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Byrne Out or Fade Away

So Liam Byrne, shiny headed note writer extraordinaire, has created a shitstorm of ignorance in the Guardian this week. This following on from Ed Milibland's comments in the Mail (hmmmn), it seems that Labour are eager to step into the ring with the coalition and talk tough on welfare. Just sounds like the same old Middle England propaganda to direct focus from where blame lies (the ruling rich) to the poor. Tough on benefits, unfortunately not tough on the causes of benefits; it's an article that seeks to do nothing more than to hide behind the spirit of William Beveridge and do little else. No solutions or suggestions are offered so the implication is as I've stated: scroungers are scumbags, let's get tough!

Byrne implies that he thinks, quoting the B Man (about whom I know admittedly little), that benefits should ultimately be conditional. After a time one should go to a...well it's the Work Programme isn't it. He's just parroting the Tory line, disappointingly. Worse he's doing what all these politicians, especially the coalition have done, criticise the benefits system then say we need to do x even though x is what's already happening. We need to get tough on 'something for nothing' even though that's how the system works. Claimants don't get 'something for nothing', they have to prove they are looking for work and satisfy the bean counters at the Jobcentre and their notoriously jobsworthian attitudes. Thus the implication is even that isn't enough to satisfy the state (and by that I mean the media manipulated masses), so they should do more - like work for their benefits. Increasingly the value of welfare is lowered in this race to the bottom. So welfare isn't a safety net, it's a means to subsidise dodgy employers, big business and low wages. None of this, like the Work Programme or places of education (low level education of course; there's no chance the government will fund university places, for example, for the out of work), will create decent work for people to actually do, in fact work fare does quite the opposite.

Byrne comments that the government's plans to axe disability benefits contravene the original spirit of the welfare state. He of course forgets his own government's part in the creation of the insidious Employment Support (it does neither) Allowance or the rise of the incompetent and iniquitous ATOS. The disabled - ie those particularly and specifically dependent on state provided incomes - are the current bogeymen. Adding these people to the JSA list has got to be nothing short of a fool's errand.

In the end Byrne is just playing in the mud of capitalism. I'm no expert on these systems, nor do I claim to be. But it just seems glaringly obvious that the current system, with it's aristocracies of wealth and privilege, are completely broken. They have failed us. We had more quantitative easing last year, it went straight to the banks. Will this year see the same thing again? I wouldn't bet against it.

I'm fed up with the increasing militancy of the anti-welfare sentiment. Time moves forward - it's 2012 - but attitudes (ie the PM's vaunted 'christian values) have regressed. Living on welfare is not a holiday and those that think it is will never understand things like the riots last year. They will never understand inequality and antisocial behaviour. Things will never change.

It's time to do away with these politicians: reject them en masse. We owe it to ourselves and our children to turn away from the scarcity economics and poverty thinking - the 'I'm alright jack, keep your hands off my stack' attitude - of modern capitalism.

Tomorrow is my first appointment of the new year at the Jobcentre. Again the fear and loathing settle in. Another day of getting little done out of anxiety. This is no way to live, but, on welfare, it's the only way to live; the only game in town. It's clear now that doctors aren't interested; mine don't seem to want to get their hands dirty. Fall through the cracks in this society and a dark bottomless pit awaits you. The worst thing is that many people know it exists, but just shrug in lieu of an alternative. That pit and those cracks are only going to widen over the course of this year.


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