Poverty and Those Ghastly Scroungers

I have sat on this one for a month or so, so that my emotions do not get the better of me.

But I am still furious.

I am lucky. I have always had a roof over my head.

I read an article in a broadsheet newspaper weekend supplement that self-righteously banged on about having to convert an entire house on a small budget of twenty thousand pounds, and how they had to live oh, such a frugal life, whilst they were doing this.

Not that there was anything wrong with the house before they converted it, but it wasn’t a style that they liked.

And the colour of that wall, isn’t it dreadful? How could anyone be expected to live in a house like that?

Have they ever had to wonder how they were going to buy food for their family because the bank refused to honour their cheques, because they were overdrawn without permission? No, but I bloody well have, and it really makes me furious.

And I am very aware that compared to the problems and dangers facing millions of people in the world today, mine was a comparatively minor problem. No one was shooting at me. I wasn’t forced to live on the streets. My children didn’t drown attempting to reach a country where they wouldn’t starve to death or be shot or bombed.

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I am certain that many people here in the west today simply do not understand what ‘poverty’ means.

It does not mean that you cannot afford an exotic holiday this year.

It does not mean that you cannot afford to upgrade your car this year.

It does not mean that you have to buy the second best large flat-screen TV.

So many people condemn ‘economic migrants’ as if the very term means that they are simply greedy freeloaders.

As if hundreds of thousands of people are willing to risk their lives, and those of their families, just to get a little bit more. A few extra treats, or somesuch.

That they must be greedy, scrounging and good for nothing.

Foreign, of course.

It seems to matter little that they are fleeing war, terror, the destruction of their entire lives and livelihoods.

They are forced into overcrowded camps with hardly any facilities, which are then condemned for being squalid.

And newspapers and politicians encourage and disseminate this attitude for their own ends, telling us all that our own standards of living will decline if we let them in. Like the shameful lie that went around the UK a couple of years back that immigrants were being given cars by councils.

I am genuinely ashamed of belonging to this society.

It is not that there have been any new revelations on the migrant crisis, rather there is a paucity of news. Dozens of human beings drowning in a desperate attempt to reach safety no longer merits more than a passing mention.

Do we no longer care, or are we merely saturated with the horror of it?

Or do we just not, really, care what happens to people who live, or should live, far away?

No, it was just this one little article in one broadsheet supplement that made me furious this time. Next time, it will be something else.

Don’t tell me that if all the powerful and influential people of the world got together with genuine goodwill that they could not solve this crisis.

Where are the powerful of industry? There are one or two immensely rich industrial tycoons, such as Bill Gates, who have demonstrated that people like themselves can make a genuine difference to the world, and in a good way. Where are the others? I have always felt that the very rich have become very rich because they are callous, selfish, and do not care about anybody else.

I would be delighted if a few of them could now prove me wrong.

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43 thoughts on “Poverty and Those Ghastly Scroungers

  1. I agree with you totally, Mick. ‘Poverty’ is a moveable feast. Most of today’s recipients of welfare benefits would be regarded, by inhabitants of the 18th century, as living like maharajahs. And yes, I’ve known poverty too. In my early twenties, my first little business collapsed and, to pay off my creditors honourably, I spent two ghastly years in Manchester in an unfurnished slum room. Every night I could hear mice plop out of the wainscoting. I slept on a mattress on the floor because I couldn’t afford a bed and I lived off rice and canned tuna, because it was the cheapest food in town. No car. No girl friend. No tv.

    If this was a Horatio Alger story, I’d say the experience was beneficial. It taught me a lot about cash flow. Quickly. Which proved vital in my future businesses. But it wasn’t a rags to riches story. It was horrible.

    And the other day I read about a family of ten who were trying to sue the council because the house provided for them wasn’t big enough. May giant rats plop on their heads…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed, a moveable feast, John, or at least relative to the standards of the day. I would have been considered to have been living a life of luxury by the average inhabitant of 16th Century London or any medieval village, as I struggled to make ends meet 35 years ago. On the other hand, if today’s Joe Average was to be sent back to the 16th Century to live in the house of a relatively well-off London merchant, he would hate the inconvenience of it all – no central heating or electrical goods, outdoor privy, no running water. The only thing that would be familiar would be all of the fast food vendors!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not to mention the windows without glass, the lack of underwear, and a total absence of privacy. Did you know that privacy only began in the mid-16thc with the invention of chimneys when, for the first time, rooms could be individually heated and walled? Now Google has stolen our privacy and plunged us back into the Dark Ages. Oi veh! 😦

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel your frustration, anger, pain and despair in your post. I share the same thing. I used to be very vocal about it in my older blog. Especially the poverty that I witnessed in my own country and the orphaned kids who were roaming the streets in shabby clothes selling matches or chewing gum for a few dollars here or there. But all I got was sympathetic responses. As you can see, I don’t even write anything about what’s happening in the world around me. I stopped. It used to weigh on me so much. I couldn’t take it any more.
    But such is life. Everything is relative. People are so busy dealing with their own personal traumas that they can’t really focus on others. As sad as it is, but that’s reality for you. Greed and power has over taken the world. No body cares anymore. There’s no “take care of thy Neighbour”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not much, I’m afraid. But it is there, if you look for it. But what probably annoys me most about that – although, annoys is far too mild a word – is that most of the generosity and compassion that I do encounter is frequently from those who have very little themselves.

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      1. You’re absolutely right. I volunteered in the Amaar foundation that’s chaired by Baroness Emma Nicholson one time. I was responsible for sending out donation requests and receiving donations. It was to my utter shock and horror that even though we mailed the donation requests to many affluent Iraqis and Brits, it was the pensioners who actually gave. Even though their donations weren’t much and they did apologize for it (bless their hearts) but it angered me to see that those who truly have didnt really care.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Yes, I have had fund raising experience in the past, too. i think that many of those who have experienced hardships themselves are willing to try to help others, since they recognise what they are going through. On the other hand, I’m sure that many of the rich think that…no, I’ll stop there.

          Liked by 3 people

  3. Your rant is timely and well-deserved. Of course, most crises in the world are solvable. Poverty is solvable. All it takes is compassion, resolve, and a bit of effort. I do believe that choosing Not to help those in need is the same as choosing to harm them. There is terrible karma in that and we all pay the price.

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  4. The first bit ” I get” and I would agree with. We don’t know poverty and yes, if we don’t get two holidays a year, we are hard done by. As for migrants/immigrants/refugees or whatever politically correct term we are using this week, then I can agree to a point. Yes its tragic; Yes its sad and yes I know that you have to be sodding desperate to leave your home and travel miles without much hope. And those people I can subscribe to. Very much… so much so that I organised donations of clothes and tins and sleeping blankets and took them off to Calais. Did it salve my conscience. Oh yes, a little bit
    But hidden in those needy cases were a lot of men. A lot of African men who looked more like migrant workers than needy refugees with families. Worse, they seemed to be getting on the bandwagon and taking advantage ( a bit like our benefit scroungers)
    So how can you draw the line… far better, possibly to send them back home and we deal with the problem there – right at the heart of it, than spread it across our continent. And whilst this opinion is not popular, all we are doing is spreading – not containing. And every one knows that containing problems is a better answer than diluting it.

    So yes please to helping those in genuine need, but how can you look people in the face and work out who those are

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Any system will have some who take advantage of it, and trying to sort out the sheep from the wolves can be next to impossible. Yes, we have to try, but I think we have to accept that there will always be some who will sneak through. I think of that issue as a little like the fact that there will always be some who milk the benefit system; just because we cannot make it foolproof, does not mean that we should junk the system. Personally, I would rather be too kind than too harsh.
      And on your other point, if the problems could be dealt with ‘at source’, for example by preventing civil wars or alleviating poverty better, then I certainly agree it would be a far better all-round solution.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s what happens when a dentist from Clapham becomes president. Our Libyan Intern who fought against gadalffi. .sorry about spelling. ..now says his country was better with a dictator. They had services and stability. Now they arw pariahs to the world.
        Citizens of syria might fo well to note that! It’s like opening a can of worms….be careful what you wish for. Amen

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No one can foresee all of the possibilities, unfortunately. And just to go all leftfield, all of a sudden, when I was in Libya, many moons ago, I knew Gadaffi’s dentist. Clearly not the same person!

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          1. well who knows… who would have thought all those years ago a Hollywood Actor would become one of the most popular and successful Presidents of the USA… and who would have thought that Libyans would have yearn for yester years. Life is a story no one can imagine!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. There does seem to be a growing gap between the haves and have-nots, and a “why should I give you mine, I worked hard for it” attitude amongst the haves. While it’s true that many of todays have-nots live like lords compared to historical counterparts, sometimes that just hides the poverty. One of my regular volunteer gigs is at the regional food bank, and the statistics they have for food insecurity and food boxes distributed is sobering.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t mind ’em, so much. No system involving humans is going to be perfect – you can’t force people to make smart or pragmatic decisions and bad luck happens. Some sort of safety net is needed. But it would be nice if the usage rate could be cut in half.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Well said, Mick. When I was a kid my family had to budget to the last penny, as many families did in the 50s and 60s, but we had electricity, hot and cold running water, enough to eat, and a whole lot of other things (including antibiotics, and free inoculations) that Solomon in all his glory never dreamt of.

    So I agree that nowadays many people have no idea what poverty is. Or how it might be held off by economising. And I’m shocked by what I consider to be a growing sense of entitlement in many “Western” societies.

    However, I also feel for the UK, facing its next influx of immigrants. That’s not about types of people, just numbers of people in a country of 94,000 (?) sq miles with a population of 65 million (?). I understand why some people are starting to say, enough is enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I also find this sense of entitlement disturbing. It seems to be tied in (at least partly) with the litigation culture, although that would be an entirely separate post.
      Yes, it’s crowded. But I can only speak for myself when I say that I don’t like the thought of turning away those in desperate need. Equally, of course, that should also go for every other country that can give sanctuary to those in need.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Too true. And here in NZ (103,500 sq miles, 4.5 million people) many are saying we should be taking many more refugees than we are. Others maintain that we don’t have the resources and systems in place to ensure that a greater number can be well-received and settled here.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. In common with others commenting here, I’ve known a degree of poverty: the house I was born in was knocked down as a slum, I spent two years living in a converted railway wagon, still on its wheels, on a clifftop (it was fantastic!). But I experienced material poverty both as a child and as a young adult. I worked for 49 years and now I’m a pensioner and I’ve never earned above the national average in all that time.
    But I did spend 18 years working for the unemployment benefit service and I saw true poverty. Yes, about 15% of claimants were fiddling the system and we had an active fraud department to deal with them. But the majority were desperately seeking employment that was simply not available. Many of those people, however, were very generous souls.
    As for those who have more wealth than they can possibly spend in a dozen lifetimes, I’d have them forcibly removed from their excess riches. No one, regardless of their contribution to society, can ever justify an income more than 20 times that of the poorest paid worker, since it isn’t possible to work hard enough to actually ‘earn’ such income. The advice given to all and sundry to ‘work hard and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts’ is the biggest lie ever devised. Find me a rich coal miner, a wealthy dustbin man, an affluent NHS nurse. They all work very hard, don’t they? The problem is that we live in a world where Big Business has the upper hand, controls governments, and allows its executives to take incomes that exceed the GDP of small countries.
    Every one of us is dependent on the input and efforts of everyone else. None of us could operate without the work done by road builders, electricity supply workers, teachers, cleaners and all the other trades that are undervalued. Entrepreneurs may have ‘good’ ideas that develop huge gains for them, but they never ‘earn’ their inflated incomes; their workers do it for them.
    Tax the rich and spend the money on the poor. It’s so obvious that it hurts.
    Rant over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I know the argument that it is essential to pay the ‘market rate’ (which, conveniently, is shed-loads of money) to persons such as bankers, otherwise they go abroad and we lose their ‘expertise’, but I doubt that would be much of a loss.
      I’m certainly with you on that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d love to see that argument put to the test. I’d bet good money that it would make not an iota of difference. These people play with the people as much as they play with the markets. More fool those who believe their lies, I say.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. hmmm… as you say Stuartaken.. you have little experience of running a company of your own and being an entrepreneur. Your view is a romantic one and without basis of all Company Owners 😦

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    1. Romantic? I worked closely with businesses of all shapes and sizes when employed in the Business Rates department of a local authority, Looneybitch. And I’ve been an employee with many companies during my long working life. Almost without exception, the people I worked for were dishonest, incompetent and self-absorbed. They mostly relied for their success on a mixture of ruthless greed and the ability to manipulate those in their employ. I’ve been self-employed, so I have some understanding of the issues relating to such things. Of course there are some business owners who actually care about their employees. But they are in the minority. Most people I’ve met who are in business (and I’ve met a great number) are rather like politicians; sociopaths with little real grasp of their real place in the world. The real tragedy is that many very talented people are used and abused by business without ever being aware of their real position. I think one of the most interesting insights I gained was a personal meeting with a number of MDs of medium sized companies during which the almost exclusively male bosses proudly boasted how their wives/girlfriends were totally ignorant of the way they spent their time. This was supposed to be a business meeting at which some important decisions were due to be made and they spent almost the entire time either badmouthing their partners or merely engaged in gossip. I remain unimpressed by the business world.

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  9. So to reply briefly because I wont hijack someone else’s Blog to verbally duel with you. I take great exception to your description of most business owners and people who have achieved “greatness” in their working life. Did you read your post? You sound bitter twisted and frankly, slightly bonkers. I smiled to myself ( sorry) when I read that you were in Local Government. I think I could have guessed that, A collection of mealy mouthed ” officials” – small minded and mean minded. Individuals without real power but plenty of poison. I think I treat my staff well; care for their welfare and help if I can. The sister arm of my company which is based in South Africa does NOT take any profit out of the country. It is not clever accounting before you think it is. We pay our employees there and whatever is left goes straight into a local Township. Does it salve my conscience? Slightly, but it is such a drop in the ocean that I fear it is barely noticed. I work hard, long hours and sometimes for little reward. I worry that a lot of people depend on the success of my business to pay their wages/bills. So your rant ( again) just makes me angry. I feel I have a lot of people relying on me and I cant let them down,
    Also, I know of one BT Director who, when she left, the cleaning staff lined up on the stairs to say goodbye to her. Why? because she was a kind and decent human being who had time for everyone, regardless of their station. She has got an OBE for helping charities and inequality, so that’s a Captain of Industry who gives a lot back.
    Get out of your insular and narrow world… and look for the good in people, rather than the nasty. Life is but a mirror.
    Now I wont highjack this lovely man’s Blog any more. He is too polite to tell me to fuck off, so I will but if you want to continue this debate with more substance, then we can do it without audience….my email is on my “about” page.
    Sir, I bid you goodnight

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    1. I agree absolutely about not highjacking Mick’s blog. You are clearly an exception to the many, many business people I’ve had the misfortune to deal with. Visit my blog if you wish to see the real me. I’ll have a look at yours.

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  10. These days my grandparents would be called economic immigrants and written off because of it. But since they landed in the US at the end of the 19th century, with a whole lot of other immigrants, they’re all talked about sentimentally now–they’re people who were looking for freedom, for broader horizons, for a better life. And if their clones landed now? They’d be sent back.

    Liked by 1 person

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