I have woken up today to see some astonishing articles and OpEds wittering on about how unfair Draper Osborne’s child-allowance cuts are. Why can’t it be like this and what’s fair about that and surely you could’ve etc etc etc.
There are two considerations with a cut or a tax: how much money will we claw back, and how much will it cost to get it? Fairness in that process always involves a degree of trade-off.
Osborne will have taken advice from professionals about the best way to go at this from the Treasury’s point of view on cost. Until Britain emerges from its Brown hole, this is the only pov that matters.
A partial answer would be to immediately fire 3,000 Sir Humphreys and tell them their pension entitlements have been halved. This wouldn’t solve the problem of child allowances, but it would redress the fairness balance considerably.
All things are relative. Southern Europe’s austerity is much worse….as ours will be quite soon. But reading all this moaning within 24 hours of the first cut, one really is left wondering whether the UK has the stomach for anything any more. Contemporary fluffiness is, for me, what makes the Two Airmen sketch so hysterically funny: “I say, do you like think they’ll be using real bullets and shit? Because I mean like they can’t do that can they?”
The Roman Empire was (thought Gibbon) doomed the minute Christianity became its religion of choice: lots of Happy Clappy vicars saying “Let’s not be nasty to the Goths” and so forth. Britain’s version of this is Welfare PC World.
Fairness is a flawed concept, because it tries to apply Now to things that started going wrong Then. As Then mistakes are being put right, fairness has to be on hold for Now.
Tough, but real.