Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

October 9, 2010

“They may take our child benefits, but they’ll never take… our sense of entitlement!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 10:38 am

So this week the announcement came that child benefits for those in the upper tax bracket will be scrapped. Not taxed, as previously thought, but completely scrapped. I’ll go on record as thinking that’s a good idea. I’ll go a little further and confess a slight ignorance on the topic to the extent that I was surprised to learn that people in the upper tax bracket were even receiving child benefit to begin with. I say this as someone who plans on both being in the upper tax bracket and spawning progeny.

In fact, had I arrived at both those junctures with these benefits still intact, I imagine myself turning to the unfortunate lady who in a momentary lapse of judgment agreed to bear my offspring my wife and raising a glass to misdirected largesse of the state. She’ll have probably have just gone through the extraordinary feat of extracting another human being from inside of her performed the miracle of childbirth, so I’ll understand if she doesn’t join me. 

Maybe this makes me ignorant, or maybe I just had reasonable assumptions about what the welfare state was actually for. At the very least I had no idea of the shit-storm this would bring up. 

The Guardian have been saying for weeks now that the the rich ought to take their share the Cuts. As I read the announcement, I thought “well, this seems to roughly fit into that definition, so I presume they’ll support this now”. Well, I didn’t think that really, because the Guardian is essentially an outfit dedicated to lockstep opposition of all things Coalition these days, thus the headlines declared that the George Obsourne was scrapping “universal entitlements”. But let’s be honest here – if Ed Miliband suggested this as a measure for cutting costs, it would be declared as “brave” by Polly Toynbee and a sign that high earners finally have to give as good as they get in society. Or some bollocks.

I’m probably being unfair here, as it’s likely that on a basic level the Guardian writers truly believe that universal benefits are a good thing (whether or not such benefits are an economic necessity or an ideological choice is apparently neither here nor there). 

It also reveals pretty much all of the right-wing press to be glaring hypocrites, who harp on about the perils of the welfare state, and then proceed to have a hissy fit when a portion of it from which they benefit is removed. It’s clear to me now that the basic attitude of the majority of the Telegraph and the Mail columnists is “fuck you, I’ve got mine” in terms that they’re willing to decry socialism when it benefits the poor, but are quite all right with it when it lands on their comfy doorstep.

All of this inevitably descends into a tedious argument over what constitutes “wealthy”. This isn’t a response to this cut, it’s simple obfuscation. The fact is that you cannot credibly attempt to cut public spending without targeting well-off people who are being subsidised by the public purse. These people may not feel wealthy and have struggles of their own, but then we all do. It’s kind of grotesque for everyone concerned to suggest that cuts must necessarily always fall on someone else. 

As ever, Alex Massie, one of the few sensible conservative journalists on either side of the Atlantic gets it spot on:

Again, if you were designing a welfare state now would you really think it sensible to be handing out state benefits to people on twice the average national wage? I suspect not. And when people earning nearly £50,000 a year are demanding state benefits and receiving a more than sympathetic hearing hasn’t something gone rather wrong somewhere along the line?

Yep. All this measure really says about our country is that its media are a bunch of blowhard hypocrites.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable


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