This country is financed by a pot of money provided by The Tax Payer. The money is spent on our behalf by The Government.
The poorest members of our society are the Non-tax Payers. These people, often through no fault of their own, need extra money from The Pot. Proportionally their health is poorer, they need benefits and services to help them survive and many are poorly educated.
The whole of society, including The Tax Payer, expects certain benefits to be provided by the Tax Payer. It wants decent health care, education, roads etc.
The Non-tax Payer and the less able members of society need these services as well. In addition they need extra Social Services such as Care for the Elderly and Youth and other Social Workers.
Society abhors the outward signs of poverty: Anti social behaviour, hospital waiting lists, inner city degeneration etc. but to alleviate the problems it needs to take more money from The Pot.
If standards are to be raised then either services less valued by society need to be cut or The Tax Payer and consumer need to pay more tax. Money needs to be targeted at the poorer and less able in our society
Currently, decisions about many important issues are based around money. If a service is to be provided or a product purchased then a cost benefit must be shown. Moral aspects of these issues seem rarely to be taken into consideration.
In the commercial world, company policies are driven by the consumer. The consumer apparently expresses his ‘opinion’ by buying the cheapest product. This ‘opinion’ is not usually based on any knowledge of the manufacturer e.g. whether the product has been imported, made useing child labour or whether the manufacturer provides good working conditions for its staff. The consumer is largely unaware that by buying the cheapest goods he is expressing the ‘opinion’ that cheapness is more important to him than, say, how well he and his fellow workers are treated by their employer.
As I have mentioned above The Tax Payer works for the Company whose raison d’ętre is to produce the cheapest goods and services. To keep the cost down the Tax Payer’s quality of life at work is being eroded by the uneducated ‘opinion’ of the consumer. In many private sector companies working hours for staff are getting longer and stress levels are high because of financial decisions made without due importance being given to the extra pressure they will put on the staff. Companies are trying to squeeze extra hours from employees for no extra pay. More and more man hours are being lost through absence due to stress. This is also an extra burden on the Health Service.
Public Sector employees (the health service less so but the trend is in the right direction) and employees of nationalised industries, with the help of their unions, have achieved decent working conditions. The effect of this on society is both an increased amount of money being taken from The Pot and also a reduction in services. There is no longer a village Bobby, emergencies still receive a quick response but other less urgent cases such as anti-social behaviour, burglary, giving people lifts to hospital are no longer provided as readily. We are spending more but not enough if we want all these things.
Society is constantly changing. In the past women and a much larger and a less well treated working class put political pressure on Governments to get their rights, and arguably, more than their rights. As a consequence the expectations of whole of society are higher. We want education for all, regular wage rises and unlimited services. Unfortunately those who suffer now lack the political clout to influence. They are too fragmented and some of them are too weak. Their voices can not be heard over the cries of “We want more, we want it cheap and we want it now!”
In addition to this we have been schooled by the press, media and insurance companies into a ‘Blame Culture’: If something goes wrong it must be somebody’s fault and they must pay – Mammon again (viewing and listening figures equal money too). Insurance risk and hence cost is now a huge factor when planning any product or service commercially or socially. Many services are no longer provided because the risks are seen to be too high. This is another moral issue and responsibility for it lies with all elements: Government, Industry and Consumers.
It is arguable whether Government can influence these issues. During the Thatcher era the views of consumers and industry were certainly influenced by a charismatic and apparently trustworthy Prime Minister. Could a passionate and admired Labour Leader have the same influence? Unfortunately the current Prime Minister has lost the trust and admiration of the populace. In fact it would appear that admiration for any form of government is in decline.
In an ideal world we would all consider each other’s needs.
? Government would be honourable, honest and not pre-occupied with elections
? The press and media would give a fair account of events
? Company Boards would raise prices instead of lowering standards
? Consumers would only buy products and services from known sources. They would not make claims against companies, individuals or public services if a large proportion of the blame lies with themselves
My conclusion: Society lacks the moral stamina to improve itself so we have the society we deserve.
But that won’t stop me trying to change things in my world!