Monday, December 04, 2006

Welfare is like a bad drug addiction

Johann Hari, champion of the British Left, has written an article defending the already bloated welfare system in Britain, and calling for even more welfare payments.

The focus of this article is on young and single mothers. In Britain, as in Australia, many religious and pro-family groups often call for the end of welfare payments to single mothers. They often base this on a conservative or religious belief that the current payments push women to morally and socially undesirable outcomes, i.e - poor young women will fall pregnant at a young age , or perhaps married women will divorce rather than remain married, to receive welfare payments.

Now, perhaps there is some merit to their argument. Especially when all women are well aware of the existing welfare payments that are available, and have been there for a long time. You see, its not an interview process, its just a blind and massive system that starts paying poor single women money as soon as they register with the state bureaucracy. In Australia, *all* mothers receive a baby bonus payment for each child they have, regardless of their status or how wealthy they are. But most of the critics' arguments are based on the fact that they don't approve of a certain lifestyle, and often they would prefer women to remain in traditional family units - i.e married and dependent on a husband.

So, out come left-wing big government fans like Johann Hari to leap to the defense of single mothers. He defends the current welfare payments, and even supports the new payment in Britain which will be paid to 16 and 17 year old girls in poverty who live out of home, for simply attending school.

His justification boils down to one simple argument - to try and encourage positive behaviour. By keeping young girls in school, they are less likely to drop out and start having children, and more likely to develop skills and avoid an early pregnancy. Johann then astounds readers with this idiotic argument:

There's a hint here - just a hint - that the Government is quietly trying to stem the rise in single motherhood in a humane way. Rather than offer harsh moral bromides and threat of benefit cuts, the Government is giving poor 17-year-olds £70 a week to stay in education.
Does anyone see the contradiction ? Johann firstly opposes the attaching of conditions to existing welfare, as a "harsh moral bromide" because it would mean the end of payments for some women. In the very next sentence, he then calls for new welfare payments with strings attached, and describes it as humane. The new welfare is only payable to poor young 17 year olds who remain in school.

Someone should put forward the question to Johann - "What about 16 year old mothers who remain in school. What about 17 year olds who drop out of school ? Why shouldn't they receive the payment Johann ? You are just being cruel !"

Perhaps Johann would agree with the question and call for even more welfare to even more recipients. But the correct thing to do would be to scrap the whole system. This can seem quite cruel and unfair. There may also be young single women who really want to have children, and there may be divorcees or widows who are stuck with children and very little income. So why not let people pursue actions that make them happy, without any consideration of how much money government will hand out to them ? If they value a lifestyle, even if its going to be difficult financially, let them pursue it! If they worry about the financial difficulties, let them decide how best to prepare for the future, even if it means delaying pregnancy until they have a stronger financial position or a marriage to support the pregnancy.

In Johann's mind, he thinks it is cruel to cut welfare, and it is kind to boost welfare. Its as simple as that. Never mind that it is all a giant form of social engineering. Never mind that welfare influences and corrupts people's decisions. Never mind the fact that some some people need more money than is being offered by welfare, and some people need less, and some people take advantage of it by doing an action deliberately in order to qualify for the payment, and that others will have followed actions regardless of whether the payment was there or not.