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Austerity Does Not Work - my open letter to Karen Buck MP
Last uploaded : Sunday 20th Mar 2016 at 22:42
Contributed by : Carol Gould


In the wake of the resignation of Iain Duncan-Smith I was astounded to discover that it is FOUR years since I wrote an impassioned plea to the government to stop picking on the vulnerable. Millionaire president Franklin Roosevelt, in a wheelchair, did all he could to help the poor. Even Republican George W Bush did not carp about 'scroungers.' Just yesterday a British friend who has spent the past twenty years being subsidised by the taxpayer actually began bleating for the umpteenth time about 'spongers.' Try applying for a major job with many medical conditions. No sick person can reach the final cut because one has to provide a medical report. Enough is enough. I had only just said a few days ago that 'we might be living under a PM Corbyn sooner than we expected.' All I can think of is Trump and Corbyn meeting at G20 !
July, 2013
It is now a year since I wrote this piece. Nothing has changed. I'm just getting more left-wing by the minute. Brazil is in turmoil and its people are in the streets so their leaders are instituting reforms. How I wish our many marches and protests here would encourage a degree of compassion amongst Daily Mail readers and our leaders....
First published July 16, 2012
In light of the Prime Minister proposing that Housing Benefit be taken from young people aged twenty-five and under I have written the following letter to my MP:

Dear Karen,

As an American with dual US-UK nationality I find it repugnant to see the perpetual banging-on by the media and politicians about the benefit system and the so-called ‘something for nothing culture.’

For years I have been arguing with my British friends about this obsession and telling them that Americans simply do not get exercised about people on benefit. These friends are Tory and Labour but are united in their hatred of ‘scroungers and layabouts.’

I think you should know that American politicians hardly ever talk about people on benefit and the media do not spend time on it – even Fox News ! I have been watching four-yearly Presidential debates for decades and the subject of benefits rarely comes up. If it does, it is discussed in the context of ‘getting folks back to work’ rather than griping about the welfare bill and how to reduce it. EVEN GEORGE BUSH signed welfare bills and never went on about scroungers. Even REPUBLICANS sign off on welfare bills and do not say disgusting things about the disabled as do our Tory ministers. (How CAN Iain Duncan Smith say people without limbs are not necessarily disabled?)

I have to tell you that I was delighted to see on ‘Newsnight’ a few nights ago a BBC reporter saying he had canvassed American politicians and they had told him ‘you are toast’ and your ‘political career is over’ if you start berating people on benefit. I felt vindicated, because so many Britons continue to scream at me about the country being bankrupted by scroungers.

Maybe it is the fervent religiosity of Americans but I do think there is possibly a connection between the high level of church and synagogue attendance in the USA – possibly the highest in the world – that inspires Americans to have compassion for people on benefit and for the 'less fortunate.'

The OTHER factor is the amount of money received by welfare recipients. I told my sister in Philadelphia what people get here and she was in shock. Who can live on £85 a week? 50 million Americans are on food stamps ($200 a month) and their monthly benefits range state by state between $1,000 and $2,500. This is a quote from MSN news in 2010: 'The average American collected $295 in weekly unemployment benefits in the third quarter of 2010, according to the most recent government data.'

Yes, recently several states ran out of welfare money -- for example Missouri has shown a drop in unemployment and this triggers a halt to federal subsidy -- but the authorities are trying to do something about this instead of bleating that the unemployed should learn to support themselves. (I recall Lord Digby Jones saying all benefits should be ended.)

Anyway, I wanted to share with you my impressions of the two cultures and say I am appalled by the obsession – fed by the ‘Daily Mail’ – that so many Britons have with ‘scroungers.’
Your constituent, Carol Gould

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/14/disability-benefits-slashed-half-million .

http://money.msn.com/how-to-budget/can-you-live-on-330-a-week-mainstreet.aspx .

From 'Understand our Economy:'
'Can These [Welfare] Funds Ever Run Out? What happens if they do?

The total amount of money in the trust for each state fluctuates naturally due to unemployment rates. Those times when not as many people are collecting these benefits and there are more people paying unemployment taxes, a surplus is created in the trust for these states. On the opposite end of the spectrum, during times of extremely high unemployment, money in the trust can in fact run out. In the event that this happens, the government loans money to each of the states that are in need so they will be able to continue distributing these benefits to people who are in need of them.'

http://www.understandingoureconomy.com/54/where-does-money-for-welfare-come-from/ .

http://www.semissourian.com/story/1836153.html .


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