Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Saint Bill

Someone, somewhere must keep a database of half-arsed Catholics - because Bill English recently wrote to me in his capacity as a devout doolan, asking me for money. He's part of a Catholic charitable trust seeking to build a rest home for retired elderly priests in recognition of their lifetimes of service to others. (I don't think the rest home is also intended for aged nuns. Are they less important? Or are the trustees afraid that mixed cohabitation will lead to hanky panky? Who knows.) I looked at the rest home donation form Bill sent with some bemusement. I even thought about writing on it, 'Why not let the market provide for them?', but decided this was too cynical.

Donations to rest homes are nice, but I can tell you a few other things I'd prefer to give to priests, and indeed all those other elderly people who have contributed throughout their lives by raising children, working and paying taxes. I'd like them to be able to afford to adequately heat their houses. I'd like their caregivers to be adequately trained and paid. I'd like an assurance that those remaining state assets, which old people have built through their taxes, will not be sold if the government changes. I'd like old people to have ready access to comprehensive health care (unlike those poor souls who died on waiting lists under Bill's stint as Minister of Health).

Bill got ten bucks out of me for his rest home. But it will be the proverbial cold day in hell before I trust him with the nation's finances.


Hugh said...

The right is always keen on private charity, since in their view it substitutes for state provision of the sorts of services you've outlined. It doesn't hurt the sanctimoniousness of right wing MPs to be able to point to this sort of activity either (although to be fair left wing MPs are not immune to this form of preening either).

I've never been clear why state-funded welfare is seen as deterring people from work, while paternal charity is not seen as having such a deterring effect. Presumably because private charity can be yanked away at will. In other words, the virtue of private charity is the fact that it keeps the poor grateful and requires them to earn their rights through deference and good behaviour.

Sadly with all the hoops beneficiaries have to jump through to prove their sound moral fibre we're seeing a similar 'deserving poor' ethos in state provided welfare now.

Azlemed said...

Anna, you must have forgotten at that high school how important priest are compared to lowly nuns who also give their lives to serve God etc. (this is meant tongue in cheek).

The right always like privatism because it means we have to grovel if we want something..,

I am hoping that Helen convinces the undecided that a change of government will be for the worst for the majority of the country,

Why would i want a $10 tax cut if I lose working for families of $200 per week.... the maths doesnt add up bill.....