Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Stop the bullying
Nobody likes a bully. When someone uses his strength or position to threaten someone weaker, we're all outraged. And rightly so.
But as an instrument of policy the government is prepared to reduce the living standards of the already downtrodden and there is little condemnation.
Many poor people who find it desperately difficult to live on existing benefits are becoming more and more desperate. A social crisis is happening and there is scarcely a peep from the rest.
The growth of food banks is testimony enough that many are finding it difficult to meet their most basic need, the need for food for them and their families. Rent arrears are on the up. And just as night follows day evictions will also follow. Resulting in even more family breakdown and misery.
Yes, its hard out there. And the response. These are straightened times and all should share the burden.
How facile. Its the equivalent of backing the bully and ignoring the victim. Both the left and right in politics are turning their back on the welfare state. The sharing of the burden between everyone in society is definitely not on any parties agenda.
The wealthy get their tax reduced and the poor get their incomes cut. This is not sharing the burden. It is adding to the riches of the one and adding to the misery of the other.
There’s a propaganda war to demonise the poor and desensitise the rest of society to their plight. They’re feckless, they’re scroungers, work shy and basically a drain on all. They’re not the ones that should benefit. They’re the undeserving poor.
The coalition government rhetoric says they’re going to concentrate on the deserving poor, those that are in “real’ need. They’ve a funny of showing it, cutting their benefits.
Attlee and his government set up the welfare state on the model outlined by William Beveridge a Liberal. The universal basis of the welfare state continued under Winston Churchill a Conservative.
All three were of the view that universality of benefit was the best way to deal with the scourge of poverty. Be it poverty caused by unemployment, sickness or old age.
It was called the postwar consensus.
This consensus was of the view that the fairest way of reducing “want” and the most efficient too was for everyone to pay and everyone take out when they were in need.
Selectivity and means testing not only stigmatise recipients but is also a very costly ways of tackling the problem. How many kids that are entitled to free school meals don’t get them? Its reckoned about a quarter.
Giving benefits to all and then using a progressive tax system to claw back the cash from those well-off is not only more efficient but also the best way of ensuring that aid gets to everyone. The UK needs to get back to these basics.
Lets spend more on tax collectors rather than on benefit administrators. All should pay their dues.
Lets keep, child benefits, heating allowance and bus passes etc and lets even add to the list.
Then we’d all really be in it together.