Thursday, 11 May 2006

The Big Bear In the Woods

This is not a Party political post - many of the trends I mention were set in train so long ago that the root causes are societal and not to be blamed on one lot or the other. Though naturally the socialists are more to blame than us, and I hate Gordon Brown.

21-22% of the working age population are "economically inactive". That is some 8 million people. Of these 2.3 million are looking after home, 1.85 million are students, though many are simply doing non courses in "tourism management", or "Golf Studies" (a three year degree? I think not) to massage the unemployment figures. 591,000 are retired, 200,000 are Temporary sick, which leaves 2.1 million Long term sick and the remainder some million or so "discouraged workers".

There are about a million people on the dole, so the unemployment figure, if you include the fucking lazy (did I say that, I mean "discouraged workers") is actually about twice what the government publishes as the claimant count.

These people do not starve. They exist on benefits. Whilst there may not be dole - unemployment benefit - for those not looking for work, the state will see to it that you never actually need to. Housing benefits, Disability benefits (for those lucky enough to be able to threaten a doctor into signing him off sick) . Income support pays £2,987 per year. Housing benefit will see to your rent, and for single mothers on benefit, the career prospects are staggering.

In allowing people to live totally supported by welfare, the state creates perverse incentives in housing and employment. Couples cohabiting lose some income support, and are less likely to be moved into a bigger council house. Savings are penalised and benefits are often lost on the commencement of work. So people choose not to live together to bring up children, and do not get their foot on the employment ladder, because they lose money if they do so. There's certainly no incentive to save when employed, because savings too cost you benefits. The socialist has no faith in the human as a rational agent and dismisses concerns of the incentives and moral hazzard of welfare by pointing to his compassion for these people.

This traps people on the subsistence income of benefits. What's worse is the damage that it does to the spirit of those in thrall to the state's munificence. Read "life at the bottom" by Theodore Darymple for anecdotal evidence of the collapse of the work ethic amongst what used to be the working class.

So when the lefty says "you try living in Lambeth on benefits" as if that's the only reality - you should point out that it is the welfare state that traps these people, the very policies their socialist compassion has created is destroying lives. Benefits are the problem. And it it is a huge one. Not only are 8 million people entirely dependendent on benefits, much of the lower middle class is also in receipt of tax credits, child benefit and other distributions from the state (this is Gordon Browns client state). In 2001, the police and Judiciary cost £20 billion, defence £25 Billion, Education £44 billion, health £53 billion. Social Security cost a staggering £101 billion - and the grasping presbyterian bastard in no.11 has subsequently increased welfare spending.

this was 11% of GDP and something like 40% of government managed expenditure. So cutting this bill should be a priority if there is a shortage of resources for the police, our overstretched Army, schools and the Sainted NHS.

So why isn't anyone screaming to cut this bill? Because to do so would be presented as taking form the poorest (which in a way it is). Because after 3 generations of welfare, there is a section of society - the underclass - who have never worked, know no-one who works and more than likely will never work. Benefits as a career. Without serious incentives these people will not look for work and don't know how. Getting people off benefits and into work is possible by looking at incentives - making work pay, and the penalties - cutting benefits progressively. In effect, a carrot and stick to getting these people into the Labour market. Look to the incentives and the outcome will follow.

In housing the situation where the more catastrophically you mess your life up, the higher up the housing list you go should be seen as the perverse incentive it is. It is also manifestly unfair to the hard working families who are pushed aside, creating a sense of indignation amongst the people who are trying to better themselves, often in desperate circumstances who see people with no personal responsibility jumping ahead of them in the queue for adequate housing. This issue, more than any other is driving support for the BNP, who are adding immigration and bogus asssylum seekers to create a heady cocktail of anger.

Realistically, the state shouldn't be in housing at all, and the hopeless maladministration of local authorities would end, and much of the incentives to house the worst people in the best homes - the political correctness which offends so many people, would also go - to be replaced by the private sector which is better because the owner has a stake in his property and will see to it that it is properly maintained. ("No they won't" scream the socialists - oh yeah... and the council does a good job, does it?)

Does the state have a duty to pay people not to work and does the state have a duty to house people who don't work? Yes - if they genuinely can't, but no if it's actually a lifestyle choice, which for many long term unemployed, it is. The welfare state should be a safty net, not a hammock. (mine's very comfortable by the way)


dizzy said...

Wrong | Right
------------------> the above post

Anonymous said...

Right I think. Although, calling him a Presbyterian bastard is just wrong! I mean, didn't the whole 'Protestant work Ethic' stem from (or was certainly a principle of) Presbyterianism? He's obviously not Presbyterian anyway. Think you could pick a better word...

Jackart said...

He's the son of a Presbyterian minister. He's a bastard of the first stripe. So "Presbyterian bastard" seems pretty apt to me.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't make him Presbyterian - he holds to Catholic views

dizzy said...

If I was to suggest "scottish" instead of "presbyterian" would it offend anyone?

Anonymous said...

Well you created this underclass in the 1980's when you trashed every industry except the mickey-mouse "service" jobs in Londistan, which have now moved off-shore. Lots of skilled, educated people moved off-shore as well thanks to you snotty public-schoolboys who thought that anyone without a posh accent deserved to rot on the dole. Glad my taxes aren't contributing to your kids' health and schooling. Glad your kids will pay a full and heavy price for your stupidity.

Jackart said...

That's the type of snotty, chippy anonymous post which I've come to expect from socialists. You've made youself look bigoted and vindictive, not to mention rasict (londonistan?). You beleive that the reforms of the 1980's were unnessesary which means I can add blinkered and Ignorant to the list too. You bury your head in the sand and wish for nice (polluting, dangerous) protected, subsidised heavy industrial jobs in a socialist heaven. I'll take reality, thanks.

Momentary Academic said...

Did you really go to public school, Jackart?

Will said...

I can agree with Very British Dude's views. There are many people who live in a ghastly world of dependence on the state, some of whom get by on dishonesty and a few of whom show enterprise by advantage of the opportunties given by our arcane drugs laws.

But Anonymous speaks for many about the dishonesty and despair of the Thatcher regime. It was elected - haven't you seen the Saatchi poster from spring '79 "Labour isn't working" - by giving the electorate the impression it would reduce the number of unemployed, in fairly short order.

It did not do this.

Whether by a secret agenda, or by not understanding the suffering that would be imposed on Britain outside the south-east, devastated communities and took out bad - and good - firms and sectors of the British economy.

Every time I see a beggar on the streets of London, I remember that street begging was something that had passed into history books soon after the start of the 20th century: but some of the young unemployed of the early 80s came to London and ended up on the streets.

By all means, let's aim to restore dignity and self motivation to as many of these welfare dependents as we can. If you think the weeding out of inefficient nanufacturing industry, 790 - 84 was necessary, and the confusion of the electorate was justifyable, so be it. Very British Dude's view that it's historcial and does not need to be reviewed, is, probably the best way forward.

But the origin of the British underclass is the effect of these economic policies. And many people who are not "socialists", and don't want to see an underclass, hold them, Jackart. Passionately!

Jackart said...

A good post, Will. But I think the orrigins of the underclass are earlier, and are as a direct result of the welfare state. After all - the 30's did'nt see a total collapse in the work ethic despite total economic melt down.

I accept the Thatcher changes were tough, but made worse by the Unions who resisted the changes that could have given people jobs.

Now there is a class of people who do not have the psychological tools to work and that is only possible in a welfare state.

Poverty doesn't cause depravity, it is the other way round.

The welfare state is a trap.

Robert said...

"Golf Studies"

No need to be rude about the more vocational degree courses. If it gets someone a job in an emerging Leisure industry sector, then we should not scoff.

chris said...

Will, Thatcher managed to rationalise the failing state owned industries and wrestle back control of the country from the unions, but she did not significantly reduce the Welfare State in the same way. That there where people on living on the streets during her term in office does not disprove Jackart's theory that it is the Welfare State that is stopping most of the under class now from getting productive work and bettering their lives.

Consider what you mentioned:
I remember that street begging was something that had passed into history books soon after the start of the 20th century
This is some time before the creation of the Welfare State, and during a period where Laissez Faire captialism and globalisation was at it's height. And also as Jackart says:
30's did'nt see a total collapse in the work ethic despite total economic melt down.
So before the Welfare State while there was certainly poverty (more than anyone now experiences in the UK) and economic upsets it was not enough to create the under class of that we now see.

Vol-in-Law said...

I guess the Thatcher government can be blamed for not reforming the Welfare system when they had the chance. It's understandable that in the early-mid '80s their reform of the economy was creating genuine unemployment in parts of Britain and time-limiting welfare payments would have seemed like kicking a man when he's down, but I agree we're living with the legacy today, a permanent underclass permanently unemployed. The system is also an attraction to benefit-seeking foreign immigrant 'asylum seekers', and it helped expand the existing (pre-80s) underclass throughout Britain by economically supporting the underclass lifestyle. The (partial) solution is time-limited welfare as was successfully introduced in the USA.

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