Tuesday, 15 July 2014
I name her NHS Great Britain
What’s the point of politicians, eh? No sooner have we got over one set of scandals – cash for questions, cash for honours, sexual impropriety, expenses, perjury, vote rigging, dirty tricks campaigns and the like – when along comes another. Or if not a brand-shiny-new one, the next best thing; the resurrection of yet more decades-old noncery and all the ‘who knew?’ prurience that goes along with it. The truth will never be wholly, justly and properly revealed and I have to wonder at the timing of it all just now, when rumours have surfaced regularly for years. Something else is going on, perhaps, but the attempt by the government to appear to act promptly is now looking tawdry as Baroness Butler-Sloss rightly steps down.
Times are a-changing. It’s not a revolution, it’s more of a gut feeling that people are starting to realise it’s no use expecting governments to do everything any more. And as that feeling grows, more and more will seek to extricate themselves from association with and contribution to a failing system of pseudo-democracy. Two generations ago there was a vague consensus that if the majority voted for a political party then that party was probably the right one to govern the country. Now the idea of a nanny state voted in by its burgeoning recipients is rapidly losing credibility, especially when it turns out that more and more of nanny’s little helpers are revealed to be crooks and perverts.
The NHS is a classic case of declining sympathy for state-run services. While diehards cling to the rock of this national religion, the more pragmatic are taking steps to survive outside its potentially deadly embrace. Heal thyself, goes the saying and these days, although the wilfully ignorant stalk the land, there is more information than ever about leading balanced lives of sub-gluttony and non-sloth… and a feeling that state-prescribed lifestyles are not the only option. It’s a fairly short step from that notion to believing that if I look after myself and keep working and pay taxes into the system, I expect the system to be there for me when I need it and not be run-down and exhausted by tending to the needy demands of those who, we all suspect, pay in rather less than we do.
But regardless of feelings of misanthropy or philanthropy, the simple fact is we can’t afford to keep pouring ever-increasing resources into the money pit it represents. Wait, say the powers that be, don’t panic; we’ll get all those health tourists to not only be grateful, but to pay for what they get. Do YOU believe that will happen? I don’t. Free at the point of use? As fair as it sounds this is a part of the problem – like food banks; if you build it they will come, especially when the ‘rich’ people are paying for it. In this context, ‘rich’ is anybody who earns more than you.
I listened to Radio Four’s The Infinite Monkey Cage last night, in which Ross Noble was asked to offer some of his ten bananas to Brian Cox. The catch was that if his offer was refused, neither would get any bananas. He offered five, which was accepted; further discussion revealed that three or less and they would both have starved. It illustrated the very human principles of both fairness and spite. Humans have a variable capacity for both. For my part, asked to do ever more for the state without equitable return on my investment, my inclination is to withdraw my contribution altogether. I’m not alone.
Not fireworks - distress flares!
What bang do I get for my buck anyway? Our borders are sold, our armed forces made toothless, terrorist imams recruit in our jails and our easy-going largesse with tax money is abused by hordes of freeloaders we are powerless to deny. The hospital ship of state is holed below the waterline yet the stewards still ply the takers with all-inclusive drink and drugs while the captain and officers squabble over the course. Meanwhile, at each port of call, the sober and self-reliant slip away quietly, their empty bunks taken up by ever more stowaways. Cruise Ship Britain; doomed to roam the polluted seas until every paying passenger has gone overboard and taken the lifeboats with them.