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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 3 April 2017

Doing the Numbers

Here in the UK, we do not live in a poor country.  We have infrastructure, facilities, services.  We can cope if there is a huge flood or some other disaster.  (Granted we don't have - so far - natural disasters on the scale dealt with by many countries but you know what I mean.)

Yet our government consistently tells us that there is no more money for the National Health Service, for education, for decent pensions.  Services like provision of care for the elderly or mentally ill are at crisis point.  But we have money for defence spending, for high speed trains to tear up the countryside, for the Royal Family.

How have we reached a point where we willingly accept that this is how things are?  Is it because once ministers and the media start talking in amounts by the million, it is so far-fetched that none of us can relate to the figures being bandied about?

My son regularly reports the price of expensive footballers to me.  He talks of figures in the tens of millions as if it is normal to pay that for the services of one, easily-injured human being.  And he does so because it is normal to him.  He cannot relate to the figures he is being given.

Maybe we need to start reporting what schools and hospitals need in terms which modern society can understand.  Here are a few examples I have come up with:

1)  If you Google 'how does it cost to build a new hospital in the UK', you get an estimate of around £90 million.  Last year, Manchester United paid just over £15 million for Paul Pogba.  Or, on a list of the top twenty highest paid footballers in the world, Ronaldo earned approximately £80 million in 2014 alone.

6 x Pogba's fee = hospital.

1 x Ronaldo's 2014 = nearly a whole hospital.  If that was 2014, he will have made at least £50 million a year since then, presumably (see how easy it is to bandy these numbers about?).

2)  Ed Sheehan is currently estimated to be worth around £50 million.  And in 2016, despite having the year off, the band One Direction made £89.9 million.

2 x Ed Sheeran = 1 hospital 
1 x One Direction's 2016 = 1 hospital

Now, if you are in demand and you work hard, of course you are entitled to your earnings, however madly out of proportion they might be.  I am not suggesting Ed should cash it all in and buy half a hospital or the One Direction boys should club together to do likewise.  These and the football numbers are just 'fun' examples.

Except, it is not fun.  Because we are being conditioned into thinking our country cannot afford the basics that such a developed country should be providing for its citizens.  And we are also being conditioned to believe it is acceptable for relatively few people to have immense amounts of wealth.  

This is not about communism, about taking away from those who have earnt or inherited (although taxes on the so-called super rich should definitely be increased).  It is about recognising the stupidity of accepting sub-standard services for the majority whilst reading - for entertainment - about huge sums of money being spent on sport, fashion, yachts, homes.  Even films are mainly spoken of in 'financials'.  How many millions they cost to make and how many they have recouped.  (£876.3 million globally for the new Beauty and the Beast apparently...)

Last July, the UK parliament voted to renew the Trident nuclear deterrent at a cost of £31 billion.  And 'just in case', the government has set aside another £10 billion in case of extra costs or over spending.  

That is around 344 hospitals for the budget, let alone the 'extra' £10 billion.  

Or how about this:

Research conducted by the Alzheimer's Society in 2014 for its report Dementia UK: Update shows that there would be 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK by 2015. This will cost the UK £26 billion a year.
Two-thirds (£17.4 billion) of the cost of dementia is paid by people with dementia and their families, either in unpaid care (£11.6 billion) or in paying for private social care. This is in contrast to other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, where the NHS provides care that is free at the point of use.  (source: Alzheimer's Society)

Now there are some numbers to think about.

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