Thursday, 24 April 2014

Oh yes, the Budget?

There are already dire warnings in the media about the "horror" budget coming up and how we will all have to pay more for some basics.
Well, quite frankly I don't care how high the price of a packet of cigarettes goes. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't smoke. I have never even tried to smoke a cigarette. If the price rise causes some people to quit smoking, others to cut back and some not to start at all then that will be even better.
Then there is the suggestion that the price of alcohol will rise too. That doesn't bother me either. I don't drink alcohol. I know other people drink it and enjoy it. Those who drink occasionally and in moderation will, in all likelihood, not be too bothered by this. Those who drink heavily - and those who supply them - won't be too happy but if it leads to one less drink-drive-crash incident it will be a good thing.
I am more bothered about retaining the policy of paid parental leave. The proposed policy seems over-generous to me. We all benefit from children. They are, after all, the next generation. The generation which will care for us in old age. They are "the future". They are, among many other things, an investment. So yes, we should support those who have them - up to a point and in the right way. The problem with the present proposal is that it supports the parent rather than the child. It is about the parent having time off to have the child and then returning to work. I have said elsewhere that parenting should also be seen as a career. People should be paid to parent, not just paid to have a child and then return to work.
It is unfortunate that parents are given the message that there is something wrong with being a stay at home parent. It would, ultimately, be much cheaper to pay one parent to stay at home and pass their paid work on to someone who would otherwise be unemployed. It is not cheaper to merely provide short term paid parental leave.
Then there are the pensioners - and their "assets". Safe or not? I doubt it. They will be hit. There are already suggestions that the pension age should rise to 70 as people live longer. In one way that makes sense - if people are physically and mentally able to work and wish to do so then they should be able to go on working. But there will be others who can't. Technology keeps changing so rapidly that, unless you can keep your skills up, your job might not even exist...anyone remember "switchboard operators", "telephonists", "comptometrists", telegram boys, the ice men or the rat catchers? All those jobs and many more have gone in the Senior Cat's lifetime.
And of course if an older person is in work then a younger person may well be out of work. It's a balancing act.
It seems to me that "Budgets" are also about social engineering. They should be about trying to balance the needs of everyone in society. And that is when politics gets in the way.
I was visiting someone in hospital yesterday and talking to one of the doctors. We were discussing whether it would be safe to send someone home until a nursing home place becomes available. We both know the answer is "no".
"Perhaps," the doctor told me, "We could house her in one of those nice new school halls they built - you know, at one of the schools they closed."
Perhaps we could.

No comments: