I thought it was time we exercised our brains again.As usual the Times has given me a lead in to today's subject matter and I would very much like to have your opinion.
In the UK at present every person over sixty is eligible for a bus pass, which means he or she can travel free on the bus. I don't have one because I live too far from a bus route, but many of my friends have them and use them regularly. One friend, now sadly moved away, (miss you B), used to travel up to see us coming the twenty five miles or so by bus for free. Another friend went with three of her friends for a few days in B and B at our Yorkshire coast, travelling all the way by bus and changing - they had fun planning the route and had a lovely little break at the sea.
Now with the advent of David Cameron's 'Big Society' and the round of huge government cuts it looks likely that many places will lose this bus service. If you stand in our local market square and watch people getting off the bus to visit our Friday market you will see that most of them are over sixty, which means that most of them have travelled free. How does the bus company keep going, you may ask.The answer is that it is heavily subsidised by the County Council - and this of course is why it may be cut because County Councils are having to make drastic cuts in their services.
Now - here is my dilemma. Were I to be on a bus route then I could well afford the bus fare and would willingly pay it if I wished to travel anywhere. Most of my friends would be in the same position because most of us are in that lucky group who retired when pensions were good enough to live on and although interest rates have often drastically cut our incomes, we are still by no means on the breadline.
But there are many who use the service who could not afford to pay. So what do we do?
My mother was born in 1890 and all her life she spoke with terror about ending up in The Workhouse - a very real threat when her parents were alive - and both she and my father were also very afraid of means testing as a way of deciding who gets what in the way of financial help. To my mother falling below the means test level was such a disgrace. Luckily they never did - they prospered, brought up three children and we all did well too, thanks to the start in life which they gave us.
So - what is the answer as far as the free bus pass is concerned? If it is scrapped then the buses could not afford to run the service. Often there are only half a dozen people on the bus. If bus passes are means tested does this mean we are going back to the bad old days when society was divided into 'us' and 'them' (or indeed is it like that already?), does the same situation apply to our libraries, also in threat of closure (only the richer can afford to BUY their books).
Marie Antoinette's 'Let them eat cake' is a phrase which springs to mind when thinking about the way some of the coming cuts are going to bite into incomes of some people, yet I know cuts of some kind have to be made. It is a dilemma on which I hope you can express an opinion.
##On an entirely different subject (you know now that I have a butterfly brain) - while typing this I have watched a blackbird landing on my clothes line, watched it land, wobble, spread out its tail and its wings to get its balance, wobble a bit less, steady itself and eventually be still enough to break into song. And it struck me how frustrating it must have been over the centuries for inventive minds to watch this bird behaviour and not be able to figure out how to build something which could get into the air.
Fog rules again today after yesterday's sunshine.
To my readers who are not bloggers (you know who you are) please send me your opinion by e mail(if you have an opinion) so that I can get an overall view of what people think - then I will do another blog on it.