Something has been gnawing at my guts for some considerable time now. We all pretty much agree that situation ethics, political correctness, the religion of woke and various other cultural weapons have pockmarked the edifice of Western civilization like some war torn building in the Ukraine, but I am talking here of something more personal, deeply felt, a sensation that permeates to our very marrow. What is most troubling about this trend is how it has slipped under our collective radar, and in the process, hardening us as individuals, but not in a good way.
The light came on for me came the other day, while I was watching GB News or Talking Pictures Television, I honestly can’t remember which one. Some advert came on, posing as a charitable request for some Third World poster child, when in reality all it was was an extension of Globalist foreign policy that seeks to destroy some faraway nation whilst robbing the wealthy not only of their hard earned cash, but any guilt for living in one of most prosperous and civilised nations on earth. A modern day transposition of Papal indulgences, at first I was (irrationally) angry, and I couldn’t work out if my bad humour was down to compassion fatigue, my bitter realisation of the true motives behind the advert, or the fact that I had turned into a cynical, cold hearted, bitter old bastard. By the time my conscious brain had wandered off to mull my predicament, Mrs R had changed channels for me to witness a woman being interviewed about her shortage of feminine sanitary products, and how, along with Food Banks, we now have Feminine Hygiene Banks, where the fairer sex may receive tampons and sanitary towels free of charge if they find themselves duly financially impoverished. At this point, some internal circuit breaker tripped in my brain and I went in search of a suitable load bearing wall to smack my hurting head repeatedly against.
Once refamiliarised with reality, I was able to take a step back to coolly and rationally examine what was going on. First of all, from a political standpoint, this is business as usual, part of the ongoing agenda to replace every ounce of self-sufficiency with total dependence on the third sector, the bastard love child of corporate fascism and government. A thinly disguised veneer of compassion and care covers this wicked enterprise, whose ultimate goal is to effectively destroy current long-standing economic and cultural models, whilst imposing global governance upon all irrespective if we like it or want it, by a bunch of self-serving elites. We have seen this time and time again, a good example being where the NHS which, being deliberately mismanaged, has come to rely on the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Samaritans to provide a “Better service”. Likewise, rather than proactive policing, we have “Community Support Officers” and a legion of “Victim Support” workers instead. On and on the traditional and proven models have been undermined, their effectiveness diluted and replaced by a group of actors that do not realise that they are part of the problem. Generally acting in good faith, they are blind to the fact that they are an effective smokescreen behind the destruction of the traditional roles that made the parent organisation so vital and effective. The replacement of skilled and experienced individuals with these “Useful Idiots” is further cemented, for once they have their feet under the table of power, they can be easily “Directed” by shady organisations with dubious motives, all under the guise of “Empowerment”. No matter how genuine the desire to serve your fellow man, the organisation is then completely compromised and infiltrated by a fifth column whose goal is purely to subvert and politicise any good deeds. By giving widespread power and authority to those well meaning yet misguided philanthropists, they have sold their genuine compassion for a pottage of power, and have become gatekeepers and prison warders of the very system they seek to change. Don’t believe me? Just look at the collapse of such well established institutions such as the National Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
It has taken me quite some time to realise how pernicious this all is. While I didn’t realise it at the time, the politicisation of poverty is big business and is the ultimate affront to the wretched individual, heaping misery upon misery. Instead of anonymous charity, we have contracts and gateways, conditions that must be fulfilled, as the target must jump through even more hoops before receiving any aid. Naturally, this requires judging their “Worthiness” before receiving any modicum of assistance, but this goes much further than the traditional means test. Your lifestyle, motives, even personal morals will be examined with rigour, and depending on the current political vogue, you will be considered either worthy or unworthy. Unmarried mothers were given carte blanche to suck at the expansive government mammary gland a few generations ago, now it is the turn of the undocumented economic migrant. What is so vomit inducing about this is that those in genuine need, single unmarried men, ex-forces veterans, pensioners and those that fall through the cracks of “Care in the community”; the uneducated, the illiterate, the mentally ill – have been traditionally ignored. I don’t have a problem with charity per se, provided it is equally and fairly distributed. To single out a particular group is to light a beacon that will be exploited by the unscrupulous, a traditional pitfall that will always be faced by those wishing to assist their fellow man. Sadly, human nature dictates that there will always be those who game the system, and it is my belief that such individuals deserve the harshest of punishment, for not only are they driven by greed, but they diminish and trivialise the genuine and desperate need of many.
This politicisation of poverty is at the root of the Labour Party. Once born out of a worthy desire to promote genuine social change and fairness, it has broadened its horizons to the point of parody. Once a welcome haven for the down to earth working man who called a spade a spade, over a century it has become a cesspit of insanity, exploiting every good cause and smearing it with the glittering turd of political correctness. The 70’s were a good example of how a benevolent organisation decays once compassion touches the levers of power, and the resulting blowback against the militant union excesses of that time not only caused the party to implode, but brought in a period of unprecedented change. Some might applaud this, but in reality, it just kicked the can further down the road. The devastation wrought by Thatcherism led to even bigger national problems longer term. Traditional heavy industries and economically vulnerable sectors were decimated, with no equivalent employment opportunities other than in the febrile “Service” sector. Scotland and Wales, already disillusioned by the inability of Labour to deliver on its promises, turned to the more radical Independents, which in turn fed into the politics of disenchantment, envy and hate-fuelled division. Rather than rescuing from the scrapheap, the 80’s laid an ever stronger foundation for the grifter and the dishonest, as the only way to survive within an increasingly “Worth” and “Value” based system was to lie. To get anywhere out of the rut, you had to “Prove” something, and if that meant faking a back injury to get more welfare payments, so be it. This in turn, aided by the blind eye of a reformed Labour party under Blair, has led to the endemic “Victim culture” we currently have. All of this has ended up with a national dose of compassion fatigue, where we have considerable difficulty discriminating between those genuinely worthy of assistance and those that are not.
I once ruined a perfectly good Christmas eve dinner by having an alcoholic fuelled nuclear rant when a friend, looking down their nose, was contemptuous of the poor. Working at a local credit union, they immediately jumped on the old “Fags, Stella and widescreen television” argument. Such luxuries were considered inappropriate if you are poor, conveniently forgetting that a) Much of the cost of the former items are returned to government coffers via taxation and b) If someone long-term unemployed wants a new television, normal lines of credit are frequently closed, so they will pay an absolute premium for it. The bottom line being if you are poor, don’t forget to live like it, and remember to tug on your forelock on the way past. Such “Broad brush” assumptions really piss me off, especially when the person concerned spouting such nonsense has pretty much wanted for nothing throughout their sheltered and relatively easy life. Your humble author on the other hand, has experienced intermittent periods of genuine poverty and as an adult has often seen the flip-side of comparative riches. Freezing in a hovel of a bedsit in winter and surviving on a diet of Ryvita and margarine was probably my lowest point during an extended period of unemployment. This was not helped by the thieving shit who lived next door who stole my benefit Giro (Amongst other correspondence) while I was away down south at a job interview, opening a bank account in my name and cashing it. When reported to the DHSS, after an extensive investigation they could not prove I was not involved in the fraud (impossibly trying to prove a “Negative”), and then refused an emergency crisis loan as they suspected that I was a “Co-conspirator”. I have not forgotten the humiliation of being fingerprinted by them (The only time in my life), nor the resulting financial grief this caused me for quite a considerable time afterwards. Landlords still want their rent.
To distort a well worn phrase, the lot of the poor man is not a happy one. I did eventually claw my way out of the welfare rut, but it was more by good fortune and the grace of God than hard work that got me there. Moving to London, I had a series of dead end jobs before I managed to get properly back on my feet in my mid-twenties. Even then, the spectre of unemployment and redundancy haunted me. With one notable exception, every redundancy notice I have been served has been just around Christmas, one company excelling themselves and performing the dirty deed on the 23rd of December. Mrs R still can’t get her head round why I don’t ever get into the “Christmas spirit”, those events, along with being homeless one snowy Christmas, tell their own tale. At least then the homeless shelter I stayed at was warm and I got fed.
No, despite the recent furore over the “Poor can’t cook” by the MP Lee Anderson, such platitudes desperately need to be taken with a very large grain of salt. The unemployed are already bombarded with mandatory demands for “Retraining”, be it pointless CV writing courses, work experience, or whatever hare-brained scheme the government thinks of next. Refuse to attend, and your Jobseekers “Allowance” is cut, attend late, your allowance is docked and on and on the merry-go-round of misery continues. Many of these soul-destroying courses expect you to pay your own travelling expenses, and if you are a parent, you have the added problem of arranging childcare.
In reality, by far the greatest amount of welfare payments to the unemployed goes towards Housing and Council Tax benefit, with the claimant themselves receiving a fraction of that amount, especially taking into account the grossly inflated house costs in London and the South East. The Thatcher revolution has a lot to answer for in that arena, affordable local authority housing stock that was sold off has not been replaced by successive governments, and the private sector has not taken up the slack, quite the reverse in fact. Many private landlords will not house benefit claimants. The replacement housing associations have considerable power over their tenants, frequently demanding tenants sign restrictive tenancy agreements to prevent anti-social behaviour etc. Fair enough, but what about their responsibilities to keep properties in good repair? The Grenfell disaster is just the tip of the iceberg, as many 1960’s and 70’s buildings are disasters waiting to happen with a plethora of structural issues that have remained unattended for years. Often, the only solution is demolition, but this is extremely expensive and is not something that can happen quickly, taking years of planning approval for standard housing as we don’t build tower blocks any more. Before anyone complains about the unemployed having Internet at home and a mobile phone, it is now an essential part of signing-on these days. I totally broke the system when I last signed on as I didn’t possess mobile phone at the time. It took them over six weeks to process my claim as everything is now totally automated and online. If I didn’t have Internet at home I would still have to frequent the local library to keep the DWP reguarly up to date, at a cost of almost £5 a time in bus fares, or a 3 hour round trip on foot irrespective of weather or lack of suitable clothing. Miss a report for whatever reason? You guessed it, you get penalised. I can’t remember if the library charges the unemployed for using their IT systems, but in this age of stagflation and austerity, nothing would surprise me any more.
The other problem that faces those wanting to get out of such a rut is the lack of decent, long term employment opportunities, especially in areas where traditional industry has been decimated. Rural areas are particularly vulnerable in this respect, especially where the traditional employment of farming is under threat. We are now in the situation that there seems to be a global shortage of employees, yet at the same time wages have been driven down to an absolute minimum with the pincer movements of minimum wage, outsourcing and the black market economy. It is not that there is a shortage of opportunities, just a shortage of decent opportunities. Twice as an experienced and skilled worker I have followed the “Wisdom” of “Just take a job, any job”. Twice, it has taken me years to get back into the industry I was made redundant from (in those days it was analogue electronics), with employers taking the attitude that if I was that good at my job I wouldn’t be working in retail as a stop gap. The vicious circle is further compounded insofar as you quickly lose experience due to the evolution of the industry, and in my case I was faced with the progression from analogue to digital electronics which totally upended the previous order. Who needs an experienced test engineer when you have automated digital test equipment?
I have always said that the big problem with work versus welfare is not that there is a shortage of jobs, but a shortage of decent jobs. Universal Credit is a hellish concept insofar as it encourages low wages and does not give the employer any motivation to improve pay or conditions. Why bother, when the government will subsidise your profits via housing benefit, tax credits and the like? I bet many businesses would go to the wall pretty quickly if this system was abolished, as they could not continue to operate whilst paying the true market rate for the cost of living. When you are in a low paid job, all your income in swallowed up with rent, energy costs, transport and food, there is very little left over for luxuries or emergencies. You get a night out maybe once, twice a month and that is your lot. Forget about saving for a house or a car. Everything major needs to be financed by debt, which adds even more to the long term cost. The only way out of the rat-trap is a second, low paid job and who wants to work 60+ hours a week when the government taxes the very air you breathe? No wonder so many are content to stay imprisoned in the poverty trap. Escaping it is often close to impossible.
The traditional social contract is now well and truly dead. There are no jobs for life, no business sector maybe apart from funeral directors, taxmen and debt collectors that has a stable long-term future. Earn an honest regular crust, save for a holiday and your retirement is a luxury few can afford in the new service gig economy. By destroying the possibility of social advancement through education and honest work, not only is the middle class atrophying, but the gap between rich and poor is accelerating at supersonic speed. The latest cost-of-living crisis is but one of many tsunamis that have hit those that want to get on in life.
So I really do understand the necessity of Food Banks and their ilk. Rather than addressing the grave, entrenched systemic social and economic problems of the UK, we have pandered to the economic migrant and the refugee. Quietly dismissing the masses trapped in real poverty without any hope of advancement, be it through lack of opportunity or wilful resignation, they are cemented into the rut by a lack of social mobility. I eventually lost count of the number of times my adopted father was made redundant, if I remember correctly it was about 12 times. He eventually became “Economically inactive” in his mid fifties, as the Department of Employment were at least honest enough at that point in history to admit his chances of finding gainful employment close to retirement in an economic black spot was virtually nil. Between State Benefit and his pension, he struggled on for another 20 odd years. The biggest tragedy of all was that he left life the same way he came into it with sweet bugger all. All he left was his watch, a few photos, nik-naks and a pile of well-worn second-hand clothes from charity shops that barely fitted his emaciated frame. So much for serving his country in Redcaps during the Second World War. Country fit for heroes? My arse.
There is no honour in being poor. If you are fortunate enough to be the current “Cause de jour” and a target for those with a social conscience, you will fare much better but only because the dice have been loaded in your favour. The flip side of that is if you are well spoken, relatively intelligent and male, you go straight to the bottom of the benefits pile. Despite being virtually unable to walk, with rapidly deteriorating eyesight and only having one properly functioning hand along with chronic heart, lung and auto-immune issues, after months of deeply humiliating and personal interrogations I was eventually turned down for Personal Independent Payment some years ago. I am not going to put myself through the stress of a further application or long drawn out appeal, the stress will probably finish me off. I’m not going to give the system that pleasure.
© Rookwood 2022