I am grateful to Mr Arnold (letters 31/1/19) for raising the issue of public debt. I too do not like excessive public debt and the consequent burden of funding it, though that is as far as Mr Arnold and I are likely to agree.
Wars have tended to double the National Debt since its inception in the 1690s, and I doubt if many would challenge – they did not at the time – the use of the debt to ameliorate the consequences of the 2008 Crash.
Economists have long advocated expanding the debt in times of recession and using the good times, as for some years around 2000 to bring the debt down.
That said, there is a clear problem that services need to be provided, people want them, and they seem to be reluctant to pay for them. I think that there is a fundamental dishonesty in UK politics about this – although we want, indeed need, these services, to suggest increasing taxes is an act of political suicide, even though as recently as the mid 1990s the standard rate of income tax was 25 per cent and tax-free allowances were much lower than today.
If we believe in a society where we do believe in going at least some way to treat our neighbour as ourselves or some humanist value of the equal importance of all people, we need a society where some of the things that have gone so badly wrong in the last few years are completely unacceptable:
· Austerity has meant so many ‘hard choices’ that have been disastrous for so many who need support. The number of people who now feel that the political establishment does not care about them surely supports this point.
· It is surely wrong how homelessness has increased and how there is such a gap between the need for public and social housing and its supply.
· Why have we now become inured to a provision of food banks that would have been inconceivable not that long ago?
· Are we properly preparing for our ageing population?
· Is it right to burden young people with a perception of high debt that would have been inconceivable when I was going to university?
· Why are we starving our schools of funds locally and nationally and especially funds for high needs education?
· Are we serious about environmentally-considerate transport, and indeed wider measures to save the planet?
And these are just some of the concerns that I could list which surely a civilised and caring society should be getting right and not simply batting away in the name of ‘hard choices’.
One of the few things I do respect about the ‘achievements’ of our governments since 2010 is their maintenance of 0.7 per cent of GDP for international aid.
We are all part of humankind, and there are so many people in much worse hardship than that facing most UK citizens.
Surely as caring human beings we should be doing at least something to try and improve things for those in so much need.
John Newman, Maplehurst Road, Chichester