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A Magazine for Sheffield


I think it's time that we, the people, decide what our taxes are spent on. A bold statement, I know, but allow me to elaborate. Each month, those of us who work for a living frown utterly forlorn at our pay slips and in particular, the deductions. And the services our hard-earned tender goes towards tend to be the ones we moan about the most. The NHS is always against the wall for being fundamentally rubbish. Wave upon wave of stories about some poor bastard who went in for a root canal and came out with a vagina for a face lend ample support to this theory. I've had a few run-ins with our National Health Service myself, and they were admittedly, on the whole, a bit shit. Mixing up my chart with someone else's and sending me away to wait for (literally) months before seeing a specialist who, ever true to his title, came across as rather special. I know they save lives, but can't they do it with the efficiency and professionalism we expect from say, the humble taxi driver? You never hear about cabbies causing pile-ups, ploughing into large oaks or replacing people's kidneys with ocelots. It makes even less sense when you consider that the annual breadwinnings of the highest earners in the NHS surpass those of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defence put together. But public service aside - admittedly we do actually need it - the Government's frivolous spending of taxpayer's cash has us footing the bill for some pretty trivial endeavours these days. Take the state visit from the Pope a few months back as an example. First of all, whatever the U.N. says, the Vatican is not a state, and by that measure the arrival of Benny the Sixteenth doesn't warrant state visit status. In the words of Stephen Fry, it's an "accident of history that [the Vatican] has an autocratic absolute monarchy" at all. But that's a separate debate altogether. What I'm contesting is the fact that the taxpayer paid for his dirty weekend away, and pays for any state visit for that matter. If his visit isn't helping to cure cancer or pave the way for world peace, he can either pay for it himself or stay in his bedroom and learn to use Skype like the rest of us. Personally, having learnt that the policing of the Papal visit alone cost the taxpayer in excess of £1 million, I would have quite liked to see somebody try it. You know, just for entertainment value, to see if Scotland Yard's best men are worth their salt. Perhaps an elaborate hang glider attack with a flamethrower to really get our money's worth. I don't wish any harm on the man; I'd just like to see the goods before I buy them. But what would I use our taxes for, if not for highly paid, inadequate GPs and excessive security measures for Rome's frail little hobbit? If it was up to me, we'd get pick-me-ups; little pick-me-ups to get us through the day. Once a month, the government buys us all a tasty cream cheese bagel, or cushions the blow of education cuts with Cornettos all round. The cabinet could make light of their tyrannous foreign policy with a handful of Liquorice Allsorts through each and every letterbox. That sort of thing. Admittedly, it's perhaps not the most practical idea, but if not confectionery, then consider monetary rewards. As a nation we happily throw our money away on pointless gambling, so why not introduce a tax lottery? I'd be far less reluctant to hand over a healthy portion of my earnings if I knew I was in with a chance of winning big. One taxpayer a month bags a million, with the only stipulation being that you actually have to be an honest working citizen to enter. That way we hit two birds with one stone and avoid another Michael Carroll, the self proclaimed 'King Chav' who is back on the dole after blowing his £9.7m Lotto fortune on drugs and prostitutes. If you were expecting a reference to Wayne Rooney after that last sentence, may I remind you that it's still Now Then you're reading, as sensationalist and misled as my musings may seem. There are too few similarities in the way we deal with things as citizens in our day-today life and the way the country spends our cash. We don't want to interfere in wars overseas, we don't want our MPs to own two houses and we certainly don't want the fucking Olympics. We treat ourselves with chocolate bars and peculiar Thai spa treatments in which tiny fish nibble at the dried skin on our aching and overworked feet. We buy glorified kindling with fairy lights attached and stick them in vases in our living rooms because it makes us feel cosy. We queue up for iPhones and Harry Potter books that are essentially slightly rebranded versions of the last ones we queued up for. It's high time our national spending reflected that. For daily musings, follow Illustration by Jonathan Brown - [email protected] )

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