In the UK today the poor are a commodity and poverty is big business. That’s why the homelessness industry can afford conferences in luxury hotels, with slap up meals and drinks receptions. It’s why charity chief executives earn such eye-watering sums, or business empires like the Big Issue can be built beneath a charity facade. And these are the fuckers who are supposed to be helping. Alongside them lie the vultures of the welfare-to-work companies like Serco and G4S – a £20 billion industry designed to punish the poor with benefit sanctions and forced work schemes.
At no point in this elaborate system of so-called support, incentives and sanctions will the people who are poor be given what they need – which is more money. In fact much of the help is designed to do the opposite as it attempts to create behavior change by inflicting more poverty. Benfits are cut to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job whilst charities run advertising campains further stigmatising beggars to encourage them not to be homeless. Other anti-poverty organisations demand that the price of cheap alcohol is raised to stop people being alcoholics and call for bans on handing out free food to make life difficult for those on the streets. As these demands grow ever more shrill, the number of genuinely affordable homes and jobs that pay an adequate income shrink, alongside already meagre benefit payments. Yet because of the wonderful support the poor are offered – and all that money being spent – when people keep getting poorer then frankly, even most charity bosses think, it’s probably their own fault.
It is fucking grotesque. What poor people need is more money and what homeless people need is homes. As well as being glaringly obvious, this is also what the evidence shows. A study was featured in the Washington Post this week which tracked the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina over a period of 20 years. By pure chance during this period about a quarter of the children’s families received a windfall due to being part of a Native American tribe whose land had been used to host a casino. This led to the families receiving annual payments of around $4000 and meant that the researchers could measure the impact of this small rise in income on the children’s personalities. The results were clear – according to the researchers “there are large beneficial effects of improved household financial wellbeing on children’s emotional and behavioral health and positive personality trait development.”
The study also found that relationships between parents improved, family arguments decreased, and siginifcantly parents who had more money tended to use drugs and alcohol less.
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