Social security: The new poor law of 'moral convictions'? from a politician? Any modern day politician?
*raises eyebrow* -*coughs* recent expenses scandals anyone? party donations from banks and big corporations? Need I go on? Glass houses - stones. Hello. *choke*

Any state provision for the poor, the ill, the severely disadvantaged, the old, has only ever been given begrudgingly and has always been tinged with deep resentment and with strings attached. There has always been an inbuilt institutionalised drive to 'punish the poor'. It's endemic - you don't have to look very far at all - it's under your nose - right now whenever there's any mention of 'the unemployed' these comment forums quickly fill with howling indignations from various 'hard working' people proclaiming their endless anecdotal evidence of those darn lazy, work-shy scroungers who somehow always own 50 inch+ plasma TV sets with sky subscriptions to watch Jeremy Kyle on, and spend every day drinking and smoking whilst laughing away at those very same poor, poor, downtrodden people who work for a living and resent every single last penny they pay in tax... (yet are happy to work for free as witless propaganda tools for the state. Goebbels would have been proud of such devotion - why, even the Chinese State Party has to pay for such dedicated writers.) We've all seen the increasingly tiresome clich├ęs by now. But if it wasn't for all those clouds of derision - then we'd have to hear loud and clear from the real actual people who also write in these same forums who are unemployed, and/or ill, or have to provide full time care for family members, and who are already genuinely suffering and for whom - if their lives weren't hard enough already - are about to be made to suffer even more thanks to this coalition government's totally unmandated and somewhat crude reshaping of the benefits system. It was bad enough before - but I fail to see how these 'reforms' are going to make things any better for anyone. Well, except of course for those private companies all set to profit heavily from providing workfare placements etc.

So here we see the beginnings of not a simplified benefits system - but a very crude simplistic, brutal one - with added extra cruelty and punishment built in. Soon nearly everyone, according to ATOS - if you can breathe - will be considered fit for work. Then if you've been out of work longer for a year you're going to be persistently, relentlessly bullied by the DWP (and for-profit private companies) to constantly strive to find work that in most cases doesn't even exist, and then if you can't find that fabled full time work then every so often be forced to undergo community service (a punishment up to now reserved only for convicted criminals) . All just so you know your place as the lowest of the low. It's a benefits system that could have been dreamt up by Kafka.

Meanwhile as part of this whole reform might I ask - what is our government doing to create jobs for the country? Erm? [sound of hands being washed] Oh yes - the 'private sector' will provide. The magical all-powerful 'private sector' is going to rise up and save us all. (Which is nothing but the mirror image of the fantasy that the state will provide.) Not that anyone has been actively discouraging the private sector during these past Nu Labour years -mind. Far from it. Incidentally, what was the result of this same sort of magical thinking when it was applied to the stock markets and banking sectors? I don't remember that ending very well. Oh wait - they're now back to making huge profits - while the rest of us are suffering cuts and having to have the welfare system overhauled...

Something isn't quite right with this picture.

[A saner alternative would be to dismantle the whole DWP, tax credits and welfare system and replace them all with a universal citizen's wage given to every adult - but that's utopian blue sky thinking - like oh, everyone trading in derivatives, a home-owning democracy, or everyone owning shares in newly privatised utilities -so and so forth... except you know - realistic and achievable. But that's an idea for another blog post another time.]

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