Something is becoming of me and I do not know what to make of it. I can’t even get interested in politics any more, much less be funny about them. I do know what’s causing it. The housing association from hell has become the monster that ate sanity. I can’t talk about it because it’s all gone a bit horribly legal. Suffice to say it is doing my fucking head in.
The direct link between welfarism and the 'me-society', between welfare rights and the erosion of the ties of duty that should bind us together, is unmistakable.
Intoneth la Melanie without the slightest botheration to join up those particular dots with, say, reference to a confirming research study or even a drunken conversation at the Pillar and Puke with Hooray Henry and a couple of his stock broker chums.
Yet no politician, even Conservative ones, will go near this subject. For all the windy rhetoric about irresponsibility and state interference, the root cause of these problems — the welfare state - remains a political untouchable.
Frank Field was the former poverty campaigner who famously was instructed by Tony Blair to think the unthinkable on welfare.
He duly thought the unthinkable, came up with the radical proposal for an insurance-based welfare system - and was promptly sacked from his ministerial post for his pains.
An insurance-based welfare system? Did anyone test Frank Field for dalek blood at the time? Next thing you know it will come to light that this unthinkable thinker was planning to call this unspeakable atrocity 'National Insurance' and proposing to give every man, woman and child in the country a ‘number’, recalling terrible memories of the candy striped purgatory that was Patrick McGoohan’s ‘village’. That number, (no please you’re hurting meeeeee), would contain a pair of alphabetical letters followed by three pairs of numerical digits and a final letter (chosen personally by Carol Voderman) which would devour 11% of your salary for as long as you were lucky enough to be in employment. On Planet Pel Mel, that hardly applies to anybody. It’s like a Brave New World where tax credits are the soma.
Many more Britons are hooked on the dependency culture as benefits were renamed tax credits and applied ever higher up the income scale. The vast welfare bureaucracy enables the Government to intrude ever more into people's lives, particularly in the areas of family life and child-rearing.
Sorry Mel, even I know that Government wouldn’t dream of confining itself to spying on the tiny percentage of the population on benefits. It wants to know everything about all of us.
At this point I have to admit to being a little bit confused. Is Pel Mel saying that her made-up concept of ‘welfarism’ is a malign culture pervading our
The crucial point was that welfarism detached behaviour from its consequences. It held that material need must be met, regardless of behaviour.
Again Mel, pardonez-moi, I thought that was capitalism. Who’s doing your research – ‘Sir’ Philip Green?
Politicians are reluctant to admit the welfare state is bust because it is embedded in the national consciousness as a symbol of British decency, embodying principles of altruism and caring. But it betrays these principles every day. Look at the appalling neglect and abuse of elderly people in hospital. The poorest people in countries such as
Couldn’t agree more Mel – the concept of the whole of society being responsible for the care and welfare of every individual within that society, no matter how disadvantaged, is a formula for abuse and neglect. Why Marx didn’t twig to that one, I’ll never be able to fathom.
Take family life. The Government says welfare must meet the needs of children whatever kind of household they live in.
The very idea! If Queen
People assume, for example, that the state will look after their elderly relatives. Increasing frailty, inevitably, means rising demand on state services - but much more could still be done by families to look after their elders. This climate of expectation has created in turn the something-fornothing culture and a climate of chronic self-centredness, shorttermism and sentimentality.
Madness, or what? As for public services, people should be paying into compulsory personal and social insurance schemes for pensions, health and long-term care and, in return, paying less tax to the state.
Well Pel Mel, there is the small matter of that 11% ‘National Insurance’ (yes – it’s a reallytruly thing), contribution that most of us have paid over a whole lifetime of working. If you don’t know anything about it, you obviously haven’t been paying into it. Services like health, social security and pensions aren’t ‘free’, they’re ‘pre-paid’. You know, like your mobile – you pay for calls you haven’t yet made, even if you never get to make them. Insurance is like that.
You know, I’m actually starting to feel a little bit better. I have to go now because I want to watch Life Line – a show about the dead. I have high hopes of spotting a few people whom I have been secretly willing over to the other side. Please wish me luck…
Graphic from The Prisoner BBC Television series