The British social welfare establishment has an unofficial motto: "Support everybody, monitor everybody."
So we are to gather from a piece in the Telegraph.
From the beginning of next year, the unemployed will have to look for work through the Coalition's new Universal Jobmatch website or potentially risk losing their benefits.
The tracking element of the programme will not be compulsory as monitoring people's behaviour online without their consent would not be allowed under EU law.Assuming the article is accurate -- and I wonder about a reporter who can write "potentially risk," which is redundant -- we have a typical bureaucratic diktat whose left hand is unacquainted with its right hand. Claimants must look for work through the Universal Jobmatch site (what if they don't own a computer?); their job foraging cannot be monitored "without their consent" (do they lose their benefits if they don't consent?); but "job advisers" can impose sanctions anyway.
But job advisers are able to impose sanctions such as compulsory work placements or ultimately losing benefits if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough.
To begin with, The State ought not to be monitoring the actions of its citizens who have not been convicted of a crime or shown to have violated the terms of their unemployment benefits. There's no doubt that plenty of benefits collectors are fiddling the government -- taking in dole money while forgetting what work is, or even while working off the books in the underground economy. But this kind of Big Brother scrutiny is far too extreme for what in any individual case is an a priori assumption of guilt.
As in overextended governments everywhere, departments and agencies and administrators can only think in terms of their designated powers, which is probably a good thing in itself, but the trouble is no one is looking at the big picture -- at least, not realistically. All bureaucratic paper shufflers can do is come up with more regulations designed to curb individuals.