Let’s kick our state funding addiction

The Chancellor’s recent announcement concerning government spending cuts reminded me of the actions of a drug addiction counsellor trying to persuade a long term drug addict of the merits of going cold turkey.

Why? Because it seems clear to me that our nation has become addicted to state handouts and state intervention. Why take responsibility for your own actions when the state will be there to clear up the mess you have made of your life? Why take responsibility for how many children you produce when the state will give you money for each child your spawn? Why not work for the state and enjoy higher salaries and perks than those who work in the private sector? Why bother applying for work in the first place when you’re better off on benefits?


Are you addicted to state handouts? Photo: Mike Hodges

We, the people of Britain, have become addicted to having our noses wiped and our pockets filled by the state and it has ruined our nation. Ruined us both from the standpoint of our catastrophic public finances and from the standpoint of a lack of encouragement for those who’d have the courage to start wealth creating businesses.

Once, the British were justly famous for their work ethic, their industriousness and entrepreneurship. We were once called the workshop of the world. Famed for our manufacturing industries and engineering brilliance. Admittedly, we also had terrible working conditions, poor health and poor pay to add insult to injury. Those injustices were resolved over time. The evolution of the trades union movement, the creation of the welfare state and the National Health Service (NHS) each were necessary in the establishment of a humane and just society.

But that was long ago. Today the welfare state has become a huge burden on the government purse. It has changed from a social safety net to a lifestyle option. An option where people are better off on benefits rather than being employed. The NHS is a bloated maggot of an organisation where the care of the patient is drowned out by an inhumane bureaucracy. The public sector unions seem hell bent on protecting every job no matter how unimportant and unnecessary it may be. Instead of acknowledging the harsh economic reality they seem ever ready to do battle in a war that has already been lost.

I feel that Mr Osborne’s programme of cuts isn’t enough. That a major opportunity has been missed to wean the British off their diet of state handout candy. Instead of protecting some of the so called universal benefits Mr Osborne should have gone much further. Introducing means testing for all benefits. Cutting back not just funding but the entire ethos of the state. Pulling out of any activity that infringes on our lives. Putting an end to the era of “big government” that has blighted our nation and stunted our commercial growth.

Mr Osborne should have done more to encourage us to get off our collective backsides and sort ourselves out. He should have harangued us to stop hanging around whining that the state hasn’t done this or hasn’t done that. It’s not the state that is going to bring this country back from the brink of an economic abyss but people running wealth creating businesses. Businesses that will employ people in real wealth creating jobs. We must, as a nation, break our dependence on the state, stand up on our own two feet and take responsibility for our own lives.

2 Responses to Let’s kick our state funding addiction

  1. Huseyin Kishi says:

    “But that was long ago. Today the welfare state has become a huge burden on the government purse. It has changed from a social safety net to a lifestyle option. An option where people are better off on benefits rather than being employed. The NHS is a bloated maggot of an organisation where the care of the patient is drowned out by an inhumane bureaucracy. The public sector unions seem hell bent on protecting every job no matter how unimportant and unnecessary it may be. Instead of acknowledging the harsh economic reality they seem ever ready to do battle in a war that has already been lost.”

    This is tantamount to mythology.

    Shall we begin:

    The NHS:

    “We must dispel this myth that the private sector can always do better. While there will always be opportunities to improve efficiency, the NHS consistently provides high-quality care at exceptionally good value for money. ” – Dr Hamish Meldrum

    Lilian Macer, chair of UNISON’s Health Service Group Executive, said “the reality is that the NHS continues to provide excellent care regardless of income or employment, and at a fraction of the cost of the American system”.

    As for the benefit system, last time I checked if you didn’t turn up, you had your benefits stopped, if you didn’t sign it, you had your benefits stopped, secondly there is also the case of living off of £50 a week, it is not the ‘gravy train’ that the corporate press try and make out, more the 12 million financially excluded that live in the UK.

    On the contrary, unions do acknowledge the ‘harsh economic reality’, their websites contain a great deal of resources looking at serious shortfalls in the economy, a major one being unpaid tax, which last time I checked you and I cannot legally do.

    However, if you’re vodafone and have an unpaid £6billion tax bill… the government can wipe the slate clean, which is a slight problem, as they’re still in the black.

    So where do they recover the cost, simple, the unrepresented majority, the working poor can’t pay a fleet of accountants to evade tax. If you’ve checked out any benefits they are subject to a means test basis, such as JSA, income support etc.

    You mention ‘wealth creating jobs’, well if we put aside pay levels as a means of determining wealth creation, a study by the new economics foundation found that actually, bankers destroy destroy £7 of value for every £1 they earn, and that hospital cleaners create £10 of value for every £1 they are paid.

    http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/bit-rich

    Essentially you’re following the narrative, of Thatcherism, which is based on classical liberalism, yet without a state that provides for its citizens, who will provide health care, or all those wealth generating jobs, such as the above?

    We are not ‘dependent’ on the state, its the opposite way round you see, as we pay taxes which fund our public services which we then use. Such as: The NHS, Councils, etc.

    The jobs that aren’t necessary, shall we look at that deregulated nightmare of an ivory tower; that is the financial sector. How much of the wealth that has been created has benefited the country? And its a sector that only contributes 3% to the economy, not forgetting oh, its part in the biggest financial collapse since the ’30s.

    It is the legacy of Thatcher, that the British economy hangs onto the financial sector as a means for the production of capital, in all its fictitious form. As she removed those industries that once did generate wealth, and were productive, as we have shifted from a industrial economy, to one of knowledge, but with the recent cuts in higher education, and to science funding, Osbourne is gambling the nation’s future, on something that has no durable evidence will be successful in producing new jobs, and even if it does the public sector are far cheaper, and efficient at the kind of work they so, the kind of work that puts people before profit.

    So Osbourne has rolled the dice, and we will pay the price, wherever the dice fall.

  2. Richard C says:

    I think both the article and the follow up comment have valid points – but both are at the extremes of the argument – which is where the problems seem to lie.

    Yes there is a dependency culture – where we do have second and third generation people who are on benefits. We need to have a system that uses stick and carrot to break this vicious cycle. It can’t be all stick – which is effectively what the coalition (and all previous governments) propose, somehow the carrots that are offered are all vastly underfunded. – This has to be dealt with, not only for financial reasons, but for the resulting low self esteem and opportunities that this gives a whole sector of our society. Turning up one morning a fortnight to sign on does not constitute a job or in making one good about oneself.

    Secondly – we desperately need industry to provide wealth – a hospital cleaner does not create wealth – nor should they. The Thatcherist belief that we could make money from the banking industry alone has turned out to not work – there are now plenty of world markets bankers can use to avoid tax. – We do need to sort that out and start taxing banks properly – they have been generating money by literally typing the numbers on a computer – with no obligation to pay for the damage it causes to the economy and society.

    And comparing the NHS against American private medicine is not a reasonable comparison – their doctors and health workers and lawyers all get paid far more in their system and also those companies pay shareholders. I would suggest a better comparison is between the public and private health systems in the UK, where now a lot of operations are being done by the private sector for the NHS as it is more cost effective than doing them in house – and the private sector is paying dividends for their shareholders at the same time.

    They do this by being organised – central purchasing, considerably less management and so on – no great trick just proper leadership from the top and protecting peoples little fiefdoms doesn’t come in to it. I strongly believe in the NHS but it should not be ring fenced from cuts – it needs a lot of cutting to turn it into an efficient organisation. I don’t think the unions are at fault here – the waste is not from overmanning or overpaying hospital workers, it is from a completely inadequate management.

    The need to meet targets and make the figures look right has led to the private sector building the hospitals and then leasing them back to the trust at hugely inflated prices – just so the figures appear in the right column in a balance sheet under running costs rather than capital expenditure.

    A well run company would look at the bigger picture and work out what was best long term, but the management culture in the health service AND in central government actively discourages people from ‘rocking the boat’.

    Sadly with all the cuts coming in, as usual the people who will be cut are the people doing the jobs and not the ones who are sitting there living off the back of other people pushing bits of paper round.