The welfare state was set up in the late 1940s by the Attlee government. This was, no doubt, motivated by a genuine desire to see an end to poverty by helping those who had fallen on hard times.
Thus begins Bob The Boy Blunder's latest pile of piffle. He continues:
However, over the last few decades it has become so massive that millions of our fellow-citizens now refuse to work because they know they can get free handouts from the state. I'm not writing now about those who are genuinely unemployed, but those who don't want to work (I see them often in Ramsgate town centre; all they are fit for is boozing, swearing and fathering kids by different women, producing another generation of scroungers – I call them the "Pramsgate Militia").
Now, unemployment rates aren't as easy to get a hold of as they might be, what with those in power wanting to look as if they've made an impact. "Out of work and claiming benefits," and suchlike circumlocutions are employed. The Fount Of All Knowledge™ gives the unemployment rate for Thanet (the district Ramsgate resides in when it's not sailing off into the North Sea) as 4.1%. This site puts the number (as of 2011) on Jobseeker's Allowance at 3.8% and those on Income Support (some of whom may be working part-time) at 5.5%. Which is higher than the national average, but then that's to be expected. Ramsgate's main industries are fishing and tourism; the former being very much in decline and the latter being notoriously fickle, depending on the British weather as it does, not to mention being highly seasonal. I've lived in a seaside town; believe me, Man doth not live year-round by a few weeks' worth of midsummer boom-time alone. And if the summer's wet, it's worse.
In short, Ramsgate is your typical depressed area, and the reasons for that are obvious and easy to understand. But anyway…
Given Ramsgate's (as of 2001) population, which I've rounded up to 40,000, and an unemployment rate which I've rounded down to 4% (we're definitely talking "kind of in the ball-park" figures here), there are likely somewhere around 1,600 people out of work there.
How many of those one-thousand, six-hundred people is Bob prepared to state he's seen cavorting in the town centre? (Shock! Horror! Unemployed people not sitting at home moping!) How many of the men are actually fathers to multiple children by multiple women, and how does he know? (And you know what? I'm quite bloody proud to live in a country where having a child doesn't mean people are forced to marry.)
Furthermore, there are currently somewhere around 1.2 million people unemployed in the UK. At which point we may want to take another look at Bob's "millions of our fellow-citizens" who "now refuse to work because they know they can get free handouts from the state." Millions, Bob? Plural? Are you saying that all of those people are refusing to work? Or are you just too lazy to take your own advice and google for information?
But okay, let's take a look at that national figure. According to this article the number of long-term (out of work for two years or longer) unemployed in January last year (Yeah: this is another aspect it's hard to find reliable figures for.) was 129,400. Unless that claim is wrong by an order of magnitude, I think the conclusion must be that Bob's talking out the part of his body usually reserved for sitting on. How not-unusual-at-all!
Now, I'll be the first to agree that those who scam the system should be brought to justice (Google, Starbucks… (Odd how people would rather pick on someone who manages to scam a paltry fifty quid a week than a corporation which manages millions, ain't it.)); but no system is perfect, and I would much rather have one which is "loose" enough that it pays the occasional undeserving person than one which is so "tight" that the truly needy are left wanting.
And there's another thing. I call it reality.
There are, currently, more people out of work than there are jobs available for them to do. Someone then, quite obviously, is going to be claiming benefits. Who would you rather work next to, a person who actually wants to work, or a shiftless lazy no-goodnik who's only there 'cause they were going to have their benefits cut if they didn't take the job? I would rather pay benefits to people who may be undeserving than end up carrying them at work. Magic up enough jobs so there's work for all, and I'll happily revisit that statement.
…over the last 40 years, or so, many people have come to trust in the state to provide, rather than God. Consequently, they think they don't need God. In effect, the welfare state has caused people to end up in Hell.
Which I have to say is an interesting idea. I think Bob's got his dating a little mixed, mind. The wane in religiosity amongst the hoi polloy would seem to have begun (or at least, begun to accelerate) way back in the mid nineteenth-century. But more generally, that's also the same period during which more and more laws granting and protecting the rights of the common person have been established. Whether the somewhat coincidental decline in religiosity and rise in common rights is correlation or causation, or even a bit of both, I don't know, but it's certainly possible that there's a connection.
Mind you, even if there is, I suspect Bobberty and I are going to disagree heartily on whether helping our fellow human beings instead of waiting for an imaginary friend to step in, is a good thing or not…
I come now to the remedy: slash welfare spending, big time. As benefits are reduced so churches can set up soup kitchens where those in need can get soup and rolls to feed themselves. As the poor are queuing up to get their food Christian Evangelists can get alongside them and tell them of the Saviour. Perhaps such evangelists can sit down with them as they eat and tell them of the Bread of Life, and how they need to have their souls fed as well as their bodies.
Blimey, it's like I have the gift of prophecy innit!
I'd just like to point out that the strategy Bob espouses is one of the most craven, cowardly and downright despicable things I've ever read from him. And it has some tough competition, so it should be proud.
Allow me to paraphrase:
We should make sure that people become so hungry that they will queue up for a bread roll and a bowl of soup, and then take advantage of their condition and their gratitude.
Now, I'd never say that religious people never do good for good's sake. I've known too many good people who happened to be religious, to make such a sweeping statement. There is, though, a nasty side to way too much religious charity. Quite simply, it isn't charity, in the common usage of the word, which implies a certain amount of altruism. No, what it is is a manipulative ploy to get people into a position where they don't want to seem ungrateful, and then moralise at them. It's disgusting.
"At the end of the day," says Bob,
what matters is not how much of this world's goods we have but whether or not our souls are saved. Slashing benefits will help to get matters back into their proper perspective.
It is eternity that counts, not making people comfortable and state-dependent in this life.
Y'know, if by some slim chance there is a deity who takes an interest in our lives and our conduct, I would fully expect that deity to take a dim view indeed, of the behaviour of people like Bob, who would bring people almost to the point of starvation just so they can tell those people all about the thoughts and intentions of a being so powerful that they could create a whole universe in six days.
Back in the real world, for all Bob's talk of eternity, he cannot show the slightest shred of evidence supporting the idea of an afterlife, and yet he'd starve people in the name of it.
He is, in the most polite terms I can come up with, a complete fucking tosser.
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