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"Ann Widdecombe versus the benefits culture" watch

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    Does anyone think that increasing the working tax credits to above the levels of benefit that would be paid to the long-term unemployed would be a more effective incentive to actively seek work?

    We cannot reduce levels of income support because they are assessed at subsistence levels based on the retail price index - but we could give claimants the opportunity to have greater income levels through employment.

    Obviously this wouldn't attract those who are unemployed because they can't be 'r'sed to work, but it might attract those who have sunk into the spiral of dependence because the benefits provide them with just enough to survive.
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    (Original post by generalebriety)
    Choice of the parent. My parents were relatively poor and they worked, and still are and still do. I haven't had the best possible start in life. But I'm glad I was born when I was, and they're glad too. It's not as if my parents didn't work 'harder' than yours, they just weren't qualified to do decent jobs so got stuck with **** ones and, consequently, **** wages. No matter how much they work in their lives they're never gonna pay off their debt. By your reasoning, I'd never have been born and nor would my brother. Blatant middle-class snobbery, that's all your post is; you make the ridiculous assumption that poor people don't work as hard as rich people, or could somehow just work a bit more and earn a bit more money. *******s, frankly.


    I think it's you who doesn't know the meaning of "incentive"...

    So, state support incites reproduction; rewards its increase; stimulates or provokes it? No it doesn't, it supports it. That's why it's called support. Calling it an incentive implies exactly what I said - that someone would have a kid (purely or partly) in order to receive benefits. Which is crap.


    That's right; lots of people living in your house means you're automatically gonna have a **** upbringing, your mother's a prostitute, your dad's a dealer and you're gonna grow up to be a smackhead on the dole.


    Um, rather than coming out with a pile of crap littered with long words which is somehow going to convince someone, could you actually compose some sort of argument against what I said? I don't care if incentives require active cognition or not. It's not an incentive, it's support. An incentive would imply that benefits made people want to have kids; support implies that benefits, you know, support people wanting to have kids. It certainly doesn't do the former. Support is not an incentive.
    Wow, it's like you're assuming that I'm rich and middle class, when in fact I'm from a single parent family. Still, nice work with the ad homs.
    Besides, as your parents worked hard rather than simply living off the dole, I'm clearly not attacking them, am I?

    Yes, state support does reward the increase of those activities it supports. By your own definition, it's an incentive, glad we could clear that up.

    Ok, if it doesn't matter, why do we need to provide council housing? After all, 3 to a room won't affect quality of life at all, right? Again, I'm saddened and distressed, dear boy, that you felt it necessary to put words into my mouth - I made no reference to prostitution or any other illicit activities. I rather think you've had one too many.
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    (Original post by yawn)
    Does anyone think that increasing the working tax credits to above the levels of benefit that would be paid to the long-term unemployed would be a more effective incentive to actively seek work?

    We cannot reduce levels of income support because they are assessed at subsistence levels based on the retail price index - but we could give claimants the opportunity to have greater income levels through employment.

    Obviously this wouldn't attract those who are unemployed because they can't be 'r'sed to work, but it might attract those who have sunk into the spiral of dependence because the benefits provide them with just enough to survive.
    You've described an effort to reduce the unemployment trap, which I'm theoretically in favour of. My only concern would be that it might increase the benefit trap, but assuming it's done correctly, that shouldn't neccessarily happen. So if we can afford it, why not?
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    (Original post by Jennybean)
    My only claim is that there are plenty of people on TSR who think that benefits should be completely withdrawn, and that is absolutely true.
    Your initial claim was that people in this thread thought that, actually.

    Clearly at 19 I have not yet been in the position to have left home and be supporting a family, but I've already stated that I'm working in a job this summer which is manual labour, and also did so on my other work experience placements, and that having compared it with university, manual labour comes out on top as being the harder of the two by a long, long way. It's not inverse snobbery to state that most middle and upper class people have an easier time getting to "higher places" than working class people, hell I am one myself, I know! If I had been born into a working class family I can be almost certain I would be married by now, probably looking to start a family. I would never have aspired to go to university if it weren't for my parents' attitude and my upbringing. I've had an awful lot of help and support getting to where I am now and there's a reason that vet school is filled with the sons and daughters of either farmers or middle class families. More to the point, if someone has empathy for the unemployed or those in employment as manual labourers, I don't really see why it should matter that they haven't done it themselves. For those who like to preach, I think a little experience would be a good thing for their attitude.
    Ah, you're one of those middle class people I see. Yes, all working class people get married at 19, and start popping out kids.
    So you personally find manual labour more difficult than uni? I don't, so we're at something of an impasse, it seems. As CB pointed out, it's entirely subjective. What kind of manual labour did you do, by the way?
    So you can have empathy of the middle class guilt variety without any real experience of the situation, but if your empathy leads you to conclude that people on benefits are doing it because it's easier than work, you can't make those sort of claims without having done manual labour?

    I expect I'm more of a scientist than you'll ever be, especially seeing as you like to skim read then inflate and misconstrue statements so completely I don't think anecdotal evidence is the best way to analyse a situation, I think it's the best way to analyse this situation; seeing as clearly one man on a telly programme or a bunch of statistics cannot possibly tell us what we need to know about why the unemployed are not making use of the apparent abundance of job vacancies, what we really need is for some other people in that position to tell us exactly what has prevented them from getting a job. You cannot possibly be arguing that those statistics conclusively prove that every unemployed person is just a layabout or that one bloke with 17 kids is representative of everyone on benefits? :rolleyes:
    No, anecdotal evidence is never useful because people are unwilling to admit things like "I'm lazy and like sponging off other people", and because you can't draw anything useful from such evidence unless you take statements from all 1.65m unemployed and the several million non-participants. Even then it's a bit dodgy. A more reliable method is to use statistics and psychological evaluations - i.e. That long term unemployment is damaging to an individual, that youth unemployment doubles the chance of long term unemployment for an individual etc etc
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    (Original post by Apagg)
    Wow, it's like you're assuming that I'm rich and middle class, when in fact I'm from a single parent family. Still, nice work with the ad homs.
    Besides, as your parents worked hard rather than simply living off the dole, I'm clearly not attacking them, am I?
    Wrong again. My parents worked hard, and still do work hard, and have to live off the dole. Especially since they keep getting made redundant and the DVLA keeps ****ing my dad over. Now let's get back to your point: you said you'd rather people waited until they had enough money to have a child. My parents could never have done that, and never will be able to, because unskilled jobs are paid less. Should my parents, and the thousands of others in this situation, just not have had kids at all, then?

    (Original post by Apagg)
    Yes, state support does reward the increase of those activities it supports. By your own definition, it's an incentive, glad we could clear that up.
    Yes... except it doesn't. How the hell can you call it a reward? "Congratulations, you have a kid! Have some money!" It's absolutely nothing like that. It's sufficient money to stop the kid from dying of starvation or neglect so that the parents can look after the kid without both having to have jobs. Please stop mixing up the word "support" with various other things it blatantly doesn't mean, it's really getting boring.

    (Original post by Apagg)
    Ok, if it doesn't matter, why do we need to provide council housing? After all, 3 to a room won't affect quality of life at all, right? Again, I'm saddened and distressed, dear boy, that you felt it necessary to put words into my mouth - I made no reference to prostitution or any other illicit activities. I rather think you've had one too many.
    Would you care to tell me, then, rather than patronising me, how having 3 to a room reduces quality of life? There's a roof over their heads, there's food in their mouths, they're normal people free to do whatever they want inside and outside their house; just because they share a bedroom with others, doesn't mean their quality of life is poor. What about all the people who share rooms at university, or in boarding school dormitories? I really don't see your point here. No, having a lot of people in a small house is annoying but it doesn't reduce quality of life.
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    (Original post by Apagg)
    No, anecdotal evidence is never useful because people are unwilling to admit things like "I'm lazy and like sponging off other people", and because you can't draw anything useful from such evidence unless you take statements from all 1.65m unemployed and the several million non-participants. Even then it's a bit dodgy. A more reliable method is to use statistics and psychological evaluations - i.e. That long term unemployment is damaging to an individual, that youth unemployment doubles the chance of long term unemployment for an individual etc etc
    Well, go on then. Give us some statistics that prove that all people on benefits are sponging off the government.
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    (Original post by generalebriety)
    Yes... except it doesn't. How the hell can you call it a reward? "Congratulations, you have a kid! Have some money!" It's absolutely nothing like that. It's sufficient money to stop the kid from dying of starvation or neglect so that the parents can look after the kid without both having to have jobs. Please stop mixing up the word "support" with various other things it blatantly doesn't mean, it's really getting boring.
    If anybody's mixing things up it's you. It's nobody's fault but yours if you can't get your head around the fact that an incentive doesn't have make a positive contribution but can, in fact, merely mitigate negative consequences and still remain an incentive. It is an undeniable fact that child benefits mitigate some of the negative consequences of having a child - something that you have already indicated you are aware of - and, as such, the decision making of the agents involved has been influenced.
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    I second Billy.
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    (Original post by Apagg)
    When did I suggest we do that? It'd be wrong to cut off payments to existing children, but I'd like to see the size and scale of benefits cut down for future recipients.
    So, for future recipients, you're going to force them to live in (greater) poverty, yes?

    Not acceptable in my view.
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    (Original post by City bound)
    If anybody's mixing things up it's you. It's nobody's fault but yours if you can't get your head around the fact that an incentive doesn't have make a positive contribution but can, in fact, merely mitigate negative consequences and still remain an incentive. It is an undeniable fact that child benefits mitigate some of the negative consequences of having a child - something that you have already indicated you are aware of - and, as such, the decision making of the agents involved has been influenced.
    I agree that it meets the technical economic definition of an incentive. But, that it meets that technical economic definition does not mean that it actually affects people's behaviour in any substantive way. I was talking to my Econ tutor about this sort of thing, and I simply don't buy (and nor does he) that the vast majority of unemployed people WANT to be unemployed because some hugely abstract utility calculation comes up positive. Being unemployed, especially long-term unemployed isn't fun - it's ****. Most people who are long-term unemployed really want to get back into work.

    I mean - there are things which mitigate the negative consequences of going bankrupt (eg. your debts are cancelled) - yeah, I guess that that's an 'incentive' to go bankrupt in a technical economic sense. But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of people want to go bankrupt, or that this 'incentive' (scare quotes because it isn't really an incentive beyond the technical sense indicated) is a bad thing that should be scrapped.
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    Some people on benefits (for example, incapacity benefit) receive a lot less than the worst paid worker (less than those two girls that were persuaded by Widdecombe to work in a factory) Fair? I think not.
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    1988, you're completely right. The people I know who have been out of work for some time are VERY unhappy and hate the situation they are in. Not all circumstances are so straight forward.
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    I agree that it meets the technical economic definition of an incentive. But, that it meets that technical economic definition does not mean that it actually affects people's behaviour in any substantive way. I was talking to my Econ tutor about this sort of thing, and I simply don't buy (and nor does he) that the vast majority of unemployed people WANT to be unemployed because some hugely abstract utility calculation comes up positive. Being unemployed, especially long-term unemployed isn't fun - it's ****. Most people who are long-term unemployed really want to get back into work.

    I mean - there are things which mitigate the negative consequences of going bankrupt (eg. your debts are cancelled) - yeah, I guess that that's an 'incentive' to go bankrupt in a technical economic sense. But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of people want to go bankrupt, or that this 'incentive' (scare quotes because it isn't really an incentive beyond the technical sense indicated) is a bad thing that should be scrapped.
    My point exactly (but much better explained).
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    (Original post by generalebriety)
    Wrong again. My parents worked hard, and still do work hard, and have to live off the dole. Especially since they keep getting made redundant and the DVLA keeps ****ing my dad over. Now let's get back to your point: you said you'd rather people waited until they had enough money to have a child. My parents could never have done that, and never will be able to, because unskilled jobs are paid less. Should my parents, and the thousands of others in this situation, just not have had kids at all, then?


    Yes... except it doesn't. How the hell can you call it a reward? "Congratulations, you have a kid! Have some money!" It's absolutely nothing like that. It's sufficient money to stop the kid from dying of starvation or neglect so that the parents can look after the kid without both having to have jobs. Please stop mixing up the word "support" with various other things it blatantly doesn't mean, it's really getting boring.


    Would you care to tell me, then, rather than patronising me, how having 3 to a room reduces quality of life? There's a roof over their heads, there's food in their mouths, they're normal people free to do whatever they want inside and outside their house; just because they share a bedroom with others, doesn't mean their quality of life is poor. What about all the people who share rooms at university, or in boarding school dormitories? I really don't see your point here. No, having a lot of people in a small house is annoying but it doesn't reduce quality of life.
    Yes, but by working they reduce the contributions from the state, which is all I expect. I know you want to be offended but please try not to put quite so many words in my mouth.

    It's a reward because it's a good thing that happens to you if you have children. Simple, really.

    If you're annoyed, would your life be better or worse if you were less annoyed?
    I can't believe you don't think overcrowding is detrimental to quality of life - lack of personal space, poor sleep, limited social life, detrimental effects on education, personal hygiene...
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    (Original post by generalebriety)
    Well, go on then. Give us some statistics that prove that all people on benefits are sponging off the government.
    Why? I never said they all were
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    So, for future recipients, you're going to force them to live in (greater) poverty, yes?

    Not acceptable in my view.
    Well, no, because I'd hope an intelligent person would say "Hang on, we can't afford to have x kids now the benefits have been reduced, so let's have a family we can afford and provide our children with a decent lifestyle".
    Despite what you and GA seem to think, behaviour is affected by financial considerations.
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    I agree that it meets the technical economic definition of an incentive. But, that it meets that technical economic definition does not mean that it actually affects people's behaviour in any substantive way. I was talking to my Econ tutor about this sort of thing, and I simply don't buy (and nor does he) that the vast majority of unemployed people WANT to be unemployed because some hugely abstract utility calculation comes up positive. Being unemployed, especially long-term unemployed isn't fun - it's ****. Most people who are long-term unemployed really want to get back into work.

    I mean - there are things which mitigate the negative consequences of going bankrupt (eg. your debts are cancelled) - yeah, I guess that that's an 'incentive' to go bankrupt in a technical economic sense. But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of people want to go bankrupt, or that this 'incentive' (scare quotes because it isn't really an incentive beyond the technical sense indicated) is a bad thing that should be scrapped.
    You'd agree (I hope) that the unemployment and poverty traps exist? If so, you've just acknowledged that benefits act as a definite incentive.
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    (Original post by Apagg)
    Your initial claim was that people in this thread thought that, actually.
    And I am still sure that some people in this thread do indeed believe that. Otherwise why did the issue of whether or not somebody could live on £360 a month, or whatever it was, come up in the first place? But I'm not going to keep arguing this point, it's entirely irrelevant.

    (Original post by Apagg)
    Ah, you're one of those middle class people I see. Yes, all working class people get married at 19, and start popping out kids.
    So you personally find manual labour more difficult than uni? I don't, so we're at something of an impasse, it seems. As CB pointed out, it's entirely subjective. What kind of manual labour did you do, by the way?
    So you can have empathy of the middle class guilt variety without any real experience of the situation, but if your empathy leads you to conclude that people on benefits are doing it because it's easier than work, you can't make those sort of claims without having done manual labour?
    LOL sorry who's using ad homs?! I know it's fun to inflate people's opinions but you'll notice that I never said anything about all working class people. I was talking about myself. I am very family orientated and am really keen on the idea of having loads of kids, and even though it's going to take me five years at uni just to qualify as a vet, I still have every intention of starting a family at a relatively young age. So it is perfectly reasonable to say that had I not come from a family that encouraged me to get involved in education and carve out a career for myself, I would almost certainly have just done it without bothering with the whole university thing. Now, that aside let's clear a few things up shall we.

    Firstly, are you denying that as a general trend, middle class people are far more encouraged to attend university, whereas working class people are more likely to go straight into a job and/or start a family?

    Secondly, I have been involved with two or three different jobs that involved manual labour. The first was dairy work - I helped with the milking at a local farm for a couple of weeks. That involved being down at the dairy for 5am to do the morning milking, spending the day feeding, mucking out, haying and calving, then doing the evening milking at 5pm. The second was lambing, in my Easter holiday earlier this year. We started at 8am and spent the day helping the sheep to lamb down, putting the babies into pens, then docking their tails, castrating the male lambs and worming the adults. The sheep live in pens made out of crates and they don't have gates so every time you wanted to visit a certain sheep you had to climb over the fence. We didn't finish til 8 or 9 in the evening and I can assure you that 12 hours of climbing over fences, pulling lambs out of sheep and then carrying the lambs around is pretty exhausting. Shepherds work harder than anybody I can think of. They often work 18 hour days and while we were there the attending shepherd told us he hadn't had a single day off in three months. Currently I'm working at a stables. This morning, I arrived at 7.30am, got the ponies in, fed, hayed, watered and mucked out. Between 10 and 1 I led three beginner rides over the forest on foot. Then I had ten minutes for my lunch, before we took out a novice ride for a couple of hours, on horseback. Directly we got in we took another beginner ride out on foot, then we turned the horses out, did the yard chores and finished at 6.30 and here I am now writing this. If you don't find manual labour more tiring than uni, you're just not doing it right

    (Original post by Apagg)
    No, anecdotal evidence is never useful because people are unwilling to admit things like "I'm lazy and like sponging off other people", and because you can't draw anything useful from such evidence unless you take statements from all 1.65m unemployed and the several million non-participants. Even then it's a bit dodgy. A more reliable method is to use statistics and psychological evaluations - i.e. That long term unemployment is damaging to an individual, that youth unemployment doubles the chance of long term unemployment for an individual etc etc
    That is total rubbish. Scientists use anecdotal evidence all the time, what do you think sociology bases itself on? Studies involving opinion polls and asking people for their take on a matter. You don't have to collect data from every single unemployed person in the country to make the study useful, who knows nothing about science now eh? You take the most representative sample you can manage and you try and factor in any variables by such methods as keeping it entirely anonymous. What we need is a really good study of this nature where a large number of unemployed people from really varied backgrounds say exactly why they haven't got a job. Until then neither one of us can say conclusively who's more likely to be right.
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    (Original post by Apagg)
    Well, no, because I'd hope an intelligent person would say "Hang on, we can't afford to have x kids now the benefits have been reduced, so let's have a family we can afford and provide our children with a decent lifestyle".
    Despite what you and GA seem to think, behaviour is affected by financial considerations.
    I haven't claimed that behaviour isn't affected by financial considerations - I claimed that the affect wasn't as great as some (ie. you and CB) were claiming.

    I want to know what will happen if I have a kid in your system. Suppose my utility calculation doesn't take into account the fact that I can't afford kids? Or, more realistically, suppose that the pregnancy is an accident and I don't want an abortion (for whatever reason). Are you going to condemn that child to poverty?
    (Original post by Apagg)
    You'd agree (I hope) that the unemployment and poverty traps exist? If so, you've just acknowledged that benefits act as a definite incentive.
    I would question the extent of their existence, but yes - I agree that there are theoretical situations in which welfare systems and taxation could work together to make someone better off financially by being unemployed. I'd have to be an idiot not to accept that.

    I don't see what that contributes to the debate though. I have no idea whether the conditions for a poverty/unemployment trap exist in the UK (I'd have to see the data - care to provide some, or a link to a journal article?). But, even if the tax/welfare system is set up that way, it does not follow from that that people's behaviour will be determined solely by the financial considerations. As I said before - people don't WANT to be unemployed (in the vast majority of circumstances). It isn't a straight utility trade-off between £X employed or £Y unemployed - it's far more complicated.
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    (Original post by _jackofdiamonds)
    I'm surprised ITchaV would put on a program slating their core demographic.
    Well, not really. Those who most violently abhor the benefit system are, in my experience, those one rung up in social station from those who are 'dependent'.
 
 
 
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