Tory proposals to cut the numbers claiming Incapacity Benefit show the absurdity of our welfare system.
Let's start from Willem's point. There's a simple reason so many are on Incapacity Benefit rather than Jobseeker's Allowance - Incapacity Benefit pays £22 a week more.
But why? There are three reasons, all of them suspect.
1. There's a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. The able-bodied unemployed are less deserving than those unable to work, and so should get less.
2. It's possible to distinguish between the able and the ill.
3. Doctors have an incentive to so distinguish.
All three presumptions are dubious. Why should someone unlucky enough to be made redundant get less than someone unlucky enough to be ill? We can't often easily distinguish between depression and being down in the dumps, or between back pain and malingering. And why should doctors try to do so? Faced with a sob story from a doe-eyed patient, why shouldn't a GP sign off on giving them an extra £22 a week? Chris Grayling's plan to have an "independent" assessor decide who should get IB and who JSA doesn't solve this problem.
Instead, there's a simpler alternative - a flat-rate payment to all, a citizen's basic income. This would replace the tax allowance for those in work, and IB or JSA for those out of work.
One virtue of this scheme is that it recognizes that the state just cannot know enough about every individual to judge whether they should be on IB or JSA or neither.
Also, because it's paid to all, it not only gives everyone an incentive to work but also makes it impossible for politicians to look tough by bullying the vulnerable.
There is, then, a policy that's economically rational and humane. And which, therefore, has zero chance of being implemented.