Some 53 per cent of households in Britain are now receiving more in benefits than they pay in taxes. Most of us receive some kind of handout that we are determined to keep. We justify it by saying we pay extortionate taxes but are we morally superior to the jobless teenager who gets pregnant to escape an abusive step-parent? These benefits are infantilising, not just for those who have been on welfare for three generations, but all of us.

If the Tories cut £10bn from welfare they must take benefits from the middle classes too, says Alice Thomson. Read more

As fast as staff are being cut back at Department for International Development, consultants are being appointed to fly around the world business class. Duke University has just been handed £5 million to produce a report on effective aid spending; another US consultancy has been given £10 million to advise Indian state governments on how to run their health services; management consultants for Christian Aid have been given a £24 million contract to advise Indians on how to narrow the gap between rich and poor. So while the Chinese, Germans and Americans compete to build roads abroad, the British are still following a paternalistic programme of advice and handouts.

At around £11 billion a year, Britain is second only to the US in terms of foreign aid spending – but we’re not doing the best we can with the money, Alice Thomson believes

Times Opinion today | Wednesday June 20, 2012

Scandal:

Legality clashes with morality as David Aaronovitch examines tax avoidance in light of The Times’s outing of Jimmy Carr and Take That

Watergate has brought us a “hysterical atmosphere of constant scandal in which it becomes impossible to discriminate properly between nonsense and wrongdoing,” says Daniel Finkelstein

Also:

Alice Thomson jumps to the defence of GPs as the “specialist generalists” we need to dish out specialist services (they’re still greedy for striking, though)

We need to patch up our churches and keep them fit for use by all in the community, says Nicholas Holtam, a trustee of the National Churches Trust

20-year-old Vicky Fowler Thunders about her difficulty finding work experience, let alone paid work

The Times says…

Aung San Suu Kyi “not only represents a better future for Burma, but testifies to the resilience of the human spirit in extreme adversity”

The Government’s Civil Service reforms don’t resolve the accountability question: ministers don’t have enough say over the appointment of senior civil servants

Great things have been achieved since the first Rio Conference on Sustainable Development

Columns - Wednesday June 13, 2012

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