Well, tomorrow sees the end of Child Benefit for those bloated plutocrats with a household income of £50,000 and a stay at home mother .
Thank heavens it's been preserved for those struggling families on £98,000 a year and a working mother, not to mention the 37,900 children living in Poland who receive it. The Tories are the party of the Polish family, after all.
I call on the commenters - is this the first removal of a universal benefit since the NHS introduced prescription charges, and a young minister, a left-wing firebrand called Harold Wilson, resigned in protest in 1951 ? Wilson, as Prime Minister, removed the charges in 1965, a rare example of political consistency, then reintroduced them in 1968. They've been there ever since.
The point of universal benefits, like a universal postal system, is social cohesion. They showed that the Welfare State was for everyone, that we were indeed all in it together. The more benefits are means-tested (an expensive and bureaucratic procedure), the more the welfare state is purely for "the poor" and not for "everyone", the less support it'll have from what Churchill called "the broad masses of the well-to-do" and the more uncertain its future.
For some in or around the Tory party, for the millionaire venture capitalists advising on employment legislation while themselves paying only 10% tax, or the billionaire retailers advising the government on efficiency, while ensuring their company dividends go offshore, that may be considered a feature rather than a bug.
On Tuesday there's the vote on the 1% benefits freeze - for 3 years, at a time when the new BoE Governor, Mark Carney, has already suggested that his predecessor Mervyn "Money Printing" King is a tad hawkish on inflation targets, and that some loosening may be required in the fiscal straitjacket that has seen inflation continually above the 2% target.
I have no problem with someone putting forward the argument that benefits are too high, that they afford more than a minimum standard - but no one in the Tory party is doing that. Instead, it's proposed that they should be cut because of 'fairness'. Yet they're meant to afford people a minimum standard of living. When food and electricity prices rise by 10%, and benefits by 1%, what's going to happen to those people ? And that's just one year.
I must say, the next few years are going to be interesting, in the Chinese sense.
The suicide rate fell dramatically at the start of both World Wars, as those otherwise tired of life decided that, like Vince and Muskie, they just wanted to stay around just to see what happens next.
I feel the same. The next few years are going to be awful but fascinating.
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