It's the big scandal over here at the minute. The Government are planning to introduce water metering, and the public are angry. There's a big we-won't-pay type campaign underway, led by the usual shouty bedreadlocked people with trestle tables in the street, but seemingly popular with the conservative blazer-wearing types, too. And I just don't get it. And not only do I not get it, but I don't get why the Socialists get it.
There is an argument to be had about whether the state are the best people to be providing a water network, but credit where credit is due: they seem to do it OK. I turn on my tap, and clean fresh water comes out. I flush my toilet, and the shit goes away. (Well, usually.) Reservoirs are maintained, burst pipes are repaired, etc, etc. And all this costs money. Lots of people do this work, and I believe that those people should be paid. And they are. As a general rule, Socialists believe that such people should be paid more and work fewer hours, yet here they are campaigning against water charges. Where do they think these workers' pay is going to come from, then?
We already pay for our water supply; it's included in the council tax. All that's going to be changed is that it's going to be separated out and metered, so that you'll pay more for using more water and less for using less. This is a Bad Thing, the Socialists tell us, because, er.... Well, I got a leaflet through my door from them yesterday, and, despite being covered in words, it didn't mention what's so bad about water metering anywhere. It just kept saying that it was wrong, and seemed to just assume that the reader would agree.
As best I can make out, the complaint is not that we are expected to pay for the water supply, but that metering will mean that different people will pay different amounts, and that people who have medical conditions that mean they need to drink plenty of water will kill themselves in order to save a couple of quid on the water bill. Hmm. Let's just reiterate the important bit there: Socialists believe that everyone should pay the same amount for their government-provided water, regardless of how much they use.
So here's the bit I don't get. Back in the Eighties, a prominent politician believed that everyone should pay the same amount for their government-provided services, regardless of how much they used — not just water, but all of them. Her name was Margaret Thatcher, and she introduced a tax based on those principles, officially called the Community Charge but known to all as the Poll Tax. And the people who are currently campaigning against water metering were so upset that they organised a nationwide campaign of mass civil disobedience, rioted, and kicked the hell out of London.
Like I said, I don't get it.