There I was heartily cheering on good old Mr Eugenides for his excellent post on Taysides bribery of smokers to quit the noble habit, when I spoiled my day by reading the comments. I should say that some of them are quite marvellous but a couple got my goat.
Tayside are paying the bribes by way of a smart card that prevents the recipient spending the money on booze and fags. Would you be surprised to learn that some folk think that in part at least it is a good idea?
'Why should we taxpayers have to pay for the fags & booze for feckless scrounging deadbeats?
And further, if benefit dosh could only be spent on essential "non-fun" items I dare say we'd see a lot more of the parasites out looking for work and perhaps even taking some of the jobs which they currently think are beneath em.'
It may surprise Bulldog to learn that in the real world there are some people who should actually be receiving benefit. I know it's amazing but some folk are genuinely disabled. Why in God's name should we be able to tell them how to spend their money? He/she might want to target fraudsters with his proposals but there is no way of doing so without treating genuine folk worse than we already do.
To be fair it is quite difficult for the average person to make sense of the complicated UK benefits system but I would urge anyone who is in the least bit interested in it to make the effort to learn more about it and meet some claimants. I believe Citizens Advice deal with a fair few benefit claims and take volunteers, failing that if you have knowledge and experience of disabilities you may be able to get paid work on benefit tribunals should a vacancy arise. Both these opportunities will bring you into contact with all the claimants you can handle, including those scrounging old wasters aged 65+ that want something for a life times work. Worse still there are scroungers on the Down's Syndrome bandwagon and their carers looking for a handout. My recent caseload includes such scrounging wasters as a gang raped and battered woman who went on benefits after her employer sacked her for taking too much time off after the attack, a 9 year old with very severe autism, a woman who contracted MRSA after a double mastectomy two months ago. Quite frankly if these people or their carers want to spend a few quid on a pint and 20 fags then I reckon they've earned it. Unless of course you think they've started cutting their tits off to scam money?
I do realise that there are chancers out there. I've spent many a happy hour asking people who are too frightened to leave the house how they managed to get to my office unaccompanied. Incidentally the answer is usually indicates that my idiot assistant told them to put that on the form. It is at times like this I realise I'd be a rotten lawyer -I cannot bring myself to make much of an effort for these people at tribunals - I should also add with regret add that these are my native as opposed to my refugee clients who could teach us all a thing or two about standing on your own two feet and how fucking ace this country really is. On the other hand I'll do absolutely everything within my power for a genuine case. I'm often found poring over dull benefit law books into the wee small hours when I've got a proper case. It is of course the chancers that bring the whole notion of state benefits into disrepute and I've said it before and will say it again a proper medical not just a dishonest multiple choice shambles would boot thousands off benefits and allow the genuine claimant to avoid the unpleasantness of appeals and endless form filling.
Assisting small businesses and charities to hire disabled folk would also see yet more folk able to get by without benefits. Certain disabilities cost money to accommodate and this is money that small organisations cannot afford. When I was self-employed I couldn't have employed anyone who was wheelchair bound for example, as my premises were up three flights of stairs and the cost of installing a chair lift would have put me out of business. I deplore unfair discrimination but had anyone wheelchair bound approached me for a job I would have been forced to come up with a good excuse to say no.
Similarly changing the emphasis of work focused interviews from trying to shove folk into any old job regardless of suitability to installing the idea that they are in charge of their own life and are capable of generating their own income. The underclass are the most natural and unconscious entrepreneurs of any class. All that drug dealing, money lending and flogging of stolen goods should give us a clue where their talents lie. Make it easier and more worthwhile to go legit and they'll follow the money. There's stacks of tax payers cash swilling about, use it properly and we'll all be on tax cut.
I must admit I'm baffled by the benefit claimant= scum argument. When I was unemployed I claimed Jobseekers Allowance and then when I started my business the £30 a week for six months the tory government were dishing out to folk who started businesses. When I was on JSA I put £30 p/w into buying stock for my business and had the princely sum of £6.50 p/w to spend on myself, as I was living at home home I spent that on fags, to this day I cannot see why my right to do so should have been taken away. More so and this is one for the capitalists reading, when I made a fair bit selling t-shirts decorated with fag burns- seriously they flew out the door at £14 a pop .
Just think if the state had deprived me of fags they'd have destroyed a lucrative and enjoyable source of income. I'd also like the claimant =scum mob to tell me when I ceased to be scum, was it when I decided to start a business, when I got a loan to get it going, when my enterprise allowance ran out or am I tainted forever by having claimed state benefits over a decade ago? I'm genuinely intrigued.