As soon as inflation goes up by 0.0001%, people’s wages are frozen at the same level as last year or the government says it will introduce austerity measures some time within the next decade, the news is suddenly full of people who can no longer make ends meet and parents who go without meals just so their children can eat three meals a day. These must be truly wonderful people who give up their last mouthful of food so as to ensure their children don’t go hungry.
Of course, I don’t believe a word of it. I am probably in the lowest 10% of earners in Britain and yet I never have to forgo a meal. Why is that? Well, firstly I don’t smoke and I only drink occasionally. I don’t have a plasma TV or a smart phone. I don’t own a car or go on foreign holidays – or any other kind of holiday. I don’t subscribe to SkySports or any other pay-per-view channels. I walk almost everywhere and if somewhere is too far then I cycle. I rarely buy new clothes and just make do with the clothes I have.
I know that some people see these things as basics rather than luxuries but I don’t. Basics are things you would die without. No one will die without cigarettes or Love Film. People in Britain live in relative poverty, not real poverty, and relative poverty is just another term for envy of what others have. If the Queen’s palace is smaller than that of some Sheikh then she too lives in relative poverty.
People who live in poor countries are genuinely poor. Such people can’t afford to own plasma screens and cars. Neither can they afford to have bad relationships with their family and friends. Since their government doesn’t look after them they have to rely on both themselves and on their family, friends and neighbours. This means that they have to keep on good terms with them and keep their behaviour within reasonable limits. This strikes me as being a good thing. Yet the modern welfare state has created a so-called ‘safety net’ for all, regardless of behaviour. Now there is no incentive to behave civilly to friends, family and neighbours, or to anyone else. Neither is it necessary to try to look after yourself. This safety net has quite predictably turned into an alternative to work. Thus the welfare state has contributed to the breakdown of the family and community and undermined the development of any personal responsibility for your life.
I have often wondered if stopping people’s benefits would improve their behaviour. They would then either have to look for work, rely on the kindness of friends and family or turn to crime. People on welfare already commit a lot of crime so clearly welfare doesn’t stop crime. Therefore I would simply stop welfare since the criminally inclined will commit crime whatever situation they find themselves in.
Stopping welfare might also make girls think twice about getting pregnant by men who have no intention of staying around after the baby is born, or of contributing to its upkeep. If the girl knew that she was going to have to pay to bring up her own child rather than force other people to do so she might not be so keen on having unprotected sex. This would lead to a fall in single mothers and in the crime rate, since the children of single parents commit significantly more crime than those from two-parent families.
But to return to the initial point that such tiny increases in price apparently have such monumental consequences for some families. This to me suggests that until now they must have been spending every last penny they earned or were given. Can it really be the case that they never thought of saving any money in case the financial situation ever got worse?
There are only two kinds of people who live like this. The first is someone with the mentality of a child who is irresponsible and gives no thought for the morrow. The second is a person who lives in a country with a generous welfare system and knows that the state will rescue them no matter what. The government can be relied upon to take money from people who live sensibly and within their means and give it to those who don’t, the so-called ‘unfortunate’ and ‘vulnerable’. In my opinion many of these people, if they are indeed unfortunate and vulnerable, are only so because they have rendered themselves so. Like World War One soldiers who occasionally shot themselves in the foot in the hope they could thereby escape going into battle.