The future of welfare BBC 2

John Humphries begins with a very simple story. When he was young, and I’d put him about mid 70s, everyone worked. The Beveridge Report for the reform of the welfare state was based on that premise. Humphrey went back to his old mid-terrace house, working class-respectable- to get an overview of this notion. He pointed out the house of an old neighbour to a woman that lived across the road. She agreed the man hadn’t worked and it was thought a bit weird. He acknowledged that times had changed. Single mums, for example, were no longer stoned. Fat kids were no longer the butt of playground jokes about being morbidly obese, roasted on a spit made out of coat hangers fuelled by school desks with old fashioned inkwells that were geared for nibbed pens and eaten in a communal feast.

People don’t want to work when they can get something for nothing. And there is no longer the same stigma in not working. Humphrey’s tied this in. Most working people don’t like that. Mori polls show that they want them to suffer. Not too much, because that would be cruel, just enough to make them appreciate that they can’t live off the state. Workhouses for the old and infirm and workfare for the younger generations. There’s always work that can be found for idlers, loafers, people that are generally evil.

Forward to the American revolution, a nothing for nothing society. The richest nation the earth has ever seen; a first world nation with scenes that would shame Botswana- people living off the streets, people queuing for free food, because they have no money to eat.

‘They cut and they cut and they cut until there was no safety net’ said the worker of a food bank. And here’s me thinking a bank would be a place where you kept money. I imagined Jessie James holding it up and riding off triumphantly with a plain-loaf.

Professor blah-blah, who helped pioneer the scheme and who is incidentally just as keen to implement it this side of the Atlantic, shrugged off suggestions of harshness. These are people that live disordered lives. Yes, he quipped, some of them might hold down a job for a few weeks, or even a few months, but over the long-haul they lacked the discipline of the employed person. The answer, of course, was more sanctions.

Back this side of the Atlantic and John Humphrey’s met with some undisciplined mothers that had children, no husband to support them and no employer. A repeated mantra was that they ‘couldn’t afford to work’. The obvious solution of finding them a rich husband to support them was one that Jane Austen would have explored more fully. But again it fell back to the old carrot and stick. Is it cost effective to take their children off them and place them in work gangs mending potholed roads with bits of brick and debris ground down with their NHS teeth?

If we take the minimum wage as a starting point, inflate it to £7 an hour and multiply it by 30 then childcare is going to cost £280 per week, but this is a good thing because it creates employment for the private sector, which is subsidised by the Government because people working on roads and living in gulags can’t afford the cost.

But if companies get Government money doesn’t that mean they too are undisciplined to work in the private sector proper? Shouldn’t they be making Blackberries or rockets, sorry, that’s a bad example as the space programme was another obvious subsidised mistake.

Poor people have no right to be poor. They shouldn’t be subsidized. The express train has left the station and if people can’t run quickly enough to catch the gravy train then they are simply not rich enough. They lack moral fibre, backbone and all the other nutrients rich people take more than their fair share of. A macrobiotic diet and running shoes are all these rich loafers living off the welfare state need.