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National politics

Nice neighbourhoods

Yesterday the Telegraph did a piece on Labour’s proposals to charge people more if they happen to live somewhere nice. No doubt Northfield and many parts of Ealing will have high ratings in Labour’s scheme of “value significant codes”.

Simon Heffer in the Telegraph today fulminates:

The Brown Terror, having wrecked the economy, now proposes to wreck it further by penalising those who already make the biggest contribution, and ensuring they contribute even more. That is what socialism is all about, and why socialist countries are inevitably economic failures. If you tax successful people until their pips are squeaking, they tend to clear off to be successful elsewhere, and stop paying our taxes altogether.

This is just another example of a process that has been accelerating throughout the last 11 years.

With the 45% tax rate and this new nice neighbourhood tax Labour are nakedly plotting to raise taxes on the middle classes, something they have been wary of doing up until now. They have massively increased taxes but not nakedly. They have done it stealthily, by inches. Please note Conservatives the way to undo Labour’s damage is by inches too.

What Labour have also consistently done hitherto is to target “deprived” groups for extra help, whether it is spending more on bad schools, spending Lottery money in deprived areas, giving more money to inefficient Labour councils or targeting health resources at unhealthy people to “reduce health inequalities”.

In many ways this seems laudable but at some point the better off just decide to stop being forced to be so generous. They work out how to avoid taxes or they simply leave the country. In Britain today you can give up almost half your income in taxes, pay two grand in council tax and still not get a school that pushes your child academically, get hold of basic healthcare quickly and conveniently and enjoy a high quality public realm. If we fail to meet the basic aspirations of those paying the bills something will change.

It is one thing to expect wealthier people to contribute more. It is quite another if you then give a disproportionate share of the proceeds to people who can’t or won’t contribute.

In Britain today too much public money is diverted to people who make poor choices all of their lives; people who consistently choose not to get educated, not to work, not to stay with their partners, not to look after their own children and not to look after themselves. No amount of cash can undo these poor choices and often the money provides perverse incentives to keep making poor choices.

3 replies on “Nice neighbourhoods”

This is all well and good, but remember that 1 in 4 adults in any one year in the UK suffer from mental health/personality disorders. That amounts to 60,000 adults in Ealing.

These people have not made poor choices per se but are ill and many of them go untreated. I don’t think it unreasonable that the mentally sane who might have made ‘good’ choices; can look after themselves; and possibly have plenty of disposable income should help the sick and the needy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Eric,

I know that mental health is an important issue for you. It is for me too. One of my best friends had really bad post natal depression, an episode that lasted pretty much three years. I am very much aware that anyone can be affected by mental illness and it really is a case of there but for the grace of God go I.

That said I have to say you have your facts wrong. Even MIND say “One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives” which is very different to your statement. National Statistics say here that 1 in 6 suffer from neurotic disorders such as anxiety, depression or phobias (note these are National Statistics terms, not mine). One in 200 have a psychotic disorder such as psychosis and schizophrenia.

I think it is fair to say that most people with neurotic disorders are “high functioning” or normal, regular people in other words. Certainly active and useful members of society on the whole who would consider that they have issues but would not categorise themselves as mentally ill. It is only a small minority, maybe 1 in 100, thankfully, who are really debilitated by mental illness at any one time.

We cannot go down the route of characterising one quarter of the population as being mentally ill and in need of massive support. Otherwise we could maybe add anyone over the age of 60, then throw in anyone affected by marriage breakdown. You pretty soon get left with too many people making claims in the system and not enough people paying the bills. Read Ayn Rand sometime.

OK, I may have talked up the figures a little, but 1 in 100 of the total population of Ealing amounts to over 3,000; and 1 in 6 equates to over 50,000.

The statistics on high and low performing are somewhat shakey and there is an unspecified part of society who don’t present themselves for categorisation or diagnosis – so they are not included in the figues at all.

80% of the prison population suffer from mental impairment of some sort – and some have severe problems and are very low functioning.

When you add together any set of numbers of the physically and mentally disabled you come up with a high and expensive number of people in society who the able bodied and able minded have to support. That’s what civilised societies must do.

We can’t go back to the Stone Age of survival of the fittest.

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