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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dignity and The Bus Pass

I have never claimed my Free Bus Pass, available to me like everyone else from the age of 60. At 65, if I board a bus I pay and I prefer it that way. It's more dignified. When I watch passengers of my age board , waving their Passes, I find it a bit embarassing. Where is their self-respect? It's a bit offensive too: there are  younger people sitting on every bus who have paid their fares though they are less well off than many members of the Bus Pass Brigade.

I can't think of a good reason why the state should pay my bus fares any more than it should pay my Broadband connection. I can't see any good reason for shepherding older people towards using the bus rather than using their feet or a bicycle or a car or a taxi (the latter is the best method of transport for a frail person going shopping). These are things about which we should want to make our own choices. Where did this idea come from, that older people should have their choices made for them?

I can think of very good reasons why the state should seek to ensure that those who are no longer able to work - or work so hard - should have arranged for themselves, with state encouragement and support,  adequate pensions. And I can think of very good reasons why it should provide for those who have failed to make such provision. The feckless and the unfortunate are always with us and it is too much of an Inquisition and too unreliable an Inquisition to distinguish between them.

A decent pension is the basis on which older people can retain their dignity. In preferring the Free Bus Pass to adequate financial support they have traded dignity for a second-rate freebie. The real beneficiaries are politicians who are ho


Added 25 July 2018: See now the chapter "Bus Passes and Benefits", in my book The Best I Can Do (degree zero 2016), freely available from Amazon, Waterstones, and other booksellers

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