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Wings Over Scotland


Opting in with Johann Lamont

Posted on December 17, 2012 by

Nick Clegg’s speech on demonising and punishing the poor and sick (in which he displayed a heroic willingness to take one for the coalition team by declaring “the Liberal Democrats are now the party of welfare reform”) brought the issue of the “something for nothing” culture back to the forefront today.

Scots, of course, are already familiar with the leader of the Holyrood opposition standing up and angrily telling the chamber how unsustainable and morally wrong it is that well-off people such as herself are entitled to universal benefits at state expense.

Yet numerous reports emphasise that universality is a solution that’s practical as well as desirable, because it’s economically efficient as well as solving the problem of people suffering because they’re unable or unwilling to claim benefits they need and ultimately costing the state far more money in remedial care.

It’s a tricky old pickle and no mistake. So entirely free of charge, we’ve had a wee think and come up with a policy that squares the circle, so that Johann Lamont can offer to solve the problem without condemning hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Scots (and Labour MSPs) to lives of unending misery.

Let’s take prescription charges, for example. Ms Lamont has regularly told the Scottish Parliament that someone like her, with a well-paid job, should be paying for her medicine. So let’s help her out a bit. All it takes is a small printing adjustment – on every doctor’s prescription pad, we add a single little tick box at the bottom. The adjacent text reads “I’ve plenty money. I’ll get this one, thanks.”

If the box is ticked, the recipient hands the pharmacist the appropriate amount – we could have a debate over whether it should be the actual cost of the medicine or, to keep things nice and simple, it could be just a standard fixed charge as before. The money generated would go directly into the health budget.

The beauty of the plan is its simplicity and flexibility. It lets rich people contribute without the unsatisfactory, bothersome and time-consuming alternative of telling them to donate to charity whenever they receive some state benefit they could afford to pay for. It accounts for those whose circumstances fluctuate, and who might be able to afford to pay one month but not the next. And obviously it protects the poor – there’s no stigma attached, as not paying would be the norm rather than the exception.

The same principle could be applied to other universal benefits. Free bus-pass applications could come with a similar tick box, or even a choice of contributions users could pick between according to how much they’d be likely to use the service, and how much of a “discount” they felt was appropriate to their personal situation. The same approach would work for tuition fees, and all the rest.

Again, payment would be purely voluntary – the purpose of the box/es is simply to provide an easy mechanism by which people could contribute if they wanted to, and to ensure the revenues could be ring-fenced to that service. Administration would be limited to counting the money and passing it on to the Scottish Government, and therefore costs would be extremely negligible, though it might still generate a small handful of civil-service jobs as a bonus.

Of course, lots of people would still take advantage of the system, just like greedy rich people currently dodge higher-rate tax at 45% the same way they dodged it at 50%. But the “honour box” system is used widely and increasingly, both on small and large scales, with notable success. By appealing to people’s better natures and defaulting to an assumption of decency rather than suspicion, you tend to generate better results than by an adversarial system which generates resentment and becomes a game of trying to get one over on a faceless, powerful “enemy”.

And here’s the thing: if receipts are good it reflects well on the wealthy, encouraging more payment (clever PR could even make it into a sort of telethon, where the nation tried to beat the previous year’s total), while if they’re poor it at least shames the people who deserve shaming, rather than the unfortunate poor. But either way it’s a no-lose system, because with costs close to zero, any revenue you take in is still extra revenue, as well as teaching you something about the state of your society.

So there you go, Johann. You can have that policy initiative for nothing. Of course, if you feel you could afford to pay for it, you’re welcome to make a voluntary contribution any time you like.

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49 to “Opting in with Johann Lamont”

  1. Doug Daniel says:

    Did you have to use that picture, Stu? Luckily I’ve already had my lunch, but others might not be so fortunate.

    This is an interesting idea, especially in light of Starbucks showing us that not only is corporation tax effectively optional in the UK, but also that you can arbitrarily decide how much you do pay.

    I’m not sure the admin costs would be quite as negligible as you hope, though. I expect all those generous, caring, well-off folk who currently decry the fact they’re given universal benefits which they could afford to pay for would be looking for such a system to allow them to add it to their tax-deductibles. Not that I would DREAM of suggesting rich people only give to charity to allow them to pay less tax, you understand. 

  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Why would tax be a problem? IF you decide you want to make it tax-deductible, give people a receipt when they pay, which they then include with all their other receipts when doing their tax return. No extra costs anywhere, problem solved.

  3. Juteman says:

    It could easily work with bus passes. You have to fill in forms to get one. Maybe an option tp pay £100 per year for those able to?

  4. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    I would be more than willing to pay for a course of truth drugs for Johann.

    When it comes to calling people liars, I wish MSPs would have the courage of their convictions and make such claims in public and be subject to the same litigation laws as the rest of us. Not participate in the politics of the sewer.

    Off subject, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you Stu, for your considerable efforts and wish you and yours orra best for the festive season.   .     

  5. JLT says:

    Totally agree, Rev.

    On a slightly different note, I get the impression that the Queen is far from happy with her Government.
    Last week, she appeared to box their ears while visiting the Bank of England, and according to the BBC, she is about to drop in and listen to one of the Government’s meetings tomorrow. She is going to sit next to David Cameron, and listen to what they have to say.

    No.10 is saying that it will present her with a gift for the occasion, but we all know that that is just terminology for ‘dancing around the white elephant’. I think the Queen is mightily pissed off, and wants to know why Britain is about to lose its AAA rating, as well as watching Scotland becoming more and more enraged with the UK, and thus wanting out of the Union. I’m guessing she is growling like f*** at the rich boys for wreaking her Kingdom (or Queendom…if we had to be politically correct !!)   

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Fair doos, Stu. Although to be perfectly honest, I was mainly just wanting to slag off folk who donate to charity for tax deduction purposes (or because they think they’re the better judge of how their money should be spent, which isn’t arrogant at all, obviously).

  7. Willie Zwigerland says:

    An interesting proposal but I have a couple of reservations.
    A) I fear that an “honour code” tax would not be progressive. The same irrational behaviour that impacts benefit distribution could equally apply here.
    B) Maybe I’m cynical but I can see huge scope of abuse by the state in the collection of any ‘voluntary’ tax. I also do not doubt that certain west coast politicians would know the potential of this as a new slush fund to skim.
    C) Redirection of funds away from the charity sector to the state – I don’t see this helping efficiency.

  8. AndrewFraeGovan says:

    Can we have a tick box for if we want to pay VAT too? And what about income tax? And corporation tax… Oh, wait.

  9. pmcrek says:

    Tick box on election ballots too, if I dont fancy the Government elected then I should be free to ignore them!

  10. G H Graham says:

    Nice idea but hopelessly flawed.

    Ye, see, by the time Hogmanay is over, I’ll personally have gifted the British government and Perth & Kinross council the best part of 45k in taxes between them, most of which of course ends up at the Exchequors bank account.

    So in principal, I am completely against offering to poney up any more money since I believe I have paid for thousands of perscriptions already, none of which I have ever used, certainly not this year.

    But the real test is this; ask Lamont as a higher rate taxpayer to demonstrate her commitment to her own principals by showing us all the equivalent prescription money she kept aside and donated to charity or some other bullshit good cause.

    I’ll wager the cost of a double belly liposuction op for the old girl that she hasn’t donated a penny.

    Case dismissed.

  11. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “An interesting proposal but I have a couple of reservations.”

    (A) Not sure what you mean.

    (B) Always a danger with anything. But there’s literally a paper trail, so it shouldn’t be any more susceptible than anything else.

    (C) Is there any evidence that donations to charity increased when prescriptions went free or bus passes came in? If not, it’s hard to see why they’d go down under this proposal. Part of my point was that telling rich people to donate to charity “manually” in lieu of fees just isn’t a workable plan.

  12. james morton says:

    My thinking on this is simple – if you pay the taxes your entitled – end of. Now I think you’ll find that most people with a large income would never think of getting the prescription free or indeed applying for a bus pas. But if they did – hate to break it to you. They’re entitled to benefits if they pay in to the system. Its the people paying into the system that allows it to work and cover those who no longer can contribute for whatever reason that may be.

    What needs to stop is the demonising of people. Demonising people who don’t work, demonising those that do but still need help. Demonising people on low incomes, demonising people on high incomes. Abusing the elderly, the sick and the infirm. Promoting envy of people who earn more. Promoting disdain of those earn less. Thats what needs to stop. People need to stop falling for this bullshit and hold those who spew it out to account.

    I accuse the tories of this practice in a desire to hold on to their shrinking vote

    I accuse labour of trying the same spiteful practice for no other reason than stealing votes from the tories

    I accuse Clegg and his spineless party of aiding and abetting in this, then late in the day converting to the same stupidity.

    And finally in the spirit of Emile Zola : As for the people I accuse, I do not know them, I never saw them, I have against them neither resentment nor hatred. They are for me only entities, spirits of social evil.

  13. Arbroath1320 says:

    Sorry I’m O/T here Stu but as we’re discussing Lamont, sort of, and she loves her “something for nothing” policies I thought folks might be interested in these policies currently coming out of the ConDems.
     
    I pick the links up on a post from Donald over on cybernats website. These are some of the reasons we all MUST vote YES in 2014 otherwise we will see these ideas being drafted into Scotland at some point AFTER 2014. Should Lamont or any of her lackeys get into power in Holyrood after 2014 then rest assured THESE are the sorts of ideas they are thinking about introducing!
     
    On a further NHS issue, I heard a bit of a debate in the House of Commons the other day and they were discussing ambulances. Specifically the PRIVATISATION of ambulances. Apparently the ConDems have agreed a deal to privatise the ambulance service in Manchester, I think. The winner is ARRIVA. Now I don’t know about anyone else but to me ARRIVA run buses and trains NOT ambulances. The next thing we’ll no doubt hear about is patients being refused transport yo hospital because they have no OYSTER card.
     
    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2012/11/tory-mp-says-diabetic-sufferers-should.html
    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2012/09/tory-mp-health-select-committee.html
    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2012/11/22-treatments-are-no-longer-free-on-nhs.html
    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2012/11/the-largest-ever-privatisation-in.html
    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2012/11/nhs-is-now-denying-free-of-charge.html

  14. Bill C says:

    @james morton – Well said James, totally agree.

  15. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    James Morton

    Agree James. Everyone who pays in is entitled to receive. That’s fair. Apart from anything else Benefits for the poor become poor benefits.

    I’m in favour of a Robin Hood tax where the assets of the very rich are taxed. Those funds should then be earmarked to use to Invest in the economy.     

  16. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “So in principal, I am completely against offering to poney up any more money since I believe I have paid for thousands of perscriptions already”

    I agree, you have (though I can’t agree with your spelling of “principle”). But (a) my hypothetical system is voluntary, so nobody’s going to make you pay any more, and (b) that’s why I proposed it as something Johann Lamont might want to suggest, not Alex Salmond. As far as I’m aware, he already emphatically supports universal benefits. She’s the one going on about “something for nothing”.

  17. Morag says:

    I don’t really like the suggestion, for a number of reasons.

    One, in that it seems likely to lead to moral pressure on the people who are doing moderately OK and have paid into the system to pay again.  I don’t worry about getting my free prescription or my free eye test, because I’m a member of Scottish society and these are the things society has decided should be provided for all.  And I’ve paid for them.  I don’t want to be confromted by existential angst in the shape of a “yes I’ll pay” box every time I access a universal benefit.  I don’t want to feel that I’m being made to feel guilty if I don’t tick the box.  The mere presence of the box would be alienating, for me.

    Two, that moral pressure could also affect the poorer members of society.  I had an aunt who was very badly off but very proud.  She was finally persuaded to apply for supplementary benefit but stopped claiming after a short time because she couldn’t stand the shame (as she saw it) of collecting the benefit.  How will someone like that feel when confronted by a tick box to pay, and the pharmacy assistant will know whether she ticked it or not?

    Nobody needs the existantial angst of deciding whether to tick a box like that – comfortably off or not.  And that goes double if someone in the community (like the assistant in the pharmacy) will know whether they ticked it or not.

    Universal benefits should be universal.  And the better off should not be made to feel guilty about being entitiled to them, but rather encouraged to see tham as signalling inclusiveness.  Something they have to show for all that tax they’re paying.  Then maybe we’ll have a little less bellyaching about taxes.

    Non-universal benefits split society into the givers and the takers.  The givers are encouraged to feel resentful towards the takers, and resent the taxes they pay.  This scheme has the potential to do exactly the same thing, with an added helping of guilt and angst.

    Having said that though, nobody is forcing the well-off pensioner to apply for the bus pass.  Or to use it.  The driver will accept a fare from anyone, I’m sure, even if they’re obvously in their eighties.

    Even there, though, the day it becomes the situation that only those who are very badly off are expected to use their bus passes, is the day when using the thing becomes a visible badge of poverty.

    I don’t like it.

  18. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I don’t like it.”

    See my response to G H Graham.

  19. Adrian B says:

    @Morag,

    I completely agree with your above comments. In order to arrive at a place where society is inclusive and has a feeling of wellbeing you must not pigeon hole people as being rich, well off or poor. A happy society is one that cares for those in need whatever their financial status may or may not be.   

  20. dadsarmy says:

    Honesty “box”? Great idea.

    And if takings are low, SG figures can say: on statistics we should have received £10 million. We actually received £1,234.56p. Not quite naming and shaming, definitely shaming.

    And of course if any month’s takings was zero, and it happened to be known that Lamont had been sick that month …

  21. muttley79 says:

    Is Lamont’s wave a Scottish Labour goodbye to not paying tuition fees in Scotland?

  22. Wullie says:

    How much money goes into the lamentable household each month. ??

  23. Dal Riata says:

    @Morag

    A good post there at 3:44pm Morag, and well-written. I agree with your hypothesis on universal benefits. A good and fair society is one that cares for those that need it, when they need it, whatever their financial status might be.

  24. muttley79 says:

    If Lamont has her way there will be a No vote in the referendum.  She will then have to campaign in her constituency for students to pay perhaps as much as £9,000 a year in tuition fees (after all that is what Westminster are doing and we cannot be doing something they are not).  She is effectively saying vote No and you will be barred from going to university. What an odious idea.
     

  25. Rabb says:

    Arbroath1320 says:
    “On a further NHS issue, I heard a bit of a debate in the House of Commons the other day and they were discussing ambulances. Specifically the PRIVATISATION of ambulances. Apparently the ConDems have agreed a deal to privatise the ambulance service in Manchester, I think. The winner is ARRIVA. Now I don’t know about anyone else but to me ARRIVA run buses and trains NOT ambulances. The next thing we’ll no doubt hear about is patients being refused transport yo hospital because they have no OYSTER card.”

    The worrying thing is that Arriva are state owned by the German government. It’s great how the UK tax payer subsidises their train and bus operations only to see that cash head straight over to the German chancellor to fund Germany’s state owned public transport!!

    Another reason to ditch these numbskulls in Westminster who think that the above offers real value to the tax payer.

    The quicker we’re shot the better 🙂     

  26. scottish_skier says:

    Completely off topic, but just goes to show how Scotland is rarely given any thought 😉

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/weird-news/parents-reveal-fury-at-weetos-breakfast-1493701

    Quality. I’m buying me some for the wee one.

  27. Hear hear, Morag!  Brilliantly put.

  28. dadsarmy says:

    Yes, on reflection I don’t like it. It’s “Universal Benefit” and should remain so.

  29. scottish_skier says:

    Bang on the money there Morag.

  30. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “How much money goes into the lamentable household each month. ??”

    We worked this out in September. Somewhere in the £150,000 region.

  31. Arbroath1320 says:

    I guess that means that she will because of her LOW family household income NOT be offering to pay for any prescriptions then Stu? :DF

  32. Dal Riata says:

    Sorry, completely O/T

    The following is what Charlie “Gordon Brown “spokesman””Whelan tweeted at the start of last night’s Brit-fest Better Together Union Jack-waving extravaganza BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year:  

    “Might vote @andy_murray #spoty giving best olympic moment draped in Union flag singing National Anthem making Alex Salmond choke on his dram”

    He has lots of form of course, like on December 3rd when he tweeted:

    “Over River Tweed into England. Didn’t see any salmon! Made me think if Nats get their way will there be passport inspection on the train?”

    Ah, those Labour wannabe-Conservative unionists…their wit, their intelligence, their patriotism and pride in Scotland, their..their…Oh, god, I’m tearing up here… Don’t you just luv’em!! 

  33. Westie7 says:

    Dal Riata says:

    Not much of a lip reader BUT, didnae look like he was actually singing GSTQ

    Mind you guess its hard to lip read a mutterer 

  34. Pa Broon says:

    I don’t think Lamont or labour in general would adopt this idea, it goes against their sense of innate fairness, the idea that some rich people might just not bother ticking the box and paying their share, I mean to say, it flies in the face of labour’s socialist routes, its sense of social democ-

    Oh, hold on…

    More likely they’d insist on employing a private arbiter to sit in the chemist, probably from, say, Atos. This person would question the customer fully then score them on a number of criteria and decide (what ever the out come) that they should pay but can appeal the decision in writing to head office at which point the cost of their prescription would be refunded to them minus the cost of the assessment and appeals process.

    This is more Labour’s style, not content with wasting the money you DO pay in tax, they also want to waste the money you DON’T pay in tax. It is after all, not actually your money, its a gift from Westminster and we should f*&^ing appreciating their selfless sense of largesse…

    Ahem. 😉

  35. Aplinal says:

    I have thought the similar in the past, and on a previous CiF I suggested that if you feel particularly well off you can always donate to your local health centre/hospital.  Or indeed, DO NOT TAKE a bus pass if you don’t need one.
     
    For those who think they earn too much, i.e. tax rates should have stayed at 50% (I have not yet met such a creature in my circle), then the solution is easy, simply send a remittance to the Treasury who will be more than happy to take a donation from you.  “No questions asked”.  
     
    On the bigger principle, I support Universal benefits for the most needy, health, education etc. as these are the way that our society is bound together.  If everything was means tested, many people who should claim will not for a variety of reasons, and those who do pay taxes might decide that they are paying too much as THEY don’t benefit themselves.  Universality is much more than simply moving money around, it IS what society is.

  36. Jeannie says:

    It all gets down to the same thing at the end of the day – what sort of society do you want to live in, what kind of political system do you want and what kind of relationship do you want to have with government and with your fellow citizens.
    For me, the most important thing is the principle of equal rights, therefore I’m in favour of gay marriage and I’m in favour of universal benefits.
    I’m able to afford for someone to come and empty my bins, but I don’t hear Johann Lamont suggesting that I should do so because I can afford it.  And I make far more use of this service than I do free prescriptions, so why is that not a problem for Ms. Lamont? Or does she perhaps think that bin emptying is simply something I have already paid for through my council tax?  On that principle, I have already paid for my “free” prescriptions, so they’re not actually free at all, are they?
    Through my council tax, I also contribute to the upkeep of schools, but I have no children at school.  Perhaps I should have stopped paying for schools when my kids left school and shifted the money to the college or university sector?  After all, I would be actually be using these services.
    How has Ms Lamont decided which particular benefits we should pay for once and which we should pay for twice?  Why prescriptions, bus passes and tuition fees in particular?
     

  37. Matt says:

    Don’t know if anyone ever posted this after Johannmageddon, but seems appropriate to bring it up now. These arguments need to be put forward to show just how dangerous Johann Lamont’s ideas really are.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7973

  38. Davy says:

    Their is a simple way to avoid all of this !!! just do not vote Lamont and her labour party back into power, and every time a unionist supporter in Scotland starts to comment on how it will be better under labour just remind them that a vote for labour is a vote for prescription charges, NO free bus passes, and tutition fees for all.

    The ball regarding universal benefits is in our court, not the unionists, I’am not in the mood to give it back either.

    Alba Gu snooker loopy!

  39. Jeannie says:

    Interesting…..STV News broadcast part of a speech delivered by Johann Lamont to students followed by an interview between herself and Bernard Son Ponsonby re tuition fees….she wouldn’t rule them out.  BBC News gave it a very brief mention and no other coverage.  Can we therefore assume the BBC thinks this is a vote loser for Labour?

  40. Dubbieside says:

    Rev St

    Do you really think that any Labour MP or MSP would “voluntarily” pay for a prescription? Their track record of claiming for everything that moves and some things that dont move suggests otherwise.

    On the bus passes, I applied for a bus pass on my 60th birthday and to date after five years I have used it once, as I have a car and do not need it, and I would suggest I am not alone in my usage. I would still fight to keep free bus passes and prescriptions however as I would rather ten people who did not need them got them rather than one person who really needed them was denied. With prescriptions that could be a matter of life or death.

    P.S. Totally agree with Morag.

  41. R Louis says:

    This ‘free’ prescriptions for millionaires thing is nonsense anyway, and I’m sure Lamont knows it is.  Let me explain, a friend of mine is moderately wealthy (through hard work), and when he takes ill, he goes to see his private GP in Edinburgh, and pays a kings ransom for the pleasure.  This allows him the luxury of talking things through at great length, over a coffee with his private GP.  Jolly nice.  It is his money, and he pays his taxes, but rarely uses the NHS.

    If he ever gets a prescription from his private GP, it is what is termed a  private prescription, which when he walks into a large high street pharmacy, turns into him paying out in some instances, large sums of cash.

    In addition, this person also uses the private Murrayfield hospital, when possible, as once again, he gets the service he prefers, and so on.  When asked, he is a great defender of the NHS, yet rarely uses it.  He wouldn’t dream of using a free bus pass (he rarely uses buses), and certainly doesn’t use free prescriptions.

    You see, this notion that filthy rich individuals are screwing the benefits and prescriptions system is just hogwash.  I’m sure there may be some, but honestly, people with money would really rather fritter away there time with doing something a whole lot nicer.   Getting a ‘free’ prescription or bus pass, really doesn’t excite the kind of people who have two maseratis in their garage.

    I do however, think the Rev’s suggestion might be quite good, for some instances.

  42. silver19 says:

    @Jeannie Tonight’s Scotland Tonight Bernard Ponsonby interview with Lamont looks a bit a car crash going by the short piece on STV news Lamont had simply no answer and no ideas stuck without a script and/or orders from Westminister.

  43. Jeannie says:

    @silver19
    Yup, that’s what I thought, too.  She didn’t do herself any favours.

  44. Arbroath1320 says:

    so what your saying silver19 is that is going to be SNAFU on Scotland Tonight. 😀

  45. Ronald Henderson says:

    That picture of Johann Lamont. The poise, the style, the suave look, the coquettish tilt of the head, the pretty smile…oh my goodness.
    It is quite amazing that with all those things and the close similarity of names the Presiding Officer doesn’t get her confused with Joanna Lumley.

  46. Simon says:

    Why don’t more people talk about the most important benefit – i.e. social security / unemployment payments? It seems to me that as a supporter of the “universal benefits” such as bus passes, prescriptions, university education etc, I have to also support the idea of a “Citizens Income”.

    I mean the idea that a cash payment from the government is not something that should be means-tested or conditional as it is now. it should be universal, so every citizen should get a cash payment.

    The usual way a Citizens Income is imagined, it is countered by a slightly higher tax rate so that people with good incomes pay it back in taxes. But perhaps Rev Stu there is a case to be made for allowing wealthy people a voluntary tick-box to refuse the handout?

  47. Hamish Henderson says:

    Hi Stu, thanks for the photie o Joe Ann Lamentable. It is noo on the mantelpiece and keeps the grandweans away fae the fire. 
    Guid work Rev

  48. Morag says:

    I was interrupted in posting this yesterday afternoon.

    “See my response to G H Graham.”

    It’s not really the same thing.  I’m arguing against a voluntary system on the grounds of guilt trips and moral blackmail.  I don’t know about you, but I live in a village and even if the pharmacy assistant didn’t gossip about who did and who didn’t tick that box, people would imagine that she might.  Its a whole can of worms.

    The idea of moral blackmail designed to make people feel guilty about receiving benefits isn’t something I’m comfortable with.  And make no mistake, that’s what it is.  And if a box like that appeared on every form, everyone would have to wrestle with the decision as to whether or not to tick it, not just the millionaires.

    It says, OK you’re theoretically entitled to this, but we don’t want you to accept your entitlement, we want you to pay again.  And it says it to everyone.  How low does your income have to be before you don’t feel even the tiniest twinge of guilt not ticking that?  And guilt breeds resentment – resentment at the government for making you feel guilty.  And so on.

    It’s ridiculous.  The rich already pay a lot in tax.  We should celebrate universal benefits as a sign that our society includes everyone.  The rich need to quit with threatening to leave the country if the higher tax rate is increased, not whine piously about being able to afford their own prescriptions.

  49. Christian Schmidt says:

    Note that with the free bus travel for older people your solution already exists – just pay.

    Now what I would like to know is whether Brown and Darling and similar pensioners have a free bus pass. And if not whether it is because they can afford to pay or because they never use the bus…



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