Social Security

In (qualified) praise of Frank Field

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/08/2018 - 8:09pm in

The news that Frank Field, long-serving Labour MP for Birkenhead, has resigned the Labour whip, has generated a deluge of comment, including the predictable attacks from the Corbynist left.

Field’s resignation letter cites antisemitism and a culture of intolerance and bullying as the reasons for his departure – in which he is far from alone; those of us involved in Labour politics have seen a steady exodus of Labour stalwarts – the people who run election campaigns and organise Labour events at local level, as distinct from the social media clicktivists – over the past three years.

Field’s critics have pointed to his role in the development of the welfare system, both under Blair and the Cameron coalition.  Appointed Minister of State for Social Security in 1997, with a brief to “think the unthinkable”, he lasted barely a year; Blair, in his autobiography, described Field’s thoughts as less unthinkable than unfathomable.    His advocacy of a small-state approach to welfare, based on mutualism and opposition to non-contributory benefits, put him at odds with Labour’s thinking (although his consistent opposition to means-testing is closer to the position held in some parts of the Left).

On other issues, he has been associated with the Labour Right – as a prominent Eurosceptic who has consistently supported the Government over Brexit, and as a consistent advocate of reducing the time limit for abortion.

But there is one issue over which Field deserves unstinting praise; his work as Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee of the House of Commons.  That committee has been forensic and absolutely ruthless in its exposure of the cruelties and incompetence of the Department of Work and Pensions, and has embarrassed the Government into significant change.

For example, it exposed the internal DWP targets for dismissing appeals at mandatory reconsideration – the initial process that all those appealing DWP decisions to cut their benefits must go through; the DWP was forced into a humiliating climbdown and the internal target – described disingenuously as a “management target” was abolished, as a direct response to the Committee’s criticism.

And the same Committee has been equally damning in its criticism of how the so-called “health professionals” employed by the private sector contractors who manage Work Capability Assessments are likely to have no expertise in the field in which they conduct assessments – especially where those assessments involve mental health issues.

In other words – Frank Field’s committee has been an absolute model of Parliamentary scrutiny, exposing one Government failure after another and forcing red-faced Ministers into making changes to the benefits regime.

And that is what real opposition looks like.  No matter how many rallies one attends, or how many Facebook posts one likes or how many retweets one makes, the real business of politics is about making a change.  And, like him or loathe him, Frank Field and his committee have achieved far more for the most vulnerable than all the Facebook likes, retweets and Momentum meetings and Jezfests between them have done.

Nancy MacLean on constitutional economics and the conservative movement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/08/2018 - 10:58pm in

Author of a great book on James Buchanan, that is certainly worth reading. The whole thing is related to Buchanan's constitutional economics and how it underpins the Koch's strategy to take over the country (and Pence is their guy, btw). The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that has been so influential in the far- right conservative movement take over of US politics at the State and local level (see this old piece in The Atlantic, or this in The Nation) has a plan for a constitutional convention and for 10 Libertarian Amendments that she discusses in the video (towards the end, 3:30 minutes into it), that has for the most part gone unnoticed (NYTimes had a piece on it a couple of years ago here). In all fairness, I didn't pay much attention until she said balanced budget amendment. I always thought that the best shot conservatives had at entitlement reform (read privatization of social security) was with a neoliberal democrat as president (in the mold of Clinton and Obama). But it seems that they are pushing for other ways too.

PS: The book she refers to is by Mark Levin and the 11 amendments are these (according to Wikipedia, I haven't read the book, but will try to):

  1. Impose Congressional term limits
  2. Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, returning the election of Senators to state legislatures;
  3. Impose term limits for Supreme Court Justices and restrict judicial review;
  4. Require a balanced budget and limit federal spending and taxation;
  5. Define a deadline to file taxes (one day before the next federal election);
  6. Subject federal departments and bureaucratic regulations to periodic reauthorization and review;
  7. Create a more specific definition of the Commerce Clause;
  8. Limit eminent domain powers;
  9. Allow states to more easily amend the Constitution by bypassing Congress;
  10. Create a process where two-thirds of the states can nullify federal laws;
  11. Require photo ID to vote and limit early voting.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Who Will Do Something About the Looming Retirement Crisis?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/06/2018 - 9:24am in

Image result for elderly homeless

In Douglas Coupland’s 1991 age-warfare classic novel “Generation X” a young man trashes a car because it bears a bumpersticker with the obnoxious slogan “I’m spending my children’s inheritance.” Like Coupland I launched my career as something like a spokesperson for Generation X, raging on behalf of a demographic cohort perpetually struggling to make itself and its concerns heard in the wake of the older, bigger and wealthier Baby Boom generation. Culturally marginalized by the Boomers, forced to accept transient employment, hobbled by growing student loan debt and buffeted by recessions, Xers feared that they would never be able to save enough in order to retire, much less spend their kids’ inheritance.

The retirement crisis will be worse than we ever feared.

“We predict the U.S. will soon be facing rates of elder poverty unseen since the Great Depression,” New School economist Teresa Ghilarducci and Blackstone executive vice chairman Tony James write in the Harvard Business Review.

Sayonara, Kurt Cobain. Born in 1961, the oldest Xers are graying, aching, 57. And in trouble. A New School study projects that 40% of workers ages 50-60 and their spouses who are not poor or near poor will fall into poverty or near poverty after they retire.

Retirement specialists from the political left and right concur: big segments of whole generations of the elderly will soon be impoverished, some homeless or even starving. After the Xers, the Millennial deluge; old age looks even bleaker for today’s young adults.

Experts vary on how much you should have saved by the time you retire. Fidelity advises a $75,000-a-year worker who retires at age 67 to squirrel away at least $600,000 in present-day dollars. Following the traditional rule of having 80% of your salary for 20 years pushes that desired minimum to $1.2 million.

The problem is, the average savings of 55- to 64-year-olds is a piddling $104,000. According to a 2015 study of people 55 and older by the General Accounting Office, 29% have nothing whatsover.

It’s a joke, but it’s not funny. Yet neither political party has much to say about the looming retirement crisis.

The rapidity and scale of downward mobility among the elderly will shock American society, precipitating political upheavals as dramatic as those we saw during the 1930s. Political and business leaders are in denial about this issue. But the desperation of our grandparents and parents — not to mention the children charged with caring for them since they won’t be able to provide for themselves —will make voters vulnerable to demagoguery of all stripes. Instability will be rampant. Democracy could be in danger.
It isn’t hard to see how we got here.

Old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plans have been replaced by defined-contribution benefit plans like IRAs and 401(k)s which are problematic for many workers. People don’t contribute enough. Employers pitch in less than they did to pensions, or nothing at all. When workers suffer a setback like a job loss, they borrow against their accounts. They make poor investment decisions. When the stock market suffers a downturn, accounts lose value. High administrative costs suck away returns. The average 401(k) has never been bigger — but still, we’re talking total savings of $104,000.

Try living on that for 20 or 30 years.

Baby Boomers enjoyed the last vestige of an economy where you might hold one or two jobs throughout your most of your working career. They grew up in two-parent households and enjoyed the fruits of the postwar boom.

By contrast, many Generation Xers and younger Millennials have divorced parents, which reduced their financial security. Gen Xers got slammed by the 1987 stock market crash as well as the 2000 dot-com collapse; both Xers and Millennials lost jobs and savings during the 2008-09 Great Recession. They work in the gig economy. Younger workers might not have to drive for Uber or rent out a room on Airbnb but their work lives are highly mobile and frequently disrupted. They get laid off and outsourced. They must go back to school or move to adjust to employers’ demands. Their real and net incomes are significantly lower than the Boomers’ and their savings rate reflects that.
Paying average monthly benefits of just over $1300, Social Security is a supplementary, not a primary retirement plan. Even if they’re content to live modestly, cash-poor Xers have a gaping wound for which Social Security is a Band-Aid.

Although many older people enjoy working, too many cannot. A record 19% of Americans over age 65 currently work at least part-time; of course, that means that 81% do not. Older people are prone to failing health. And it’s hard to find someone to hire them.

The older you are, the more likely you are to fall prey to age discrimination. Companies are also motivated by simple economics, cutting costs by firing older workers and replacing them with younger ones.

Hillary Clinton ignored the distress of downsized working-class whites in flyover country to her own, and her party’s peril. Donald Trump won his surprise victory partly because he acknowledged the rage of Rust Belters long neglected by both parties. The outcome might have been different had Democrats maintained their traditional 20th century focus on labor and the Midwest by promoting job-retraining programs and other attempts to get industrial workers back on their feet.

Now we’re looking at a problem as big as deindustrialization. If one of the two major parties is able to get ahead of the coming retirement crisis by putting forth some meaningful solutions now, before dystopia arrives, they will reap the benefits at the polls. Conservatives may want to support GRAs (Guaranteed Retirement Accounts) in which workers are required to withhold a portion of each paycheck in order to invest for their retirement. Liberals may prefer shoring up the Social Security system in order to increase monthly payouts.

Or we can do nothing as we marvel at the sight of our grandparents fighting over Dumpster scraps.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Bolivia: BONOSOL programme is 21 years old, this year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/06/2018 - 6:19am in

Image credit: La Razón.   BONOSOL is a mandatory, non-contributory, central government social security program in Bolivia. It is unconditional in nature and started in 1997, having endured to this day, having risen more than 220% from 2008 through 2016. It disburses, at the moment, 404 €/year per adult over 60 years of age who does not benefit from a

The post Bolivia: BONOSOL programme is 21 years old, this year appeared first on BIEN.

Florence on the Sanctions System and its Architect, Yvette Cooper

A few days ago I posted up a piece about the death of Jody Whiting, another victim of the sanctions system. Whiting had been sanctioned because she missed a jobcentre interview. In fact, she was in hospital at the time, being treated for a cyst on the brain. In despair at having no money to support herself and her children, she went into a local wood and hanged herself. She joined hundreds of others, who have died of starvation or taken their own lives.

Florence, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted these observations on how the system contravenes UN human rights legislation, and is scathing about its architect, the Blairite Labour MP Yvette Cooper.

Under the UN Treaty on Human Rights it is illegal to use starvation as a punishment, I understand. Yet this is exactly what the sanctions are designed to do – it is stated in the DWP Handbook which state that sanctions will produce physical and mental “discomfort”.

(And while Yvette Cooper is being lauded for her “Windrush” success by the RW journalists and PLP (ignoring Diane Abbot, David Lammy and the others who have done all the work – racist much?) she was the one who designed the DWP system much as it is today, persecuting the people who need the Social Security safety net. Yes, the Tories have made it worse, but she gifted them this system of assessments and sanctions. Yet even after the UN report on the abuse of human rights by the DWP, she made election promises to be “harder than” IDS on the ‘scroungers and frauds’. I hope that she is not proposed again as a contender for the Labour Leadership, she is unfit on that very simple, human test.)

The sanction system has gone far beyond physical and mental discomfort, and is responsible for real suffering and death. Medical doctors and psychiatrists have reported how it has pushed patients into depression and anxiety, and made those, who already suffer from it worse. Much worse.

As for the media ignoring the attacks on the Windrush deportations by Diane Abbott, David Lammy and others to concentrate on Yvette Cooper, this does show racial bias. The right-wing media hate Diane Abbott and do everything they can to attack and humiliate her, because she is left-wing and passionately anti-racist. David Lammy, I believe, was one of those responsible for Operation Black Vote in the 1990s. This was to encourage more Black people to vote in elections, so their issues would be taken more seriously by politicians and there would be more BAME people elected to parliament. Which is certainly enough to bring down the rage of the Sun and the Mail. And I can remember how racist the right-wing press were in the 1980s, and their attacks on the Black MPs then elected to parliament, like Diane Abbott.

The media has also been constantly promoting and supporting the Blairites against Corbyn and the real Labour moderates. It’s because the Blairites are all Thatcherites, and share their hatred of nationalisation, workers’ rights and the welfare state. A little while ago when the Blairites looked like they were facing the threat of deselection, the Torygraphy/Mail journo, Simon Heffer wrote a piece claiming that they were ‘thoroughly decent people’ being bullied and undermined by the evil Fascist Trotskyite Marxists of Momentum. I’ve no doubt they’d like to promote her as the British version of Hillary Clinton, just as they were supporting all the female candidates against Corbyn in the Labour leadership elections. If one of them was elected head of the party, it would be a success for women. Despite the policies they stand for – more austerity, low pay, privatisation, including that of the NHS, and outsourcing harming women the most.

Cooper’s statement that a Labour government would be even harder than the Tories on the unemployed showed just how out of touch she was with the realities of life on the breadline. It also showed that whatever they were, the Blairites aren’t ‘thoroughly decent people’. They did everything they could to smear and undermine Corbyn and his supporters. Heffer and the right were claiming that Momentum is some kind of far left entryist group, and compared them to Militant when that group was intriguing against the right-wing members of the Labour party when Kinnock was leader. But Momentum represents traditional Labour politics and voters. The real intriguers, who have constantly been trying to rig everything in their favour, are the Blairites.

Cooper isn’t solely responsible for the sanctions system. As Jo, another of the great commenters on this blog said, the Tories didn’t need to pick it up. But they did, and massively expanded it. So there is now something like a quarter of million people, who can only get their food from food banks because of the deliberate poverty the Tories have inflicted through the system.

Cooper and the Blairites are a disgrace. They should either back the real Labour activists and supporters standing behind Corbyn, or else they should resign and go to a right-wing party, that better reflects their political beliefs.

From Basic Income to Poor Law and back

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/04/2018 - 10:27pm in

This four-part series explores the genesis of the idea of a ‘basic income’, how this evolved into a more broadly-based strategy for social improvement, the risks to job security and the welfare state, and the role of a basic income in overcoming them.

It featured recently in the Australian Tax Transfer Institute’s policy blog

Part 1 examines the surprising origins of basic income.

From Basic Income to Poor Law and back again

Part 1: From Speenhamland to poor law and welfare state

The first Basic Income scheme was introduced in Speenhamland, Berkshire in 1795, when the Napoleonic wars were underway, the French revolution was fresh in the minds of England’s rulers, and the industrial revolution was beginning.

Now that the idea has gained currency again, there is much to learn from Speenhamland and the Poor Law reform that followed it. The key lesson is that under capitalism, the labour market, politics and the welfare state are intertwined: changes in one impact on the other.

The Speenhamland declaration

speenhamland

“That it is not expedient for the Magistrates to grant that assistance by regulating the Wages of Day Labourers, according to the directions of the Statutes of the 5th Elizabeth and 1st James: But the Magistrates very earnestly recommend to the Farmers to increase the pay of their Labourers in proportion to the present price of provisions;

“The Magistrates now present make the following calculations and allowances for relief of all poor and industrious men and their families, who to the satisfaction of the justices of their Parish, shall endeavour (as far as they can) for their own support and maintenance.

When the Gallon Loaf of Second Flour, Weighing 8lb. 11ozs. shall cost 1s, then:

every poor and industrious man shall have for his own support   3s. weekly, either produced by his own or his family’s labour, or an allowance from the poor rates, and for the support of his wife and every other of his family, Is. 6d.”

The Speenhamland system

We can see from this declaration in a pub in Berkshire that the idea of a Basic Income is not new. A cash benefit to meet basic living costs was paid out of council rates to thousands of farm workers (whether employed or unemployed). It was not universal (land-owners were not included), but this payment was widespread in the south of England.

Living standards of farm labourers in south of England were under pressure from high inflation driven by war, and a progressive loss of income from home production as new factories came into production across the north.

We can see from this proclamation that the local landlords (magistrates) were reluctant to impose minimum wages. Instead, they decided to use council rate revenues to protect the incomes of their workers.

The payments resembled modern income support, and even had their own equivalence scale to reflect the needs of families.

There was more. The landlords experimented with labour market programs for unemployed workers including subsidised private labour (‘roundsmen’), work for benefits (the ‘labour rate’), and (to a lesser degree) waged employment on public works

All of these anti-poverty policies are familiar to us today.

It is no accident this first ‘basic income guarantee’ coincided with the onset of the industrial revolution. This was one last push by landowners of southern England to keep their rural workforce in the face of industrialisation.

Apart from Tory noblesse oblige, this was about preserving the old system of rural labour relations in the face of emergent capitalism.

New wine in old bottles: income protection in England in the late 18th century

1. Minimum guaranteed income: The Speenhamland bread scale that provided specific amounts of aid in support of wages depending on the price of bread and the size of the family.

2. Seasonal unemployment insurance: During the winter months when agricultural work was scarce, some parishes provided unemployed farm workers and their families with a weekly stipend that varied depending upon family size.

3. Public works: Some parishes put the unemployed to work building roads or performing other types of work. Sometimes the supervision was done by public authorities and sometimes by private contractors.

4. Employer subsidies: Some parishes used poor relief funds to reimburse farmers and other employers who hired unemployed people. This was often called the ‘roundsman’ system because the unemployed workers would make the rounds of local employers.

5. Workfare: Some parishes allocated a certain proportion of unemployed people to each local employer with the idea that they would provide employment (at poor relief rates) instead of paying taxes for poor relief. This was referred to as the ‘labour rate’ system.

6. Child allowances: Many agricultural parishes provided a supplement to the income of male agricultural workers who had more than two or three children who were not yet of working age.

7. Workhouse: A minority of parishes required that unemployed people seeking relief enter a residential facility that imposed work requirements. Some of these facilities were publicly administered, and some were run by private contractors.

(Block & Summers, 2003)

But it didn’t last long

When the industrialists gained power in Parliament in the 1830s, they argued that the Speehamland system depressed wages and encouraged idleness.

These views were supported by new ‘dismal science’ of political economy (especially by Ricardo and Malthus). Together with the industrialists they argued for a ‘free market’ in labour (with workers unable to organise or vote!). This was the stimulus for infamous 1830s ‘Poor Law inquiry’.

Their arguments are strikingly similar to those against a Basic Income today, and we have reason to be sceptical:

‘In sum, the Speenhamland myth was created in the years of agricultural downturn to divert blame for a deep agricultural crisis away from government policy and toward the rural poor who were the major victims of the economic downturn.

‘Many of the specific complaints in the historical record about the corrosive effects of the [Speenhamland] actually centre on ‘roundsmen’ or others who were engaged in ’make work’ activities.

‘When public agencies create employment specifically with the goal of making recipients work in exchange for relief, supervisors usually find it difficult to elicit high levels of work effort because recipients know that they are not working in a real job.’

‘Since the decision taken by the government on Ricardo’s advice to restore the prewar parity of the pound intensified the rural depression, the mythology worked to cover up the first major policy failure of the new science of political economy.’

‘By shifting the blame for the problems on to Speenhamland and all its pernicious evils, the economic liberals successfully reframed the agricultural downturn into a problem of individual morality and an enduring parable of the dangers of government ‘interference’ with the market.’ (Block & Summers 2003)

The new poor laws: a ‘stoic determination to renounce human solidarity’

The result was a national ban on public relief for able-bodied individuals outside the horrors of the ‘workhouse’. This was the birth of social security principles we know today: ‘less eligibility’ (that benefits should always be much less than minimum wages), ‘deserving and undeserving poor’ (a duty to work for the able-bodied or ‘undeserving’, and higher benefits for ‘the deserving’ or those ‘unable to work’ due to a disability).

As Polanyi put it in his influential history of the industrial revolution:

‘It was at the behest of these [1832 Poor laws] that compassion was removed from the hearts, and a stoic determination to renounce human solidarity in the name of the greatest happiness for the greatest number gained the dignity of a secular religion.’

‘The abolition of Speenhamland was the true birthday of the modern working class, whose immediate self-interest destined them to become the protectors of society against the intrinsic dangers of the machine civilisation. But whatever the future held for them, working class and market economy appeared in history together. The hatred of public relief, the distrust of state action, the insistence of respectability and self reliance, remained for generations characteristics of the British workers.’ (Polanyi 1954, p102)

Charles Dickens chronicled the horrors of the 19th century workhouse:

 ‘At present, if a boy should feel a strong impulse upon him to learn the art of going aloft, he could only gratify it, I presume, as the men and women paupers gratify their aspirations after better board and lodging, by smashing as many workhouse windows as possible, and being promoted to prison.’

Millbank Workhouse

workhouse

The take-home message of the new poor laws was that in the nascent capitalist system, decent minimum incomes – the ‘social minimum’ – would not be guaranteed by public relief alone, they must also be underpinned by decent jobs, skills, and wages.

From Speenhamland to Nixon

The Speenhamland system was of more than academic interest to modern policy makers. When Richard Nixon revived the idea of a basic income in his ‘Family Assistance Plan’, he was warned against it.

In the Nixon Administration, Daniel Moynihan was tasked with developing a ‘Family Assistance Plan’. As Moynihan recalled:

“In mid-April Martin Anderson, of [Arthur] Burns’s staff, prepared ‘A Short History of a Family Security System’ in the form of excerpts on the history of the Speenhamland system, the late eighteenth-century British scheme of poor relief taken from Karl Polanyi’s ‘The Great Transformation’.

“The gist of Anderson’s memo was that in that earlier historical case, the intended floor under the income of poor families actually operated as a ceiling on earned income with the consequence that the poor were further immiserated.” (Block & Summers 2003)

What happened next: two roads to betterment

By the end of the 19th century, the labour movement and social reformers realised they would have work on two fronts to end poverty and deprivation: the labour market and the State, unions and the vote.

Unions & industrial regulation

womens tu league

The vote and the welfare state

votes for women

 

In Australia, by the end of the Second World War, these groups were successful in constructing the two pillars of the modern ‘social minimum’: labour market regulation and the welfare state.

In the labour market, this comprised:

  • A high minimum hourly wage
  • Full employment & regular working hours (for men)
  • A high unionisation rate

In the welfare state it included:

  • Free public education
  • (Mostly) free public health services
  • A robust public Vocational Education and Training system
  • Age pensions
  • An unemployment benefit safety net linked to a public employment service
  • Family payments to prevent child poverty (both in & out of paid work)

The post-war Australian Welfare State

chifley2

It is often argued today that these social protections (at least for people of working age) can no longer be sustained in their present form; specifically that the social security system should now be replaced or supplemented by a Universal Basic Income. We explore the genesis of these arguments in Part 2 of this series.

This four part series is written based on a presentation  on Basic Income by Peter Davidson at the Australian Social Policy Conference at UNSW on 27/9/17.

 

Strange bedfellows

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 26/08/2017 - 4:43pm in

Via MacroBusiness, here's the TL;DR of the Business Council of Australia's submission to a 2012 Senate inquiry into social security allowances:

  • "The rate of the Newstart Allowance for jobseekers no longer meets a reasonable community standard of adequacy and may now be so low as to represent a barrier to employment.
  • "Reforming Newstart should be part of a more comprehensive review to ensure that the interaction between Australia’s welfare and taxation systems provides incentives for people to participate where they can in the workforce, while ensuring that income support is adequate and targeted to those in greatest need.
  • "As well as improving the adequacy of Newstart payments, employment assistance programs must also be reformed to support the successful transition to work of the most disadvantaged jobseekers."

Not only did the BCA's confederacy of Scrooges suffer unaccustomed pangs of sympathy, the Liberal Party senator chairing the inquiry also agreed that Newstart is excessively miserly. However, he failed to recommend raising the allowance, saying:

"There is no doubt the evidence we received was compelling. Nobody want's [sic] to see a circumstance in which a family isn't able to feed its children, no one wants to see that in Australia. But we can't fund these things by running up debt."

Sigh. (Here we go…) There is no need to "fund these things", whether it be by "running up debt" or any other means. The Federal Government creates money when it spends. We, as a country, run out of the capacity to feed our children when we run out of food. We cannot run out of dollars, since we can create the dollars without limit.

The government does however, at the moment, have a purely voluntary policy of matching, dollar-for-dollar, all spending with government bond sales. There's no good reason for this; as Bill Mitchell says, it's just corporate welfare. Even so, selling bonds is not issuing new debt. Bonds are purchased with RBA credits (or "reserves", if you prefer). The purchasing institution simply swaps a non-interest-bearing asset (reserves) at the RBA for an interest-bearing one (bonds), still at the RBA. It's just like transferring some money from a savings account to a higher-interest term deposit account at a commercial bank; do we say that this is a lending operation? Of course not.

There is no fiscal reason why the government should punish the unemployed to the extent that they become an unemployable underclass. Even if we are generous and assume the good senator and his colleagues on the inquiry are just ignorant about how the economy works, we are still bound to conclude that there must be some (not so ignorant) people in government, who do want to see people suffering for no just reason.