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Nicholas Dykes: For a New Political Party – 04



The Welfare State

The Welfare State is the worst thing that has ever happened to Great Britain.  It is a system for robbing Peter to bribe Paul.  It was devised by politicians purely to serve their own interests, enabling them “to assume a halo of virtue by practising charity with wealth that they do not own” (Ayn Rand), in other words, by giving their supporters other people’s money – taken by force through taxation.

For an act to be good it must be voluntary.  Where coercion begins, goodness ends.

The Welfare State is a grossly immoral system, made the more so because in order to pay for it, politicians have borrowed trillions of pounds which they can never hope to repay, thereby burdening our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with immense debts.

The politicians and their functionaries have also continuously inflated the currency in order to avoid repaying what they have borrowed, in so doing hugely increasing business costs and destroying the value of savings and fixed incomes.

The consequences of Welfare State policies are dire.  They have drained initiative, substituting a dependency culture, and created a subclass of spongers and parasites.  Further, the Welfare State has attracted people from abroad who come to Britain in order to live at the expense of others.

The Confederation & Reform Party is dedicated to a gradual dismantling of the Welfare State.  The following sections outline the sort of programme that would be instituted.

Child Benefit

This would be phased out over a period of years.  Initially, the maximum number of children supported in a family would be cut to eight in the first year, six in the second, four in the third, two in the fourth.  Simultaneously, the maximum age of the children to be supported would be cut to fourteen years old in the first year, twelve years in the second, ten in the third, eight in the fourth. After five years the benefit would cease entirely.  Families with less children would continue to receive the benefit for the number they have until it ends.

School leaving age would be cut in similar fashion; to fifteen in the first year, fourteen in the second, thirteen in the third, twelve in the fourth.  After five years, compulsory school attendance would be abolished.  The value of education is so obvious there is no need for it to be enforced by the State.

By exempting young people from income tax, whole generations of new young entrepreneurs would be encouraged.  Besides, a large percentage of children are unsuited to the regimented form of education imposed by the State.  They will fare far better if left alone to make what they can of their lives by themselves.

All other welfare benefits, such as Housing Benefit, would be phased out.  While benefits were still being paid, a married man could claim for one dependant only.  Incapacity Benefit and similar State assistance would be closed to new applicants and would cease when existing claimants passed away.  Private charities or their own families would take over responsibility for those in need.

There would be no hindrance to those wishing to help the less fortunate, but they would have to do so by means of voluntary contributions or with their own money.  It is clearly immoral to do otherwise.  State aid can only be given by first seizing the money from those who own it or earn it, or by printing paper money, which devalues all money via inflation.

Pensions

The State pension scheme would be slowly wound up.  Existing pensions would continue to be paid though those able to manage without would be asked to give up their pension. Their generosity would be publicly acknowledged.

The pension scheme would continue to operate for those over 40 years old, unless they chose to opt out.  It would however be closed to those under 40, who would be expected to make their own pension arrangements.  Once the last State pensioners had died, the scheme would be closed down permanently.

Present State pensions would be substantially increased to compensate for the depreciation of the Pound Sterling.  The State’s policy of continually inflating the currency has hugely reduced Sterling’s buying power.  Hence, the money taken from pensioners during their working lives – supposedly to pay for their pensions when they retire – has greatly diminished in value by the time they need it most – when they stop earning.

Education

The State should never have become involved in education, the falling standards so evident everywhere are the inevitable consequence, not necessarily of poor  or inadequate teaching, but of bureaucratic management.  The only way to produce excellence in any sphere is through profit-oriented private ownership and free and open competition.  The Confederation & Reform Party would end all government involvement in education.

Thus, all State-owned schools, from kindergarten to university level, would be first be reorganised to run as businesses, that is, all schools will become fee-paying.  They would then be privatised by free share distribution to all citizens.  All citizens have paid for them through taxation, regardless whether they have children, so the institutions belong, singly and collectively, to all citizens.  Anyone who wished to set up their own school would be free to do so without let or hindrance from the State.

The Student Loan Company would be privatised, possibly as a charity, but would remain in business offering low-cost loans to those seeking education but lacking the means.  It might be included with other former State agencies – e.g. the Met Office, Civil Aviation Authority, and Land Registry – in a general services corporation privatised by free share distribution.

The practice of giving Ritalin, or other such drugs, to hyperactive schoolchildren would be banned.  Non-medical approaches must be sought for a condition which, while inconvenient for parents and teachers, is usually caused simply by an energetic child being a child.

Once the transfer of ownership of educational establishments was complete, the Ministry of Education would be wound up and all State attempts to control or influence education will stop.

The divide between public and private education would thus be dissolved at a stroke.  All education would be private, as it should be.

Privatisation

The so-called ‘privatisations’ of the Thatcher era were characterised by some as ‘selling the family silver.’  They would have been more aptly described as ‘fencing stolen family silver.’  The Conservative governments of the day merely sold to a wealthier few what properly belonged equally to everyone.

The State is not and was not a corporation that owns, or owned, utilities, etc.  They belonged to the people who had paid for them, the citizens of Great Britain.  Hence, they should have been given back to their rightful owners in the form of free shares, not sold off to swell State coffers.

Health

As with education, the State should never have become involved in healthcare.  Without denying the wonderful work done by the vast majority of those employed by the NHS, hardly a week goes by without some new horror story involving State medicine.  This is due to the nature of bureaucratic management in which the interests of State employees automatically take precedence over the needs of those whom they are supposed to serve, and to the fact that the NHS is a near monopoly, monopoly status inevitably resulting in greater costs, lower quality, and sluggish service.  The inability of the NHS to cope during the Covid pandemic clearly exposed the wrong-headedness of placing something as important as health in the hands of a single organisation.

Britons could very easily have the best health care in the world but they will only get it if they get the State out of it.

Too often, the NHS has become a political football, with rival political parties competing for votes on the basis of how much they claim to have done, or claim that they will do, to enhance the health service.

Health care reorganisation

A Confederation & Reform Party government would begin by separating health insurance from health care.  All persons currently paying national health insurance would automatically become customers of, and shareholders in, a new insurance company, the British Isles Health Insurance Corporation, BIHIC.  However, customers would not be obliged to stay with BIHIC and could sell their shares if they so wished.  Other insurance companies would be free to offer competing policies.  They would also be free to acquire and operate their own medical facilities.

Buying health insurance would no longer be obligatory.  But those who neglected to pay BIHIC premiums or take out a policy with another company could find themselves without medical care in time of need.  No doubt though, hospitals would return to the former practice of running charity wings, and kind-hearted GPs and dentists would no doubt accept payment in kind as some did in the past.

While the separation of health insurance and health care was being accomplished, all State hospitals and medical establishments would be reorganised to run as businesses, charging fees for their services.  Once this was completed, ownership of all government-owned health facilities would be transferred to the citizens as free shares.

The need for hospitals and doctors to be, and to be seen to be, excellent, in a competitive environment, would quickly eliminate the ills that beset the NHS.

NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) would lose any legal authority, but might remain in existence as an advisory body for doctors – run jointly, and paid for, by British providers of health care.  Too often NICE’s dictats are based on non-medical concerns, such as costs, or on dubious science:  for instance, reliance on incomplete statistics, or drawing conclusions from reports of other scientists’ work rather than from engaging in actual scientific research.

Ways would be sought to privatise matters of ‘public health’.  For instance, insurance companies could very well carry out the inspections of food preparation establishments currently undertaken by local councils.  Potential restaurant customers would avoid places with no liability insurance.

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