My left-libertarian comrade Chris Dillow has provided a most useful back-of-envelope calculation which shows that, in economic reality as opposed to political fantasy, dole scrounging is not such a big deal as is being made out by the centre-right UK government.
Chris accuses the Tories and their coalition partners of confusing macroeconomics and morals. I’m not convinced that they are. What evidence is there that right really sees scrounging as a serious macroeconomic issue? It certainly doesn’t come across in the more substantive statements made by government ministers.
To my mind it is dog whistle politics: a manipulation designed to distract the politically trademarked demographic known as Ordinaryhardworkingfamilies™ from the grim reality of their financial plight and prognosis. In marxian terms it is the deliberate instilling of false consciousness.
As a political tactic it appears to be working well for the government, with a constant stream of ordinaryhardworking men and women of all political persuasions and none popping up on evening news bulletins expressing sympathy for the government’s difficult position, and stating as a fact which they are in no position to back up with hard data that the welfare state is being crippled by benefits claimants who do not deserve the money. We is all economic pundits now.
One may despise Bullingdon Club Toryism and the old nag it rode in on, but you have to hand it to these people when it comes to their political skill. Quite brilliant.