Orphans of Liberty discusses the suggestion from a police officer that benefits keep people away from committing crime and Peter Hitchens is discomforted by the release of a career criminal so that he can spend time with his family and - presumably – also your possessions.
I think that the police officer is correct, kind of, even though it is also obvious that he’s missing the point by about one million of your Earth miles. I expect that for those individuals for whom starvation is the only alternative to crime when they are jobless, actually paying benefits will prevent crime of the stealing-bread-for-my-children variety. Not that that appears to have happened very much in the Great Depression: charity and family seem to have fielded that ball without a crime wave amongst the poor unemployed. They didn’t have much, but they weren’t, by all accounts, thieves.
Now the welfare state does the theft for their 21st Century successors via taxation and benefits and I suppose it’s less violent than mugging for bread and burglary for fresh fruit and vegetables would be. It’s not seen as theft and so, according to the morality of the majority, taxation for fairly extensive welfare provision is seen as quite moral.
So logically, while it is probably true there’d be some more family-feeding thieves if basic subsistence wasn’t provided (along with free school meals, free healthcare, free schooling, -TANSTAAFL, but you know what I mean - Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, higher levels of help with rent and Council Tax for families), those things are provided. While I don’t think that charity and self-help and family and neighbours would fail to help out to prevent actual starvation amongst the jobless instead of extensive welfare benefits, I also don’t think there’s a cat in hell’s chance that any British electorate would vote against the continuing availability of basic welfare provision any time soon – including many amongst the ‘right.’
But that’s not the problem here. The first problem is inter-generational lawlessness, illegitimacy and welfare dependence with children growing up either (and mostly) fatherless or, as in this quite rare case, with a repeat felon as their only role model.
Such children use up and yet often don’t benefit much from disproportionately high levels spending in education: child psychologists; special classroom assistants; case workers from half a dozen “agencies”, and are the bane of their classmates’ and teachers’ lives as they disrupt most or every lesson if they attend school and everyone else’s if they play truant. Nice of this crook to stick around with those who seem to be his genetic offspring
Then they grow up [(or rather they grow large) and become half-criminal disturbers of the peace and serial welfare parents themselves. They will use up police and court resources and waste acres of paper and months of administrative time as they career clumsily and negligently through the benefits system; racking up debts to landlords and to the benefit-paying agencies as they are overpaid benefits to which they were not entitled because they actively defrauded the system of negligently failed to report changes in their circumstances that would have reduced their overall entitlement. The they create more children themselves as the marginal gain from receiving of benefits is higher as more children arrive, and so we have to support and “raise” – read suppress – those children with all of the above, and disturbed peace and squalor and increasing levels of malnutrition and disease.
And then they go on to suck up more and more resources as hopeless and amoral physical adults who never, ever contribute anything to the society that has supported them throughout their lives.
I don’t think that the right or the libertarians have much chance of persuading MPs to reduce the high and general levels of entitlements, but I can see how they might influence them to break the cycle of crime and welfare dependency by a couple of easy measures: a three strikes and you’re out policy for crimes against property and persons (and sack the magistrate or judge who refuses to sentence accordingly) and the limiting of child-related benefits to help with two children per mother per lifetime – see how Kylie likes the idea of sleeping around and “falling pregnant” knowing she’s going to have to foot the bill for little Chardonnay-Steffie #3 or Tyson-Staffy #3 out of her Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Of course, we’d have to dismantle the human rights legislation and amend the welfare and tax credits laws in the teeth of a howling Civil Service and ‘independent judiciary’ and an almost-united welfarist establishment, but if a certain political party actually thought it might gain votes, seats, and stay in government that way, then backbenchers might just go for it.
Of course, next those backbenchers would have to get that into the party manifesto and then persuade the Prime Minister to allow its enactment.
Which isn’t likely, given what this Prime Minister lets the criminals get away with because he’s on the other side in the culture wars.
See how the culture wars get everywhere?
Picture from here.