Wednesday, 21 May 2014

"What the fuck?"


I encountered this little snippet video on the internet about "Benefit Claimants not informed of their rights"


I only watched half of it before I wrote the following...

My poor brain.  Sometimes I wonder how bizarre is my brain.  Then I wonder how bizarre are other people's brains.  Of course it is difficult figuring out what is really going on but often I find myself zooming out (to use a cinematic metaphor) or recoiling to get a bigger perspective.  I try to focus on the underlying and overriding assumptions to see if they make sense.  Like my question to the Children Services "What is wrong with abuse?"  Of course it is Socratic in nature, intended to get them to explain and thereby think about the issue.  I have never had an answer from them and they illegally terminated a child's Core Assessment mid flow because they stopped talking to me, communicating with me, or engaging in any way.  It took six months and the help of my MP just to get them to write a brief note claiming they had completed the Core Assessment.  But pointedly they never answered my question.  I know why, of course, but I suspect they don't.

All this might seem unrelated to the issue of this video report about claimants not being informed of their rights but I mention it because it startled me in much the same way the Children Service did.  A kind of "What the fuck?" moment.

I'll leave my views on Iain Duncan Smith's reply out of this comment because he acted predictably.  But on the subject of the issue of poverty the interviewer on 'Politics West' said to Monsignor Bernard Massey, a Catholic priest "As a Christian you have a duty to the poor but this is a country that spends two hundred billion a year on welfare, that's not poverty in the biblical sense is it?"  Monsignor Bernard Massey said "No it isn't."  There!  Did you see the "What the fuck?" moment.  I would replay it in slow motion but being a written article you can re-read it yourself.

It was a kind of 'double whammy' to use a phrase that I dislike.  First of all I couldn't comprehend the preamble reference to £200,000,000,000.  What is that supposed to mean?  It is just a figure and means virtually nothing out of a relevant context.  So I tried to investigate and surprisingly found missing pages on the government web site and significant variations on pertinent figures.  A guardian report states that £159bn was spent on benefits in 2012 and that the 2014 budget announced a welfare cap of £119.5bn for 2015-16.  So first of all it is just an exaggeration of any figure.  Then there is the very emotive issue of what is meant by 'welfare' or 'benefit'.  The more I looked into this the more it became evident that the illusion is far worse than I had imagined.

Of course the machinations of government have deliberately obfuscated the situation but I will try to sum it up.  British people work and earn a living.  The 'unemployment' rate is around 6%.  So broadly speaking people work and earn a living.  That's what humans do.  Now earning a living doesn't mean simply having enough food to feed yourself.  Earning a living must provide a secure environment in which to 'live' rather than 'survive'.  So it has to account for things like rest time, sleep time, pregnant time, parent time, old age time, sickness time and facilities like a roof, heating, cooking, sleeping, travelling and so on.  Earning a living means, within a certain range, having a modestly reasonable life.

As a group of people we share the various attributes and roles so some people are old and some are sick and some are fit and some are clever and some are pregnant etc..  It doesn't work to only provide a living for someone working manually for 8 hours a day every day.  Society would simply collapse.  So what is needed is a pool of resources which are shared out.  So people pay tax when they earn and the pool is used for what is deemed reasonable.  Just imagine if a bloke and a woman are together and working and earn a fixed amount a week each.  They decide to have a baby and the woman gets pregnant and can't work and the bloke says "fuck you" this is 'my' money.  What if they both agree to put 15% of their money into a bank account for a pension or a sick fund and the woman has control of the money and the bloke gets sick and she says "fuck you".  It doesn't make sense does it?  But this is only part of what the government are doing.

In summary the economy is so degraded that a vast number of people work full time and don't earn enough to live.  Consequently the government (that is the collective pool) provides supplements on housing, council services, tax (remember the banal phrase 'tax-credits'), maternity and the list goes on.  So what we have is a lot of people working away for nothing or less than nothing (the simple equation is 'money earned' minus 'money to live').  The 'pool' provides pocket money to reduce the negative earnings.  This really is beginning to look like a very clever way of managing slavery.

On account of the negative earnings many people have to resort to food banks.  That is just organised begging.  And the Monsignor said "No"?  The Monsignor said this was not the same as biblical poverty?

So my brain has just stopped in the "What the fuck?" mode.

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