Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

Second

opinion

WHAT a glorious thing it is to be a British taxpayer! And how reassuring to know that the half of one's life one devotes to earning taxes is used to bring a little succour to those less well-placed than oneself.

For example, only last week a young man was admitted to my ward having taken an overdose after hitting his mother in the course of an argument with her. He took the overdose before her very eyes, no doubt to rekindle the dying embers of her maternal instinct.

He was an unemployed heroin addict, and his mother had wanted to know what he had done with the money in her purse.

`How much do you spend on your heroin?' I asked him.

`L30 a day.'

`How do you get it?'

`From a dealer.'

`No, the money, not the heroin.'

`My Job Seeker's Allowance.'

What imagination our bureaucracy displays in devising pleasant euphemisms. Job seekers, indeed: the phrase conjures up a reassuring image of industrious ants, temporarily idle, who busily scour the land for something constructive to do. Heroin Seeker's Allowance would be more like it.

You get what you pay for. If you subsidise bad behaviour, then bad behaviour is what you get. However, honesty compels me to admit that not everything can be attributed to social security, the welfare state, etc. We must never forget that man is the root of all evil, the being who does evil for the sheer joy of it unless prevented from doing so.

The patient next to the mother-beating heroin addict was a young woman with a black eye and a broken arm. …

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