Thursday, July 03, 2008

The most coherent thing I've ever read in The Independent

'Interfering' state

We all resent the 'interfering' state – until we need it; Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Steve Richards is right when he says "people still look to the state in their hour of need" (Opinion, 1 July), but he does not mention the other side of the coin – nobody wants to live by its rules. We talk of tax as a burden rather than a responsibility or a contribution. We are not going to have the government tell us what to eat, how much to drink, what to do with our money or where to live – but when the Christmas club founders, the bank collapses, the rains come or cancer strikes, we ask why we weren't warned, why we were allowed this option, why firms were allowed to build there, what about our entitlement to the latest expensive drug – and so on until we hit our sixties and can campaign to have the state pay our care bills while we plot how to avoid inheritance tax.
We want accountability without bureaucracy, crime prevention without surveillance, discipline without enforcement, improved public service without higher taxation. We bewail the loss of community spirit while insisting that our every personal preference be fully respected, and never stop to consider to what extent these wants are compatible.
I used to laugh at the cynic's saying that a liberal was a conservative who had been to prison, while a conservative was a liberal who had been mugged, but it seems sadly true now, when principle has been forgotten and we seem, as a people, to be driven by expediency and selfishness.

right-click, save-as - my server is still not doing MIME types properly!

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