Tuesday, 7 August 2012
On living an unconventional lifestyle
One of the great things about this country is that one can follow an eccentric way of life without anybody much minding. You might get the occasional funny look or the odd raised eyebrow, but generally speaking if you want to sit around drinking whiskey all day or not get out of bed until three or four in the afternoon or refuse to send your child to school; nobody will care. Why should they? It is nothing to them if you develop cirrhosis of the liver or end up with an uneducated child. As long as you don’t expect them to pay for the whiskey you consume, most people will be happy for you to get on with it. The problem arises when you wish to pursue an unconventional lifestyle and also expect others to subsidise it. Under those circumstances, some people are apt to get a little ratty about the whole business! Before going any further, I should perhaps remark that at various times in my life I have spent all day drinking whiskey, not risen from my bed until the late afternoon and also refused to send my child to school! I am not censorious about anybody else's way of life.
Every time there is a change in the regulations governing social security, some home educators get cross, claiming that it is not fair and that they will be forced to send their children to school as a result of what is happening. In other words, it is felt that they should not only be free to pursue a course of action that many people regard as being very strange, that is to say not sending their children to school, but that other people should pay for them to follow this lifestyle by giving them some of their taxes!
At various times in the past it has been both easier and harder to claim benefits. In the 1930s, it was very difficult. In the 1970s, it was very easy. It is currently fairly easy, but getting harder. There are still people who are indeed drinking whiskey all day and being subsidised by other taxpayers , but this is coming to an end. I am referring of course to those unfortunate folk who suffer from the disability which was once known as dipsomania. The changes taking place have nothing to do with home education and most ordinary people would approve of a situation where parents who do not wish to send their children to state schools should fund the alternative provision out of their own pockets.
I am guessing that as the Universal Credit system comes into operation, this is going to be a great cause of complaint in the coming months and years. It is a complete nonsense. Those who do not wish to avail themselves of the maintained schools in this country are free to reject them. What they are not free to do is call upon the public purse as a matter of right to help pay for any alternative.