Yet the debate has now taken a new turn with the Philpott case, a case in which six children were killed by three people. Mick Philpott, who has been labelled as someone who manipulates and aggressively controls those around him, especially women, seems almost like a cartoon of the aggressive benefits scoundrel stereotype that we all love to look down upon. It seems that it, in this case, the benefits system and the welfare state have led to the deaths of six children.
This is not something that is just claimed by the usual mix of slightly ill-thought through newspaper articles, but is something that may even be debated in parliament, and is something that everyone is thinking about. While, obviously, giving someone benefits is not going to directly lead to people being killed, pretty much everyone who reads the news is thinking about whether or not the benefits system did have a role to play. Is Mick Philpott an example of the sort of people that are being funded by a broken system, and is he the sort of person who is a product of the nanny state?
Certainly, many will hold the opinion that Philpott has been given no responsibility in his life, and has faced no real trouble when it comes to money. He has never had to hold down a job, meaning that he has never learned his place within the world, and became an angry man determined to use the opportunity of benefits to avoid facing the responsibilities of a job.
Not only this, but there must be many more like him, who do not work but live with dysfunctional families that exist only to harvest child benefits. If you were to think that Philpott has been paid to have as many children as possible, then you would not be alone.
Yet, can we really justify labeling the benefits system as something that actually causes the deaths of children. Yes, it has some serious faults, but the culprit here is Philpott, not the government. He, and the other people convicted, chose to set fire to their house and endanger the lives of their children. Their recklessness allowed their family to die, not the fact that they were on benefits.
This is a sad case, but cannot be solely blamed upon benefits. This is the story of manipulation and control, of sexism and domestic violence, and of a dysfunctional and broken family, and should not be seen as an excuse to bring up a the benefits culture. The brokenness in this family went beyond the fact that they claimed benefits, and they should really not be the people who we base our opinions of those who do claim benefits.
This is an example of the faithless and harsh society that we live in much more than it is an example of the flaws of the benefits system. If we were to blame the problem on benefits then we would be doing a lot more harm than we would be doing good, since we would be punishing the honest along with the dishonest. People have been too hasty to point their fingers in the wrong direction.