...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Day 2562: Conservatories – we will make the Unemployed do Morris Dancing(*)


(*) Other forms of public humiliation also available.

Now Mr Balloon claims he can cure the sick and make the unemployed walk. Terms and conditions may apply.

I thought that Mr Balloon SUPPOSEDLY did not believe in making it HARDER for people to get benefits. After all, he FAMOUSLY wants to give ALL married couples a twenty quid bribe, regardless of whether they need or deserve it. Just for LOVE.

So, why does he want to give freely like a Liberal Conservatory with the one hand while going all NASTY PARTY and snatching back greedily with the other?

The answer is DEPRESSINGLY obvious: for the "new" Conservatory Party there are two kinds of people: NICE people and WORKERS SCROUNGERS.

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Nice people – defined by Mr Balloon as "people he thinks are nice people" – deserve the state to lavish largess upon them. For them, Britain ought to be a GREAT and WONDERFUL place of opportunity, with easy access to Grandma Schools and private hospitals and other nice stuff. If it ISN'T like that, then someone is to blame.

Workers Scroungers – defined by Mr Balloon as "all other proles" – deserve to GET the blame for bringing Britain down.

That is why this SCROOGE-LIKE miserliness is dressed up in talk of "Benefit Fraud". No one likes to think that they are being CHEATED. (And, goodness, the Conservatories are going to be cross about it when they realise what Mr Balloon has been doing to them!) So the word FRAUD is an easy short cut to saying that people claiming for incapacity are BAD. Even if most of them AREN'T.

(This, incidentally, is the same trick with language as the phrase "Bogus Asylum Seeker", designed to pollute the term "Asylum Seeker" – itself a cold, hard neologism for "refugee" – and to make it both a threat and an insult.)

Apparently there are 2.6 million people in Britain claiming Incapacity Benefit and Mr Balloon wants to get rid of 0.2 million of them – i.e. he wants one person in thirteen to be UNLUCKY.

Quite HOW Mr Balloon thinks he is going to test all 2.6 million people on Incapacity Benefit remains as bafflingly unexplained as most of Mr B's policy wheezes. Jumping through hoops is hard enough when you are FIT and WELL, so the last thing you need when you are feeling a bit ICKY is for Mr Balloon to come along to start prodding you with his podgy fingers.

What IS certain, though, that this would be an expensive and probably pointless exercise. Squeezing out a few people who aren't as depressed as they claimed, or whose backs aren't quite as crooked as they thought is NOT going to address the real problems of fraud, which are to do with organised criminal gangs and the theft of insecure data (usually from government databases).

Of course, the BIGGEST fraud has nothing to do with benefits at all – it is the import-export Missing Trader con trick or CAROUSEL FRAUD that costs literally BILLIONS OF POUNDS in VAT. But that's not SEXY and it doesn't come with an easily target group of BLAME-EES.

The truth is that we are a RICH country and we can EASILY AFFORD to look after the numbers of people who are not well enough to work. We do not need to throw them in the poor house or have them begging on the streets; we can give people a life of (some) dignity. This is CIVILISED. This is CHARITABLE.

(And we don't, on the whole, tick off OXFAM or SAVE THE CHILDREN for the fact that not every penny that goes into the collecting tin reaches the poor and needy without some being misspent or lost or eaten by HYENAS or stolen by corrupt governments, either!)

Certainly, there ARE some people who claim when they shouldn't; there are some people who "swing the lead". So what? If fewer than one in ten claimants are faking it – as Mr Balloon's target figure seems to suggest – then that does not seem too bad. Especially since it means that MORE than nine in ten people deserve and need the cash!

You cannot get rid of all fake claims, not EVER. You are a FIBBER if you say you can. What you have to do is say – HONESTLY – what level of losses you are willing to accept so that the money reaches those who do need it.

Of course, one of the reasons thought to be behind the large increase in claims for Incapacity Benefit is that the LAST Conservatory government made is SO MUCH HARDER to claim unemployment benefit. I beg your pardon, "Jobseekers' Allowance", since you can no longer be unemployed and can be MIND PROBED to make sure you are not wasting your life in front of Jeremy Kyle when you could be out interviewing for a post of deputy ladder holder (windows cleaning) third class.

You would not have thought there were THAT many "layabouts" still to SQUEEZE out of the system, but trust Mr Balloon to believe (with the fervency of true Thatchian) that he can find a few more lives to CRUSH.

In Mr Balloon's world, you are allowed to be unemployed for two years... IN THE WHOLE OF YOUR LIFE! Yes, that's right; it's not even just two continuous years – which frankly would still be pretty horrible – it's CUMULATIVE. And in today's busy, busy world of high staff turnover and little job security it could be all too easy to rack up those "frequent firing miles".

After that, if you don't want your benefits stopped, then you can be SOLD INTO SLAVERY! With one of a select group of companies, no doubt hand-picked by Mr Balloon, you will be expected to perform "community service". Possibly in a fetching uniform, no doubt marked out with yellow star or pink triangle as appropriate.

Or, of course, you can starve! (Remember, choice is GOOD in the New Conservatories.)

Mr Balloon says he wants to end the "something for nothing culture"; which is interesting, because he'll be paying those companies to DO the community service while they will in fact, not be paying minimum wage to their "unemployed" slaves.

So much for the nation being "a Caravan moving across the desert"; Mr Balloon isn't going to let you dawdle as he's keen to close the caravan park!

"Where is the dignity in sitting at home, dependent on the state, not having a job?" he asks.

Well, first and foremost: what business is it of yours anyway?

And second: what dignity there is is in that it is THEIR CHOICE, and who the good golly are YOU to take that dignity away?

On the whole, I am thankful that Mr Frown is this week stealing his policies - Encourage regular health “MoTs” tailored to individual patients’ needs, with wider access to screening and blood pressure and cholesterol tests – from the Liberal Democrats!

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