Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cracking Dillow today.

You shouldn’t need me to point out that complaints about benefit abuse is an example of the right’s “small truth, big error” rhetorical trick. But I will:

- According to the last DWP accounts, benefit fraud cost £1bn in 2008-09. That’s less than the cost of the DWP’s own administrative errors, and much less than the amount of benefits that people are entitled to but do not claim.

- From a Keynesian perspective, benefits serve a useful counter-cyclical function in stimulating demand. They are a roundabout way of boosting the profits of Lidl and Primark.

- Insofar as people don’t want to work, it could be that this what Jon Elster called an adaptive preference. Having tried and failed to get work, people reduce their cognitive dissonance by coming not to want work. People aren’t unemployed because they don’t want to work, but instead don’t want to work because they are unemployed.

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