Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sorry, Hube, but it was too good not to steal . . .

I usually try to avoid stealing stories from other Delaware blogs, but over at Colossus Hube got me this time with The Smallest Violin, about British families that now live completely on the dole and believe it is their absolute right not to have to work, ever.

According to the original story in the Daily Mail:

Six million Britons are living in homes where no one has a job and "benefits are a way of life", according to a report by MPs. Shock figures also revealed that 20,000 households in Britain are pocketing more than £30,000 a year in state benefits.

With thousands of children growing up in families where their parents and grandparents have never worked, a senior government adviser warned this week of a "terrible legacy" of youngsters who had no expectation of ever getting a job.

The quotes from the ten-member McFadden family are so unnerving that even Daily Mail readers (and Hube!) at first thought the piece must be a satire:

"I left school at 15 with no qualifications and worked in a sewing factory for a short while then gave it up and went on the dole instead. Even when my kids were older, I didn't go back to work because I didn't want to. I never get bored. I just sew, knit and clean. I don't worry about the example I set to my kids or the fact that two of them don't work. It's up to them what they do, it's their life, not mine, so it's not my problem"...

Steven says: "Mum never really made us think about work. I did do a plumbing YTS scheme after school. They paid £27 a week, but it was so boring looking at pipes and sinks all day. When I told my dad I was bored, he said I should never stick with a job I didn't like.

"So, eventually, in my 20s, I thought: "I've tried security work and plumbing and I've even been a taxi driver for six months, but I just don't like working". My mates all left school and became mechanics, sweating it out in stinking, dirty garages for a couple of hundred quid a week.

"I'm much better off than any of them. The highlight of their day is going to the bakery to get a pasty for lunch and they've aged 20 years from the stress of working for a pittance and being stuck indoors all day. It's my right to claim benefits. We're all entitled to do what we want in life.

"I could have trained as a fireman or something, but I didn't want the responsibility. All I've ever wanted is to chill out and have easy money. All my family and friends live in council houses - my parents included."

This story points out one of those politically incorrect problems nobody wants to talk about today, especially in America. There are millions of working poor, and they are struggling to make ends meet, to get their children medical care, and to get respect as American citizens.

Unfortunately, there are also millions of non-working "poor" in America, and educators in our universities and public schools see them and their children all the time. I have had students tell me--without the slightest sense of shame--that they only come to school because their parents know they'll lose their benefits if they don't, and they expect to be passed along just for showing up.

Conservatives love to talk about the non-working poor and not admit the existence of the working poor.

Progressives love to talk about the working poor and not admit the existence of the non-working poor.

Both need to get over it, and start having the real discussion about both dynamics. I have no problem whatsoever discussing health care solutions or better working conditions or even a living wage for the working poor. But I will be damned if I feel any social or moral obligation to support those who can but will not work.

The first step is to actually document the existence and prevalence of both categories of people, and then to start talking about the issue.

1 comment:

Duffy said...

The problem is that Republicans refuse to believe the working poor exist and Democrats refuse to believe that the refusing to work crowd exists.