Yesterday, I went to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel for an appointment with the consultant who is going to re-make my eyeball. He introduced me to another patient of his - a man with a similar eye injury, but who had suffered poor-quality surgery in his native Afghanistan.
After the appointment, my partner and I went to get a newspaper on the way to the bus stop, and I caught sight of the Daily Mail's front-page headline:
PUBLIC PENSION BILL ROCKETS
£30,000 a family: The cost of funding state workers' retirement
Reading said article online later, I found that apparently, yer ordinary tax-paying 'family' (the statistic actually refers to 'households', but 'family' is so much more heart-and-hearth-and-wholesome-goodness, isn't it?) is being fleeced by public-sector workers, because:
- There are too many public employees;
- They enjoy privileged pension provision;
- They are greedy bastards who get inflation-busting pay rises;
- They live too long.
Oi! That's the nurses and doctors who are treating me you are talking about! And the teachers at my kids' school. Oh, and me as well.
The 'business community' (a self-contradictory term that always seems to make my blood boil) is apparently very worried. Not that they will be tightening their belts, of course.
Oddly enough, the Mail does not mention the inconvenient facts that:
- Public sector workers are hard-working, tax-paying families (or individuals) as well;
- An MP's or judge's pension costs 'the taxpayer' a lot more than a postie's, nurse's or teacher's;
- We pay for our own pensions by deferring a portion of our wages and working hard to provide public services.
This rag is trying to divide public and private sector workers against each other: firstly, trying to get private-sector workers to resent their public-sector colleagues for any slight, perceived advantage; and secondly, by portraying public-sector workers as a drain on the system because we produce services rather than profits.
I very much doubt that the editor or owner of the Daily Mail have much to worry about when it comes to financial support in retirement.
Having glanced the Mail's headline, I tutted, bought a Sudoku puzzle book and groped my way to the bus stop.
Then I thought about what the Daily Mail would make of my fellow eye patient. Benefit-scrounging health tourist living the Life of Riley with his wife and baby while the long-suffering, Mail-reading, fine, upstanding, British citizen - I mean family - goes without, probably. They'd probably deport him before he could even see the steps of the plane.
I hate the Daily Mail.
The picture, by the way, is of the Daily Mail's Lord Rothermere meeting a man he admired - Adolf Hitler.