Marcus Rashford’s campaign over school meals and all that is hitting one of the basic caveats of welfare systems. You – near – always give out money, not things. Exceptions might be stuff like stitching up a sliced jugular at A&E, for a health insurance policy isn’t a useful substitute at that point. But for most things, yes, send people money, not stuff.
For example, this period poverty thing. OK, many of us don’t think it’s all that much of a real problem to begin with and as the lifting of VAT has shown – all those people showing what a small sum of money 5% of £24 a year is – we’re probably right. But put that aside. OK, so what do we do about it?
Given my lack of experience in this area, I did actually check this all with a female doctor who pointed out that it’s all a little more complicated than just tampons. Flows vary, some prefer pads, and so on. The very fact that there are so many different designs and types on the market is all the evidence we need that different women prefer different methods of dealing with menses.
Which, of course, is why it is such rampant idiocy for government to try to distribute the things themselves. We already have great big barns in every city and town in the country packed with all the variations of these products. They’re called shops. All women need is the coin of the realm to browse said barns and purchase the variant they desire. Thus we shouldn’t be handing out menstrual products (emergency supplies in a school cupboard or homeless shelters or even food bank being a different matter): we should be handing out money.
This point is so well known that the US Census keeps pointing out the flaw in the US welfare system. The major benefits are vouchers, special debit cards that only work for food, medical care. All of which are perceived, by the recipients, as being worth less than the cost of getting it to them. Those poor would be made better off by simply giving them the money to go spend.
So it is with this school meals replacement idea.
Marcus Rashford has criticised free school meal packages being sent to some children and families learning from home.
The parcels, which have been sent to children who would normally qualify for free school meals and are now learning remotely during the national lockdown, have been criticised online by parents.
One tweet showed a package, supposedly containing £30 worth of food to last for 10 days, comprising just a loaf of bread, some cheese, a tin of beans, two carrots, two bananas, three apples, two potatoes, a bag of pasta, three Frubes, two Soreen bars and a tomato.
In response to another post, the Manchester United striker and anti-poverty campaigner tweeted: “3 days of food for 1 family … Just not good enough”.
The problem being:
Today the government said it was ‘urgently’ looking into claims free school meals parcels only contain a few pounds worth of food.
Pupils either get a £30 voucher or the physical food, depending on which school they go to, but there is a huge gulf between parcels around the country.
Until this week suppliers were working on costs of £2.34 a day per student, but on Friday the government increased this by £3.50 a week.
The problem being the idiocy of trying to set up an entire and new food distribution system. We’ve already got one of those, they’re called supermarkets. So, give people the coin of the realm – vouchers, money, whatever – to go buy the damn food.
Whatever we think of the initial complaint about school meals – damn little for my part – it’s still insane to be sending food parcels. Given ’em cash for God’s Sake.
Now, if Mr. Rashford were to be sensible and informed enough to be proposing that then we might get somewhere.