A new report finds that, despite the opinion of public opinion, violent crime has dropped more rapidly in Britain than anywhere else in Europe – a continent that anyway is witnessing falling rates of violence.
But, poles consistently show that there is still a powerful feeling out there that things are getting more violent, that youth are out of control and so on.
So our feelings don’t always reflect actual situation? Oh, bravo Wilf, a world exclusive yet again.
It’s hardly breaking news I know, but it is just that on a recent bout of Question Time, as the issue of benefits was being discussed, I was struck by the fact that the debate was actually all about feelings.
Lots of people feel that the benefit system is confused and poorly managed. They feel there are loopholes whereby some people are getting massive payouts. They feel there are people who simply don’t want to work who lounge around eating cornettos at the expense of those who do.
As a consequence there is a desire for benefits to be cut, or at least the system to be tightened up and for us to make sure we only have people claiming who truly deserve to be claimants.
Psychologically these beliefs are totally understandable. As Phillip Larkin once put it, work is a toad. When the toad is sat on your life it is easy to imagine there are people who are free of it, and then to resent these imaginary people.
Lord I know I do. I hate working, and I do my hobby for a job.
But just take a look at these statistics:
Unemployment goes up and down, particularly in a Capitalist economy where successful companies will hire and fire according to market forces. You can see that as more work comes in, people take the jobs, and the red line goes up.
If there were masses of people who just didn’t want to work, the red line wouldn’t go up. There may be ‘scroungers’ out there (or not) but, contrary to what was implied by almost everybody on Question Time, this issue is not really to do with the personalities of claimants. This issue is to do with having less work than people.
I may be what they call in America a ‘bleeding heart liberal’, but I still have right wing feelings sometimes. I suspect we all do. It doesn’t bother me. The issues are not to do with my feelings, they are to do with the facts of the system.
Unemployed people are part of the system same as employed people are, and if you think about it you can only conclude that it is fair that the system makes sure they do not live in poverty while it tries to make sure there is enough work for everyone.