|Captioned Photo Kindly provided by Christos Palmer|
I was reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens yesterday, a book written in 1843, and I'd like to share this excerpt from the first chapter.
Two men enter Scrooges office on Christmas eve asking for charity for the poor.
.... "at this festive season of the year Mr Scrooge," said the gentlemen, taking up a pen "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some light provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common comforts sir."
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons" said the gentlemen. Laying down the pen again.
"And the union work houses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"They are still" returned the gentleman "I wish I could say they were not"
"The treadmill and the poor law are in full vigour then?" said Scrooge.
"Both very busy sir"
"Oh! I was afraid from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their Useful course", said Scrooge "I'm very glad to hear it".
"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body in the multitude" returned the gentlemen " few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the poor some meat drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because of all others, when want is keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied
"You wish to be anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone" said Scrooge "since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen that is my answer. I don't make merry myself and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned - they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die"
"If they would rather die" said Scrooge "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides - excuse me but I do not know that"
"But you might know it" observed the gentlemen.
"It is not my business" Scrooge returned "it is enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to intrude with other peoples. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon gentlemen."
Seeing Clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and an even more facitious temper than was usual with him...
As you can see the attitude towards the poor and destitute in Britain is becoming chillingly close to that of 19th century Britain. The current government is bringing values from that century that even the Victorians were ashamed of and sought to bring to public attention the hypocrisy and barbarism of as early as 1843 to this century.
So before you harshly judge a benefit claimant as workshy or a scrounger remember, the welfare state was bought in to put a stop to the inhumane methods of dealing with the poor used before it's creation. The benefit claimants of today are no different to the poor and destitute of the Victorian era. Do not let the government drag us back to the 19th century with their propaganda about "benefit dependency" and "tough love".
The only thing that will end benefit dependency and help the long term unemployed and sick and disabled back to work is job creation, and a more sympathetic and helpful attitude towards them, that enables them to get work and remain employed. Labeling, hounding and cutting off benefits will not help anyone except the government in their endeavours to save money, caused by a crisis they created with their relentless pursuit of profit over humanity.