benefits

Which of the following things did you see in a person more recently – a billionaire reclining in a million-dollar yacht, or an unemployed young person? For almost all of Britain’s population, the answer will be the latter. And so it follows that this latter demographic and everything it represents serves as the scapegoat of choice for many looking for someone upon whom to blame the nation’s enduring financial woes. Supposed benefit fraud, a crime attributed to, amongst others, the young, single mothers and the disabled, is upheld as a leech upon our economy, a constant hindrance to ongoing recovery. This minority crime is reported by many outlets with infinitely more zeal than a problem of an altogether different scale, the millions of pounds of tax being evaded by the super-rich through offshore banking, and, more worryingly, the aid of our very own government.

Even as the media scandal over large companies and the super-rich escalates through fresh interventions, there is little sign that the UK’s politicians really intend to do anything about it. George Osborne spoke out recently with a particular focus on individuals found to be owing huge sums of money, but all this is likely to entail is one or two celebrity scapegoats whilst the corporations continue on their merry way. Indeed, figures such as Google’s Eric Schmidt have been particularly brazen about the fact that they think they’re doing nothing wrong, and there’s no sign of Osborne et al doing anything about it.

And so it seems fated that the issue will continue to drift in and out of public consciousness, without ever achieving any real resolution. Action against those on benefits, meanwhile, continues to escalate, with those amongst the most vulnerable demographics presenting much easier targets than the ones causing the real damage.

The reason that the public are able to tolerate this lies in the nigh-on universal response to the question at the beginning of this article. It is much easier to place the blame on something you believe you are witnessing every day. Even those who are in reality suffering much more from the billions of dollars tied up in tax havens see little to remind them of this fact in everyday life. What they are quite likely to encounter, however, is a local signpost of disaffected youth, be it graffiti, vandalism or even just an unfriendly stare from a passer by. This alone is enough to shape an entire political view, something which is formed largely out of instinct and immediate circumstance than any grand, rational comprehension of the facts at hand.

There is no quick solution to a problem rooted so deeply within the roots of how the individual and the state coexist, but there is hope. The investigations will continue, the press coverage likewise. But real change can only come about when the message is spread beyond those who are actively pursuing the facts to those who are passive consumers. Those who are so bombarded with fear-mongering newspaper headlines that they don’t stop to think about the truth behind them. There needs to be another voice for these people to hear, shouting for as long as it takes to finally be heard. When that happens, the blind spot suffered by so much of the British population will begin to fade away.

BY: Jon Wilmore