"Blair wants better-off to pay for more public services" — er, well — BLARES the Guardian, referring to the First Citizen’s latest egalitarian wheeze to soak what remains of Britain’s Middle Classes.
Undergoing one of his ritual grillings by senior MPs on the Commons Liaison Committee (No! Not the body set up by the late Alan Clarke to organize his extra-curricular activities!), our leading Jacobin revealed that something called “co-payment” — under which the Government would "share" with people the cost of new or expanded public services — was on Downing Street’s long-term agenda.
This was an interesting concept since it implicitly recognises that we are fed up with being so heavily taxed — and that we are at the point of rebellion at the government’s money-grabbing criminalisation of our cars — so other sources of revenue are now urgently required.
Yet, in the very same testimony, he assured John McFall of the Treasury Select Committee that no new taxes would be levied, no spending cuts were needed but that his arch rival — Gordon Brown’s — "fiscal rules would be met".
Is the PM in danger of "misleading" us on this one, or should we look at the "totality" of what he had to say. Perhaps he has received "faulty intelligence" from the Chancellor….
I think what we need is to give another septuagenarian establishment toff something to fill in the time between whist drives and the start of the flat season by convening another inquiry into the matter!
The Guardian says Mr Blair’s "policy advisers" (Help!) are studying plans for a universal childcare scheme that would be free for the "poorest" families but would provide a paid-for service for others.
The idea, the paper continues, could also be applied to something called "lifelong learning" with people in work paying to upgrade their skills. What a truly revolutionary idea — next, they’ll be asking us to stump up for our kids’ driving lessons and our wives’ chi yoga classes!
There are also said to be plans for the employed paying more for congestion charging and motorway tolls and so on and so forth — while the masses of idle dole-grubbers cruise around in their one-headlamped, smoke-belching, uninsured jalopies costlessly, one presumes.
Here’s a better idea — how about the state butts out entirely and instead we ALL pay out of our existing means for exactly enough of what it is we think we most urgently need among our many competing and often insatiable wants, before working down that long list in order of our unique, individual preferences?
How about we go out to service somebody else’s wants in order to get them to look after ours in return?
How about if those most successful in this business of satisfying the needs of others, in turn, are the ones free to enjoy the opportunity for the greatest satisfaction of their own?
How about if the government restricts itself to providing an impartial means for resolving any disputes which arise along the way and of enforcing judgements made against those who are found guilty of infringing on our individual freedoms and property rights, or who break their freely entered-into contracts with us?
How about RobespiBlaire closing down most of Westminster and Whitehall, eschewing all his messianic visions of re-ordering the planet and going out to make a more honest living as a civil lawyer, in a role where even HE might actually do us some good for once?
It might not solve all of society’s problems overnight — male pattern baldness and female cellulite might prove a little more intractable — but we have every confidence the great mass of us would prosper, while even the feckless and the foolish would receive precisely whatever it is they deserve in life.
Sean Corrigan [send him mail] writes from London.