Child Benefit - belongs to the past

I remember the millions of square yards of green and brown paint. Where did they get it? Was it left over from painting the Scharnhorst? And I remember the free Orange Juice and the yucky free milk and the free milk formula. The Baby Boomers, people like me, were beneficiaries of the kind of state nannying that Mr Cholmondeley-Warner would have been proud of. After WW2, the State had set about interfering with the social structure of this country at every level. In 1948, we got the NHS. It was a universal, free health service that was to transform the lives of those who, hitherto could not benefit from "National Insurance" schemes. Entire towns were created, such as Basildon, Stevenage, Welwyn and Corby in order to meet the needs of thousands of bombed out and displaced families. And then there was Education. In what now seems like a breathtaking example of state arrogance, the 1944 Butler Education Act declared:

"it shall be the duty of the local education authority for every area, so far as their powers extend, to continue towards the spiritual, mental and physical developments of the community"


"the school day in every county school and in every voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all pupils in attendance"

This assumed right of the ruling elite to determine, not only what people learned, but their spiritual, physical and mental state is to me as shocking, looking back, as the then current laws on homosexuality and hanging.

And so, we are an age away. Light years away. Except for the many assumed, almost subliminal messages we accept to the effect that somebody else owes us a living. And it is the same with Child Benefit. It used to be called the "Family Allowance", it was introduced in 1946 and you got five bob a week for every child. It was supposed to encourage people to have children. It did, but it also added to that slow but sure decline into state dependency that people to day not only take for granted, but demand as a right.

The results of all of these massive social initiatives is that we are now reduced to learned helplessness. We are reduced to relatively poor economic growth and the direction is downward. The fiscal realities have turned the optimism of 1945 into the stark reality that Britain is falling behind in almost every social and financial indicator you care to examine. Resistance to change and a decade of disastrous government has placed us firmly on a downward trajectory.

In this climate, there is no justification for child benefit, even for the poor, who should be covered by one, straightforward payment. The idea, in this century, that someone earning over £30,000 needs to be encouraged to have children, and then be subsidized by the state, is obnoxious and fantastical. It is obnoxious to millions of tax-payers who do not want children and of course, profoundly unfair. It is fantastical because it is predicated on the thinking of a bygone age, the age of green paint and ricketts.

It is time to scrap it altogether.

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