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Thursday, 7 October 2010

My Benefits Right or Wrong

Over the past thirty or forty years, British governments have encouraged voters to think that they are in business to hand out benefits.

Ther have been a number of motivations.

When traditional industries in the North of England and so on declined and died, it was an easy option for govenment to hand out benefits, with no questions asked, to those who had become unemployed and to their dependents. It has continued ever since. Occupation? Benefits Claimant.

Then, to buy off disquiet about what was going on, governments - especially New Labour - had the bright idea of making everyone a Benefits Claimant. Thus arrived Universal Benefits. Child Benefit is the one now being talked about.

Universal benefits seem to make taxation painless - you pay your taxes and they give you it back, less the middleman's costs. It does not occur to people clutching their free bus passes that it might be more cost-effective to lower taxes and abolish the benefits.

So governments have created a nation of benefits' scroungers, the most vociferous of them affluent and middle class. Mr Cameron can say Your Country Needs You, but the claimants are quick with their reply, My Benefits Right or Wrong


Added 24 July 2018: This Blog post is expanded into a chapter of my paperback The Best I Can Do (degree zero 2016) freely available from Amazon, Waterstones, and other booksellers

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