On the news today a cap of £26k was announced for yearly benefits in order that they don’t exceed the average yearly salary, and again the proposal that council homes would no longer be allocated for the life of the tenant.
The benefit cap seems reasonable, and perhaps should be lower. I also think for able-bodied people below retiring age they should be required to do some work for their money, or better still, that the government should create proper jobs for everybody. There’s plenty of work needs doing in the community, in hospitals, charities, etc. Why just hand out money to people able to work for doing nothing? Wasteful to the country, and demoralizing for those who feel useless. In a Socialist society jobs are created for everyone, or available work is shared out as the profit motive is then not the main goal.
As to the proposal for council homes, I’m totally against this. I believe council homes should be available for life to every adult or family who needs them. People should not be saddled with mortgages and the high cost of maintaining homes if they can’t afford them, and who knows in the current economic situation when people will be made redundant?
There’s no reason why council homes cannot be built in sufficient numbers, with tenants given the option to own them when they’ve paid rent for several decades, or alternatively, to pay a reduced rent for the rest of their lives. This would remove the need to be saddled with mortgages and repair bills for those unable to afford them.
Again, a Socialist government would provide low-rent homes for everyone who needs them, and everyone able to do so of working age would be guaranteed a job and also be required to work. The ‘dole’ would be a thing of the past.
However in our society where so many at the top are paid highly inflated salaries and bonuses, avoid paying taxes, live off unearned income like rents, dividends, profits, etc., is it any wonder so many at the bottom of the heap, unable to get a job, feel quite justified in taking whatever benefits they can claim?
Karl Marx had the recipe for a Socialist society: ‘To each according to his/her work’. With, of course, exceptions for those unable to do so for medical reasons or those too young or too old for paid employment. Combined with Marx’s recipe for Communism: ‘From each according to his/her ability; to each according to his/her needs’ these two principles would make for a much fairer society. Indeed it was on the latter principle that the Welfare State was first based, though it has been whittled away since by successive Labour and Tory governments.
Capitalism has failed, so it is useless to keep tinkering with a system which keeps throwing us into crisis after crisis, war after war. Capping benefits and abolishing the right to council housing for life will not solve the problems. Job creation and much more council and social housing is what is required, and only Socialism can do this. Even the imperfect, distorted variety in the former Soviet Union and its allies created full employment, security in old age, good education and health services – all lost with the collapse, rather than reform, of Socialism.
Capitalism is doomed for the very simple reason that you can’t squeeze blood out of a stone. The exploited toiling masses, many in the developing world paid starvation wages and those in the developed world often up to their eyes in debts, cannot continue to provide ever greater profits (the stolen fruits of labor) indefinitely, hence the recurring economic crises of capitalism.
The very profitable arms industry props it up, paid for by the taxpayers of course, and continued by the creation of continuous wars for stolen natural resources and by the continued renewal and replacement of nuclear weapons systems and warheads by those countries which possess these illegal, indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction, all in defiance of the Nuclear Non-Ploriferation Treaty which commits them to abolishing nuclear weapons not replacing them.
The problem is, of course, that Socialism is now a dirty word thanks to the failures of the inefficient and distorted 20th Century varieties in various countries, and so there are now very few real Socialist countries or Socialist/Marxist political parties with mass support anywhere. China and Vietnam have gone largely capitalist in all but name, North Korea is just a Stalinist kind of monarchy, and the verdict is still out on the various Latin American progressive governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, etc. Heroic Cuba struggles on despite the U.S. embargo.
We in Britain need a political party, be it Labour or something else, with a commitment to an alternative to the defunct capitalist system. This must be some form of Socialism, but one which avoids the mistakes of past varieties. I have said many times, a good model would be the economic system devised by Tito in Yugoslavia. A genuine, competitive Socialist market economy composed of worker/consumer cooperatives and publicly owned companies all under workers’ control.