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Sunday 5 July 2020

Government Handouts - Yeah But No But

The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press has, until this weekend, viewed any kind of Government handout as A Very Bad Thing Indeed, unless of course it comes in the form of Government advertising for those same papers, in which case, well, don’t mind if I do, Squire. Anything that the lumpen proletariat gets, unless it earns it by lots of that good hard work that most hacks don’t do, can only lead to laziness and dependency.
It's OK if he does it ...

So it surprised no-one when, last May, the Murdoch Sun berated then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for a Universal Basic Income plan. “LABOUR’S basic income plan for all could cost over £100billion extra, it was claimed last night … at about £70 a week nationwide it would cost £288billion a year - up from £182billion on welfare now”.

Even the coming of a Government more to its liking, and the advance of the Coronavirus pandemic, did not persuade the Daily Mail. “An experiment with 'free money' in Finland made people happier but did not improve employment levels and would be 'unsustainable', a study has found”. Governments clearly should not go there. Or maybe they should.

Today’s Observer has told thatRadical plans to give all adults £500 and children £250 in vouchers to spend in sectors of the economy worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis are being considered by the Treasury. The proposals, drawn up by the Resolution Foundation think tank, which has had recent talks with the Treasury about its ideas, are aimed at kickstarting economic recovery by triggering a highly targeted surge in spending”.
... but not if he does

The Mail is rather more amenable to that idea, despite it essentially being the same thing as UBI, except in voucher form. “Rishi Sunak is urged to give EVERY Briton a £500 voucher to be used in shops, hospitality and tourism in a massive £30billion package to boost the economy”. But then, they like Sunak. And so does the Sun.

Rishi Sunak urged to give £500 voucher to every UK adult to spend in coronavirus-hit high street shops … HOUSEHOLDS must be given vouchers worth hundreds of pounds to kick-start the ailing High Street, the Chancellor has been urged … Adults should be given £500 each and children £250 to support firms hit the most by the coronavirus outbreak”.

Moreover, the Sun’s deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton has compiled an exhortation to readers: “It’s our civic duty to support our favourite eateries and save the UK hospitality industry … The health and economic risks of staying in our homes cowering for the rest of time now far outweighs those of socialising while taking responsible precautions … It’s our civic duty to save the UK hospitality industry … About three million people rely on it for employment, getting on for ten per cent of the UK workforce”.
And what better way to support it than to use those vouchers that are now being enthusiastically promoted by his own paper, despite the price tag being in the tens of billions? Clearly, since May last year, a “free money” handout has stopped being a ghastly socialist aberration, and is now an excellent wheeze. Cos Rishi will be doing it.

The press will do anything to flog more papers. Including a little socialism.
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Anonymous said...

Ah, that depends on your definition of socialism. There's the various forms and textbook descriptions, but it can be summarised in the Conservative mind as follows:

"Socialism is spending government money on things rich people don't like".

Rich people like the military - not socialism.
Rich people like subsidies for their businesses - not socialism.
Rich people dislike supporting schools - socialism.
Healthcare - socialism.
The Royal Family - not socialism.

And so on.

Rishi will brilliantly manage to screw this up totally because Tories must Tory. Here's my line of thinking...

Dish out stimulus money to everyone and most people will spend it. The government are pretty much guaranteed 20% Vat back in a few months reducing the overall cost. If us peasants decide to blow the money on booze, cigs and driving round in circles then even more money goes straight back to the gov in taxes.

BUT... the proposal is for vouchers. How will they work? Can you change the £500 voucher for smaller ones? Will the hard-hit small retailers have the facilities to accept them or will they simply end up as a giant subsidy for the retail giants? How will the housebound spend theirs in the high street? If online sales are banned what's to stop people spending their Rishibux on Amazon vouchers in their local Tesco? How will the vouchers work with kids - can a parent spend the voucher on the childs behalf or does the child have to be in the store with appropriate ID? What records will they use for the vouchers to stop people applying in false names or claiming to have 17 kids?

If the government instead opts for some sort of debit card for everyone then how long would it take to produce 60 million of them? And what restrictions would be put in place (Visions of 8yr olds confessing to their parents they've just blew £200 on sweets and Disney DVDs)? If the hospitality industry accepts them does that mean the whole industry or just certain segments? Holiday cottage and night in the West End okay, lap-dancing bar and vodka not okay?

If the poor decide to treat themselves and buy, say, an iPhoneSE then will the Mail/Express/Sun spend the next five years whining about 'Scroungers with their free iPhones that YOU PAY FOR'?

The nation awaits what our doltish government comes up with.

Having horrible nightmares of getting an envelope with 'Buy one pint, get one free' Wetherspoons vouchers and a tenner off Argos along with enough coupons for a years free Tory newspaper of your choice.

Probably won't even be that much, though. Have you seen the Christmas bonus carers get?

AndyC said...

Anonymous at 00:27 made some very interesting points, especially detailing all the things we KNOW the govt wont have thought about if the scheme goes ahead. As for summarising the differences between socialism and rich people I've long thought the following- Socialists would allow everybody to have a benefit to ensure no child went hungry whereas Rich People would prevent ALL from benefiting just to make sure not a single person they thought unworthy of the benefit received it.

Unknown said...

Have you seen the Christmas bonus carers get?

I have, it's called nothing. The person I care for gets an extra tenner though.

Anonymous said...

Oh not the vouchers shit AGAIN!

That's the same cack peddled by Friedman and the Chicago Gang. That's the same far right capitalist economics crank Friedman who admitted he got everything wrong before he croaked.

We live in disgusting times.