Most of the time there seems to be a disconnect between the taxes we pay and the things that they are spent on.
Yes, we all know that roads, schools and hospitals etc are paid for by the money collected from us by various branches of government. And we are often very grateful for the benefits they bring to our lives.
But you don’t often have a genuinely personal connection with the public use of your hard-earned cash. [Although in the Clumpany’s case, it is always a special moment when the council sends a fleet of bin lorries round to collect the empty Buckie bottles…].
However, Scottish football fans are in the fortunate position of being able to experience their taxes being put to very visible use.
The tax-funded police might search your supporters’ bus for booze. Perhaps more than once over the course of a single journey.
The tax-funded police might seize your banner about…err… the police and the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.
The tax-funded police might lift you at 6am in the morning for an alleged breach of the Act. Even for things allegedly done nowhere near a football ground.
Tax-funded CCTV will monitor your movements around town as you go to and from a football match.
And now there’s a proposal for taxpayers’ money to be spent on facial recognition technology in Scottish football grounds to “identify troublemakers”. Because existing CCTV, TV cameras (including publicly-funded BBC ones) and the eyes and ears of tax-funded police apparently can’t manage it.
HMRC famously said that “Tax doesn’t have to be taxing”. In the case of Scottish football fans they were clearly wrong.
Because once they have paid their taxes, the proceeds are then used to tax their civil liberties. Which seems bizarre when you consider that previous legislation and technology ought to be more than sufficient to address the unwanted disorder which sometimes mars our game.
Keep paying your taxes, and…