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Do Not Click Here

February 25, 2011

I would really encourage you NOT to visit this page, or at least hear me out before you do. I clicked on this link expecting to find some crackpot Tory MP or peer espousing the dire state of the country and the desperate need to force people into work. Instead I found that the BBC had recruited an American (Lawrence Mead) to do the same thing.

In all honesty I do think there is a problem with the benefits system in this country; I think it has many flaws, and it’s naive to think that there aren’t people out there who have opted (consciously or not) to live out their lives supported by the state and make no attempt to pursue employment. I also think that the culture and community that that individual grows up in does a lot to shape these kind of decisions. Apart from anything else the failing of the current system can be seen in the shockingly high child poverty statistics in this country. HOWEVER, I think that for the most part the solution to this problem lies in providing these people with adequate opportunity and incentive to pursue work, not simply forcing them to work at any cost. I sincerely doubt that if any of the numerous 16-18 year-olds embarking on a life of benefits thought for a second that they might become a doctor, or lawyer, or teacher, then they would be prepared to settle for their meagre, prospect-less, state-supported existence.

Within the first 2 minutes of this video Lawrence Mead manages to go far beyond any far-out-leftie’s wildest wet stereotype-dreams and utterly discredits any opinion he has on the subject of the Welfare State in the UK by: Firstly, displaying his extreme prejudice on the subject in hand when at first glance describing the fairly-ordinary-but-obviously-run-down streets of Anfield, Liverpool, as “real George Orwell country”; and then secondly unveils his brazen ignorance of British culture by expressing his obvious disgust as they drive past an off-license, part of a chain of stores called “Discount Booze”.

Really I stopped paying objective attention from that point onwards. I did continue to watch long enough to hear him quote some fairly impressive statistics about how much they had managed to cut unemployment figures, but I felt the strength of these figures was rather negated by the absence of any mention of homelessness, people living below the poverty line, minimum wage, working conditions and social mobility. Overall the crux of my argument would be that I feel that in  a country with a GDP, and GDP per capita, as large as the UK or the US, it is a moral duty to protect the rights of workers and provide support for the poorest and most unfortunate amongst us. Frankly this video served only to make me question what Lawrence Mead did to gain a Professorship; how to escape economic depression using xenophobia in 1930’s Germany perhaps?

Anyway if you still want to watch the video then feel free to click on the link below, but I would urge you not to support this appalling piece of borderline propaganda with your viewing figures.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9397570.stm

Incidentally on a final note, Liverpool is the City Council who piloted and recently dropped out of the current “Big Society” scheme due to lack of funding. That is all. Thanks.

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