Wednesday, 13 November 2013
So, I’m sitting here at my desk engaged in a curious endeavour. It’s most odd in a world where we pay some people to do absolutely nothing that I have to actually produce something that somebody else is prepared to shell out for in order to earn a crust. It’s not a novel idea, really, it’s the way things have been for millennia – you exchange your money for my time and skills – but I wonder if there are people in the world who truly don’t get it. Actually, I don’t wonder at all; I see it every day.
The latest manifestation of our bizarre system of reward without productive effort is the idea of payment for breastfeeding. Yes, I know there’s a wider argument about creating less dependency on public services down the line, but it’s a curious way of going about it, reinforcing the belief that your living is the responsibility of government and therefore your entitlement. The simple fact is that state-dependent parents tend to produce state-dependent children almost whatever efforts are poured in from an empty public purse.
The removal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance caused an element of protest, but it too was a largely meaningless gesture; those kids with the wit and enthusiasm and ability to gain from further education didn’t need bribing to stay in college and those who would only do so because of the EMA probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I challenge anybody to prove it genuinely changed outcomes in all but a tiny number of marginal cases.
The same applies with the misnamed Job Seekers Allowance – if you want to work you’ll go out to seek a job but if you make a living working cash-in-hand, on the rob, working scams, etc, it’s just another state handout to help you carry on regardless. Admittedly the government is talking tough about applying sanctions but for years this misnamed payment has effectively reduced the value of subsistence available for those who genuinely need short-term dole, while paying others to make a career out of idleness.
And of course, the always sensitive Child Benefit – a payment to people for doing what they would do anyway. In fact it’s another payment which disproportionately benefits those with a lower value to society because while those in useful work tend to ration their family sizes by necessity, if you can claim the right combination of benefits – for which having children is pivotal - it is perfectly possible to raise a family and support a succession of undeclared feral males of breeding age without ever lifting a finger to give anything back.
We genuinely live in a world of The Haves and The Have Nots. But where we used to believe in supporting those who could not support themselves we now take from those who work to produce things that we need and we give it not to those whose need is greater, but to those of whom we have no need. It’s no wonder people are saying that our society is broken – for every pound some get that they don’t earn somebody else has to earn a pound that they don’t get.
You looking at me?
So, back to the point. EMA paid out to kids who didn’t actually go to college. JSA is paid to many who have no intention of seeking work and now they are going to pay BFA – Breast Feeders Allowance – without any idea of how they are going to monitor it. As I sit here contemplating my fine set of moobs I’m wondering if I can’t take up a second career and claim BFA just for making a tit of myself.