Thursday, 31 March 2011

Paul Uppal: making my eyeballs bleed with his bitter stupidity

My MP's crusade to make the world a crueller, nastier place continues.

Very depressingly, they've put this multimillionaire property speculator on the Welfare Reform Committee. Given that he clearly doesn't believe that Welfare should exist, we can assume that 'reform' means, to him, 'abolition'.

Firstly, he thinks that paying benefits on a monthly basis is good discipline for the poor: never mind that the kind of expenses incurred by the poorest group in society are often urgent or presented on a weekly basis. Many people are in casual, temporary work and really need smaller, more frequent payments rather than larger monthly ones.

If we are genuinely preparing people for work, budgeting on a monthly basis is what they will have to do when they go to work. Does that not set that stepping stone to entice people to pursue that route and get into work and budget on a monthly basis?
But that's nothing. As usual, he's got a 'misleading' personal insight into the lives of the poor to bring up:

The right hon. Gentleman uses emotive words such as “plundering” and “punitive”. As someone from a fairly modest background and a family that saved, I can tell him candidly that the motive for saving is a habit of living within one’s means and to aspire. That is something that the previous Government could have done with in their own financial budget.

The plan is to make sure that a family (not an individual) with modest savings shouldn't be entitled to any benefits. Now, I don't know where Uppal's investment money came from. He's totally secretive about the whole thing. But somewhere he got the money to invest in commercial property (rather than something which helps society by making things, employing people and so on).

He also thinks that the mentally-ill would benefit from monthly payments. What's his evidence? Academic research? Statistics from the Benefits Agency? No, a radio phone-in, which of course is a medium which always attracts the deepest thinkers:

About a month ago, the right hon. Gentleman might have heard Radio 5 Live cover the issue of budgeting for people who suffer from bipolar disorder. It is a roller-coaster event. Most of the respondents who rang in specified that they do not always want money in their pocket; they sometimes want the discipline to budget. They said that if money was in their pocket all the time, they would feel the need to spend it, and that if money was sometimes withheld from them or somebody was responsible for them, it was actually beneficial in the long run.

Remember this: low-earners don't earn enough to save. They need to eat, pay rent, buy school uniforms, get the bus to work and to the distant supermarkets which have ruined their towns… This isn't an accident, it's an ideological choice. Anglo-Saxon capitalism openly and proudly proclaims that the rich should make huge profits by reducing wage costs: it's a way of redistributing cash from the poor to the rich. It needn't be this way: the Scandinavian countries and the Germans have realised that if you pay your workers well, they'll have the money to buy your products - keeping the economy healthy by having a strong domestic market rather than depending on exports in the bad times.

We've heard before about his family arriving with only £5 and refusing to ask for help, but I rather suspect that this is romanticised as a way to legitimise his thinly disguised belief that the poor deserve to be destitute because they haven't got the personal qualities you need to become a millionaire. In reality, I strongly suspect that family money and support provided the initial investment that turned Paul into a hugely rich parasite. But that would be an inconvenient truth.

Of course, Paul could prove me wrong. That would be great. The comments box is open.

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