There is an interesting snippet tucked away at the end of this Telegraph piece regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s decision that use of the Universal Jobmatch site will now indeed be mandatory for Jobseekers from the New Year (the title, incidentally, was changed from the original “Government to Spy on Computers of the Jobless” to “Jobless to Be Remotely Monitored by Government” by the internet fairies at some point between the publishing date of the 20th December and now, with the original showing on Google and linking to the same piece with the new title).
Iain Duncan Smith has confirmed that he and his pals have been taking some more time off to don sackcloth and ashes; to pray and fast around the clock until the problem of Drugs and Poor People Using Them is solved. Reports that the giant, golden, jewel encrusted calf that they had been prostrating themselves before actually came to life – eyes blasting out laser beams – and bellowed “SMART CARDS!” as its nostrils belched out pure sulphur and baby screams are as of yet unconfirmed; but it has been confirmed that these jokey little scraps of plastic (“smart” cards preloaded with an allowance to spend on specific essentials from specific stores only, replacing existing JSA cash payments to benefits recipients who happen to also be addicted to drugs) are exactly what the pious parliamentarian and his chums have offered as a solution to the complex and multi-layered issue of drug addiction on the breadline.
As he mentions himself, they can’t actually do any of this, but the very fact that he could bring himself to shamelessly attempt to sell such a thoroughly stupid idea to the public is breathtakingly insulting. People who are dependent on drugs (including alcohol) will not magically “get better” and stop feeling like they need to take drugs just because their bank balance says “zero”. Without additional measures such as decent rehabilitation programs for those who’d take them, medical support for those suffering the acute physical and mental illnesses brought on by abrupt cessation, and increased police numbers to deal with the subsection of people who will in their desperation turn to theft and violent crime; the overall impact on society would be very obviously negative. The social burden of supporting these cashless addicts would fall on the surrounding community – likely as not a less prosperous one – through increased council tax charges or reduced council tax benefit to cover the cost of increased social services, while more prosperous communities would be shielded from the impact due to not many dirty smackheads being able to afford to live in nice houses, in nice towns.
This approach shifts the eventual cost of dealing with drug addicts onto the people in the local community anyway. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be saner to at least allow them cash that could be spent in any local business as opposed to cards that are only allowed in a tiny selection of big chain stores? If the Azure cards, currently being issued to failed asylum seekers temporarily unable to leave the country – are any indication of what Iain Duncan Smith would have to offer, then frankly, as an at least somewhat responsible member of my community, I’d respond with a great big “piss off, Dunky”.
As far as Iain Duncan Smith is concerned, he’s not going to be affected either way by the results of his crazy schemes, he’s far too far above us to ever have to consider actually coming face-to-face with a stupid useless junkie anyway. This is the cynical scapegoating and proposed tormenting of a group of vulnerable people, in order to satiate a public simply salivating over the prospect of seeing yet another group of disempowered individuals kicked to the gutter, and gleefully stamped all over in the name of “tough love”. And it wouldn’t even do a damn thing to fix the problem for anybody. Fortunately, as mentioned before, they can’t do it yet, and won’t be able to for a while.
Don’t buy into the bullshit. Drug addiction and poverty, especially when happening simultaneously, are serious and terrible, and the right sorts of confidential support should be in place. The invasive, expensive and humiliating ideological experiments of a handful of chinless wonders are not, I expect, what the doctor would order.