Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Welfare State is a Rip-Off

How much of government expenditure goes on Social Security? According to this site 30% of government expenditure went on Social Security in 2000. Meanwhile, according to this site, in 2001 spending on social security was down to 27.8% of expenditure, or £103billion. Wikipedia has a chart on public expenditure in the UK from 2001 to 2007:

So, 27-30% of government expenditure goes on Social Security.

When I was made redundant at the end of January I didn't apply for any benefits but went and got work as a teaching assistant in the University of Nottingham. Unfortunately, by its nature, that was temporary, only lasting as long as the semester, so towards the end, full of regrets, I embarked on the process of claiming Jobseekers Allowance (I was marking on my own time, then, and so was available for work) and Housing benefit. I had been in work for ten years previous to this, working an average of 30 hours a week at minimum wage (it varied, sometimes less, sometimes more, and sometimes at higher pay as I occupied a higher position - This would be a conservative guestimate), and had not claimed any benefits since I was 17 (the computers at the Jobcentre still had me on record from then and they said that the lowest pay I was looking for was £3.70 - minimum wage then, illegal now!). When I started my claims I told the benefit people that I was doing casual work marking for the University and told them how much I was getting paid. They said, "OK, you are getting too much to qualify for assistance now, but as your work is temporary we will keep your claim open. Just bring us your final paycheck, and we will determine how much you are entitled to after that."

Anyway, the marking stoped at the end of June, and I got my last paycheck, and brought it in as requested. Nothing happened. Half way through August my 13 week interview came up, and I told them, "look, I've not actually recieved any money yet." They said "None?" I was like, "Yes, you should know this!" I was told to see my claims advisor, so I did next time I signed on. This claims advisor told me to check until the next friday after my 13 week interview and see whether anything came then. I did. Nothing came. In the mean time, no housing benefit was coming either. The next time I signed on, now fifteen weeks after I made the original claim, I said, "look, I haven't had any money yet." Again, they seemed surprised, like they didn't even actually know my circumstances. Checking my records they said, "ah, its because you are doing casual work and recieving too much in pay." I said, "I am doing no work and recieving nothing in pay. You know this because you told me to bring my final paycheck in when my work finished, and that you would start giving me money then." Anyway, then my claims advisor said that this was not his department, sso I should phone the benefit people. I did this, and they told me that I should have brought them a P45. I said, "well in that case you should have told me to bring a P45 when my work finished, not a sodding final paycheck." Anyway, I brought the P45 and still nothing happened. So I got on the phone again and said I had brought my P45, the Jobcentre had made a copy, and nothing is being done. The benefits guy said, "oh, they haven't made the changes to the records yet."

Anyway, finally the Jobcentre have sorted their act out and they have paid me back dated Jobseekers Allowance of £270... The Irony being that they did that this week, and I start a new job next week, so throughout my whole period of unemployment they pay me nothing, but only pay me after I have found employment! But.... As i said, no Housing benefit. I went to their offices and they said, "ah, its because your income is too high." I said "I have not bloody income!" They asked what I have been living on, and I will get to that, but I said "help from my parents whilst you guys get your act together." I told them "you know I have been getting no income because you guys told me to bring you my final paycheck after which you knew I would be recieving no more income." It turns out that they had used that final paycheck to decide I was earning too much and so was not entitled to anymore support... and that, again, I should have brought them a P45 I was not told to bring, not the paycheck I was told to bring them. They then said I would have to reapply for housing benefit from scratch, but that I can ask for it to be back-dated. The trouble is that I don't know whether to bother. You have to notify them a month in advance of any change of circumstances. As I start work in a week, that would be impossible.

What is the point of all this? Why should I, as a libertarian, bitch about not getting welfare benefits? The answer to that is that the state has been robbing me for the last ten years. It has been stealing an average of twenty-percent of my income for ten years, taking it without my permission, and claiming that it would have a right to throw me in prison if I resisted, or do similarly to my employer if my employer refused to assist in this outright theft. If your or I went around taxing people as the state does, the state itself would correctly arrest us for robbery and extrotion, but apparently these things are OK when the state does them.

But when libertarians talk about taxation this way, the most frequent comeback is "if people don't have to pay taxes, how would the welfare state function? Who would look after the poor? If redistributing wealth by taxation is unjust, then that would mean no welfare for the poor" blah, blah blah. Well, here is me, Poor. I have lived on less than £10,000 a year for most of my working life - the only time it rose above that was to £13,000 before taxes, and that was for six months, just before losing my job. I am poor. Yet the state still robbed me. And when I went to utilise this "service," this great theft excusing "benefit" by which bleeding haerts attempt to justify my being robbed, what did I get? Nothing. The state took 20% of my income for ten years. Assuming a balanced budget, it then spent 27% of that 20% on Social Security, of the pretense that such social security would be there whenever I, or anybody else needed it. Was it? Was it hell.

When I was made redundant I recieved £1,500 in redundancy, which I spent on paying off an overdraft I used to pay for my MA. I also had in the bank £2,000. This I sent to my parents to hide, knowing that I could not claim benefits if I had savings. Since the teaching ended it has been that £2,000 I have been living on. Now, if the government had not been stealing my money, and had not been forcing me to put 27% of 20% of my income (about 6 pence in every pound) aside for "Social Security," but had instead let me keep that money, and let me instead put 27% of 20% of my annual income in a bank account paying 5% interest, then when I left work and was made redundant, I would have saved in that account £6,564, which, added to the £2,000 I had anyway, would have given me £8,564 to live on, instead of the £2,000 I have been living on and the fuck-all I am getting of the money that the state stole from me on the pretense that it would give some back when I needed it. I could have accessed this money whenever I thought I needed it, without having to jump through bureacratic hopes, and place faith in the messed up chaos of some welfare official in some office somewhere. When I told my parents that I would have been better off had the state not stolen 20% of my income but let me keep and save it, they didn't believe me, but I think that a person with £8,564 to live on is better off than a person with £2,000 to live on, so I suspect that I may have been correct. In the mean time, nothing has more solidified my belief that the welfare state is the biggest fucking rip-off of all time, after the bank bailouts.