Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Policy, not poverty

Britain's devolution policy has allowed what was virtually a single country (outside Scots law which applies British law under a different system) to demonstrate how with what is still a shared economy, one country can provide certain services the other claims it cannot afford. Therefore Scotland (who admittedly are partially subsidised under the Barnett Formula, but not that much) can still provide free prescriptions, hospital parking and most of all tuition fees (England average £27,000 for a degree).

That means even though Scotland barely have any more money than England, who claim they have to charge as 1) the NHS can't afford not to have the extra money for car parking and prescriptions and 2) We are no longer wealthy enough to allow degrees for nothing the Scottish system shares the same sources of funding besides the extra subsidies as England. The fact Tony Blair somehow created a system which meant up to 50% of school leavers were suddenly capable of passing a degree rather than the 5% till then, and it both meant that many more were no longer potentially unemployed for three years, and of course funding that many more students for nothing couldn't be paid for so they then had to charge directly. But somehow Scotland still manage it.

These three examples alone show the difference between costs and policies. What may be claimed as no longer possible due to the recession is exposed as no more than doublespeak when in fact a region under the same conditions is able to do both the small and larger costs without causing any suffering in the rest of the population, or taxing them more (as they are currently under the same tax system). It also of course outs the government as liars, as they of course can afford all these things but prefer not to. Even staff often pay parking charges in hospitals, and not just visitors but all patients have to pay as well. Imagine them getting a cab or public transport instead. A cab costs many times more so not worth it, while many outpatients may just crawl to their booking by car but not getting to and from bus stops and stations. And who suffers the most? The poorest of course. Exactly the opposite of why the NHS was created, to make healthcare identical regardless of means. Of course the same applies to prescriptions, although at least they are means tested so the unemployed do not pay, but everyone else does.

Even if students don't pay till after the event, we also used to have grants for all, and afforded them. That meant the poorest students not just got paid for their expenses, but got far more than the basic minimum. That was a heck of a lot of money, yet for decades the country afforded it. That now means even though the up front costs aren't there, the lack of grants puts many off, while knowing they will have to pay back a fortune for the rest of their working lives puts others off who may have more need of the whole amount than others with family support available. And as for grammar schools, the system which allowed the best pupils to have the best free education regardless, the best tool we had for social mobility and the cause of many working class children reaching the highest levels of society was abandoned, and now only the rich can afford the same type of focused teaching, better facilities and smaller classes. Direct grants were also abolished, wiping out free access to public schools for pupils who passed their common entrance exam.

Basically claiming economic hardship to avoid paying for certain services for all has been demonstrated to be untrue, as in this experiment we have a control in Scotland with almost the same economic conditions, yet they manage some extremely expensive policies England will not. But can.

Another lesson in real politics. They will cheat and lie to you, end of.

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