Too good to be true?
Ponder just for a moment David Cameron's promise this morning - a massive programme of welfare reform which produces a system which is simple, traps nobody in poverty, rewards virtue and punishes idleness and in which nobody - that's right, nobody - loses. Oh, yes, and it'll save money too. Wow. Why didn't anyone think of that before?
The answer is that they did. Merging the tax and benefit systems was very voguish in the 70s but politicians decided that whilst the end goal sounded magnificent actually reaching it would prove tricky and costly.
Here's just one example of what I mean. The new scheme is to be introduced over a decade - starting with new claimants, I assume. Surely admin costs will increase as benefit officers have to manage the old and the new systems at the same time. Ah, I hear you say, improved computers will sort that out. Like the ones that led to the passport fiasco or the child support agency debacle or the tax credits mess?
My point is not to deride the promise or the objective. Few could oppose the idea. There's even talk of the party formerly known as New Labour supporting it. However, as someone once said, the devil's in the detail.