Writes This Week: Read On IAM that most despised creature, an income tax officer. We all know the old joke which tells of the toastmaster at a public dinner announcing " The income tax man, God bless him," and his audience collapsed. Yet we are not, devils incarnate, but ordinary working people doing our best to satisfy a Treasury gnawing at the vitals of the nation (so says the nation), and at the same time trying to convince the aforesaid vitals that the Treasury is not desirous of gobbling in one
By Patrick Daly
bite the goose that lays the golden eggs. Maintaining stable equilibrium between the two contending forces is a Herculean task. Despite this, I am supremely content in my work.
This does not mean that the Inland Revenue is a heaven on earth. Far from it, for like most other groups and associations we have our difficulties, mainly of salary and promotion.
The idea is common that once a person enters the Civil Service his troubles are finished, that he works a very few hours per day, has long holidays, and receives a princely salary. Yet I firmly believe that the salary of a New Entrant to the Junior Clerical Class, in the early years of service, is not only insufficient, but unjust.
Quick to Take Advantage
The Treasury are fully aware of the capabilities and potentialities of youth labour and are quick to take advantage of them.
To a young boy or girl of 16 years of age still attending school, £85 per annum is a princely sum; therefore, there is not the slightest difficulty in securing suitable candidates for the Civil Service. But the unfortunate young person does not realise, until too late, that £85 per annum is a totally inadequate sum to support him (or her) in a city far removed from his hometown.
A new entrant to the Junior Clerical Class, unless he is a native of London, has little chance of being posted in his native city, e.g., twelve boys from my own school were successful in securing appointments from the September, 1934, examination, yet I was the only one posted in North Ireland. The remainder were scattered over England and Scotland, the majority going to London, where digs cost them 25/to 30/per week, and many have had to receive financial assistance from their parents. To most of these homes, ordinary working or lower middle class homes, the burden of assisting the exile is almost unbearable, and instead of being assets to their parents, they are liabilities.
£175 During First Six Years In his first six years of service a normal tax officer will learn 90% of all he will ever know about Income Tax Law and Practice, and yet after six years' service his salary is much less than half of his maximum of f350 at the age of 37. As neat a means of lowering the marriage and birth rate as was ever devised, for as present scales go it is almost impossible for a Tax Officer to consider marriage until he is almost thirty. The promotion bogey is ever present, with ex-servicemen who entered the service in 1920-23 clamouring for promotion, and the Youth Entrants from 1928 onwards creating a still louder din. This promotion bogey is such a sore point that it is best left alone, otherwise the editorial office would be flooded with abusive epistles from my exservicemen colleagues.
After the foregoing paragraphs you may wonder that 1 am supremely content in my work, and yet I am, because it is of a most interesting type, probably due to an innate streak of curiosity common to all humanity. I was lucky enough to be posted to my home town, and my salary is sufficient to keep me above a bare subsistence level, and I feel that my work is eminently suited for whatever talents I possess, and that some day I will be sufficiently well remunerated to fulfil my most cherished hope.
On the day I entered the Service my chief clerical officer said to me : " Your only hope of quick promotion is another Great War." This remark left me in a rather difficult position, for I wanted a quick promotion, but the prospect of another war held great terror for me, for, candidly speaking, I was scared stiff of conscription. But I no longer fear conscription, as I would be exempted unless the dumb, the lame and the blind were conscripted. At the present time I am not even a C.3 recruit, rather am I a medical specimen, for I am a bilateral artificial pneumothoran case, which to the ordinary layman is the induction of a state of immobilisation or collapse in both lungs, either the whole of one lung and portion of the other, or portions of both, the most modern treatment for the cure of tuberculosis Impossible, you say? Yet it is not uncommon in a modern sanatorium.
So as well as being a despised income tax officer, I suffer from the stigma of tuberculosis. And yet I am not ashamed of this fact, though fully cognisant of the implications that my illness may ruin my career and all my most cherished hopes. With all honesty and sincerity I thank God that I have been ill for periods extending over these past 24years, for this illness has given me a much better education than 13 years at schooL It has taught me to
realise what my life really means and the true purpose of my existence here.
Public Error This stigma attached to T.B. is evidence of the error of public opinion. The generally accepted idea is that a consumptive is a person apart, a pariah, with one foot in the grave. All references to consumption are made in a furtive, hole-in-the-corner whisper, as if the very mention of the word is infectious. This campaign of ostracism is all the more repugnant when it attempts to filch from persons who have been afflicted with tuberculosis, certain inalienable human rights, e.g., the right to marry. Once again ignorance is the root cause of the trouble, and the common idea that tuberculosis is hereditary is discounted by medical opinion, which holds that the only hereditary disease is hereditary insanity (Laws of Life, Halliday Sutherland). Practical proof is to be found in the case of Papworth Colony for Consumptives, where not one child has been born with tuberculosis since the inception of the colony many years ago.
The unfortunate part of the matter is that all too many who have had an acute attack of this disease are ashamed of the fact, and seek by every means in their power to hide it. Yet the huge majority of the critics and slanderers of the unfortunate (or fortunate, because they know they suffer) have at one time or another during their liyes suffered from tuberculosis, for it was stated at the British Medical Association Conference of 1937, that at one time or another over 90'X, of the population of the British Isles have suffered from tuberculosis.
That I am not ashamed of being a victim of the " white scourge" is evidenced by the fact that I am not hiding under a cloak of anonymity in writing this article, nor is writing this article an ostentatious display, in order to make myself an object of pity and compassion. The one thing I do not want is pity, for I hope to become a normal citizen with all the opportunities of a normal citizen to lead a normal life. My life is full of hope for the future, my life is hope, for once I allow fear to enter my mind, I worry, and worrying for me is a short cut to the grave.
My main hope is that I may be cured completely if it is God's Will; and I feel that God has set me on this earth with some set purpose in view, and I believe that pur pose has not yet been accomplished. 1 hope to be cured that I may marry and have a large family, like Pier Giorgio Frassati, to whom Fr. Martindale alludes at every possible opportunity, as an exemplary young man. All my endeavours are directed towards this end, for in common with other writers in this series, I feel that for me, personally, marriage is the best method of leading my life in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church and the dictates of my own conscience.
After reading the foregoing many readers will think I have some peculiar melancholic mania, but I can assure them I am just as cheery and bright as the normal callow youth of twenty, with the same exuberant spirits which, unfortunately, I have to curb at the present time.
In conclusion, may a consumptive tax officer presume to give advice to: (1) any reader who has aspirations towards the Civil Service, the Civil Service is not a sinecure; (2) any reader who is a taxpayer, income tax officials are human beings; and (3) all readers, each of whom is a potential victim of T.B.: if you should ever contract T.B., don't be afraid of it, but thank God for it, as it is not necessarily fatal and is always a demonstration of God's Will.