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.