Letter: Help for the young jobless

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The Independent Online
Sir: Polly Toynbee, writing on welfare-to-work, asks: "Why make it compulsory, alienating the young instead of inspiring them?" Liberal Democrats are bound to wonder whether the answer is that Gordon Brown's newly tightened spending limits may make real quality impossible.

Opponents of compulsion may be asked: "Does the state owe us a living?" There is a good case for answering yes. The trade-off of citizenship is that the state owes us protection in return for our obedience. Since this includes protection against death from road accidents or food poisoning, why not death by starvation?

If the state deprives us of this protection then, in the very carefully chosen words of an MP speaking in the House of Commons on the eve of the Civil War: "The vigour and cheerfulness of allegiance will be taken away though the obligation remains."

Earl RUSSELL

Liberal Democrat Social Security Spokesman

House of Lords

London SW1

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