Mainstream media hacks and Twitter blue ticks are absolutely swooning over Rishi Sunak's announcement on worker income protection, blabbering on about how Prime Ministerial he looks (purely because he can talk in complete sentences and stay on topic without blabbering dangerous counter-productive nonsense).
What they should be doing is asking questions,
The concept of the state supporting the incomes of potentially millions of workers as the result of a pandemic is absolutely unprecedented, so it's understandable that the measures Sunak has come up with are somewhat cobbled together. It's understandable that the plan is somewhat chaotic, but that's exactly why serious questions have to be asked.
Here are some of the questions that need asking and answering as soon as possible.
1. Why are the payments being routed through private businesses rather than through the tax system?
Routing income support measures through private businesses, rather than just routing funds directly through the tax system (based on previous years' tax records) creates an additional layer of bureaucracy.
How much is this extra bureaucracy going to cost, and what is the ideological justification for doing it in this convoluted way?
2. Why do self-employed people offered pathetic crumbs compared to the 80% income guarantee offered to salaried workers?
How is it fair that self-employed people driven out of business get nothing except a tax delay and the option of collecting Universal Credit pittance while they're out of work, while salaried employees at struggling companies get 80% of their previous income?
3. What happens about people on exploitative Zero Hours Contracts?
Surely routing income support through their employers leaves them at the mercy of people who clearly don't value them enough to offer them proper employment terms.
What do workers do if their Zero Hours employer decides not to bother claiming income support on their behalf?
4. How is the government going to assess which companies are struggling enough to warrant income support measures for their employees?
Where is the cut off line? Are financially prudent companies with financial reserves expected to burn through all of their savings before they get help, while companies that were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy before the virus even came along get immediate economic life support?
That hardly seems very fair does it?
5. The decision to route income support measures through private businesses, rather than direct payments through the tax system clearly opens up a Pandora's Box of potential fraud. What measures are going to be taken to combat this inevitable tsunami of attempted fraud?
And how much are these anti-fraud measures going to cost above simply distributing income support through the tax system?
6. What happens to the hundreds of thousands of workers who have already been laid off?
The income support measures are apparently backdated to March 1st, however what sense does it make to leave workers at the mercy of bosses who already laid them off, rather than just using the tax system to provide income support?
What happens with workers' whose ex-bosses don't bother to apply for the income support grants? What happens to workers' whose bosses simply decide to fold their companies?
How is it fair that some workers get to keep 80% of their salary, while others end up on the Universal Credit scrap heap, purely based on the decisions of their bosses/ex-bosses and/or the financial viability of their employers?
7. Why did these measures come so late? What is the justification for the Tories initially prioritising their rescue efforts at protecting capital and property values, whilst leaving workers' incomes as an afterthought?
Even though they've eventually been pressurised into offering measures to help workers, what does it tell us about their attitude that capital and property came first?
Hopefully the mainstream media hack pack will eventually stop pleasuring themselves at vapid and trivial nonsense like how Prime Ministerial Sunak looked when he announced the measures to actually begin asking pertinent questions, especially about the ideological justification for refusing to simplify the whole process, and make it a hell of a lot fairer, by doing it through the tax system.