Last night Dispatches on Channel 4 presented half an hour on the insanity of the mechanism of DWP sanctions. It is next to impossible to try and understand this system without coming away traumatised. Throughout all of this, on the broadcast and beyond, the government refuse to involve themselves in any discussion of the consequences, supported of course by the media and any useful idiots drawn in along the way.
How does poverty help people?
This is control. That's all it is. This is the worst kind of authoritarianism: selective and exploitative. It just goes to show the utter hypocrisy and ideological bankruptcy of the right who have no compunction abandoning their ideals when it suits them. That is capitalism. This is what is in store at the general election; if one thing is certain it's that capitalism will win - even if that means fashioning some nightmare coalition across the apparent political spectrum in this country. After all the Libdems claimed to be left wing for so many years and they were quick to use the excuse of 'national interest' to grab power, to maintain capital's control over our lives.
This system uses poverty against the people in society. That is what is happening.
One heartbreaking case on the broadcast was a single dad of two schoolkids dependent on food parcels because his ESA was stopped. Non attendance of the Work Programme was the reason, in complete ignorance of his very obvious physical discomfort. A fused hip and a spinal hernia left him in clearly pain. But not only that he was also a victim of the Bedroom Tax to the tune of £28 a week which consumed the risible sum of money that the DWP left him with (I'm not sure of the full breakdown of his benefits, it's not important, nor any of my business really). The priority for the DWP - the government - was not to ensure that this man and his children were able to feed themselves and have shelter, but to make sure that what they deem he owed is paid back above even those considerations. The sense of desperation was palpable, he is now in rent arrears for the paltry sum of a hundred and twenty odd quid.
It is more important that, no doubt with the help of some Mitchell brothers style goons, the government gets its pound of flesh from this man than he and his kids eat.
What does that tell you about capitalism? That money is more important than people. That a government can create a debt, in the form of the Bedroom Tax, out of thin air and trap a vulnerable man and his dependants for the rest of his life.
And they will tell you this is the right thing to do; that it is helping people.
There is not one shred of evidence that a single person, through the mechanism of sanctions, has been helped.
None of this even begins to address the inherent corruption, exposed by the PCS (who, even so, don't seem interested in actually doing anything about it). We all know that there is a rancid culture of setting targets, however it also appears there is a culture of ramping up conditioinality on those who do what is required of them. Such people are to be treated with increased harshness until, presumably, they ineivtably trip up.
The DWP, under the stewardship of an ideological tyrant, wants people to fail.
Clearly the government does not want to help people.
In fact I'm not entirely sure what it wants. I suspect there is no ultimate goal here; it is simeply about using social security (welfare is an Americanism) as a political football. The right believes it can exploit the existence of a safety net endlessly to maintain power. However that does imply that the Tories don't want it desotryed completely, which seems incongruous. You might be forgiven for thinking the Tories want to remove benefits entirely. They may well do, but that's because their ideology blinds them and makes them stupid. They don't realise that social security provides...security. If everyone is forced into poverty what's to stop them turning on the rich or turning to mass crime. If that happens the middle classes will turn on the Tories for making them feel unsafe in their little enclaves. So the truth is that the more intelligent (so to speak) element of the party (and I don't necessarily include Duncan Smith and his cohorts within this) want some form of social security to exist. However that element is to be abused to keep them in power, thorugh demonising the poor and making the faithful afraid of the poor. It's a small price to pay, in their minds, for low wages and the commensruate labour market insecurity.
Meanwhile people such as the case above are just collateral damage. Nobody within government will care. He will be trapped by a system that has been brutalised into something dark, that is no longer there to help but to harm.