tisdag 19 december 2006

Shop your neighbour to prevent benefit fraud

An advertisement appeared recently in the local paper asking people to shop their neighbours if they thought they were working and claiming benefit. There is a whole web site where you can report benefit fraud.

Of course I do not condone benefit fraud. But asking people to report on their neighbours is how the Nazis operated. I suspect most people would still not report their friends and neighbours if they knew about their benefit fraud. But if it became widespread practice, it would destroy the trust which helps to cement society. Goodness knows, the fabric of society is falling apart in Britain without any help from government departments asking people to shop their neighbours.

Despite recent changes, the withdrawal rate for benefit when people enter work remains a deterrent to work and an incentive to fraud. There are still people, mostly at the bottom of society, who cannot afford to go to work! This is the inevitable consequence of targeting the most needy – people move into the target area and stay there. This encourages people to rot in idleness, to the point that they many will never be able to work again. At least, if they are committing fraud, they are contributing something to the wealth of society and maintaining their skills. It is the system that is wrong. It is the same system that has left me with an increase in asset value that is more than I could ever have possibly earned through hard work.

The way to stamp out fraud is to take away the incentive. This means a move, and of course it cannot happen overnight, to a universal benefit such as the Basic Income advocated by the Green Party. The way to pay for it is by substantially replacing existing taxes by Land Value Taxation. Then there will be no more fraud. Sadly, it seems that the government and civil service are still under the spell of fear, uncertainty and doubt spread by the small number of people with vested interests against such a shift in revenue-raising methods, so overdue change is not going to happen.

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