24 Apr 2011

Discussing the Deserving and Undeserving Poor

Much debate has been had in the last week on the "deserving and undeserving poor".

As Stephen Tall puts it, "David Cameron has been pitching to the right-wing nut-job vote in recent weeks", and a brilliant example of this is the amount of people claiming incapacity benefits for alledgedly spurious reasons.

Churning out such debates is a good way to retain traditional Conservative voters, but the subject opens up a kettle of fish for many people.

What is the issue?

The welfare state is there to protect people who cannot work for whatever reason. The state provides this universal benefit to citizens in social solidarity, guranteeing a minimum level of well being. Apparently.

However, the term Social Solidarity means different things to different people.

What is the debate?

Smoking is a classic example, where upon people divide into different camps to debate the subject of smoking related illnesses in full colour.

But smoking is the tip of the iceberg. When one considers smoking to be the most socially acceptable of addictions, introducing illegal addictions is gasoline on a smouldering barbecue.

The difficulty with a welfare state is always exposed when one introduces firstly morality and secondly fault into the debate.

This is where I refer you back to the term "universal". The universiality of Britain's Welfare State should be the founding and ultimate principle. Whether you break your leg horse riding or because of an industrial accident, the welfare state should provide regardless.

The Facts?

The debate, however, is somewhat circumspect when one examines the facts.

People are so het up with the issue of fault, they did not question the facts. Mark Easton made the most brilliant post on the facts which far suppasses my paultry attempts at interpretation.

The truth is, addiction and obesity may make up some of the figures in recipient of Incapacity, however, this number has reduced by a third in the last two years.

And therefore, the debate is almost elementary.

And for good measure

If the welfare state was indeed introduced to remove the stigma of charity, how exactly does one reconcile the Big Society and Localism debates in current politics?

Have we come full circle, to where Charity provisions are acceptable and preferable to the state?

Will we now begin a fresh cycle where pride will build up and people will eventually reject the stigma once again?

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