I asked myself what I could do for my country, so I posted my idea on Your Country Your Call. Unfortunately it had a typo, which will probably mean it will be disqualified by mean-spirited reviewers.
Here I reproduce it in full, with the typo corrected, so as not to let this idea go gently into the night.
Mandatory Clown Suits For Social Welfare Recipients
A brief scan of the ideas submitted hitherto reveals, somewhat regrettably, downright hostility to social welfare recipients. Yet many people receive social welfare because they need it, and not because they are sloth-riddled ne’er-do-wells.
If we want to get people back to work in this country and create a caring society, we need to remove the stigma attached to social welfare recipients.
At the same time we need to ensure that the burden of looking for a job is as light as possible, so that people do not spend one moment longer on the dole than they need to.
These challenges would be best addressed by supplying each recipient of unemployment benefit with a brightly-coloured clown suit, curly wig and face paint. They would wear this for the entire duration of their time on the dole, and the cost of producing the uniform would be borne by their first dole payment.
The key benefits of this proposal would be as follows:
– Resentment toward welfare recipients would diminish, since everyone loves looking at clowns. This would create a more harmonious society in which true creativity and collaboration can flourish, laying the basis for a lasting prosperity, rather than the stagnant, imagination-free atmosphere from which we are now emerging;
-Benefit recipients would feel positive about themselves, knowing that even as they walk the streets looking for work, they are providing a service to society by cheering up others.
-Local textile enterprises, long dwindling, could receive a lifeline from the extra demand for their products. They would benefit from the additional expertise brought to bear from people who have deep experience of wearing clown suits. Ireland could become a world leader in the design of clown suits. We could get the likes of John Rocha and Louise Kennedy to put their expertise to work in the national interest.
-The process of delivering clown suits, and ensuring that benefit recipients wear them while they are receiving benefits, could be industrialised for export beyond these shores to governments faced with similar unemployment crises, to the benefit of all humanity. This fits in with the government’s ‘Smart Economy’ strategy.
-Tourism would receive a massive boost from people around the world who long to visit such a happy, vibrant place.
In sum, this is a quick-win solution to alleviating the general gloom benighting the country. We could call upon our captains of industry like Michael O’Leary and Bill Cullen and the fellow from the Frontline a couple of weeks back who was offering sales jobs in his call centre to lend their support, taking clowns on placement to work alongside normal people. Worker productivity would be raised through the general happiness radiated by the man or woman, whether in the cabin crew or the car showroom, who greets colleagues with a big smile and the odd squirt of water from a plastic flower.
I expect lots of sniping from cynics, but I shall not be moved in my quest to make this country a better place.