Amidst ongoing government cuts to benefits – which may be responsible for the deaths of 60 people – British Prime Minister David Cameron is apparently dissatisfied to the extent that his austerity crusade has clamped down on the poorest and most vulnerable among us. Despite borrowing more money in 5 years than Labour did during 13 years of power, Cameron maintains that cutting benefits is an invaluable double blessing: They help us to reduce the deficit, and provide an “incentive” for people to work.
Consequently, his latest pledge ahead of May’s General Election is to cut benefits for people with an alcohol, drug, or weight problem if they refuse government mandated treatment. Around 2.6 million Brits are currently claiming sickness benefits due to drug, alcohol, or weight problems, and are not currently legally required to seek treatment in order to receive benefits. Under Cameron’s post-election proposals, those on sickness benefits who refuse treatment will lose their benefits.
Despite being completely cynical and assuming that people with a drug or weight problem are somehow satisfied with their lives – in keeping with Cameron’s blatant misanthropy – the proposals are grossly inhumane. Cutting vulnerable people off from their only source of income if they’re not ready to seek treatment is not an “incentive” to lead a more fulfilled life, it’s a scare tactic that will not produce results and will probably lead to further Coalition-imposed suicides. People cannot be forced into treatment before they are ready, and unless their life is immediately at risk, it is totalitarian to demand that they rehabilitate.
What does Cameron think a drug addict will do if they no longer receive benefits? Immediately go cold turkey, race down to their local clinic, magically get a job and never touch a substance again? Or is it more likely that cutting off the only source of income that keeps them alive will plunge them even further into despair and suffering? Ask yourself which is more likely before you come running to the defense of these proposals.
Despite the false pretence of compassion and wanting the vulnerable to “get the medical help they need”, Cameron’s distaste for the poor and vulnerable is well documented: His government has slashed and frozen benefits (and plans to chop them down further to £23,000), targeted the disabled with the so-called Bedroom Tax (Cameron’s version of Thatcher’s poll tax – unfair and massively unpopular), and has promised a further £12 billion cut to welfare if re-elected. The safety nets in place for the vulnerable are slowly being chipped away by a man who has never endured poverty nor been addicted to any substances. No wonder he is completely clueless as to what will happen to vulnerable people if you cut them off from their only source of income, the money that they quite literally live off of.
“Out of touch” is a phrase often bandied around when talking about politicians, but Cameron takes it to a whole new level not seen since the Thatcher years. While the richest corporocrats run amok and treat the tax code like toilet paper (stealing an estimated £120 billion a year), Cameron is content to blame those who struggle to put food on the table for all of society’s ills, targeting them as being a ‘burden’ on a society that’s trying to recover from a recession. The weight of recessions and meltdowns passed is apparently entirely down to those with no political capital, no financial capital, and no influence beyond their own doorsteps. It’s nothing short of McCarthyism against the poor.
According to Cameron, “a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice” for many people on sickness pay. A choice, as if obesity were the same as a trip to the coast. As if drug addiction were no different from picking out a pair of shoes. As if alcohol addiction can be likened to changing the TV channel. For Cameron the misanthropist, addiction and poverty are at best an accident, at worst, a conscious choice, and must be punished accordingly. But what would you expect from a government that trusts the private sector to conduct fit-for-work assessments on poor people? It’s like choosing the most inhumane, morally devoid agency you can to scrutinize the most vulnerable among us. The results are of no surprise whatsoever.
Not only is Cameron’s world-view completely skewered and devoid of any actual evidence (it must be founded on nightmares he has of obese people happily watching TV), it’s downright cruel. The people he’s offhandedly talking about causing suffering to are not numbers on sheets of paper, they’re living, breathing human beings with troubles and the right to basic dignities.
For all his talk of a small, limited government, these proposals are authoritarian and involve violating people’s personal liberty all to satisfy the ableist prejudices of the common, ignorant Tory voter. Cameron hates the poor, the disabled, the unemployed, and the obese. Anybody who does not have all the traits of an able-bodied employed citizen is apparently not worthy of the same standard of living as anybody else.
While stockbrokers and CEOs rake in profits with no limits and few tax regulations, the poor are subject to a government-imposed maximum wage which is barely enough to survive on, let alone to live on. Where is the Big Brother style campaign against corporate tax avoidance? Why don’t we ever see campaign posters like these against the Fortune 500? By all means tackle all fraud no matter who commits it, but to put the burden on the poor is inhumane. Stealing an extra £30 from the government each week is not the same as collectively haemorrhaging over £100 billion from the coffers each year.
A person who thinks some lives are worth more than others is dangerous.
Here’s a video of Chancellor Osborne telling somebody how to avoid inheritance tax on live television.