It is said that government is necessary for the existence of a civilized society. The clarion calls for the return of the political institutions fail to address a question: what constitutes a civilized society?
It would appear that the few who avail of lucrative fees, expenses and subsidised food remain unclear in relation to what constitutes good government. A House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision recommends the abolition of free bus passes, TV licences and winter fuel for older people.
This comes at a time when a record 1.6million emergency food parcels have been given out by the Trussell Trust food bank, more than 500,000 of them to children, as benefit cuts, universal credit delays and poverty reflect the reality of Tory austerity policies.
The trust’s figures show that a fifth of all referrals to food banks were linked to delays in receiving benefits. The trust reported that a third of referrals to food banks were as a result of “low income”, meaning those referred were unable to meet the cost of living. Most working-age benefits have been frozen since 2016.
What does good government look like on this side of the pond?
As politicians throughout the island draw their salaries and expenses, spare a thought for those without homes and the number of children obliged to live in temporary accommodation as health, education and other public service budgets fail to meet identified health and social care need.
The farming community continues to face the onslaught of austerity policies. The Irish Farmers’ Association has said its members will boycott the sale of repossessed farms put on the market by so-called vulture funds.
It is bad enough that hospital waiting lists remain a source of concern for the living. However, it seems that it is now becoming difficult to die with dignity. A number of consultants have claimed that conditions are so bad at the University Hospital Waterford mortuary that bodies often leaking body fluids on to the floor are routinely left on trolleys. Pathologists have lodged complaints about a lack of refrigeration facilities and cramped conditions.
What constitutes a civilized society? What constitutes good government?