I have the utmost joy of knowing people who have differing opinions to me. The main benefit to this other than a quick way of increasing my blood pressure during discussions on whatever is happening where opinions are being vocalised, that you hear what other people think of a movement you support and get linked to all manner articles and opinions that have a very different take on something you care about. All to often it is easy to become like a section of marchers under a bridge, your footsteps and chants echoing back giving the impression that the movement is bigger than it might be and a reaffirmation of your own views.
However in the run up to the March for the Alternative some really bad sweeping generalisations were being made about those out on the streets. More than just the usual political active fringes of society, it seems that the marchers were being painted by some as benefit dependent good-for-nothings who were never going to contribute back what they have undeservedly received from the state. Being a TUC organised march, many of the participants were members of unions, which traditionally have been to represent workers and most of their members are in employment, there’s not much point to joining one and not being in work, so saying the marchers were lazy hypocrites who lament that there are too many Eastern Europeans saturating the labour market, seems just stupid. Also is the assumption that the marchers don’t contribute to society, either by tax or otherwise. There is no reason to assume that being a unionist and against the current cuts correlates to low incomes is insulting. The elderly there have contributed, the younger members will do when eligible, as to the middle age groups, I see no reason to think that they don’t pay tax. The cuts are going to disproportionately effect those in lower socio-economic statuses, and while they have the most to lose and therefore the most incentive to speak out against the current government, they have wide ranging support.
This also illustrates a general trend that the more tax you pay (or the more you manage to avoid – oh I went there) the more valid you opinion must be on how the country should be run. Most people in this country pay tax in some form, and all have a right to be heard regardless of their employment status and how much tax they pay.
Another stick jabbing up me bum is that I really hate it when people cite not supporting such-and-such retaining its funding because they don’t directly benefit from it. This is an extremely dangerous path for people to be stepping onto. You may not think funding university courses is a good use of your taxes, but beware giving that as a reason to a generation of people who will soon be shouldering the burden of an ageing population with all the welfare associated with it. It starts with people identifying areas they don’t think is suitable for their taxes to go to, and next you have groups saying “no, no, I am fit and well, why should I pay for your diabetes specialist nurse, seems awfully expensive”.