Saturday, July 31, 2010

Let them eat cake

Don't really have time to post but am listening to the Any Questions panellists line up to give various versions of 'cut off unemployment benefits - that'll learn 'um'. Not a single member of the panel put the case for why the dole exists, reducing it down to some sort of reward for immorality, which including those on invalidity benefit.

The first point is if you want people to riot, if you want them to rob, if you want them to take up drug dealing make sure you have communities of people with next to no income. Forget being nice to lazy people, or however you want to frame it, think about how safe you'll be in your bed at night.

The dole keeps you safe, cut it off and the crime rate will soar, for everyone.

The second point is if you want your streets strewn with homeless people make sure that anyone who isn't working cannot meet their rent. You might find this is more expensive than the social security bill.

The third point is there are so many myths around how much people are entitled to on the dole. If you're single with no kids you have below subsistence payments. You are not living the life of Riley. Those with kids *are* better off which is only right and proper because a society that allows its children to starve is not worth having. That said they're not living in gold plated mansions either.

The fourth point is the level of unemployment and dole determines the rights and wages of those who are in work. If losing your job is the end of you it means that employers are dictators with carte blanche to bully, to pay the lowest possible wages, to do anything they choose to their workforce. Leaving the morality of that aside this is a recipe for economic disaster.

The last point I'll make is this - and there are so many but don't have time - making the unemployed live in misery does not magically create jobs for them to go to. There is no point pursuing a policy of zero unemployment without a policy to create full employment to match it. This government is committed to laying people off and then beating the victims of that policy.

This knee jerk response of attacking people who claim benefits (who are often fictional tabloid stories anyway) is not big and it isn't clever. It amounts to blaming the victim and does nothing to tackle to causes of unemployment. If any government ever did pursue this kind of approach we would find ourselves making the latest sequel of Mad Max before we knew what had hit us.


Stuart Jeffery said...

You missed the point that the money that the people get on the dole is spent by them, supporting the economy. Better still to create actual jobs though - shame the ConDems can't be bothered.

Jim Jepps said...

I missed loads of points! :)

There was an interesting piece in the Ft last week talking about how the Obama administration was considering increasing unemployment benefit as a fiscal stimulus - I was very impressed