a process so that joint incomes are taken into consideration.  I mean come on guys.  You have two policical parties working at this. You can’t all be as dim as dusk!

Anyhoo, the cut itself (and, true to form, here’s where I start contradicting myself again), I really, reeally, reeeally want to defend keeping the child benefit universal, if only on the grounds that it is a citizens income for children and all children are equal etc. but I just can’t bring myself to argue against a principle that says we should stop paying benefits to the well-off and I’ve been quite surprised at how much the left-wing has stretched the universality argument, coming up with all kinds of romantic socialist reasons as to why it’s wrong to take this benefit away from the middle classes  – one being that the they’ll stop supporting welfare for the poor if they don’t get any benefits themselves.  That’s just silly.  There’s nothing bad at all about cutting benefits for the well-off but of course, me being me (I did warn you), I’m not straight -down-the-line in support of it either.  I mean it’s complicated isn’t it.  £44k is considered to be a high income but that high income isn’t quite so high if you have kids is it.  But ultimately, I can’t believe it will impact these families so much as to cause serious hardship so like I said, all things considered, I just can’t bring myself to oppose cutting a benefit to families that could manage quite nicely without it.  A higher threshold maybe but not universal, at least not under current circumstances.

Well anyway, for those just above the threshold, after the cut some of the luxuries will probably have to go – private music tuition and gardeners and suck-like.  Not such an hardship at first glance but there is a knock-on effect.  I absolutely get that it’s not right for low-incomers to have their taxes spent on benefits for the well-off so they can continue to have their grass cut or their kids enriched with private music lessons and I must stress that this is not an argument against the child benefit cut.  Its merely an observation related to unintended consequences or whatever but it has to be said that the people who provide these household services and private tuition etc. rely on fee-paying middle-incomers for their own livelihood.  Many small businesses have been started by ordinary people tapping into a growing demand from working families who can’t fit it all in and so hire people to help out with the chores.  But these are non-essential products and for families that are just above that threshold and have to take a cut in income, it’s the luxuries that go first.  Again, as I said, not a valid argument for giving benefits to the well-off  but the fact remains that it will have its impact on a chunk of small business owners who may be less well-off.  And anyway, more to the point, it really sticks in my throat that the Tories have suddenly found this to be a useful argument.  Does anyone actually believe that the Tories are sincere when they cry out how wrong it is that the hard-working poor should pay taxes to give benefits to higher earners.  Come off it Tories!  Since when have you cared about the poor being disproportionately taxed in comparison to, and to the benefit of, the rich?  Hark at them suddenly being in support of wealth redistribution in the favour of the poor!

Of course all this has deliberately diverted us from their real agenda ie the real cuts that will disadvantage the poor even more than they already are.  The cap on benefits will seriously plunge many families into deeper hardship and it really will come down to having to choose whether to pay the extortionate rent fees or feed their kids.

And this mantra about people on benefits being a lifestyle choice is a blatant insult.  These people do exist, I accept that but not to the extent that the coalition wants us to believe.  Where the hell are all these jobs that the idle spongers should be taking up anyway under threat of losing their benefits?  I know it’s been asked a million times but as far as I can tell, it’s not been answered so I ask again, how can a single-mum be expected to travel twenty odd miles a day to the only job offer she’s had and it’s a job that pays the minimum wage (which probably won’t exist anyway when the Coalition gets its grubby hands on it), while paying for child care and meeting expensive travel costs?  With the VAT increase taken into account how the hell will she make ends meet?

The thing that gets me is that they keep saying we’re in this together and that everyone across the class divide has to take a hit but I’ve looked and looked and I still can’t see where the rich are being affected.  They give this impression that they too are having to make sacrifices too but I fail to see where? The capital gains tax increase is a gesture that will slightly affect ruthless, buy-to-let landlords and second home-owners.  The rest is Tory ideology hidden behind a false, tough-but-fair slogan and everyone with an ounce of sense knows that the poor are going to suffer the heaviest impacts when their ideology goes live.  But what makes it so damn harsh and cruel is that it’s not neccessary.  There are other ways but in the world of Cameron, Clegg and Osborne et al, austerity only applies to the poor.  Top and bottom is, it’s an ideologically motivated attack on the two things that the traditional right-wing hate the most – the poor and the public sector.

The shared pain slogan is a lie.


14 responses to this post.

  1. I think it’s fairly simple. The advantage of universal benefits is that they are cheap and simple to administer. The advantage of child benefit is that it puts an income stream straight into the hands of the main carer (often the Mother who is more likely to have taken a career-break or part-time work) and so makes her less dependent on the husband for cash. This is probably less of an issue now than in the 70s when I remember my Mother queuing up at the Post Office for her family allowance, but even so, it remains an advantage.

    So why not just tax it back off those wealthy enough not to need it? Just increase the top rate by 1% (or whatever’s needed to make the sums add up)


  2. I meant to add – we know why they won’t do this – partly with fair reasoning that not everyone paying top rate tax has kids, so it seems a bit unfair to them, but also because we’re not really all in this together. If we were really all in this together than clearly a fairly chunky part of the deficit reduction would involve tax rises somewhere, not just cuts which have a greater impact on the less well off.

    It’s fun to see the wheels starting to wobble on the ConDem wagon – to be fair they’ve looked quite sure-footed and competent, and as individuals most of them are likable and quite impressive. It’s heartening to see their ill-thought-out policies starting to crumble.


  3. Hi Zeddie. Good to hear from you. I will catch up with your blog shortly.

    Yes, they have looked competent but the knee-jerk tax break they hinted at for married couples after the angry reaction towards the CB cuts showed them up as being not quite so prepared and efficient.

    Yes, a tax increase for the higher earners would be a fairer alternative. I thought I’d mentioned that in the article but it’s not there so I must have deleted it when I was trying to shorten the post. (The original was really long!! Honest. You’d have given up half-way!) But no, they’d never go for tax increases for higher-rate payers. It’s a Tory-led coalition. so not a chance. I get what you mean about tax increases being a bit unfair too because not every top earner has kids but that argument could be made for other social tax-spending such as schools. And childless high earners pay towards child benefit now anyway so they could already apply that argument as things stand.

    I understand the argument that universal benefits are cheap and simple but listening to the middle classes crying about losing their payments just seems so peevish when many other families genuinely depend on the money to feed and clothe their kids. It just seems to me that many of the Daily Mail reading middle classes whine and moan about benefits scroungers but when their free handout is threatened they’re all about entitlements. Like I said in the post, I don’t totally support it but I just can’t bring myself to moan about losing mine.

    And the way they are planning to implement it, ie still pay it out but take it back in income tax and then give couples a tax allowance, will be a nightmare for the tax system. This will backfire on them.


  4. As always happens it will be the innocent that will pay the sins of the guilty.

    Long time no hear, Earthpal. Expect everything is alright.

    Best wishes+++


  5. Very well Jose. Thank you. 🙂 Just busy. How is your good self? I hope you are well. xx

    Yes, the biggest culprits will not be touched by the cuts.


  6. I keep getting on, Earthpal, thank you very much.


  7. We have our own version of welfare here in the States, and of course, it is being attacked by those who’ll likely never need it. My family and I have never collectively benefited from welfare. but my husband (who lost his mother at a very young age) did. And I do not see why we as a society should not help those at the bottom who need helping. Our country (the US of A) makes it oh-so-easy to provide aid to corporations, those glass and steel machines, why NOT help the flesh and blood citizenry who support them?! I do not mean to get angry, but I am so damn sick and tired of the wealthy bitching about the relatively minute portion of their income that goes to social services. If I ran the show, every person would be allowed to earn X DOLLARS, and past a certain limit, it’d all go back into a collective account from which the rest of society would benefit. There is only so much money a human can possibly spen. Only so many gold lined showers one can install. And there are far too many going hungry.


  8. Beautifully said Dailydish. The whole of society benefits when we help the disadvantaged but that simple philosophy seems beyond the understanding of some people. The loony Tea Party comes to mind here, amongst others.


    • No joke. This article in the NY Times today underscores the agenda against the neediest in this country. Even worse? The fact that so many of these conservatives identify themselves as Christians. Did Jesus come to help the rich, or give to the poor?


      • Are you asking that question from the Pope? The Liberation theology which was meant to help the poor of the world was condemned by the present Pope when he was the Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (ancient Holy Inquisition).

      • No, I am not asking this of the Pope. I am not Catholic, and do not see the pope as anything but a man with way too much power. Catholics are trained to believe they cannot possibly have a direct, personal relationship with God. WHY? Because the Catholic Church wants to preserve itself, its traditions and its hierarchical structure. It is everything that Jesus railed against while on earth (though at that time he was speaking of the Jews). My point in asking the question was to stress the fact that Christians – and by this I mean true followers of Christ Jesus, would never dream of turning their backs on the poor. That is what Christ did – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick. I speak of the Jesus who threw the money changers out of the temple — not the Pope who paid children to keep silent about molestation.

  9. Thanks for the linked article Dailydish. Wow! Gingrich really is an idiot. These are the people who demand zero abortions but won’t help feed those children when they’re born into poverty and hardship.

    The Republican anti-poor agenda is truly shameful. And don’t get me started on the Christian right-wing and their warped interpretations of the teachings of Jesus.

    Hunger is a monumental and universal sin.


  10. Thedaylydish,

    Yes. Those who should watch over the poor and needy, rather watch over their own assets, forgetting the most essential principles of mercy and humane attitude. It is an everyday fact, easily provable.


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