Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Targeting Benefit Thieves

Call me an unreconstructed hippie liberal do-gooder (if you must) BUT.... there's something about the government's current campaign to reduce benefit fraud that I find a bit distasteful.

In it, the image of a telescopic lens, of a type associated with a sniper's rifle, is superimposed on top of photographs of poorly dressed individuals in run down neighbourhoods.

In case there was any doubt that the image is meant to evoke a gun rather than a camera, the campaign's title (repeated on the posters) is unambiguous: Targeting Benefit Thieves. While a camera focuses on its subject, targeting is clearly something done with a weapon.

Of course, I'm annoyed that benefit fraud cost the country £800 million pounds last year and I'd like to see people who steal public money stopped.

What I don't want, however, is the elected government treating its citizens (even its law-breaking ones) as if they are rifle fodder.

There's enough destructive imagery and activity today around the theme of guns. It seems pretty irresponsible for a government department to be adding to the collection.

It's too much of a coincidence to not mention in closing, but the Ministry of Defense states on its web site that the additional costs of its operations in Iraq (above and beyond the normal costs of salaries) was £787 million in 2006-07. I'd like to see the instigators of that illegal war targeted (so to speak) for their appalling and illegal waste of resources and lives.

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