There was a comment in the paper the other day. Here in the UK, clowns are starting to complain that politicians are being called clowns. The clowns point out that being a clown is damned hard work, demands considerable fitness, great timing and the ability to work closely with others as part of a well drilled team!
Another comment I saw was an MP pointing out that because he’d voted to reduce the legal aid bill, the reduction now meant that he wasn’t eligible to get legal aid. Yes, revel in the schadenfreude but stop and think about it a minute.
In this country at the moment, if your income is the same as the prime-minister, a cabinet minister or a shadow cabinet minister, then you’re in the top 1%. In simple terms, 99% of the population earn less than you do. Given that all our politicians have the ability to clock up a fair heap of expenses, get invited to travel to exotic foreign parts at somebody else’s expense (and we ask no more than they remember to declare the trip) I think we can safely assume that most MPs and similar are, if not actually in the magical 1%, at least in the top two or three percent.
So in this country legal costs have got so high, even people in the top two or three percent can no longer afford them and need legal aid, financial assistance from the taxpayer, before they can cope?
Now it’s long been a tactic by the wealthy, be they unscrupulous millionaires, or senior departmental civil servants, to use the almost infinite wealth at their command to crush those who get in their way. HM Revenue and Customs will regularly send out letters which mean (but don’t actually say,) ‘We think you own us x, but because you haven’t paid it, we want you to pay 2x. Or we can take you to court and bankrupt you whatever the court decided.’
But let’s take a look at this top two or three percent. Yes, everybody points the finger at the multi-millionaire businessman. Let’s look at Denise Coates. Her Grandfather started with a few betting shops. She’s the one who had the guts to take betting on-line, borrowed the money to do it and had she failed, she’d have been bankrupt. So now she’s making serious money and paying serious tax.
But in that 1% we have over 700 civil and public servants and those serving on quangos. Then you’ve got all those people who work for the BBC. The BBC had 214 staff earning more than the PM. That probably doesn’t include all those the BBC pushed onto into self-employment because the BBC didn’t want to have to pay their national insurance or pensions. But as a general rule, when a broadcaster interviews a politician, the broadcaster will be the one with the biggest income.
Now if you disapprove of Denise Coates, you can take immediate action. If you don’t bet with her company, you don’t contribute to her wealth. But if you feel the PM or the leader of the opposition is earning too much, tough, they’ll just siphon the money out of your pocket whatever you think. Same with the BBC, you disapprove? Tough, if you want to watch any TV at all, whether BBC or not, you’ve still got to contribute.
But what really hacks me off about those politicians and civil servants who are doing nicely as part of the top two or three percent is that they know the figures.
They have sat there and said, “This is exactly how much the state can screw out of our taxpayers. Obviously we need this much money set aside for us first, to reward us for being so utterly wonderful and efficient.”
Then they have to look at how to spend the rest. So when you meet the care worker on the minimum wage struggling to keep a patient with Alzheimer’s clean and dry, you know where the money has gone, you know just who to blame.
Strangely enough I’ve never really had the urge to become obscenely rich, I just sort of rub along and get by. Also, in the interests of cheering people up I write a bit. So if you’re just hacked off with our masters and want to buy one of my books as a political gesture, or alternatively just fancy a good read, I’d encourage you to invest the magnificent sum of £0.99!
As the reviewer said, “Someone has tried to cheat Benor and his young ‘apprentice’ Mutt. They set out, with a little help, to redress the balance. Another in this series of Port Naain novellas that had me smiling. They are not belly-laugh stories but full of wry, clever and thoughtful humour. Often, it’s the way he tells them. I’m always up for more of these stories.”