Who Better To Tell The Government Their Policy Proposals On Benefits Won’t Work…

…than John Sutherland, a Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at UCL?

When asked why he gave money to beggars who would only spend it on drink, Samuel Johnson replied: “And why should they be denied such sweeteners of their existence?”

I care not what Samuel Johnson does with his own money. Or what anyone else does with their own money.

But this is tax money, extorted from the hardworking taxpayer we are talking about, isn’t it?

Iain Duncan Smith’s proposal is that recipients on benefits “suspected” of being alcoholics/problem drinkers should have their payouts docked if they decline “help”. That help seems to be attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

Yes..? So..?

“Suspected” – if this scheme ever comes into operation – will be a major problem. Suspected by whom? Doctors are bound by confidentiality. They can’t snitch. Few, even the most serious drinkers, turn up at the benefits office sozzled.

Well, they can always take a look at the Disability Benefits database, can’t they?

Because, amazing as it might seem to the mighty intellect that is a Professor of Modern English Literature, it’s actually classed as a ‘disability’ along with drug addiction!

The larger objection is that, as a curative measure, what Duncan Smith proposes comes too late in the long alcoholic cycle (20 years for most addicts). The kind of people he has in mind (few, one suspects, will be Eton/Oxbridge educated) have an array of problems. Adding one more – acute poverty – will not make them “pull themselves together”. It is more likely to be straws and camel backs.

Is the poor old taxpayer not a camel? Because it seems we are just expected to put up with more and yet more straw…

Drink, they once said, was the curse of the working classes. It’s even more the curse of the out-of-work classes.

Who seem to be strangely able to afford to drink. How can this be?

One of the best ways to stop the unemployed benefits recipient drinking is to give him or her work.

Because the government has a big cupboard somewhere, from where they can just pull jobs, I suppose?

And, once you’ve done that, environments (benign comrades and employers) that can help the problem drinker straighten out – either to abstinence or controlled drinking.

So, in that government cupboard there’s also replacement families and friends too? Gosh!

I speak from experience. At a critical moment in my life I landed a job in America. As soon as I got it I went on a bender, then another, then another. I was told – by a well-meaning but severely inflexible boss (later a good friend) – that I fix it (there were programmes I was pointed to) or get out.

So being told to straighten up and fly right, or else, worked for you? But this won’t work for others?


I finally understand that saying ‘Only an intellectual could believe something so dumb’…

2 comments for “Who Better To Tell The Government Their Policy Proposals On Benefits Won’t Work…

  1. Greg Tingey
    May 26, 2012 at 8:42 am

    WORK is the curse of the drinking classes.

    Long may it remain so

  2. ivan
    May 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    This is now becoming standard with academic ‘intellectuals’, pontificate about anything they know little or nothing about especially if it is not their supposed speciality.

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