Thursday, 6 January 2011
For years I've been the owner of a pachira aquatica, commonly known as a money tree. In fact I've owned several because they grow reasonably fast so I've chopped them up, given cuttings to all and sundry, then started again. The original was given to me by an old gardener who insisted I should always keep one in the house. Then I would always have something in my purse he said. As I held him in great esteem I've never been brave enough to test the myth.
That's really irrelevant to this post, the pachira aquatica I mean, but money is. Money as used in bribery; defined as giving it to a person or people to influence or persuade them. Money is used by politicians for that purpose. There's lots of it distributed too and it's taxpayers' money - our money.
Parts of our society have become used to bribery. We give money to teenagers to 'persuade' them to stay on at school past the age of 16. We can pay 85% of a mature student's child care costs. There are plenty other situations in which money is used by government as a bribe. Some people's circumstances are worthy of support but others seem excessive.
One in particular I found simply wrong. Whilst reading prisoners have received a 7% rise in their pay since the beginning of the recession, I noticed this snippet:
The best paid prisoners are the ones who work in charity shops and receive £18 a week, while others who work in prison catering or go on educational and training courses get £12. (source)
Why should prisoners be paid to go on educational and training courses? I don't get paid to do that. In the years when it was compulsory to attend such courses, my company paid the fee but I had to provide the cost of travel and subsistence. Today when I attend further education I pay the fee and the travel.
We have our priorities wrong. Prisoners are being better cared for than a vast section of our society. Recently I wrote about new televisions which are being provided for individual prisoners and just last week about free bus passes.
Do all these handouts/bribes show positive results or have we lapsed into the attitude of DFID, which has 'lost' £1 billion of foreign aid?
Should we be paying some to attend education when others in England are being asked to pay fees up to £9,000 per year? I think not.