On starving the lazy to death

I think in general in running this Group it’s important to avoid party politics. Humanism is not a political party, and there are plenty of outlets for political activism. But Humanism is about humanity: “the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence”. And one of the Conservatives’ posters at the last election stuck in my craw. It said “Let’s cut benefits for those who refuse to work.” My response was “Do the LibDems support Cameron’s policy of starving the lazy to death?”

Well, apparently they did.

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One thing I’m not is a “capitalism red in tooth and claw” kind of person. I’m a social democrat, or a democratic capitalist, depending on my mood. The extremes of politics and economics don’t appeal to me because (a) they cause too much trouble and (b) they don’t seem to work. And I think most people from the three main political parties agree, or at least they used to. Now, if you’re going to have a welfare state, I think one principle is key: we support our fellow human beings to stay alive, come what may.

For most unemployed people survive on benefits, and they aren’t very much. Jobseekers Allowance for under-25s is £57.35 a week. Now, some people do game the system, but most people don’t. Most feckless people are unsurprisingly too feckless to cheat. In fact they’re doing well if they claim all that they’re entitled to. Sometimes they turn up late for appointments or fail to provide all the information that they’re asked for. (They’re usually not really lazy, but so what if they are? They’re still human.) And when this happens they lose their £57.35. We stop feeding them. We turn off the life-support machine. And you know what that makes us? Shits. Utter shits.

Adrian

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