Over the last five years, I've paid almost £2000 in home insurance and got nothing back. This is unfair. It should change.
Now, anyone with an IQ higher than their hat size will spot a problem with this. Paying in more than you get back is not a fault of insurance but a feature. The point of insurance is to pool risk, so that the lucky - those who don't get burgled - pay in whilst the unlucky take out.
This shouldn't need saying. But it seems it does, because Liam Byrne writes:
we must do more to strengthen the old principle of contribution: there are lots of people right now who feel they pay an awful lot more in than they ever get back. That should change.
This is just confused. Even the best institutions for pooling economic risks - whatever your conception of them might be - will have some people pay an awful lot more in than they ever get back. This is simply because some people will be lucky and not suffer economic risks. This will be true however strong the principle of contribution is.
The only way you can avoid having some people not pay in more than they get out is to have no welfare state at all (and no private insurance for economic risks either). In this world, people would protect themselves against risk by saving and borrowing, in effect self-insuring.
So, what is Byrne doing here? One possibility is that he's just being stupid: he has form. The other possibility is that he's not. He's trying to pander to a prejudiced public who are ignorant of the facts of the welfare state by invoking a silly notion of a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. I hope none of you were daft enough to think "divide and rule" was only a Tory strategy.