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I’m becoming very amused by Jack Monroe

For as far as I can see what has actually happened to her is entirely the opposite of what she thinks happened to her. She is now earning well (cookbook on the way, regular columns in the papers, been on TV a few times (yes, you do get appearance money) and I have absolutely no doubt at all that she’s on considerably more than the median wage.

And yes, there was indeed a time when things were very bleak indeed:

I wanted to say that poverty is almost indescribable to Edwina and co with their blinkered, self-righteous attitudes. That turning off the fridge because it’s empty anyway, that sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast, having freezing cold showers and putting your child to bed in god knows how many layers of clothes in the evening – it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising.

Imagine living for 11 weeks with no housing benefit, because of “delays”. Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent that you can’t pay, ignoring the phone, ignoring the door, drawing the curtains so the bailiffs can’t see that you’re home, cradling your son to your chest and sobbing that this is where it’s all ended up. It feels endless. Hopeless. Cold. Wet. Day after day of “no”. No we aren’t looking for staff. No there isn’t anything else to eat. No I can’t put the heating on. No I haven’t got any money to pay my rent arrears. No, no, no.

She got screwed over by an uncaring, unfeeling and inefficient state. That there should be benefits for those who need them I entirely support. But perhaps we shouldn’t have the system being managed by the sort of cockknobblers who take 11 weeks to work out whether someone deserves to have heat, food or a roof over their heads. What Monroe is complaining about here is not that there is no benefit system to aid with poverty, it’s that we’ve got the usual incompetents working for the State.

The rhetoric of ‘work hard and get on’ can fall apart very quickly and you can find yourself in a pit of joblessness, benefit delays and depression

But that’s exactly what did happen to Monroe. She got screwed over by that incompetent State and then worked hard and got on. I realise that no one is actually taking it this way but this is a profoundly anti-State story, what happened to her. The bad things that happened came about as a result of bureaucratic incompetence. The good things came from the market recognising her talents.

The final lesson being that we don’t need to change the market, we need to fire the cocknobblers.

18 thoughts on “I’m becoming very amused by Jack Monroe”

  1. One good thing about her blog, is that it shows you can eat well for not much money, another good reason to give single mums less money.

  2. Apparently, it’s my fault she had a kid by a bloke (or a turkey baster, who knows) who wasn’t willing (or allowed, or asked who knows) to support her and his child.

    Tax me more! I’m just a selfish bastard! Give her MORE! Give it to her NOW!

  3. How do we set the incentives so those administering these benefits do so in a timely manner whilst at the same time not allowing fraudulent claims? In other words hwo do you appease Daily Mail and Guardian readers at the same time.

  4. Also–yes you can have a welfare state but that is at the price of large numbers of jobs that that state will destroy. Those who work in the “public sector” are no longer creating wealth which in turn would create more jobs and wealth. Taxes also depress economic activity. And that is in a welfare state at its best–say the UK in the 50’s before the rot set in(which it always will). Now we are in the end game and most if not all of us are set for some very nasty times to come.

  5. @”Ian Reid
    February 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

    How do we set the incentives so those administering these benefits do so in a timely manner whilst at the same time not allowing fraudulent claims? In other words hwo do you appease Daily Mail and Guardian readers at the same time.

    No idea. However if we had real local government then
    a) if my council screwed it up, it would be my money so
    I would have real incentive to complain
    b) Bearing in mind (a) one council would soon find a good way
    c) people who worship single mums and want to give them lots of money could vote for a council that does and let me spend my money on me.

  6. If the state budget were all being spent on the 10% poorest that would be on £120K per head. Single mother with 3 kids getting half a million a year.

    Clearly nothing even remotely like that is happening which means that the vast majority goes on paying government employees and their friends, who use the poor as a moral human shield to deflect any call for reductions in the amount that actually goes to them.

  7. Ian>

    If the likes of the Guardian and Indie would actually campaign to help the poor, instead of being completely willing to screw them in the cause of making political capital, things would be a lot better.

    I spent months trying to get anyone at either paper to take heed of the fact that they were screwing the poor with their lies about the ‘bedroom tax’. I was called all kinds of names before they eventually admitted I was right and the problem was not the legislation but incompetent councils misadministering the law. If they’d simply run a series of articles on ‘How to Challenge Incorrect Council Decisions’ there would have been many fewer problem cases.

  8. The thing that bugs me about people like Monroe is the assumptions

    a) that the wealthy have always been wealthy and always will be

    b) that even if they have/are they cannot possibly understand what it might be like to be poor (unless they are Bill Nighy, Polly Toynbee, Geoffrey Robinson etc)

    c) that small or even big c conservatives just don’t ‘care’ – it just could never be the case that they do care, they just think there might be other ways of sorting out our problems than hosing people like her with cash.

  9. Ian Reid,

    How do we set the incentives so those administering these benefits do so in a timely manner whilst at the same time not allowing fraudulent claims?

    If you actually want benefits to work, you switch them from means tested to a citizen’s income for all that we pay for out of land value taxes. You keep all the incentives to work, you collect from rent seekers and you don’t have a huge benefits system.

    No-one thinks we should have means-tested education or means-tested health so why do people think we should have means-tested food and rent?

  10. The state has been very accomplished at displacing family, community and voluntary co-operation and using that to justify making productive people poorer.

    Perhaps they should make such delays policy rather than a symptom of glacial bureaucratic systems. Give plenty of notice of the change and it would encourage people to plan their finances better, encourage saving and encourage voluntary organisations to get involved before the state does.

  11. @Interested
    c) that small …
    Being a curious child who could do arithmetic I discovered that the really poor were treated better by the conservatives than the Labour Party the benefits of whose policies were heavily skewed towards the skilled and semi-skilled who comprised the groups from whom union membership was drawn. Not necessarily malicious – just the result of a “them and us” attitude and a narrow unenlightened viewpoint.
    The poor did get better off under Attlee and Wilson, albeit less so than under Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Heath, Thatcher and Major: it was only under Blair and Brown that they actually got poorer.
    Conservatives do care: that has been central to our philosophy from the times of Peel and Disraeli.
    PS “My grandfather, who died in late 2012, ran some guest houses in Southend-on-Sea.” Which means he was a millionaire.

  12. Well, yes she is plainly stupid. Even her Wiki bio admits that despite the benefits of a grammar-school ejmcation during the height of the “dumbing down” years she didn’t get enough GCSEs to do A-levels. The only way to be that stupid is to work hard at it or have some natural talent.

    And left her job voluntarily because she “couldn’t get enough flexi-time to look after the sprog”.

    My guess is that that voluntary leaving of gainful employment might, just might, have precipitated the delay in payment of benefits.

  13. Pingback: On being a politically conservative Christian | Elizaphanian

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