Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The alternative to 'welfare dependency'

Anyone who ever imagined that a straightforward answer to welfare dependency is simply to snatch away the safety-net altogether ought to have been given pause for thought by Sarah Smith's report from the US on Channel 4 News tonight. It's quite clear that what you actually end up with is not the imagined land of milk and honey where everyone can and does fend for themselves, but instead countless numbers of people dependent on charity instead. A phenomenon that's considerably worse than welfare dependency, incidentally - as we know from Britain's own past, even the best-intentioned charities are far less efficient than the state in ensuring that people don't fall through the gaps. And as for the less well-intentioned charities, they may have absolutely no interest in ensuring that what they consider to be the 'undeserving poor' aren't left to starve.

The woman who was used as an example in the film of those reliant on charity acknowledged that she had no means of feeding herself - but didn't want the government to help her. That might seem incredible, but when you learn that the charity in question appeared to be a right-wing evangelical outfit, which along with the food handouts was also feeding her the line that her plight was the fault of 'big-spending' (self-evidently not all that big-spending) liberal elites, it starts to seems marginally less mysterious. Now I'm no Marxist, but if ever the term "false consciousness" had a degree of resonance...


  1. And the result of this is that some people turn to crime to feed themsleves; some people become "rice Christians", and some people just plain die.

    What a lovely future we have...

  2. You're right, Tris - it'll be interesting (and concerning) to see what happens to the crime rate once the cuts start to bite.

  3. Less so in Scotland, James, where at least Alex has said that he will look at police head office function before we loose bobbies. Ie, there may be a few redundancies in the command corridors, which will ahve little or no effect on the crime rate!

    But a great deal more in England, where there is going to be a very serious cut in police levels, courts and prisons.