Who wants to be a Welfare Millionaire?

Q: What group is most at fault for you being miserable?
A – Immigrants B – The EU
C – Welfare scroungers D – Bankers in their suits and ties

All bullshit, of course. If you’re miserable it’s more likely that someone close to you is making you miserable (a boss, a colleague, a loved one) or that you’re just making yourself miserable by not dealing with shit.

The fantasy that there are thousands of people on welfare benefits who are living a life not just less ordinary but wholly extraordinary is sweet poison. It’s easy to swallow and it rots your soul.

Q: Which description best sums up the life of an average person on welfare benefits?
A – Happy go lucky worries go bye bye B – Money money money
C – We’re all going on a(nother) summer holiday D – Easy like Sunday morning

The idea that Osborne suggested this week that he feels (we should stop there) anything approaching human compassion for ‘the shift worker’ (read: neo working class) who leaves for work at dawn being taunted by the neighbour on welfare ‘sleeping off’ a privileged lifestyle is offensive.

It’s Sun politics, Daily Mail manifesto stuff. There may be the outliers in the welfare scheme who enjoy a financially secure life at the expense of the taxpayer but I refuse to believe or respect the belief that this is anything other than a rarity.

Q: If you hate Welfare scroungers, what should you do?
A – Demand the Government do something B – Phone 5 Live
C – Shop them in to the Fraud Squad D – Cheer the fuck up

If you’re on welfare benefits, you are making use of a system that our society provides for those who need help. If you’re not on benefits you’re making use of a system called work that can instil self-worth, pride, happiness and wellbeing.

If you’re employed and you don’t feel any of these things, but believe that welfare scroungers are living it up then fucking quit the job you clearly hate and join them. Or, perhaps, is it that there’s a clique of crafty scroungers who play the system and you don’t know their tricks? Bollocks

Q: If you were out of work, what would you do?
A – Squeeze every last penny out of the system B – Work any job to survive
C – Turn to a life as a homeless D – Relish every minute of it

Should you actually believe that being out of work and on a system which provides you with a paltry handout is a way to live a life of self-fulfilment and pride then something is wrong. This is thinking which is infected by money and narcissism.

There are no Welfare Millionaires but if there were, who would want to be one? Only those people for whom life is not an exploration, a vast unknowable adventure, an ever-present opportunity but a constant pressure-cooker of money, status, faux-identity and artifice.

Q: What benefits are there in being on welfare?
A – Fuck all

Your life should be what you make of it, which is essentially an easy thing for a white, middle-class and well supported man to say, but no less true for it being spouted by me.

People on welfare benefits are living a nightmare, not a dream, and if you envy them then I pity you your clearly unremarkable existence. Have some ruddy self-respect.

Long term welfare benefits are a chain, as much a moreish addiction as any drug or habit, as much a life-dwindling sentence as a prison term which leaves the released human with no ability to function on the other side of the bars.

Being on welfare is being institutionalised. It is living without hope.

That welfare ‘scroungers’ are living the high life and going on endless holidays while the cor-blimey-Guv’nor salt-of-the-earth working folk toil for scraps is a useful and popular moral panic. It’s a perfect distraction from the reality, both for politicians and for unhappy humans themselves.

Do not let your elected leaders tell you that welfare benefits are a system which opens up a world of leisure and happiness to despicable uncitizens who must be punished and despised.

Do not let your elected leaders paint patronising pictures of those in work living in barely restrained conflict near to those out of work, when the men sleeping off a life spent living in privilege are those elected leaders themselves.

But most of all do not let yourself believe that being on welfare is any better than being dead, or that were you on welfare you would be doing anything but trying, desperately, to unshackle yourself from the system and regain control of your own life.

You may, however, bellow so loud at your radio when this bullshit is peddled in public that passengers feel the urged to get out while the vehicle is still moving.

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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