04 July 2011

Paying for others to enjoy a fate worse than death

It is said that the Dilnot report will recommend that people of pensionable age should not have their assets reduced by more than a third by paying for ‘care’ from the state. This does not reassure me at all, since I know that both I and any of my associates would regard exposing ourselves to state ‘care’ as to be avoided at any cost. Going into a ‘care home’ would indeed be a fate worse than death.

What does worry me is what new tax will be proposed to pay for the ‘care’ that the state does get to impose on people. There are many forms of benefit which are lavished on favoured sections of the population which could easily be cut and replaced by repayable loans, but of course it is only the population of pensioners which is to be penalised.

For example, if nurseries, crèches and supervised ‘play groups’ for the under-fives were abolished, and children could not start school until five (or even six or seven?), a good deal of taxpayers’ money would be saved and parents would be discouraged from having more children than they could manage to look after themselves. As it is, the burden of looking after their children is greatly reduced by the proportion of their time that they spend out of sight, out of mind, at school. ‘Social help’, which I believe is provided for families burdened with too many children, could be cut completely or provided only on payment, as ‘social care’ for the elderly is now. ‘Housing benefit’ is also related to family size, and could be provided in the form of repayable loans, similar to the loans made to university graduates.

Reducing the provision of nursery schools might also reduce the cost of ‘education’ at higher age levels, since it would tend in the direction of making parents aware of the advantages of keeping their families down to a more manageable size. Formerly, parents were responsible not only for feeding and looking after their own children, but also paying for schools if they wanted their children to attend them.

If parents were not relieved of much of the burden of looking after children, the saving to the taxpayer could probably be sufficient to reverse the cut in the state pension (euphemistically described as ‘means-testing’) and to increase it to a realistic level which would be sufficient for a high proportion of its recipients to provide themselves with adequate housekeeping and other services, or to have friends or relatives living with them, independently of the state.

Paul Burstow (Care Services Minister) refers to ‘social care’ as having a ‘nasty little secret’. ‘It is not free and never will be free.’ Quite right. That is the ‘nasty secret’ of all state benefits. As I said of my state-funded education, it was not free. It was paid for with the ruin of my prospects in life, the ruin of my parents’ lives, and the gratification that all agents of the collective, official and unofficial, could derive from so satisfactory an outcome.

Chancellor George Osborne is resisting the plans because he believes they are too close to the ‘death tax’ proposed by Labour before last year's general election, under which everyone would have paid £20,000 into a compulsory insurance scheme whether they eventually need care or not. But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Lib Dem care minister Paul Burstow are both supportive. (Daily Mail, 27 June 2011)

So we know that Paul Burstow is in favour of something close to the former idea of £20,000 ‘compulsory insurance’. How does he put it according to the Daily Mail (2nd July)?

[Mr. Burstow] promised that while the elderly will be expected to contribute, they will not pay as much as many of them have to pay now.

I.e. while those of pensionable age (including those who do not, and would not, have anything to do with ‘social care’) will be forced to contribute, they will not pay as much as many of them (that is, many of those who do go into ‘care homes’) have to pay now.

It is true that £20,000 (the starting figure proposed for the ‘compulsory insurance’ suggested by Labour) is ‘not as much’ as various amounts in excess of £50,000 which are currently being paid by many of those who fail to protect themselves from ‘social care’.

But why should those who do not and never would submit to ‘social care’ be forced to pay this tax, which is supposed to justify putting a ‘cap’ on what is paid by those who do?

They have already had their pensions drastically reduced because the cost of providing for pensioners is supposedly so great. Saying that a pension is ‘means-tested’ is just a euphemism for calling it ‘reduced’ (or ‘cut’), which is what it is, so far as I am concerned, as I would not seek an income supplement for which I had to be ‘assessed’ by agents of the collective, even if I might be supposed to be eligible for it. I was only so persistent in paying in voluntary contributions for so many years because I thought the resulting pension would be paid to me as of right.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.

I hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.