Don’t mention the war, I did once but I think I got away with it

Oh dear,  never ever post replies to people’s blogs when you’ve just woken up.  (Tan, I apologise, again).
The reply I posted was quite long but it is the essence of something I think about a lot; the continuing decline in social responsibility and the ever-creeping “does this cost too much” ideology that is attaching to our most vital services.  In short, we’re fucking the country up and I’m getting a bit sick of it.  If you want me to explain further please let me know – two years of writing computer programs for the social care “industry” was enough to make me sick to the stomach of people, perhaps with good intent, monetizing the care of the helpless and making judgments on pain relief based on it costing too much to provide the best option.

This is a copy of my comment (I edited it a bit to make me look more clever):

Oh you said the T word!

Being someone who is taxed to death – I mean horribly, take-all-my-money-and-they-still-want-more taxed to death – I still have the viewpoint that this is entirely the way that society should be shaped; people like me who, quite frankly, earn obscene amounts of money largely for doing nothing but rampaging through easily-led women and drinking far too much (oh wait, I mean computer programming, ahem) – I should pay lots of tax.  This tax paying is for the benefit of all us that live in society – including me.  It confers no extra rights to me than someone who is not paying tax.  It’s the social obligation of people like me (the haves?) and yes, it does mean that some other people (the have nots?  The cannots?) benefit from the payment I received for a website or program I wrote without doing anything at all.

My sister has just become a foster mother.  She has always been on the bread line.  The foster agencies contribute various amounts towards her making sure that the kids she fosters have a safe and loving environment to escape to.  I cried tears of real pride when she passed the final set of checks and “boards” and got her official approval to go ahead.  My taxes go towards that.  Even the taxes that I paid (because they forced me) which meant I was left so broke one day I could choose petrol or food.  I chose petrol.

My taxes also go to the genuinely unemployed and the genuinely can’t-be-bothered.  People on various benefits, deserving and undeserving.  Students (even the beer monsters).  War.  Political corruption.  Political excellence.

I hate paying any bill – I’d much rather spend it on my usual (well documented) debauchery but whoever and whatever my taxes go to it is right and proper that they do.

Sneering fools who say “I pay my taxes for people like that” and point some self-righteous finger at an area of society that they feel should be less deserving than another is really missing the point about a civilized humanist point of view – we can’t do things like that.  Legislate against abuse of the system – yes.  Punish the abusers – yes.  But stfu and pay your taxes and be happy that you have the freedom to take that undeserving moral high ground in a country which wants us all to succeed and does not measure people by their direct contribution to the national financial wealth.  Thinking any other way means the disappearance of everything and anything like art for art’s sake and leads us further down the path of hospital services and educational policies that describe people with cancer as “service users” and children as “clients” and descriptions of cancelled school trips to the zoo as “not being cost effective”.

Please God, save us from all of that.

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42 thoughts on “Don’t mention the war, I did once but I think I got away with it

  1. Jeez….everytime I come here today your layout has changed! ;o)

    Ok, I’m awake and I agree wholeheartedly with you but as I get older (it’s those varifocals again) I become more cynical. I am happy to pay higher taxes etc. (er…when I have a job!) but am concerned that rather than benefitting the society in which we live what actually happens with our hard earned is that it lines the pockets of the fat cat politicians, the civil servants and those in the higher echelons of our services. That I am not happy to pay for!

    I worked for some time within the N.H.S and whilst I watched the nursing staff, medical professionals and auxilliary staff work their butts off and show far greater care than they were remunerated for, I also watched a two tier debacle of a management structure grow in the name of the (then) new ‘N.H.S trusts’. Twice the large salaries, twice the flash ‘company’ cars, twice the corporate entertainment, catering, etc. etc. etc. etc….but most certainly not twice the patient care…sorry, ‘client care’!

    I do appreciate that to attain a high level of management in any ‘business’ one has to pay the going rate in salaries and benefits but some of the more important services that our taxes pay for should perhaps be managed by individuals and teams who care a little more about the service and a bit less about their own interests….and horror of horrors, maybe even managers who have some background in the service they manage, not soley in ‘management’.

    I could regale you with umpteen horrendous situations I came accross but I can feel my hackles rising as I type so i’ll stop ranting now!

  2. Er yes, I got bored with the old layout and thought I’d try a few alternatives.

    So, I think, I need to point out that we are essentially saying the same thing about public services; in other words they are just that; public services NOT publicly owned profit centres.

    Really the gist of what I was saying is that society is too complicated to pick and choose which elements of it you can fund through your taxes. Nobody wants multi levels of management and guff, a 2 minute chat with MidwiveMuse will convince you of that, trust me. But if they do exist it’s not possible or practical to say “I want to pay for (a) but not for (b)”. For example; I am a pacifist. War, in my opinion, is *always* wrong. If we declare war and I am drafted (unlikely, I grant you) then I REFUSE to fight except in defence of the immediate surroundings. I don’t mind bomb disposal, medical duties or similar even if this meant my lifespan was extremely limited or went to some awful tortuous hard labour prison. I’m not a coward, it’s just quite simple – I don’t agree with war no matter what. But my taxes currently fund a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, quite against my wishes. This….is democracy…..and I’m fine with that. My step-daughter’s boyfriend (one of only a handful of people who I genuinely love unconditionally) is off to Afghanistan shortly as an infantryman. This is free choice. I’m fine with that. I want the war to end now and even better, to have never started and for there never to be another, ever.

    There is no doubt, as I said in a poem (http://www.alexsykie.com/notinmyname.html) once:

    “No money for our nurses or councils,
    but taxation increases and a creeping of powers
    whilst they plan and plot in their ivory towers
    and take us to war against our wishes
    telling us it’s not about an oil field’s riches.”

    I’m *ashamed* that I get paid far more as a programmer than a midwife does no matter how long she works. I am *disgusted* that we value my web designing skills so highly (every page of which I produce today will be gone forever in five years time) far more than a paramedic who saves fathers, brothers, mothers, children, sisters, teachers and even taxmen. I glad still, of course, because I need the money. 🙂

    Something is wrong in our so called civilized and advanced culture, isn’t it?

  3. oh gosh. I need to get rid of my baby brain before i reply to this and its like waaaaay past my bed time as i will need to feed the bubby soon.
    In Termy style…. I’ll be back!!!

  4. er no actually ian i am he he!

    i had discussion with a mate about this who pointed out that although it would in some ways be liberating to choose what you find with your tax that probably most people in high tax brackets coudlnt be trusted to give ANY moeny to the piggy bank for incapacity benefit and help with heating bills for older people and such like and as for young offender teams – well they’d be auctioning off their computers to pay for petrol to visit their clients they’d be so hard up.

    oh no wait – big brother says they are called ‘service users’ now not clients. whatever.

    i also wouldn’t choose to fund the/any wars but i do appreciate that the council (to whom i pay no tax sincei am a student) send me a little leaflet every year explaining where my money went. it lists things like the police and fire service and streelights and stuff like that and i do not begrudge them a penny (i mean i wont when i start paying again in 09)

    and…lastly i have this postcard printed by oxfam which reads
    IT WOULD BE NICE IF HOSPITALS AND SCHOOLS HAD ALL THE EQUIPMENT THEY NEEDED AND THE ARMY HAD TO HOLD JUMBLE SALES TO BUY GUNS

    Gemmak i totally agree with what you sai xx

  5. Can I resist? Yes… Yes… Maybe… No… (But I could if I wanted ;O) )

    .
    .
    .

    “I am a pacifist. War, in my opinion, is *always* wrong.”

    “…. the point about a civilized humanist point of view…[snip]… be happy that you have the freedom to take that undeserving moral high ground in a country which wants us all to succeed and does not measure people by their direct contribution to the national financial wealth.”

    *always* Ummm…. I think history shows your later point wouldn’t have been possible without a considerable degree of bloodshed… Whether in the defence of (“Ah Mr.Gerbles, how nice to see you again”), or in persuit of (“‘ello Charles me old mucker, fancy a little Ding Dong in Worcester?”)… To name but two…

  6. Doesn’t the government have a duty to minimise the tax burden to its citizens? The “have nots” and the “can nots” should be supported but what about the “will nots”? Should good, honest tax payers be forced to support generations of people who never work and have no intention of ever working?

    The disparity between the wages of your skilled job and the wages of a less skilled job are redressed somewhat by the higher taxes you pay. If you don’t want to pay taxes for some things then you need to vote for a political party that does not support them. Don’t want to fund a war then support an anti-war platform at the next election.

    Our social policy is driven by us, the citizens of this sceptred isle. The sick, the elderly and the vulnerable are marginalized because that is how the nation has voted. Perhaps not even voted but failed to vote for anything different. We do not place value on these groups, at least not enough value to demand that our government provide for them.

  7. Yes Mr HF, you’re right and for any that doubt my viewpoint read again what I’ve written – I specifically think there is a duty of care towards the taxpayer but I believe that it’s inevitable that some elements will receive a share of public money when perhaps they should not.

    With regard to voting – I have always, religiously, voted EVERY time ever since I was old enough to vote. If you do not vote then I believe you don’t have the right to wade in and have your say – that’s what a vote is isn’t it? Your right to have your say.

    The disparity in wages is not about the fact I am skilled and therefore paid (and taxed more) – my annoyance, no it’s worse than that, is that I am considered valued and paid accordinly when I think that many other sections of society are just as valuable, just as skilled, more so, yet we pay them a total pittance. A midwife with many years of training, which is retested EVERY year (no-one tests me) with at least two lives directly and literally in her hands gets less than half what I make…why? Why? Why? Why?

    Tell me how to place enough value on someone like that and how to demand that our government does something about it and I will do it….and so should you.

    Ask Tan about the social care system. Ask me about care of the elderly or our National Health dental system. Plenty of people willingly pay for Sky TV’s commercial laden stock pot of endlessley repeated fare – the same amount or even half would not be given to the nearest deserving cause.

    And why is a hospital scanner a deserving cause? It should be something we all know will be there should we need it. It’s disgusting to think we think it’s ok to charge people a single penny for vital medicines and that it’s ok to wait weeks or months for an appointment with a consultant when we have cancer, heart disease or some other grave malaise and yet can drum up the cash in an instant to fight wars and bale out greedy banks and pass emergency laws to make it legitimate (because of course until that is done it’s ILLEGAL to have done it, even though they did anyway).

    It’s not just about the way people vote – it’s far far deeper than that.

    Ahem, can I go an have a quick lie down now…..sorry…..

  8. Fletch, as I said – be happy that we’re able to take that moral high ground. Zimbabwe, Tibet, Uganda, Kenya, Iran….lots of places have not got that luxury. Defence of a specific threat is something completely different to *waging war*. I still can’t see how we finished off Saddam and yet left Mugabe to rampage.

    I am a lucky sod to have been born post Second World War.

    Not many wrongs can be righted by creating other wrongs.

  9. see its this ‘good honest taxpayer’ label i have a problem witrh – sorry HF. i feel a bit ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone’ about it. also……..you (collectively) were lucky. to acheive consistant taxpayer status you have probably been raised thoughtfully, supported by your family, encouraged etc. you are a ‘have’ in so many ways more than just in cash terms.

  10. Punctuation, sorry, I wasn’t arguing with you. I was just pointing out a few things that you hadn’t mentioned. One being that we have a mechanism for change in our political system. Granted that it is far from perfect especially when the major parties adopt essentially identical policies for every issue.

    Why does a midwife get half your wages? Possible reasons are:
    demand for your skills is valued at a higher level than a midwife’s;
    a midwife is willing to work for a lower wage than you are;
    society would rather be entertained than have a mother and child looked after.

    The latter is quite scary and it really is the place of the government to try to correct this imbalance. The government being representative of society as a whole. At least ideally. You could try writing to your MP to see if he or she has any policies or ideas or if they are willing to do anything.

    I used to work for social services and The Hildy works for the council in education as a link worker. Frankly the “care system” makes me sick but when cost is the chief factor in care what do you expect to happen? The only solution I can see is to remove cost as a factor.

    That means providing a free care service for all which would require massive investment. Massive investment means either taking money from somewhere else (defence being an obvious choice) or increasing taxation significantly. Not many people would be willing to pay more taxes even if they would get excellent care in their old age, when they’re ill or if they need natal care. Social attitudes are very much an “it’ll never happen to me” view.

    In order to educate people that this safety net is for their benefit you need people to trust the government. People won’t do that unless the government has transparency and accountability for everything. The government itself is unwilling to offer this and so becomes ineffective.

    Honestly, if you can add to this and come up with a solution then I’ll help drum up as much support as I can.

  11. Ohhhh don’t get me started on my childhood, me living alone from the age of 15, alcoholic father, an uncaring mother who chose herself before her children, growing up on my own with my Dad (who I love, btw) so poor (my father drank the cash in favour of food), we had lights (sheep’s lungs) for dinner more than once because they were the cheapest meat he could afford, the Christmas my dad fell on and broke my sister’s only present ….. Oh stop it…. 🙂

  12. SGT, well in some ways certainly. No, you’re entirely correct. Isn’t it ever the duty of the haves to raise the standard of living of the have nots though? Honestly everyone benefits in the long run that way.

  13. HF – what you said about society wanting to be entertained etc is so so right. maybe you’ve hit on something there……human beings are greedy by nature but the ones in the western world shamelessly so. this is why the lottery was the most genius idea – small chance of winning cash in exchange for paying another £2 in what are essentially voluntary taxes! (btw thanks for not taking offence x)

    ian – re childhood – ive just done a whole module on dissadvantaged groups – trust me if your parents suck then so will your life (today was young offenders who incidentally have the highests rates of illiteracy) re the nature/nurture debate – trust me its nurture!

    and yeh – it is the duty of society to care for eachother – but then im not that materialistic so maybe thats easier for me to accept xx

  14. If society would rather be entertained than help itself then that implies a lack of social responsibility similar to that experienced by the late Roman Empire. Are we really so decadent that people would rather watch TV than lift a finger to help their fellow human being? If so then where does this come from and how should it be addressed?

  15. HF – that is how we live though – i reckon if you knocked on the door of mr/mrs average and asked them for a quid for charity then you’d probably get it – ask them if they’d give you their widescreen telly so that a foster carer for a needy child could be payed for for 2 weeks and they’d laugh in your face.

    we seem to be conditioned with that awful ‘charity begins at home’ concept. only give when you have everything you could possibly ever need. i’m just as bad – for example i think the Big Issue is a brilliant scheme to elevate people out of poverty and hopelessness which restores dignity and self worth and acheives reintergration into society. genius! and yet 90% of the time i politely decline it. i think it costs £1.50. I reckon i waste twice that a week just throwing away bread thats gone mouldy cos im too disorganised to put osme in the freezer. whats more i think its a good read. im ashamed of myself but i still do it.

    i think social responsibility should be enforced but im a bit overbearing like that. i think polititians should have to experience what its like to be reliant on the welfare state and transport minister shouldnt be allowed to have a car. i think local councillors should have to live in high rise tower blocks and so on.

    i also blame the tabloids for well pretty much everything. i made a vow never to purchase another one but i still read the front pages with interest. todays sun was something like 99% of us (you?) want this – referring to capital punishment for murderers. inside were opinions form the families of recent victims. itwas about half and half so i dunno where they got 99% from – typical tab journalism of outrageous claims backed by fuck all. i did notice Sarah Payne’s mother was against – good for her having some sense. but anyway the pint im making is that they constantly demonise deprived groups which im sure discourages social inclusion.

  16. Actually I did a door to door collection for charity and knocked on about 100 doors. My sum total collected was just over £8. Tight bastards. Even after I added my money it was embarrassingly low.

    I’m pleased (almost to the point of smugness) that I almost always buy a Big Issue except from that irritating woman who followed me through town once trying to get me to buy cherries for her.

    As for Sun readers….solve the country’s problems and gas the lot of them. I’m joking, of course.

  17. It should never be necessary to put naked women in a newspaper in order to get people to read it. “Tits and free lotto” – I wrote a poem about….oh forget it, old ground. 🙂

    Daily Mail? What’s wrong with the Daily Mail then?

    😛

    [steps away, his work as a protagonist now done]

  18. Oh, I don’t find them offensive – it’s just I think they are a bit of a statement regarding the quality of the expected “readership” that the editorial expects to attract – “our writing is so shit we need to put some naked girl in the paper or you’d never buy it”.

    I’d much rather see, touch, lick, squeeze, the real thing.

    Ahem.

    Sorry. Going to lie down again now.

  19. well, i’ve put a blanket ban on me discussing same sex desires (v long story) so i cant comment on that but…….

    i dunno what i think about that..sometimes i wonder if the nude ladies are a covert device for influencing people. an incentive to soak up their propaganda as it were.

  20. I always have time for long stories, sounds a bit like an interestingly drunken text message I received a while back…. 🙂

    Anyway, I think with the Sun it’s really as simple as it looks – caveman like fire, we get fire, caveman buy our newspaper, we get money. Ug.

  21. I think the Daily Mail are single handedly responsible for twisting public perception of the housing market to such an extent that we are now facing a property crash. Just like they have been predicting for the past half dozen years.

    AND they keep dragging up conspiracy theories about Princess Bloody Di. The woman’s dead for goodness sake. People didn’t like her much when she was alive so stop trying to turn her into a saint.

    AND immigrants seem to be the greatest threat this nation has faced since Hitler. The Daily Mail would have us believe that every single immigrant walks into the country with a ton of explosives up their arse and the evil message of hateful Islam in his heart. Even the women are bad because you can’t possibly trust someone who wears different clothes from you.

    AND every other person in the street is secretly a murdering rapist. You can’t trust them. Don’t even look away because if you do they’ll have your knackers in a vice and a knife in your back.

    AND the government is run by corrupt sodomites who want to give all the taxes from the two or three honest tax payers to their friends so that they can get rich jobs in the City when they lose the next election.

    AND…AND..AND I’ve got to stop.

    I want information from a newspaper. I don’t mind opinion but I do need to know when it is opinion and not fact.

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