Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welfare Cash Cards

It's good to see an MP introducing a "Welfare Cash Card" system simply to look for the reactions in the House.

The 'right' seem to stumble caught between their own policies of reduced government interference and their vote-grabbing rhetoric of demonising of welfare recipients. The 'left' take the reflexive stance of evil 'right'; while those supposedly in the middle scratch their heads and wait to be told what to think.

What appears to be missing is how exactly it's supposed to work and once again highlights our current masters' lack of technological knowledge or implementation.

To understand the flaws requires an explanation of what this is supposed to be the solution to. The government is unhappy with the way those on welfare spend their money (attach "their" to either body depending on political leanings) in a longer form the government doesn't think welfare recipients are spending the money they receive on things the government thinks they should be spending it on.

Put that way and the simplest solution is not to provide the money in the first place, but rather the state-approved goods deemed necessary to each individual. Sadly using the combined purchasing power and determining a set range of goods would be detrimental to the retailers so is, of course, unthinkable.

Thus the idea of a cash card is born. Rather than money these 'slackers' can 'fritter' away on non-essentials the cash card will only allow them to purchase state-approved commodities. Just the thing except... how will it work?

The prevention of those stores selling prohibited goods from being able to use the card seems the simplest method; until supermarkets are factored into the equation. A person buys food, alcohol and cigarettes from a supermarket in a single purchase. How does the card 'know' only to release funds for the food? Each supermarket would either have to police it manually which would require said card-holder to announce their intention to use such a payment method prior to checkout followed by the operator arranging the goods in a allowed/not-allowed order; or a entirely new till system that uses a list provided by the government to mark each product appropriately.

How much money for the new system? How much time effort and money for the government to add every single new product introduced to the correct list? Is this tin of 'new flavour' spaghetti hoops approved or not approved? How will this affect smaller village/town stores; who will get the blame for selling a non-approved item on the card? All that are still only the problems with implementation; actual use causes its own set of difficulties.

To begin it prevents any welfare recipient from saving money. While those of a particular leaning may deem such people undeserving of 'treats' from such money this means that a family would be unable to save up to take their children to a outing for fun. The concept of welfare extends further than what is they eat or wear. Secondly the system can be easily outwitted via collusion. A card-holder spies a non-card-holder buying a small quantity of food and offers to buy it for them on their card in return for the exact cash amount. Will the government need to introduce laws to make this an offence?

From a specific point of view it's a fine idea; just completely impractical and impossible to police.


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