Benefits Street

Will be making updates to this POS blog site in the coming days (maybe) and will no doubt come up with an excuse as to where I've been for over a year and a bit (potential answers can be found in the fourth list down here - not saying they're true or anything...)

I may even try to mutter cogently about the changes I've made, for good or ill.

Until then - Benefits Street.

I just finished watching 'Benefits Street: The Debate' and it's precursor aftermath ephemera; admittedly I only watched about half the episodes as I had assignments (more on that later) and note the following:

1. Nearly every single person pleading extreme poverty smoked; a habit I gave up because I preferred the alternative vice of getting laid which was severely impaired by said habit as Mrs. Jerubbaal wasn't a fan.

2. Several of the most hard up, at-evictions-(their own front?)-door seemed to have cash for widescreen tv's, sound systems, smartphones and sky, which is, you know, weird.

3. The education system of the past 3 decades has not covered itself in grace.

4. Smoggy deserves a medal; he's a modern Marks, making life a little more bearable for hundreds; as such he's likely to be chased down and bled over hot coals by Osborne the Clown as I find it hard to believe there wasn't a little tax dodging going on somewhere there.

All in all I liked it; it illustrated to me some of the main problems with the poorest in our nation being more closely linked to a failure to aspire to anything beyond the merry jig they did for they benefits which could be taken at a whim. The debate post show was especially interesting in that the following was pointed out:
a. The vast majority of the welfare bill does not get spent on a lazy, feckless underclass but on pensions for the elderly and the actual system itself; I'm not sure what the difference was from the perceived but it is of a rather embarrassing magnitude (and a point that was definitely conceded to Medhi Hasan and Owen Jones judging by the feeling in the audience.

b. The benefits system is largely about sustaining the benefits system; it is unbelievably pointed towards punishing anyone veering out of the predefined routes for welfare dependency or initiative (call it fraud if you will; I don't think its fair in the case of people like Smoggy with his entrepreneurialism or White Dee and her advocacy.

So with all that said here is my solution for when I become supreme ruler of the world/UK:

1. Make it easier to come on and off benefits: having known several people who have had to suffer through several weeks of no cash flow due to the sheer idiotic beuracracy of the whole welfare system, it is easy to see why so many fall prey to money lenders and fraud just to make ends meet. We should implement a zero base policy, firing everyone involved in its current asinine intransigence and building a system which puts people, not the state, first in queue for other peoples money.
2. Raise the income tax threshold, remove minimum wage requirements, introduce a negative income tax and link it inversely to corporation tax/business rates: simply put let people keep more of their money, let businesses hire more people for what they can attract them for and make business compete through higher wage allocations by lowering the burden on them; doesn't matter how this falls exactly but you could reduce the tax/NI take from SMEs and take out the inbuilt advantage for larger firms a national minimum wage gives them over smaller interlopers.
3. Taper benefits so the loss of them isn't as painful when someone does find work: joining the world of work is painful, never more so when you were just getting your beer vouchers for free - can we really not find a medium between the 2 administered by people rather than form?
4. Recognise the biggest welfare recipient is...the state: given government borrowing is by far the largest impasse for business growth in the UK we need Osbo the Clown to step up his plans for reducing the overspend and demand lower taxes/no taxes on the poorest - the best way to see money flooding the poorest is to increase the velocity of money which means we need less of the state sitting on it.

In any case this goes beyond the old libertarian tropes for benefits and we need an adult conversation as such.