Here’s Alex Andreou writing about living in poverty and being homeless.
Here is someone else explaining Why I Make Terrible Decisions.
Just thinking about the kind of actual poverty that exists and that we let people fall into makes my stomach cramp with anxiety.
And hey, here’s a pretty fucking important question about, say, Alex’s case. At what point would he have been motivated out of his situation by harsher benefits cuts, or unpaid work experience, or being forced out of his house and made to find somewhere smaller in a different area because of the bedroom tax?
By what process could providing him with less support have motivated him to work harder and magically produce more for himself?
What, in short, the fuck, to be blunt, do you expect some people to do?
(There probably isn’t nothing which Alex could have done to avoid getting into such dire straits. With 20-20 hindsight, it may be possible to see different actions which might have helped him avoid his fate. Kinda like how women wouldn’t get raped so much if they stayed sober and dressed demurely at all times.)
This is reason #681947 why I’m in favour of a generous welfare state (insofar as there’s going to be a state at all). Because this is the reality for many people, and the way to improve things for everyone involves helping them.
Which isn’t an idea that seems to get a lot of play in the public conversation – in part, I suspect, because it’s just not a reality whose grisly details you get to see that often. Channel 5 haven’t commissioned a series called “Homeless and Ashamed“, to my knowledge. That wouldn’t tap into the right insecurities and prejudices and create a ratings-winning Twitterstorm of hate and division.
Classroom discussion questions
1. Where should the balance lie between helping people support themselves, and not supporting them so much that they become complacent and lazy?
2. Are you impressed I didn’t explicitly shoehorn in another chance to bang on about how much easier a universal basic income would make all of this?
3. Why haven’t those infographics I keep seeing on Twitter completely solved the problem of the general public’s flawed perception of benefit claimants?