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Ideology, dole crushes incentive to work

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Is government policy ruining the next generation of workers, by practically “training” them not to work?

An eminent British social critic raises this terrible consequence of modern “compassionate” government. Anthony Daniels is talking about the United Kingdom, not the United States — but don’t rest easy just yet.

In Daniels’ view, a permanent “underclass” doesn’t just happen.

There’s no reason in nature or genetics for thousands of people never to get ahead, to fall into unemployment fed by crime or addiction and pass along such a lifestyle to future generations.

No good reason, that is, except a state of mind.

A state of mind “inculcated and promoted from the top,” as Daniels sees it, from misguided elites and politicians cynically promising the poor “redistribution.”

If he’s right, U.S. companies — oops, British companies — will have to find entry-level workers among immigrants. Americans won’t do that kind of work, and won’t have to. They’re paid to stay home and be entertained.

Daniels, a physician, has seen lots of big-screen television sets in homes of the destitute. A big screen, in fact, is likelier to be on the premises than a dining room table where a family gathers for meals together.

In a speech at Michigan’s Hillsdale College, Daniels told of an English woman who got in trouble with police by taking a job while receiving social allowance (welfare). She tried to sneak in a few pounds earned. “She had to stop working,” he was told. To stop taking the dole was simply unthinkable.

The Brits can’t even believe their unemployment statistics anymore, according to Daniels, who has written 20 books using the pen name Theodore Dalrymple.

British governments of both parties, he said, have learned to artificially reduce the unemployment rate by putting more people on disability payments. Never mind real illness or injury. All it takes is the “willing corruption” of government numbers-twisters, the unemployed themselves, and doctors who supply “official certificates they know to be bogus.”

Result: the incentive to work is destroyed for millions. Foreign labor has to be imported to get the work done — typically at lower cost.

Government, ostensibly in the act of trying to do so much for people, “smashes up all forms of social solidarity that are independent of it,” said Daniels.

“By a mixture of ideology and fiscal and social policies,” he said, “the family has been systematically fractured and destroyed in England, at least in the lower part of society that, unfortunately, needs family solidarity the most.”

Whether the shoe fits in America he didn’t presume to say.

Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email him at jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

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