Work for benefits
The government has this wonderful new wheeze that people who've been drawing state benefits for more than two years should be made to work for them. Of course, it's been tried before and quietly dropped, at least twice, but let's ignore that. Let's look at why this is a Really Bad Idea.
Obviously they're not intending that this work should be done in the private sector - because then they'd be earning a wage instead of drawing benefits. So they're expecting them to work in the public sector, or the voluntary sector. Now, if I run a charity, I'm not going to take those people. I've already got volunteers who actually want to do the work, so I'm not going to use labourers who don't want to do the work and so will do the minimum possible, slacking off and drinking my tea and eating my biscuits at every opportunity, all the while imposing costs on me for things like insurance, training, heating, lighting, and keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't steal shit.
So they're obviously going to be working in the public sector. The amount of money they'll be paid for their not-a-jobs will in the vast majority of cases be less than the minimum wage, thus depressing wages for menial work such as street sweepers, and (remember, they'd rather not be doing this) depressing the quality of the work. So the street sweepers end up on the dole. Of course, you'll also need a layer of management. Probably more than one. Hell, probably more than two - this is the government, after all - to supervise the
non-free workerslabourers and correlate work done badly with benefits payments. Thus increasing costs (and taxes, or government borrowing, which equates to taxes anyway, just a bit later), getting a worse job done, putting more people on benefits - all round, a really bad idea. Incidentally, this is the same reason that I'm opposed to prison labour. By all means have the prisoners do their own cooking and laundry, but making products like screws and stuff for sale outside the prison has just the same bad effects.
And there's two other bad effects too.
Firstly, some of these people do actually want to work, they just haven't been able to find any. Any time they spend slaving away in these degrading non-jobs takes away time that they could otherwise use to look for work, and because the jobs will quite likely be manual labour, they will be knackered in what free time they have left, and so too tired to use the less time they have available in an effective manner. Second, some of them, while claiming benefits, are in fact working, doing jobs that the NHS and social services want to do but can't. An awful lot of people who work bloody hard caring for sick or elderly relatives are going to be fucked over (that's a technical term) by this.
It's just a stupid idea all round. Thankfully, just like the last time this was mooted, it almost certainly won't happen beyond a short trial in some grotty irrelevant northern town.
For fuck's sake, I'm beginning to sound like a Tory. So, in for a penny in for a pound. If you really want to stop people claiming benefits, stop paying them. Of course, you don't want to see families starving to death (they're worthless people, so you obviously don't care about them, but dead bodies are ugly, and cause disease which might spread from the slums into areas where real people live), so we'd need some kind of special institution for them to live in where, perhaps, they could be helped (at low cost, using poor quality tools) to work to produce the bare necessities of life like food and basic clothing. We could euphemistically call these places "work houses" :-)
The real solution is, of course, to stop fucking the economy over by pouring money down the drain of failed businesses (for the love of god don't bail out the car companies!), and instead to invest in useful infrastructure that will promote economic growth. How about starting with a proper high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland. That would need plenty of unskilled labourers and the resulting prosperity in the blighted north would bring a fuckload of well-paying jobs, thus getting people off the dole in the long term.