Wednesday, January 09, 2008

An end to the something-for-nothing culture

At last, a policy from the Conservative Party emanating from the very foundations of common sense, designed to appeal to all unquestionably reasonable and fair-minded people, and to challenge the ‘work-shy’ millions who are content to lie in bed until midday and live off state benefits day in, day out, year after year. Under the next Conservative administration, people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance for more than two years would have to do 12 months community work.

The proposals are mainly aimed at the 68,000 on ‘Jobseekers' Allowance’ for more than two years and the 16,000 on the benefit for more than five years. And there were something around a million people claiming ‘incapacity benefit’ in 1997. Under New Labour, this has risen to more than 2.5 million, a million of whom are allegedly suffering from a ‘mental illness’ which prevents them from working.

Has New Labour really depressed a million people to the point of inaction and perpetual prozac?

Let us be clear, Cranmer has compassion, buckets of it, for it is a primary Christian obligation and inherent in the scriptural exhortations to love one’s neighbour, to care for the poor, and to weep with those who weep. But he has very little time for those who leave school at 16 with no qualifications, claim benefits, and then continue living off the state, prioritising the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol, and ten years later find themselves no further on, still living off benefits which have done them no ‘bene’ at all and rendered them ‘fit’ for nothing.

Scripture is replete with warnings of the consequences of not working. The consistent presupposition of the Book of Proverbs on this subject is that the person being addressed is indeed able to work. This would include most of us by far, but there are certain people who are unable to work (for whatever reason), and should not feel guilty for not being able to perform the duty described in the proverb. For them God has another word of wisdom (cf Prov 3:5f).

But working is essential to living and obtaining the essentials for life (eg 12:11a; 16:26; 28:19a). Work should be accepted as God's divine design (Gen 2:15; 2Thess 3:10), such that people who refuse to work reveal a lack of common sense in their judgment. Sometimes people refuse to do the job that they have because they are always looking for a better one (Prov 12:11b), but refusing to work can lead to death (21:25).

It will come as no surprise to Cranmer’s communicants and readers that he exhorts the Protestant Work Ethic and the theology of Calvin, for hard work brings a profit (14:23a); work done in a slack manner is as good as a piece of work which is later destroyed - both are valueless (18:9); slack work leads to poverty (14:23b), while diligent work leads to control of one's situation (12:24).

Work can be very rewarding (12:14). As time passes, a person who has worked wisely and diligently will find themselves rewarded by their labour as well as skilled at what they do with the result that people who are skilled at their work are sought out by others (22:29).

So work is good for the soul.

Well done, Mr Cameron.

Cranmer looks forward to more of the same.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If claimants work for their full amount of benefit amount using the NMW per hour, there is an argument that paid public sector workers would lose their jobs and this wouldn't be allowed to happen.

However, there are jobs that paid public sector workers don't do, e.g. feed elderly patients in hospital, keep lonely people company in care homes and hospitals, run the hospital charity shops, and take some jobs away from qualified staff for example changing flower vase water, refilling water jugs which would leave the cleaners to deep clean and nurses to nurse.

Wouldn't every charity shop in the Country benefit from workfare labour. Couldn't the churches of all denominations help to place workfare labour where it is needed e.g. In the Churches, Mosques etc and begin to rebuild community service. When in Malta we visted several small churches that were full of activity, with people volunteering their time cleaning the windows, the benches, floors and generally a happy buzz about the place.

There has got to be a way to make this work.

9 January 2008 at 09:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

68,000 oiks on jobseeker allowance is totally trivial compared to 680,000 civil servants in non-jobs collecting middle class dole, let alone similar numbers of local council muppets with their snouts in the public trough.

9 January 2008 at 10:03  
Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...

Reverse the flow of immigration.

Real work not make-work.

Proper pay instead of subsistence wages.

Problem sorted.

9 January 2008 at 10:04  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

I am absolutely in agreement with Your Grace, except as to exactly why Cameron is praiseworthy, if at all. Workfare is an American idea that has been proven in the field and has now been adopted by the government. Its thinking is already represented in the legislative pipeline, and it could be argued that Cameron is just covering his "base" by getting on the bandwagon.

Secondly, if I may make so bold as to add to Your Grace's rewarding biblical references, the Parable of the Talents appears to be relevant and has a power and a commanding arbitrariness that excites me every time I read it. It rattles my grammar school bones.

On the other hand, Ecclesiastes 10.8 has not dimmed my enthusiasm for DIY or gardening.

9 January 2008 at 10:31  
Anonymous mary tudor said...



Nasty little piece of work. Burning at the stake would have been too good for him...

9 January 2008 at 10:42  
Blogger Christian Spence said...

It is a pleasure to hear Your Grace propagating such eminent common sense, supported by the words of the Holy Book.

For further quotes on this matter, may I remind Your Grace and his readers of 2 Thessalonians 3, particularly verse 10:

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."

9 January 2008 at 11:57  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Christian Spence,

You most certainly could remind His Grace of the reference, if he had not already included it in his exposition.

9 January 2008 at 13:19  
OpenID curly15 said...

The Devil makes work for idle hands, (and don't we know it.)

9 January 2008 at 18:16  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Your Grace
Of course work is good for the soul. It gives one focus and a sense of decency. It is inextricably linked to one's reason for living. And if one doesn't have a job, then one loses one's reason altogether.

There is no need for you to defend yourself by saying you have compassion. (Though I understand why you do so.) It is precisely because you are compassionate that you wish to hold these people to the high standards that you might do of your own children.

It is the people who think that these poor unemployed people are too stupid, or have had such poor childhoods, that it is 'understandable' that they should have no ambition. It is their ludicrous condescension and prejudice that handicaps these people by giving them options (benefits) that they then find hard to turn down.

Benefits - or in the world of children, being given grades or praise for nothing - rob people of their ambition.

So Your Grace, you have far more compassion than your opponents and I commend you for it.

9 January 2008 at 18:40  
Anonymous Neo said...

And what of single parents whose circumstances do not allow them to set up appropriate care for their children?

9 January 2008 at 21:04  
Blogger V said...

9 January 2008 at 23:56  
Anonymous mickey said...

Whilst neither a practising economist nor an evolutionary biologist, I will offer a comment on behalf of both professions (this is a blog, after all, so anything goes!).

An economist might suggest that 16 year old with poor academic abilities who quit school and entered the benefits regime would be making an entirely rational decision. By 21 he/she will probably have their own furnished pad and, in all likelihood, an additional source of cash income.

Increased 'depression' and 'backache', obesity and other medical ailments are also just examples of human evolutionary development. These people are mentally and physically adapting to their (welfare orientated) environment. Darwin would have been impressed.

Who knows where it will all lead. But for bloggers the future is obvious - pointy fingers, a stoop and poor eyesight!

10 January 2008 at 09:00  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Of course all the same arguments were used for the workhouse - constant values in a modern setting?

I don't see many references in scripture advocating compelling people to work - encouragement is one think compulsion is another.

Of course lots of things are good or bad for the soul but it doesn't mean that state should always be involved.

And would you reward the work performed at the minimum wage or do you have some religous argument justifying exploitation?

10 January 2008 at 13:25  

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