Mark Littlewood, former darling of the Liberal Democrats and now the director general at the Institute of Economical Affairs (a free market think tank that has as much to do with thoughtfully applied economic theory as a McSalad has to do with healthy eating) has written today in The Daily Mail that he believes that George Osborne should publish the names of every welfare recipient in the country, along with how much money they are receiving, and the duration of the time they are receiving welfare payments. He believes that this would help to reduce the government’s welfare spending budget.
He’s a funny little man this Littlewood, the sort of person who stops donating money to third world children the second the government increases their foreign aid budget. The sort of person who expects a personal thank you from benefit recipients and updates about the steps they are making to improve their lives. A peculiar stance for an ostensibly libertarian chap, but nobody really expects consistency from shills and blatantly provocative media whores; you’d be as well expecting a prostitute dressed as a french maid to know a damn thing about getting stubborn stains out of the carpet.
Outrage, I suppose, is what he intended to create with his poorly-argumented Daily Mail OP. The funny thing is, I find myself agreeing with Littlewood, I think it would be fantastic if such information was made public (don’t worry, it can’t and won’t be, Littlewood’s suggestion is entirely unfeasible). Over 50% of the public are net beneficiaries of the state. Far more people receive benefits than The Daily Mail would have its readership believe. Indeed, a very large proportion of its readership will be on some form of state benefit, whether that be Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Tax Credits, State Pension or a whole host of other named benefits that are available.
If the actual figures were made public, for the first time many people receiving benefits would see that they are part of a massive crowd, a throng if you will, of individuals who have all, for one reason or another, found themselves struggling and requiring assistance. Each and every individual who was publicly named would be experiencing a simmering anger at the way they had been treated in having their personal financial affairs made public, and for the very first time would have a list of potential allies in their hometown – with each potential ally also feeling this simmering anger, and no longer being inhibited by the social expectation to pretend to the outside world that they are not receiving state support. Instantly a crowd of people with not much left to lose (one can’t attempt to “keep up appearances” when one’s financial matters are out on display for all to see) would appear, seemingly out of nowhere.
And this is why the assistance you receive from the state will not be made public. But Littlewood can rest assured that if his idea was implemented and actually came to fruition; a whole bunch of jolly jobseekers would be round his place to personally update him on the steps they are taking to improve their situation.
I wonder if he’d put out cake?