Why Cruelty isn’t the same as Efficiency: ask Jake

About ten years ago one George Gideon Oliver Osborne (Norland Place, Colet Court, St Pauls, Magdalen Oxford), who happened to be passing through the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, graciously shared his thoughts on those in receipts of state assistance. He characterised them as “sleeping off a life on benefits” while their hard working neighbours set off for a day of hard work. Given that Gideon (son of Baronet Sir Peter Osborne) could have had only limited experience of the sort of estates where such people lived, we wondered even then how he knew. Or how his nominal boss David Cameron (Heatherdown, Eton, Brasenose Oxford), who was enjoying a few years in occupancy of the post of Prime Minister), could have known much either, or met someone like Jake, who might have enlightened them.

Jake, the subject of this story by Amy Taylor in the Guardian tried to do all the right things. [1] He was honest and self employed (a wet dream for certain right-wing theorists) paying his taxes and even tried to own his own home via a mortgage. Tried. For Jake committed the cardinal sin in contemporary Britain. He was unlucky. He got a hernia. You can read the full heart-breaking details via the link. But the essence was that he couldn’t work, fell into our labyrinthine benefits system which is designed above all to starve all claimants except old age pensioners, of every possible penny it can. And from there his life has quite quickly spiralled out of control.

Gideon and his boss rode into town on a tide of enthusiasm whipped up by a media determined to demonise all in need of help-with their health, with their income, with their homes, what-have you) as feckless scroungers determined to milk the taxpayer and so dragging down our economy that we would be pauperised by 2023. (we are, aren’t we?-ed) Yet their relentless ethos of suspicion, blockage and grudge has transformed Jake from a contributing economic unit into a permanent pauper. With a little more help, Jake might have made it through. He probably won’t, now. And there are hundreds of thousands like him.

Before some readers accuse us of gullibility, naivety and being soft, we beg them to consider this null hypothesis. It pays to treat people as members of society, not entries on a spreadsheet. And so to help is actually an investment for us all.


#universal credit #george osborne #davis cameron #poverty #inequality #benefits

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