Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Breeding Poor

Lord Flight has been made to apologise regarding his comments about benefits, where he said that as a result of the cuts to Child Benefit, 'we're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it's jolly expensive. But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that's not very sensible.'

There has been the usual response. Outcry from Labour and the unions, holding it up as an example of how 'out of touch' the Conservatives are with ordinary people. The Government have taken steps to distance themselves from the comments, and ultimately, Lord Flight has apologised.

But despite all of this, everyone seems to have avoided the awful truth... that Lord Flight is correct.

 Social decay is caused by a lack of responsibility

I lived in the Meadows in Nottingham - one of the most deprived council estates in the country - for nearly 3 years. I have seen how some people live there. I have seen the teenage mothers in the playground, picking up their children. I have heard the conversations: 'so what are you going to do after school - get a job or have a kid?'

If you are under the age of 25 and earning less than about £20,000 a year, the most financially sound decision you can make is to have a child. You then become entitled to Child Benefit, which in turn, entitles you to priority social housing (with the rent largely paid by Housing Benefit), Council Tax Benefit, Child Tax Credit, and Employment & Support Allowance. You get a tax-free income of about £20,000, without having to lift a finger.

For hundreds of thousands of young women across the country, having children is merely a meal ticket. They do it simply to avoid work. And because they have made the choice for themselves, they care little for the responsibilities they have as a parent. Children are brought up with little to no sense of responsibility themselves, often with absent fathers, and with the lack of any demonstrable work ethic or structured family life, fall into antisocial behaviour and crime.

Now, I am not saying that all people on benefits behave in this way. But some do. And to pretend otherwise is to invite the continuation of the social cancer which is destroying our country.

The answer is to force people to assume responsibility for their children. Abolish child-related benefits, and use the proceeds to increase Working Tax Credit. End the right to free social housing. Make those who have parental responsibility accountable for the actions of their children.

They will scream. They will beg, and they will plead. 'Think of the children,' they will say. The sentimental will decry the actions, saying that it is callous and cruel to treat the poor in such a way. To which the answer is:

We are oft to blame in this,--
'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.

- Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, William Shakespeare

Or, in other words, 'spare the rod, spoil the child.'

Eventually, the screaming will stop, the tantrums will fall silent, and the social decay will begin to heal. But even if action is taken now, it will take generations for the damage to be undone. Such is the shoddy and despicable legacy of past Governments' refusal to acknowledge the truth.