Ever heard that phrase? You should have - our politicians use it enough when talking about public services and how we should pay for them. They tell us that it should be "fair" and "based on the ability to pay" - but it never is. What they mean is that it should be unfair and based on the ability to earn.
After all, what's fair about charging one family of four more than another family of four when they both have exactly the same requirements and access to exactly the same public services? Why is it fair that just because someone earns more they should pay more for something? It doesn't happen with private services. A plumber charges the same for changing a tap washer whether you're a company director or a single mum.
As for basing a payment on the ability to pay - this is pure myth as at no point to do they consider your actual disposable income. A family of four with a good home and an income of £40,000 a year might seem to be well off, but they've got a mortgage to pay, other commitments and responsibilities to meet and may well have less disposable income than a family of four living on benefits in a council house.
It's never been about making it "fair" or based on the ability to pay. It's always been about punishing the hard working and rewarding the bone idle. Quite simply, every adult in a local government area should pay the same for the provision of those services.
The much-maligned Community Charge was much fairer than the old rates and the current system. Interestingly, my father - a staunch, old-style Labour supporter - was very much in favour of the community charge even though he detested everything about Maggie Thatcher.
The Conservatives won an election pledging to bring it in and were democratically elected. That anarchists chose to usurp that democracy with riots and organised action is a blot on this nations democratic heritage. They didn't have the balls to oppose it democratically so they used thuggery and violence to get their way. Ironically, they were supported by Labour councils who bumped up their areas Community Charges to absurdly high amounts to stir unrest. They knew that the blame for the high charges would be placed at the door of central government even though it was their greed and profligacy that was at fault.
Bring back the Community Charge.