Lone parents and the long-term sick who rely on state benefits will be told to find a job or face having their payments cut, as the Government tries to end the "Matthews culture" of spending an entire life on welfare.
This “Matthews culture” nonsense deserves unpicking, since it is a deliberate attempt to associate people forced into long term worklessness with a brutal and stupid criminal. It’s a bit like accusing your GP of being part of a Shipman culture or saying that James Purnell is part of a Hitler culture because he happens to be a politician. For the most part, the families made victim to this procedure will simply quietly disintegrate. But for people like Karen Matthews, the absence of benefits would merely incline her and those like her to sharpen up their criminal acts and think harder about more realistic ways to put their children to work. So the question is: how would child exploitation work on the free market?
From Kellow Chesney’s masterful The Victorian Underworld. He goes on to cite mid-19th century figures from the Mendicity Soceiety which found that child beggars formed 11% of all the cases that had come to its notice. That is, professional child beggars. There were plenty of amateurs about as well. There’s also the famous precedent of Oliver Twist, itself rooted in real and – in London at least – common practices:
There’ll always be a place for beggary, though pickpocketing isn’t what it was. I’d predict good times for druggies and paedophiles, since competition on the supply side should drive prices down. Anyway, it’s the general culture within which criminality operates that matters most: