Cops, teachers, nurses, fire-fighters. My family is full of public servants. Let me tell you this about them: they’re exhausted and angry.

All they talk about are cuts, of the mounting duties they must perform without the funding or resources required. Each feels the service they work for is shattered beyond fixing. They’re dedicated, but drowning. And government did this to them.

I come away from conversations with my family fearful for Scotland. This country has been ground down to the bone. We’re not alone. Plenty of other western nations are on their knees too.

Neil Mackay: Shame on Yousaf for selling out the poor for middle-class votes

This is a political choice. Poverty and collapsing public services are down to our governments, both in Edinburgh and Westminster.

Yes, Conservatives are the principle architects of ruin, but the SNP has spent even longer in office merely tinkering around the edges. It has played at power.

It’s now a truth universally acknowledged - even by loyal SNP politicians like Pete Wishart when we spoke recently - that the Scottish Government has the ability to do more with the powers available to it, yet fails to act.

Ask any economist and they’ll tell you the SNP has woefully mismanaged Scotland’s accounts. So yes, blame the Tories; but don’t you dare, SNP, try to shirk your responsibilities for this damnable mess.

The SNP and its craven base accept no responsibility, though, blaming everything on London. They don’t have the honour to offer any mea culpa, let alone develop original or meaningful solutions.

The SNP’s absurd decision to freeze council tax forces more pain on public services, benefiting the rich over the poor. Yet this party is the mighty face of "progressive Scotland"? Don’t make me laugh.

So, this is the backdrop to today’s budget. There can be no more tinkering around the edges.

Neil Mackay’s Big Read: Scots parents starving themselves to feed their kids

Poor England is trapped with a government which refuses to accept that the current economic model has failed. Neo-liberalism - the teachings of the Blessed Margaret - was never a solution and should be buried grave-deep.

The tragedy is that an incoming Labour government, triangulated on a crucifix fashioned by London’s right-wing press, offers much the same, just with a smile rather than a sneer.

In Scotland, through the devolution settlement, we’re constrained by these woeful Westminster parties. Yet devolution still offers some firewall between UK Government failure and us. There are powers to protect Scotland, if only the SNP would use them.

Humza Yousaf’s Government may today increase taxes for the wealthy. But that’s nothing. It won’t raise enough money to fix our problems. The SNP is preparing for public sector cuts. That will mean job losses, more services going. Scotland is being strip-mined by political failure.

Just look at what’s now unfolding in our country. Let’s start with the police: officer numbers are expected to fall next year, and 29 stations face closure.

Want to know how most cops spend their days? Looking after the mentally ill, the drug-addicted and the steaming drunk. They’re so busy filling in for our broken social work system there’s no time to fight crime.

The Herald: Nurses in Scotland are working 18-hour daysNurses in Scotland are working 18-hour days (Image: Getty)

Nearly 10,000 children face homelessness this Christmas. What kind of country is Scotland if our Government allows that to happen?

A quarter of Scottish councils face bankruptcy. This should terrify us, yet we seemingly accept it, without rage, without even the whiff of a suggestion from the Government about how to change it. Social care, we’re told, now risks collapse.

Nurses in Scotland are working 18-hour days. I know nurses who can barely drag themselves through their front door after a shift. I’ve watched them cry because they’re so exhausted, yet still so dedicated that they fight a constant internal battle between duty and self-preservation.

Teachers I know routinely suffer violence and abuse at school. On top of that, they’re crying out for support so they can properly teach children with special needs or who don’t speak English. But government doesn’t listen, because our failed politicians have the audacity to believe they know best.

When I hear teachers talk of their working days, the memory of Nicola Sturgeon’s platitudes about judging her on education disgusts me.

We’ve a housing crisis: an estimated 400,000 Scots live in cold, damp homes. Citizens Advice now tells of houses infested with rats and mould.

Our Fire Service has lost around 1,200 jobs over a decade. This is how we treat men and women who go into burning buildings to save our lives. I grew up around fire-fighters. They’re among the most valuable, yet forgotten public servants.

Yet politicians like the SNP’s Kate Forbes and Fergus Ewing, and Labour’s Ian Murray, ally with Scotland's richest man, Tom Hunter, against raising taxes on the rich.

That’s easy for politicians to say when they don’t have to worry about heating or eating. Don’t stand there with your taxpayer-funded salary and pension telling the people who keep Scotland going that they’re less important than your tycoon buddies.

The rich haven’t fled Scandinavia in their droves over fair taxes.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing endlessly in the hope of a different outcome. We’ve been on this economic merry-go-round since I was in primary school. Life has only got worse.

Neil Mackay: A tale of two Britain’s … the bankers and the broken

Change must come. If change doesn’t come, then politicians need to know that people are going to get very angry and it’s the political class who will be blamed.

At this budget Mr Yousaf must be more radical not less. The status quo is over. Inaction will leave him damned by failure.

Simply increasing income taxes on the rich isn’t enough. What’s needed is the introduction of a wealth tax.

We need to tax wealth as we tax income. Taxing assets over £1 million - including properties and pensions - on a sliding scale linked to value, would raise £1.4bn a year in Scotland.

Reform council tax so it becomes a proportional property tax, reform taxation around land, levy carbon taxes on the super-rich. This can all be done with the political powers available under devolution.

If today’s budget simply tinkers at the edges, nibbling a little from the wealthiest, then this country is quickly going to hell next year.

What’s the alternative but to be bold? Who do you care about? Some millionaire, or your next-door neighbour?