I have a totally mad idea for repairing our economy, and threadbare national life, and I’m struggling to find much of a downside.
The government should give £5 million to every person of working age in Britain. Working age would be defined as between 23 (say leaving university age) and a new, lower, retiring age of 60.
The government can afford it now, after all it’s less than a couple of week’s UK “contribution” to the EU. Those who hate their jobs will be able to give up, and do something more satisfying, or more creative, or nothing at all. Jobs will be filled by people who want to do them. Migrants will find plenty of space, because large numbers of people will simply go and live somewhere nice and warm, and the people still here will be able to employ them with a decent wage.
The massive increase in personal spending power will also stimulate the economy. For example people will build or buy better houses, opening up the bottom of the property market as ‘upcyclers’ dump houses. The banks and investment ‘industries’ would thrive. There’d be less crime, because most criminals would already have more money than they’d know what to do with, and the police could concentrate on organised crime. No need for any benefits at all ‘cos we’d all be rolling in it. Tax take would need to be maintained, of course, to buy nuclear submarines etc., but if we are all multi-millionnaires VAT could be increased to 35% and nobody would really notice. Those who have always enjoyed a life based on privilege and unearned income would be unhappy, but they can just sod off or start consultancies to advise what to do with our money; the nouveau riche would have more people to play with.
Now then. I’ve had another lateral thought which, at a stroke (no pun intended), would free up bed blocking in hospitals, solve our underprovision in care home places, revive the steel and shipbuilding industries and cut off the exponential increase in funeral costs. Well, not literally at a stroke – but relatively. Instead of care homes, and cottage hospitals (those that still exist) full of recuperating geriatrics, we send them all off on a permanent cruise. Move the whole lot “offshore” into a low, or no, tax, regime. As I understand it, places on cruises can work out substantially cheaper than places in care homes. Cruises have unlimited good food, on-board doctors and entertainment – all more than can be provided in “Halcyon Days” up the road. Some canny geriatrics (especially in America) have already cottoned on to this and live the proverbial life of Riley swanning all over the world year round. Permanent ‘guests’ would be able to have their loved ones visit them “on holiday” and, if worst comes to the worst, a burial at sea is definitely more economical (and ecological) than a cremation or a burial on land. We’d have to build a few more ships, and staff them, but that’s a bonus for the economy too and the billions saved out of the welfare budget would probably cover the cost anyway. We could even have fully equipped hospital ships! I’m putting my name down.