Exploiting the dark side of humanity

Anonymous tip-offs to the Department of Social Protection regarding suspected social welfare fraud increased from 600 in 2005 to over 16,000 this year (Irish Times).

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton suggests two reasons for this sharp increase.

A cultural shift in Irish attitudes towards breaches of the law and, principally, a strong feeling in people that limited resources should be used for the benefit of those most in need.

I suspect the Minister is happy to occupy this cosy frame of mind regarding human psychology rather than facing the more sinister, and more likely reality that the increase is due to a deep resentment that a neighbour or acquaintance may be getting more than the informer.

Governments often exploit this dark side of humanity as a useful means of doing their dirty work.

The most extreme example being Nazi Germany when even parents informed on their own children and vice versa.

Checking billionaires and social welfare recipients

I see social welfare officials are exploring ways of obtaining the names of passengers on flights and ferries arriving into Ireland as part of a bid to combat welfare fraud by non-residents.

I certainly hope that this new scheme doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the dozens of officials who, night and day, check the flights of millionaires and billionaires to ensure they’re complying with the 183 day tax residency law.