Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, has written in the Daily Mail that he wants names and addresses of everyone on benefits published, along with the benefits that they receive – presumably so that they can be made to grovel in gratitude. Littlewood, who previously worked for Liberty, founded NO2ID to fight the database state and says in his Twitter bio that he is a “lover of freedom”, nevertheless wants a public database containing personal information of millions of people. No matter that millions of people receive housing benefit, tax credits, child benefit, never mind that such a scheme would breach data protection laws and probably human rights laws. He likens the situation to that of sending charitable donations to children in Africa, for which he receives regular updates and
“some very touching messages of thanks.”
Perhaps he would like such updates from benefits claimants in the UK, although it’s impossible to say who benefited from the tax that he paid or, indeed, how much of his taxes went on services that he himself benefited from. Nevertheless, he says
“I’m simply asking, on behalf of all those who pay for the welfare state, for a bit more information and transparency.”
Well I’ve got news for Littlewood. He’s not going to get any grovelling messages of gratitude. Certainly not from me. What he gets from me is two sentences.
RIGHTS NOT CHARITY
You see, social security is not charity. It is not something that is graciously given to the deserving poor by their betters. It is an obligation of a civilised society to look after those who cannot support themselves. Those who are unemployed or are unable to work have a right to food and clothing and shelter.
Littlewood speaks from a position of immense privilege. He isn’t sick, disabled or unemployed and has a much higher than average salary. Perhaps he is under the impression that rewards are based on workload and need rather than concentrated in the hands of a few rich capitalists and their hangers-on. Littlewood is part of that screwed up capitalist system that is stealing resources from the rest of us.
You can be certain then that were it left to Littlewood the already pitiful amounts that those on benefits get to live on would be drastically reduced. If he feels that £12 a month is adequate support for a girl in a country with few resources and is enough to merit those letters how much less would he allow for people in the UK who
“are apparently unable to support themselves, even though none of them is as impoverished as the girl I was supporting in Cameroon.”
He believes – despite the evidence – that
“Publishing the data will clearly show that we now give payouts to people who don’t really need them – and for long periods of time.”
Look, everyone, Mark Littlewood has solved unemployment and cured all sickness and disability!
Or not. He is obviously living in an alternate reality because he also said
” Surely, no one needs to worry about violent retribution against claimants. The British are far too reasonable to start taking up pitchforks and burning torches and assaulting imagined benefit cheats. We are generous and fair-minded people.”
To which I say: BULLSHIT.
How many times do people utter “I pay your salary” at police and politicians? You think they won’t scream that at people on benefits? Self righteous people already feel that they can demand to know what those on benefits spend their money on, so they can judge, they complain when someone is seen buying their one small luxury in months of hell. People already demand to know what illness a sick person has like that is any of their business at all. Disabled people are being verbally abused and even attacked and beaten in the street more than ever and yet somehow it’s a good idea to publish their name and address? As @trialia put it:
“Are we to be made afraid to stay home as well as afraid to leave it, now?!”