analytical Q May-Aug 2000Sept-Dec 2000ContactDiscussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

2 November 2000 Thursday




Monday morning I contemplated whether I should venture into town after the long stormy night.. By the time I got up, it was dry. So I went in. But the weather had already made its mark. For the second time, my colleague couldn't get to work. The first - due to heavy flooding. This time, due to fallen trees blocking the train paths.

The system is falling apart, I say. Train delays expected through Christmas due to required maintenance - after the recent rail disasters. Callers being held in a queue on the telephone - and then serviced by incompetent customer service advisors who can't type or access the computer. London underground signalling failures. One telecom engineer spent five hours connecting a line to my home, and he still got it wrong.

I wouldn't complain so much if I wasn't paying for it. I cannot recall a single year when the London Underground fares didn't go up in January. I tell my friends that you pay to earn money ( up to 40%), you pay to save money (same as your income tax rate), and you pay to spend money (17.5% value added tax). On top of this, 10% of your salary gets deducted for so-called National Insurance. For the foreigner out of work, he/she cannot claim unemployment benefit. So as far as I'm concerned, I'm contributing to the welfare of the non-foreigners as long as I'm working. There's also council tax - which pays for the local council services. Seventy pounds a month is not trivial.

So when I see the infrastructure in London crumbling - and my taxes and outgoings continuing to escalate, I wonder to myself - WHO IS POCKETING ALL THE MONEY?

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