For some, demonising poor communities is an obsession for some.
We are bombarded with nonsense about why the poor are poor, and why the rich are rich. London’s buffoon-in-mayoral-residence, Boris Johnson, and his speech last year on why IQ levels determine success was, perhaps, one of the more laughable entries in a pernicious, ongoing campaign to demonise the poor.
The narrative usually goes something like this: the rich have risen to the top because of their innate skill, talent, endeavour and drive, and are the ones that create and spread wealth; while the poor are where they are because they are feckless, anti-social drug-takers who have few tradable skills … and lots of children, all with different, equally-feckless partners.
This line is peddled via a variety of channels, ranging from egregious right-wing politicians to any one of the myriad newspapers and commentators on the conservative end of the political spectrum, who regularly pontificate on such matters.
For the Daily Mail, it’s almost like a sport. Let’s call it ‘poor-baiting’. Here’s a piece which appeared just before New Year on the ‘most outrageous benefits cheats of 2013‘.
But that’s just a taster: the Mail has given benefit cheats up and down the country a serious going over, with stories on the subject here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here – all since last August. Got the message yet?
Strangely, few, if any, tax-avoiding corporations or banks in receipt of ‘corporate welfare’ or some other taxpayer-funded bail-out made appearances.
Entertainingly, the headline of one of those stories, in which the Mail is pushing the get-tough-on-cheats line, reads: “Prosecutors told to treat them [benefit cheats] like bank fraudsters.”
Monstered by the Daily Mail
Which is bizarre because, if they really were, they would not only be free of the constant monstering by the Daily Mail and the fear of appearing in court, but they’d be collectively rewarded with hundreds of billions of quantitative easing pounds, along with tax breaks, lax tax enforcement by Customs & Excise and lots of other inducements and incentives. Vodafone, for instance, doesn’t have such worries.
Of course, it’s not just the Daily Mail behind this. But, regardless, the belief system that’s constantly being foisted on us is one that blames the poor for being poor.
So, it’s refreshing to see someone putting such perspectives into their rightful place. Here’s an excellent piece by Robert Reich who, though writing in response to a similar rant about the poor in the New York Times, makes points which are just as relevant to Britain as they are in the US.
And, like the focus on scroungers in this era of ‘bedroom tax’ hardship, mountainous personal debt and bourgeoning food banks, these arguments should be repeated over and over again.