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Funding public services June 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This from the Brexit debate in the UK last week struck me as telling. Not so much about Brexit or the virtues or otherwise of same, but an attitude about the funding of public services.

In his speech Jeremy Corbyn criticised Arron Banks, the Leave.EU co-founder, for wanting to privatise the NHS. (See 1.10am.)
Banks has hit back with a statement. He said:

Fat cat my arse. I started my business with nothing but a desk and two phones, and I’ve never worn a fur coat or owned a Bentley.
I once said that I thought wealthier people should pay top-up insurance to help the NHS – the sort of policy which should be music to Jeremy’s ears.
You have to feel sorry for old Jez, really. Voted to leave in ‘75, voted against Maastricht, voted against Lisbon – but now the Blairites have got him supping cream from the same EU bowl as Cameron, Osborne and the crooked mega-banks who are the real fat cats in this referendum, drooling at the prospect of being able to buy up huge chunks of the health service after Brussels finalises its dodgy TTIP deal with the US.

Of course one doesn’t have to own a Bentley or a fur coat to be wealthy (and just on Brexit, Corbyn may well have voted against all those areas, but as noted before I’d vote against any future further integration myself. It’s not quite the contradiction Banks appears to believe it is). But note the point Banks made about the NHS… ‘top-up insurance’. Of course the NHS isn’t insurance led. It is free to access healthcare paid through general taxation. I think it says something about Banks that he would bring in insurance and the idea of ‘top-ups’ which points to a sort of ignorance. How do ‘top-ups’ provide a better approach than general taxation? They don’t. They complicate a situation that is simpler. They bring new, and potentially contingent, aspects into play.

And yet this is what we see in health, education and so on. The idea that fees are ‘better’ than general taxation. Frankly it seems evasionary – and a means of attacking progressive (in the technical sense of the term) income tax. Worse again it develops parallel structures that compete with aspects of national health provision (we’ve had the absurdity in this state of a far from free at access and far from national health service with explicitly private elements grafted on, as well as health insurance too!).

Yet this, as Banks does above, is paraded as a virtue – something along the lines of ‘I’ll add a bit more on top’, though curiously we don’t hear so much enthusiasm for paying higher income taxes. Odd that.


1. oconnorlysaght - June 26, 2016

Banks’ attitude reminds me of a time in the British parliament in the 1920s. A wealthy Tory MP had just voted with his party to vote down a motion to relieve unemployment put by the Labour left. Now he came to James Maxton and offered him a fiver, saying ‘I could not vote for your proposal but I would like to help these men, if I may.’
Of course a fiver went much further in those days, but all the same….


WorldbyStorm - June 26, 2016


Though, yeah, it’s that patrician approach. Isn’t it?


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