Money off for marrieds?

Just me, thinking out loud on my little blog…

….and directing a lot of those thoughts towards one Mr D Cameron, Esq.

There has been a lot of talk in the British press this week about David Cameron’s plans for a “tax break” for married couples. For those of you who don’t know, Mr C is the leader of our Conservative (or Tory) Party here in Britain, and he is hoping to win the next general election and lead his party into power. He has an obstacle in the form of Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister, and the Labour party, but at this point in the proceedings it’s all about the big talk and the setting up of stands.

I must confess to usually finding Mr Cameron a little slippery on most issues. Whenever I read an interview or a statement, I find his central argument, his key points, ever difficult to discern. Of course, this skill is key to politics, but I find it especially in the missives currently emanating from Conservative HQ (and Labour, actually. The Greens are far more direct).

(Thing to point out number 1: I am somewhat of a floating voter. I come from a family who believe passionately that not only should you vote, but that you should be involved in the process and know what you are backing and who you are backing. I am lucky enough to say that in all the elections I have voted in over the last decade and a bit, I have spoken with, listened to, or written to whichever candidates I ended up voting for. I like to get my money’s worth, you might say…)

But back to the woolly missives (which conjures up images of sheep arriving from far off climes with news, don’t you think?).

(Thing to point out number 2: I am of the opinion that for the past several decades the arena I work in (education) has been treated shamefully by governments various. Endless incentives. Ridiculous expectations. An ingrained inability of the government to listen properly to children, parents, or teachers. And please do not even get me started on the central-government-body-in-charge-of-education-which-shall-not-be-named. In few areas are the missives and messages more confused and less helpful.)

So, missives.

Well imagine my surprise when Mr Cameron actually stood up to be counted on something. A “tax break” for married couples and families.

(Thing to point out number 3: I am so vehemently pro marriage that I have terrified my current boyfriend at not one, but three weddings in the past year by bursting into tears and launching into daydreamy chats about weddings and marriage. I adore bridesmaiding. I enjoy chatting with my friends who are married about the whole shebang, and watching as the marriages of friends grow and deepen. I thoroughly look forward to being married one day, if it’s in the plan. This is most certainly not an anti-marriage rant!)

My thoughts went a little something like this:

“Yay! Cameron’s committed to something! Oh, I wonder what the impact will be. Will he rob Peter to pay Paul, or is there a secret Treasury chest for these things?”

Such went my internal narrative. And then I thought, and pondered, and cogitated. Well, cogitated as much as one is able after a day of fiercely clever anklebiters. And I was left with one big thought, floating in a sea of wonders.

I don’t like the idea of a married tax break.

Marriage, at its best, is a blessing. A wonderful partnership through which and in which to encounter the world. It can be the foundation of a family. It can be the start of a home. But I do not think at all that we should be giving married people a tax break to reward their behaviour / encourage them not to split. It seems a little crude and childish, and far too much of a broad brush stroke for my liking. I know of at least three unmarried but utterly committed couples raising families. Why on earth should they not be rewarded for their longevity as well? Why should a hardworking and awesome single parent not be rewarded? What of the single person who wants neither to marry or have children?

If Mr Cameron did decide to incentivise what he perceives to be “good” things, a big part of me wants him to be braver. Instead of narrowly looking at one small part of the huge web, why not look at the whole picture. All around the country people every day go to work (if they are lucky enough to have a job), or they look for work. They pay their taxes. They love their children. They would never dream of violence, or knife crime, or even fly-tipping. They recycle. Their kids stay in school, and go to Cubs.

How about a tax model that rewards “good” behaviours (looking after your home, volunteering, noy getting blotto every weekend and clogging up A&E) and that punishes negative ones. If we’re living in a nanny state and let’s face it, we are, why not reap the benefits? As the ghettoes of our cities sink further and further into poverty and a rule unto themselves, why not grasp the nettle and try to fix the whole thing? I personally think that this country will only turn around when everyone in this country learns the awesome feeling that comes from working hard and doing well. From making the right choice. From striving. This would mean a lot of things – to start with, many more schools (to provide more classes), and more prisons and police (to appropriately punish those who break the law). This, however, would have the benefit of producing more jobs, and with smaller classes and better prisoner to warden ratios and more police on the street, these professions would become less stressful, and more of a job for life (and of course, someone in steady employment will be a steady taxpayer….circle of life, innit?).

Of course, these are just the ramblings of a twentysomething late at night after another busy day at school. This is just me thinking out loud in the tiny study of the houseshare I rent, because I can’t afford to buy a home anywhere in London (but that’s another story), not a talented politician who has had one of the greatest educations money can buy, surrounded by advisers, and researchers. But I can’t help feeling that with his narrow, “money off for marrieds” plan, Cameron has gone for a quick, flippant flick at an area that really needed a resounding slap. Could a tax break for married people be a good thing? Undoubtedly. But I soncerely believe that it would only be a worthwhile undertaking if it was part of a bigger overhaul.

Wow. I went a bit political there. I just needed a bit of a think out loud, I guess. What do you think, friends?

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  1. Christielli
    20th January 2010 / 10:28 pm

    Yah, the married tax break is crazy and rather discriminatory. Is gay marriage legal in the UK? If not, then it's completely discriminatory!I would argue that it's rather expensive to be single, so I need tax breaks too. Every time I go on a date, I buy new clothes. And that helps the economy. So really, singles should be rewarded too. 😉

  2. Riot Kitty
    20th January 2010 / 10:50 pm

    It's always good to have a think out loud. I think the government should stay out of our personal lives, period.

  3. fingersandtoes
    21st January 2010 / 7:23 am

    I agree with Christielli! It's much more expensive to be single. And she raises a good point – would it extend to civil partnerships too? Here I've heard people say one reason for getting married is so their partner is their next of kin. This mystifies me as well. Isn't it easier and cheaper to each make wills and powers of attorney? (which they should have regardless)In NZ de facto couples, married couples, and civil partnership couples (who can be same or mixed sex) all have the same rights. I think it works really well. Really hope the current Tory govt don't screw that one up.

  4. cdave
    21st January 2010 / 11:17 am

    I used to think of myself as a floating voter, but can't remember the last time I didn't vote for the Lib Dems.The majority of my friends (who talk about politics) are left of centre, so wouldn't seriously consider actually voting Tory, no matter how daft (New?) Labour's policies are. It's refreshing to see someone actually thinking about it.

  5. Anonymous
    21st January 2010 / 3:27 pm

    No no no, it is entirely wrong that you have Cameron as a clickable category. Replace it immediately.Mlle WilsonPS don't feel able to comment on political content as getting married this year lol

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