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The Price of Society

Yesterday morning Radio 5 began the week in the manner to which the BBC has become accustomed. A ‘discussion’ about supporting troubled families opened with an appeal to the Taxpayers Alliance. It quickly became apparent this was not a discussion about support, but the cost of troubled families, and involving the Taxpayers Alliance – a right wing populist fear mongering pressure group feted by the media too much – only proves this.

So instead of a sensible discussion of how best to treat families already in difficulty, we entertain propaganda further demonising these people (regardless of their behaviour). All on the basis of how much they ‘cost’ the, to quote one caller, ‘long suffering’ taxpayer. As if these families purposefully exist only to be a burden; that they will never have any worth as human beings because they will never contribute. Don’t forget, that’s how a person’s worth is measured today: in how much (money) they contribute. A position reinforced by the tax dodgers and their apologists. Know your enemy.

What expertise does the Taxpayers Alliance have on this issue?

Alliance! That makes me laugh; doesn’t that sound like a positive and inclusive word. Friendly and helpful – like the heroes in Star Wars. Hardly!

What credentials do they bring to a debate about support (what this should be about)? A rhetorical question of course; I was minded to call in but I’m not going to be put on air to look like a tit (or made to wait for ages since dissenting views won’t be tolerated I imagine) so I just left that message for the BBC drone to pass on to…well, no one I imagine.

It was an hour of people bemoaning spending money on supporting people. All of whom were oblivious to the consequence of not supporting people. We have become a nation that knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing. What is the alternative: to continue moaning about the family at the end of the street? Actually it’s worse, the curtain twitchers and penny pinchers want these people to be completely cut off from society. They don’t care for the consequences or the message it sends to dismiss people in so total and so brutal a fashion. This is unbelievably destructive and dangerous to society. Aside from the risk of inviting addiction and dependency in far worse ways than income (we are ALL income dependent, that’s capitalism), you are going to alienate people so much they are likely to abandon any pretence of morality in the name of survival. In other words you are inviting criminality to the point you could well be accused of abetting the crime itself. This is total madness. But the right doesn’t care: these people are alredy scum, so who cares?

They can’t be saved; it’s almost Calvinism. But surely there is no price too high if it means helping people because the alternative is a cost we cannot bear.

As a depressing coda here is the strapline from the TPA website (yes, I went there):

“In areas such as public sector remuneration and quangos, TPA research now represents the definitive primary source used by the media, academics and the public.”

Sadly they do seem to be the preferred source, even if they are biased and in favour of propping up a system – capitalism – that has comprehensively failed (if it hadn’t it wouldn’t have need a socialist cure).

The irony of an organisation that claims to support a democratic voice, telling other people how to live; it is not lost on me.


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