Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exercise of benefits

Ah, the heady aroma of welfare reform: conservatives love
to drag it up their nostrils and inhale deeply. Nothing is
quite so satisfying to the political right as the pleasure of
telling the poor where to get off. The rest of us can only
envy the moral authority thereby asserted, as the righteous
remind the underprivileged and the unemployed that they
should be grateful for what they’re grudgingly given by the
state. It allows these moral giants to exercise their dogs,
those rhetorical rottweilers with names like ‘Handup-not-
handout’ and ‘Safety-net-not-trampoline.’ We can also
only gasp in awe at the legerdemain by which the pittance
the poor get from the state is called a ‘benefit’ and the
advantages enjoyed by the not-so-poor (the regressive
nature of GST, for instance) are so taken for granted that
they don’t have a name at all, least of all ‘benefit.’ For the
connoisseur of irony, there is pure delight in seeing the
victims of our economic system victimized over again:
how could anyone feel this to be unfair, knowing, as we all
do, that however inadequately these wretches manage
their lives, at the end of the financial year they will still get
a whopping bonus? Personally, I can't conceal a sneaking
admiration for the reactionary right when it rises from the
trough, stands on its hind legs and brays about
beneficiaries ripping off the state: assuming this semi-erect
posture is often the only real exercise it gets, and we all
know the benefits of exercise.


Anonymous said...

But who let the dogs out?

David said...

Any analysis of addictions suggests despite a veneer of transcending social class, in the main they are another form of entrapping the poor. Those seriously deprived of much to hope for, regardless of their efforts, are easy prey to blot-out on drugs and alcohol, cigarettes and gambling's bleak hope. It would be interesting to see an in-depth study of the portion of income paid in tax, through all sources including GST and various vices, at different social strata; and the portion paid by taxes TO each strata. For instance rural children beyond easy access get contracted school buses completely free (roughly $42 per kid per week) but the parents of hundreds of thousands of city kids beyond easy walking access typically pay $10-20 a week in school bus fares. This cost usually applies irrespective of whether the kids use contracted school buses or timetable city buses or trains. According to Anne Tolley it would cause too much hardship to have country children pay anything, though surveys show that parent income averages above city parents. That is hardship to pay even a token standard fee (say $1.50 irrespective of the distance) though this would significantly reduce the massive $142 million pay out by taxpayers to transport 81,000 kids.