In defence of the welfare state

welfare state

Written by Ben Willis

I have arguments with those on the right-wing quite often, almost every other day it seems. Ukippers, Tories, idiots, Tories, they’re much the same.

It’s an exercise in ritualistic self-harm at times, like repeatedly bashing your head against a wall in some misguided attempt to knock down said wall. Or get coins from it like some sort of political Mario game. Super Tory Boy.

Anyway, one point which they always throw my way, as reliably as the tides going out and the sun exploding in super-nova destroying all remaining life on Earth, is that those on benefits, or the poor in general, are deserving of their situation, or are just bad people. Basically, Tories on the internet are mentally stuck in the 1880s. They’re Victorian.

Obviously the poor are poor because they are sinful! They drink, they smoke, they gamble, all the things the rich people do! Only they’re poor! The poor shouldn’t drink. Fuck the poor being happy. They’re poor!

The Tories would do well to remember a great little witticism by Mary Colum. ‘I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.’

But anyway, returning somewhat to the point. These right-wingers often demonise those on benefits, and the poor. They’re lazy, feckless, living the good life on taxpayer money. Bastards. I mean, look at them, some of them even have shoes without holes in them, what a life of luxury. They’re like Tory Party donors in the opulence of their lives. How dare they! How bloody dare they!

The issue here is that most people aren’t like that. When you look at real figures, most people on benefits aren’t unemployed, they use the benefits to prop up miserably low wages, high rents and house prices meaning increasing numbers of people simply cannot easily live without government assistance. Cameron’s Britain.

Of course some will cheat the system, people cheat every system, it’s what humans do best apart from kill each other. But to scrap/cut the welfare state because of these cheats would be like treating a toe infection by sawing off the whole leg with a rusty bread knife, stupid and likely to kill.

Occasionally this message will break through to the right-wing, who in their brief periods of lucidity and sanity realise this. Then they change track. Then it’s not the government’s place to help those people. They should pull themselves up, last shits, and do some hard work. Because obviously, everyone who works hard succeeds, amiright?

Fuck off.

There’s a great little MLK quote for this. “It’s alright to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”  

Most people can’t pull themselves up, they have no boots. For these people, the state should be there, helping them. Doing the rounds was a cartoon saying how equality isn’t fair. No it isn’t, but equal opportunities are. What the Tories won’t understand, and don’t care to, is that the welfare state helps make our country fairer.

If the State is not there to help, and protect it’s people, what is it for? The welfare state exists to provide a framework in which all people can live without fear of destitution, and for that it is one of the single most admirable things is country has done, up there with the NHS. If anything, like the NHS, it shouldn’t be cut, but expanded, put better safeguards to prevent the fraud, make it easier for those in poverty to escape it. Don’t leave them to wallow in it, as you Tory stand haughtily above telling them to work harder.

The welfare state should be expanded – if you can find money to kill people, for nuclear missiles and tanks and guns; you can find money to help people.

And I for one, know what I’d prefer my tax money spent on.

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