It seems to be the world is slowly coming to the realisation that a lot of our prosperity (‘you’ve never had it so good’) is based on the government not shrinking the consumer pound by excess taxation. Instead, the government’s own ‘prosperity’ has come from borrowing.
This borrowing was seen as fine just as long as the next generation could both find suckers to hold our generation’s debts plus other suckers for our children’s government’s profligacy.
Suddenly, after a few years of ‘open all hours’ in the licensed trade, we seem to have called ‘time’ on the debt mountain. That being the case, we are all going to have to make sacrifices – and last night’s news was about the Fire Brigade’s Union saying that they would oppose closure of fire stations (to save money) not on the grounds of its members’ jobs but on public safety grounds.
So I got to thinking about fire stations and safety. So let me ask you, for your safety would you like your own personal fire station? For many, the answer is ‘yes’ – I know there are those of you who say no for aesthetic reasons and those who say no to be contrary, but let’s assume a yes answer for now.
Now, please will you pay £1m a year for its upkeep?
The answer now is clearly no. (Oh do stop being contrary!)
So then surely you start doing the math. How many neighbours are you going to want to share the bill with for the one fire station before it is acceptable to you as an annual charge, on you, for it? Multiplied out and having regard for all the other calls on your wallet or purse, my guess is that you’ll share the fire station cost across a lot of people.
So many so in fact, that your fire service is more stretched than the current one, post cuts. Fine. Or is it? Surely there is no scientific formula that gives an optimum number of fire stations – more a matter that ‘because there is one, there should always be one’?
And if we keep fire stations (or any other service) at a cost above what we want to pay for it, should we really borrow the difference from our kids?