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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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On the Buses?
According to Nick Clegg, it's "very difficult to explain... at a time when people's housing benefit is being cut that you should protect Alan Sugar's free bus pass".

(Though it makes perfect sense to cut Alan Sugar's income tax bill by thousands, apparently.)

But hang on! Given that I very much doubt Alan Sugar ever takes the bus, how much does his entitlement to free bus travel actually cost the public purse? Er, nothing at all. Free bus travel for the over-60s is a benefit that more or less means-tests itself, since the rich largely don't take advantage of it. But Nick Clegg wants to waste public money paying civil servants to weed out all those millionaires who might be tempted to forego their Rollers and hop on a No. 70?

What a silly man.

This boy's a fool.....

But I never doubted that.

Franz von Papen, anyone?

But what kind of fool is he? An honest fool, who really thinks he can control the Tories, or a conniving fool, who thinks that his treachery will be richly rewarded? Franz von Papen, or Grima Wormtongue?

There's something less than honest or more than stupid in this latest announcement, which is of course not aimed at Alan Sugar or Peter Stringfellow (the two examples Clegg named), but at taking bus passes from middle-class pensioners who have large houses, some of whom will not be cash-rich at all. But he hasn't the guts to say that.

He hasn't had the guts to walk away from this sorry mess of a government either. Power corrupts..........

I lived for some years in Belgium where coalition was and is a way of life and look where that has led- to a country in the process of disinventing itself and tearing itself apart along nationalist/linguistic lines.

I doubt that he's either kind of fool. I think he has Stockholm Syndrome.

I mean, can you imagine Peter Stringfellow on a bus!? No, neither can I.

You have to apply for a bus pass and then I think it only costs the taxpayer when you actually use it, so as you say, he's threatening to withdraw a benefit that rich people are not claiming. Savings are £0.00. And it's probably much cheaper to allow anyone who is entitled to a bus pass and who wants one to have it and raise tax on the rich.

I have two sons - one of 19 and one of 17, thus both will be old enought to vote next general election.

I'm glad to say they both take a keen interest in politics, and they are pitiless when it comes to dissecting poltical folly - and unforgiving as youth so often is, when it comes to questions of honest or conniving folly.

As the generation being so hard hit by this government's policies, what counts for them is the end result and Nick Clegg/the Lib Dems are dead in the water.

The lives of young people today have been lived with the continual sight of drawbridges being drawn up just ahead of them by people who received benefits and privileges and have decided to secure their own position by shafting their successors. (New Labour did its share of this too, though the pace has quickened under the coalition.)

Until now, the old have been relatively well protected, largely because they're such assiduous voters, partly because old age lies ahead of the legislators, not behind them. We'll see how this plays out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's quietly dropped.

At a tangent to this, but not by much, when did politics cease to be about explaining to the electorate why your policies were right?

All sorts of things are difficult to explain, but this doesn't mean they are not true.

This is very true. Somewhere along the line, politics became a sub-branch of remedial rhetoric.

And if those millionaires want to take the bus, by all means, let them. It means they have to spent that much time as part of the rest of humanity.

It'd do them a power of good - all in this together!

By which they mean _you're_ all in this together, whilst we and our privileged and wealthy friends and hangers on will remain very much all right, Jack............

For all of these universal benefits I've wondered how much would be saved by means testing compared to the cost of means testing. It's hardly slimming down government.

Edited at 2012-09-26 11:59 am (UTC)

I can't speak for Republicans, who live on a planet of their own, but in the US the call for means-testing of benefits is muted, because of the awareness that wealth is so concentrated here that few people, numerically, would be caught in it and it thus wouldn't save much money, even leaving aside the costs of administering the means-testing.

Another point sometimes seen in discussions of the issue is that giving the benefits to all seniors, however wealthy, has the moral virtue of putting everyone in the same boat. Once you means-test, the benefits may be seen as hand-outs to the poor, and any glance at current US political discourse reveals how vigorously the Republicans are conducting class warfare on that basis.

The deserving or the undeserving?

Someone also pointed out that there is less and less incentive to save if it means you then get no benefits as a senior, thus becoming a burden on the state. Although maybe we do want people to spend now.