Where’s All The Money Gone?

15 01 2012

Surely if you read this blog or are on Twitter (most likely if you’re on Twitter as I know some people are following this blog from foreign lands), you’ll be aware to some degree of the current issue surrounding benefits within the UK. What I’m curious about is the actual financial implications of the whole deal.

If you are… experienced enough to remember Watergate then there was a quote made by the Washington Post, attributed to the mysterious Deep Throat (whom I always giggle at due to the obvious links to a notorious porn film of that time) which went “Follow the money”. And in every white collar area, if you wish to understand the motivation then it’s a maxim that will stand you in good stead. Why? Because most people are motivated by money, especially if they are in a position of power.

So where does our story start? Probably early 2000s when a financial whizz kid realised that you could sell bad debt to other people and make money off it. Mortgages and insurance policies were sold like this, where it was impossible to repay the money either way. A legitimised Ponzi scheme as it were. Everyone got onto this scheme and so debts that could never be paid were bought, bundled with other such debts, and sold on in a pass the bomb type game.

Now, to be fair, pretty much everyone got caught up in this, whole governments thought it was amazing and could pave the way forward for expansion. I don’t blame governments, I mean their dreams were coming true, why question the long term viability of what looked to be the most awesome economic growth in a long time?

That right there should’ve tipped people off though. I mean let’s face it, if I (and I’m no financial whizz) can listen to the person responsible for an entire countrys finances claim the end to boom and bust and think “Oh no it’s not”, then something is wrong. Think it’s what people call an ‘Epic fail’ on the part of the Government of the time.

Anyway, that trip down political/financial memory lane brings us to where we are at the moment. A world crippled by financial instability. Where every country in the west owes money, quite often to countries in the east, and cutbacks are necessary. No-one disagrees that the deficit reduction is necessary, to merely maintain the debt is a huge waste of taxpayer money, so reducing the debt and therefore the interest is a good thing (I speak from experience as I’ve existed in a £700 overdraft for quite some time now and am doing what I can to reduce it). People knew what they were letting themselves in for when they voted in the current government, they knew, from historic evidence, that the Conservatives would make finance based decisions because they tend to be backed by greedy capitalist bastards. I’m not necessarily against greedy capitalist bastards but you kinda know what’s going to happen.

Generalisations over, let’s get to the point.

What we are being told is that we don’t have the money anymore. Strictly speaking this is true because more people are unemployed therefore we don’t have as much in the way of taxes being raised. We are also being told that every cut the government proposes is necessary in order to repay the deficit.

But at what cost?

The current proposals on the Welfare Reform Bill are, for want of a better word, harsh. With the current bill being as high as it is then benefits were an obvious target. Howver, with regards to the disability portion (the rest I’m unaware of), they are cuts too deep and it seems that the government is playing the part of the hard negotiator with regards to it, going as hard as possible to try and get the deal in place with as little loss to them as possible.

Makes business sense, but it does NOT make moral sense because people are genuinely suffering, the most vulnerable people are suffering, and set to suffer even more. This is just plain wrong in every sense. Looking at disability in it’s entirity, yes it’s a big bill, £12,000,000,000 but with a ludicrously low fraud rate. And the weird thing is that disabled people are not looking for more money, they’re just looking to keep existing without the stress of uninformed people making them feel like complete social and financial lepers.

They don’t need to be pestered on a regular basis to prove they’re ‘worthy’ enough of their financial demands.

They don’t need the stress induced by being interrogated when simply going from day to day is tough enough.

They don’t need the stress from trying to say the right things in order to not lose the support they desperately need in order to continue.

I mean seriously, cut DLA? The benefit designed to help people exist and even work so they don’t need to claim any other benefit? Increase your costs in order to reduce your costs? Again, I’m no financial whizz but that sounds the dumbest idea since someone thought of running across a busy motorway. It’s deluded in the same way as someone thinking they can stop a train with their mind and promptly sitting cross legged on the train tracks to prove it. Bad idea, and they need to be shown that it is before someone gets killed.

Ok, that last paragraph got a bit ranty but the link is there. The majority of people are not looking to disability benefits with an eye of screwing the system for all they can get, they’re looking for ways to make life livable. Hell, I’ve already said that I’m considering a shift from Job Seekers Allowance to Employment and Support Allowance, not for extra money because I don’t think I’ll get extra money (the base rate for ESA is the same as that for JSA), but because in theory there will be more support to help me get back into work. Were I to get more money than I currently do then I’ll admit there would be a temptation to buy more alcohol in order to blot out the thoughts that plague me, but I would be far more likely to use the money to help me find ways to cope that weren’t quite so short term, that could help me get back into work.

Am I looking forward to the possible switch? Not in the slightest. I mean, I can apply to get my driving license back which is a major thing because driving was always my life and a way for me to cope at. Above all, and this is significant for me, it’s something I was very good at.

But I can’t.

I can’t fill out the D1 application form because it upsets me that much. I can’t get my license back because I can’t fill out one simple stupid form. How stupid is that? A simple little form and I can’t do it, even thinking about it, writing it now I’m getting upset. So if you wonder why people are so terrified of the forms and the assessments, look at that. If I can’t complete a simple, no pressure form which means a huge amount to me, how can we tell people to fill out forms, face investigation by unknown people (and this goes much further than you might think) who make a quite arbitrary decision, and then work as hard as possible to appeal against that decision in order to live?

Let me wrap things up by hoping this has all made sense and by saying this:

The definition of insanity as provided by Google Search is;

in·san·i·ty/inˈsanitē/

Noun:
  1. The state of being seriously mentally ill; madness.
  2. Extreme foolishness or irrationality.

Whilst I’ll admit to quite probably falling into the first part of that definition, surely the governments plans fall squarely into the second.

Want to know more? Then get yourself to Diary Of A Benefit Scrounger and Broken Of Britain

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2 responses

15 01 2012
the urban worrier

disagree, actually. The conservatives don’t “make finance based decisions because they tend to be backed by greedy capitalist bastards”. They make *political* decisions because of who they’re backed by.
A great many of the political decisions the Conservatives make, and made in the past, make little ‘financial sense’. Decimating a local coal industry (which sustained regional economies across the UK) in favour of importing inferior coal from other countries. Privatising services so the taxpayer gets less but pays the same, if not more. Attempting to cut benefits which -as you say- maintain the disabled in relative productivity rather than undermining their health and ultimately pushing them into higher-cost healthcare. Will stop ranting- on this subject, I’m far more ‘conservative’ than the ‘Conservatives’.

You’re a case in point of how all the ordinary little failures of the welfare system are not aligned with healthcare economics. If you (just as I- I’m not judging!) had access to appropriate timely support you wouldn’t have been subject to increasing costs in supporting you longer-term. And you, and I, are paying the price.
I really hope you can find a way to fill in your D1- it seems like a very very big deal, and the first step on the way. good luck!

17 01 2012
NullFuture

A fair and valid point there, I stand corrected.

As for cost of treatment for me, well thinking about it I do save them money because they don’t really treat me. Hell, until this mess happened (or got worse) I didn’t see my GP that often (as in at most a couple of times a year). I’m a financial persons wet dream as I won’t complain and I bottle shit up so that over the long term I’m a low cost.

Can’t even think about the D1 form. Yes, it’s a huge deal, I just can’t deal with it. Think I’ve effectively written off driving again (probably a hangover from preparing myself to not be alive at this point – the fact that I am is not something I’m happy about)

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