facing tough choices

There’s nothing quite like a little political spat for helping us realise just how desperate politicians are to gain the advantage in run-up to a General Election. After all, they are in the game to implement a programme they believe will improve society… and there are no prizes for coming second (however, in the event of a hung parliament, there might be a prize for coming third). This weekend we had the unsightly row over the funding of elderly care, one of two issues that dare not speak its name in an election campaign (the other being public sector pensions). The reason is simple; just talking about taking money from dying or deceased persons makes anyone look like a grave robber. Enough said. Peter Wilby has written an insightful piece on why the reaction is so emotional and difficult to counteract, the Englishman’s home being their castle (no snub intended to other owner-occupied parts of the UK). Security, despite the property crashes of the early 90s and the late noughties, is something we strongly associate with bricks and mortar. We have built our heaven on earth and we don’t much like the state plundering it to look after us in our dotage. But here’s the thing: if our security lay elsewhere, would we be a little more objective about how to fund elderly care?

Jesus challenged his disciples about leaving everything behind to follow him. His mission wasn’t a happy little optional extra for that nearly-complete life, no, it was a total overhaul of everything they were about. Previous attachments could only hinder the ‘life to the full’ that he promised. So as his followers today are we carrying too much baggage to challenge the status quo? That’s something I wrestle with all the time. And I get it wrong on lots of occasions. Elderly care really matters- human dignity is often under no greater threat than in those final years. We must find an affordable way to look after people well. The money has to come from somewhere- and it must be fair. So why not a small percentage on final estates, targeted at this one key area? Let’s encourage the parties to agree for a change and make a difference. You could call it a death tax or you might call it a better-quality-of-life tax. The choice is yours (and mine).


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