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Who cares when a government nails the frail and elderly

10 March 2014, 09:15

Normally, every citizen has a right and an obligation to vote, to comply with the law and to pay taxes, giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. That is a splendid philosophy. It is also a cornerstone of civilization to be a citizen who does not break the law, raises disciplined children and protects and looks after the helpless and the frail. It separates one from barbarity and anarchy. If you have seen the movie 'Black Hawk Down' about the American incursion in Somalia, you can get a taste of what it would be like to live in a society where total anarchy prevails. Thank God, most of our society still lives by a civilized code. There is a small minority who do not believe in living by that code. The attacks on women, children, the elderly and the helpless are slowly gaining a momentum to the extent that it is beginning to seem like everyday life. It is not up to the citizens of the country to turn this around. It is up to the government, the police authorities and the courts.

WHO INVENTS DRACONIAN BURDENS ON THE FRAIL?

When the government of the day turns on the helpless and the elderly, that sticks in anybody’s craw. I am talking about the recent reductions by our tax manager for medical costs from the income of the frail and elderly. These are people with no ability to offset this backlash from a growing income. They do not have the capacity to generate a higher salary. The exact opposite is true. Inflation, rising medical costs, petrol and energy prices deplete their meager pension allowance, and expose them to the dreadful uncertainty of whether and for how long they will still be able to sustain themselves. It is anathema to nail the frail in the area where they are most vulnerable, their increasing dependence on medicine, health and dental care and some surgery to ease unbearable pain. That blow is about as low as you can get. Whoever thought this up must surely either have no elderly parents or couldn’t care less about them.

OTHER VULTURES CLOSING IN ON THE FRAIL

So many pension funds are reneging on their promises and even big insurance companies suddenly change life policy payouts that were supposed to cover the eventual death of a life partner, because 'some of the benefit funds have now been depleted'. Worst of all, the government allows these crooks to get away with it.

Any act that deprives a frail and helpless person of a peaceful and quiet existence is not within the bounds of a civilized society. To suddenly impose a new tax burden on eighty and ninety year old people borders on the unbelievable. Why on earth would such an act be justified? Is there a hidden message? Is it an act to get back at the people who lived most of their lives in the apartheid era? I think not because the same rule should apply equally to all the elderly people of the country. One would hope so unless some fancy system has pinpointed that most of the elderly who would be affected by the withdrawal of tax deductions on medical costs fall into a specific race category. Would there ever be a time when we can finally put that ghost in a bottle?

INVENTIVE ACCOUNTING

There is a fundamental truth about paying taxes. Most law-abiding citizens would pay taxes if their living standards improved or at least stayed the same. When living standards have to be lowered because of taxes, people will become inventive and start to look for the loopholes. There are simply not enough resources and no control system that can ensure one hundred percent tax compliance in the world. The living standards for the frail and elderly have been eroded already by the energy prices, the cost of food and accommodation, the dispassionate attitude of society in general, crime and the need for security etc. There is an increasing group whose pension benefits have been drastically reduced. I suspect that these folks will make a plan that will have exactly the opposite effect to the result the government hopes to achieve. Let's face it. The vote of the elderly will hardly make a difference to the outcome of an election. Nontheless, chipping away at the prosperity of the elderly is a bad idea. A very bad idea. Historically, well-being is on the side of the frail and helpless. Somebody up there likes them. The Nkosi that we chant to is watching closely.

WHO CARES? PUT UP YOUR HAND PLEASE!

One thing that surprised me most was that there was almost no voice of opposition from any of the political parties or society in general. If this happened in any other civilized country, there would have been such an outcry that the intent to implement such a burden on the elderly would have been scrapped and the inventor would achieve the status of pariah. Perhaps we don't care anymore. To hell with it Jack, I'm all right. If that is so, this seems to be a major structural crack in our standing as a nation who cares for the helpless, the frail and the elderly.

I hope some editors take up the scrap and draw the line, otherwise we will all be going downhill. If they don't, there is no one else it seems.

For the rest of us, contact your local MP and ask him/her whether they are aware of these developments that will certainly affect your parents (if they are still alive) and the other elderly people. Ask your MP if he/she intends to do something about it. The reaction may come as a big surprise. 

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