Every person, every home — every family — is improved by having a piano.
We face a crisis of the family. Dad and Mum sit in front of the television or stare down at their tablets, while the children, if by some miracle they’re in the same room, are on their phones proving to the world that Karl Marx was right: the history of civilisation really does owe everything to human’s possessing opposable thumbs.
Imagine each member of the family sitting round the piano making music together. Mum on the piano perhaps, Dad dutifully performing his role as page-turner, while the kids sing out their parts enthusiastically. Imagine the glee with which the kids would shout, ‘My go! My go!’ And imagine as Dad or Mum sit down with their child at the piano, and impart a generation of culture and learning to their son or daughter. Is there a more intimate family bond than this?
But this isn’t to say such a measure would only benefit families. A piano would bring joy to the lonely, immersing them in a limitlessly beautiful world. Surely they’d be less likely to turn to alcohol, or to trawl through the dank underworlds of the internet. They’d press onto one of those weighted keys and hear in response a sound that reverberates around the room. Then add a second note and it would be almost like watching colour stream into the atmosphere. From then on, they’re hooked, and their lives instantly improved.
So let’s run through the numbers. It would cost £39 billion to handout pianos priced at £1500 to each household in the UK. From the little I know, good quality upright pianos cost at least this amount — and my goodness don’t ask how much grand pianos cost. But without a profit motive and with the advantage of a state monopoly, the low bar of £1500 might be possible.
£39 billion would hardly be the total expenditure either. Households could opt out of the scheme, and any households that already own an acoustic piano could feasibly be prevented from being handed a second one by the government. So, out of the 26,473,000 households in the UK, let us remove 20%. That leaves 21,178,400 households, or £32 billion total expenditure. (A billion, I might add, is 1,000,000,000, in accordance to government figures; the old UK billion, a much larger sum, is all but extinct.)
To put this into perspective, we currently spend £39 billion per year on debt interest (a figure it is in fact quite possible to lower), £34 billion on ‘housing and environment’ (some portion of which could perhaps be cut), and a whopping £240 billion on social protection.
And most notably, we spend £145 billion on the NHS. In this area a government handout of pianos could pay for itself. Imagine a less-stressed, less-alcoholic, less-nicotine addicted populace — that would probably cut £32 billion from the NHS budget alone.
And of course, we wouldn’t have to spend £32 billion every year. Once all households have a piano, maintenance costs and supply costs for new households would be comparably low. I imagine it would fewer than a billion pounds. That would make it less than 0.013% of the total expenditure.
In other words, a government handout of pianos is quite doable and damn good value for money.
Next step: petition the government. I’ve filled out everything over at the official UK Government and Parliament petition site and got the five necessary signatures to jumpstart the petition. But apparently, as is always the case with any government scheme, I have to wait a week until it is fully processed. I will keep you updated. (Fingers crossed that the name ‘Slugging A. Vampire’ doesn’t set off any red flags.)