Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hard Times

It's well over a week since I read a letter in the paper.
And I can't get it out of my mind.

The heading was 'I fear the winter and hope for nothing'. It was written by an ordinary working class bloke who had a heart attack in the same week as his wife. They are unable to work and have become poor.

Although they have been told it is essential for them to keep warm they can't afford the fuel. Neither can they afford fresh fruit nor many other healthy foods that we take for granted.

The full letter is here

On the following day there was a reply from someone who lived here:

[Ed: That's the third time you've used this picture]

It said .... "While the middle classes worry about the value of their properties and how much petrol costs, people like the letter writer struggle for their very existence. I felt the anger rise in my chest as I read, because nothing sums up the state of this country better". ...

I also feel angry and want to do something for this family and others like them.
I could send a cheque - but they wouldn't want that because it would be charity.

Why can't my taxes be used to keep them warm and well fed?

I don't want my taxes to be used:

X: for Bombing civilians

X: for Flying worthless princes to stag nights

X: for Paying MP's expenses

X: or for Encouraging rampant pensioners to go gallivanting up and down from Land's End to John O'Groats and paying not one single penny.

I want to help people who are cold and poor and ill or need to care for sick children or relatives.

If Gordon really needs more tax to care for us all let him take it from those who can afford it - me included.

And I shall slap the next person who says " I'm not really interested in politics".




Blogger garfer said...

We already pay huge amounts in tax. It shouldn't take rocket science to provide sufficient for the poorest and most needy.

Bureaucracy, waste, and inefficiency are the problem.

I'm about as likely to vote Labour as I am to take up jogging.

9:17 am  
Blogger Dave said...

I'm trying very hard not to fear the future. For the next 8 years (until a private pension starts to pay) I shall have a pension slightly less than the state pension, but none of the benefits that real pensioners get (like free bus travel) - and because I have been prudent and have some savings (on which I will be living for the next few years) I get no state aid at all.

On the other hand, I won't be paying any tax either, so at least my money won't be being wasted.

10:44 am  
Blogger stitchwort said...

National politics is about power, money and prestige for national politicians.

Doing something for people in need is the province of the individual or a charity.

Support your local Salvation Army - they know about helping people in need.

12:17 pm  
Anonymous Piggy and Tazzy said...

I'm not so sure about supporting the sally army. I've always found there to be something ever so slightly spooky about them as an organisation. That's not saying that I don't agree they do some good.

But there's where I see the problem - why the fuck should we be having to rely upon charities to pick up the pieces? We pay our taxes for the government, not charities, to make sure we're all okay. Rich or poor, the government should be ensuring that none of us are hungry, cold, homeless or in need of the essentials that allow us to hold our heads up and without shame.

There should be NO NEED for charities such as the Sally Army in 2008.

This government (I know, all governments - but this one in particular) disgusts me. I'm truly ashamed of the fact that I really thought Labour might get it right this time round. As usual, they've fucked both us and themselves.

And I have no real hope of change whoever the next Government is.

Like they'll care anyway - their (the MP's) nests are well and truly feathered. Yay! for the Westminster gravy train!

12:32 pm  
Blogger Murph said...

Right on Kaz! And we're all just one or two bad decisions away from oblivion.

As Kirsty McColl said:

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train
It's not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It's not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no it's not that far

12:34 pm  
Blogger Geoff said...

We're really seeing the benefits of the privatisation of essential services, aren't we? All this competition is doing wonders for the health of the nation, driving prices down.

Tell Sid he's a c*nt.

1:39 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

We do - I checked the data and the largest percentage goes on social services etc.
It seems to be going to the wrong places.

Yes - but who can we vote for??
I need to know.

Good luck Dave - you are a resourceful chap and I know you'll be fine as long as your health improves (I hope)

I always think of charity as a Dickens, Lady of the Manor sort of thing.

The Sally army is great - but they won't sort out the obscene inequalities in the country today.

What an eloquent wee piggy you are.

Charity demeans people - they should not have to feel lucky or grateful if their circumstances need support, it should come as a right.

'From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It's not that far'
Yay Kirsty - brilliant line.

Don't worry Drew will make sure you get lots of healthy food.

I certainly will tell him.

But think of all those poor shareholders.
What on earth would they do if our heating bills didn't go up?

2:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Piffle to the shareholders!
(Feeling very cross).

Only today, sitting in the car waiting for Mum to come back from somewhere... I was thinking about how there are more people than useful jobs (and an awful lot of not terribly useful jobs too, just to complicate matters and keep people going), and people are still personally blamed if they can't get employment or aren't well enough to.

One of my friends is fond of saying "survival of the fittest isn't necessarily survival of the best."

3:53 pm  
Blogger CyberPete said...

I agree with you, yet it will always feel like charity.

For a while I was unemployed and didn't have unemployment benefits so I went on the dole. It meant that I had to go to a school and paint pipes, go to a forrest and cut down trees, that sort of thing.

As you can probably imagine it left me with little money (still better than nothing and enough to keep the creditors off my back) and even less time to go out and find an actual job.

In the end I got a job because I played hooky for almost a week, they almost pulled my money and everything. Scary time. All the time it always felt like charity and handouts. I felt humiliated and I almost opted not to sign up.

My point? I don't know. Just my story, or a bit of it anyway.

7:54 pm  
Blogger Lubin said...

You go girl. I'm all for higher taxes and more on inheritance tax. I voted Labour but inequality has grown in the last 10 years - we seem to be blindly following the American path where winner takes all and if you're poor nobody cares.

8:59 pm  
Blogger Betty said...

I know it's not an original thought, but generally people who are poor tend to give up voting because nobody really helps them. To them, all politicians are indifferent to them, regardless of their political persuasion. Therefore, the party in power ignores poor people and what they want because they're not going to vote ... and so the cycle goes on and on.

9:07 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Only Piffle?
Surely you can do better than that - how about boils and a plague of rats?

The phrase 'personally blamed' sums it up.
If people are ill or depressed or fall on hard times, they should be supported by the state without being blamed or feeling guilt.

They have enough problems without being cold and poor.

Thanks for telling us your story.
How on earth can you find a new job if they stick you out in the middle of the forest?

Still - I bet it did wonders for your muscles.

Oh yes - all that moaning about inheritance tax from the upper middle classes last year.
If you are eligible you can afford it.

The only thing that separates us from the Americans is the NHS and I fear for that if the Tories get in.

Very true.
And they all live in safe Labour constituencies anyway - if there is such a thing any more.

10:15 pm  
Anonymous loopyddoop said...

All governments are ultimatly a bunch of lying robbing goes with the job.

12:14 am  
Anonymous 'Shot said...

dunno... many of the comments sound eerily like socialism. Hasn't that been tried before and found wanting?

What incentive is there to try to better one's self if the safety net of a handout is there to make sure that one will not be lacking in the basic needs?

Governments should stick to handling highways, managing international trade, providing for the common defense of the public and stay out of the charity business (they'll only muck it up, as if they already haven't).

My $0.02...take it for what its worth (not much)

3:25 am  
Blogger MJ said...

I can't get enough of that sheep pic.

6:31 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

Hello loopyddoop:
I get the impression you aren't too keen on governments.

I'm afraid this is a socialist blog.
I don't think they've tried it in the States yet.

'Incentive to better oneself'? Lots of reasons - stimulation and companionship of work, a bigger telly, peer pressure/respect.

Did you have anything to do with this :O)

8:26 am  
Blogger garfer said...

You should vote for someone interesting Kaz.

How about me? I'm interesting.

8:41 am  
Blogger I, like the view said...

well said

I echo your sentiments entirely

privatisation of esential utilities and fat cats creaming off the profits instead of reinvesting in the industries, makes me particularly incensed

(this is why I don't do politics, cos someone like you does it so much better)

as was said above, you go girl

11:05 am  
Blogger The Poet Laura-eate said...

Poor sod! And to think I thought I was broke!

Great posting Kaz - I totally agree except I think the Government should sacrifice their frickin' John Lewis lists and grace & favour apartments before they squeeze any more tax out of us (and let's not forget all the bloody VAT they slap on everything - even secondhand cars from garages - how does that work)? Then there's stamp duty on houses, inheritance tax - you name it, the bastards are taxing it.

And what about all the poor sods who die before they get to claim their pensions - what happens to THAT money?

Sublime picture of Gordy.

3:20 pm  
Blogger MJ said...

Regarding that news link...

Maybe that's how you Brits behave but we're much more civilized in The Colonies.

5:25 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

You'll do.
Can you send me a copy of your 'interesting' manifesto please.

So glad you concur.

I know you don't 'do' politics, but you obviously take an interest and give a damn.

The more you think about it the more you realise the massive revenue they are collecting.
So why are some people still living on the breadline?

Thanks - I just did a head transplant.

More civilised?
You just prefer those mooooooses.

9:38 pm  
Blogger tony said...

Well Said KAZ
After 3 Labour Landslides it's come to this............The Tories would care even less.but thats not really the point.
Labour has never dared raise taxes for the Rich.for fear of upsetting The Daily Mail & Middle-England...Time for some more Midsummer Murders Me'Thinks?Otherwise we will have to wrap ourselves in old dusty copies of The Mail just to keep Warm...........

10:24 pm  
Blogger CyberPete said...

It would have, if I wasn't so depressed by the circumstances that I was eating quite a bit of mood altering substances (chocolate)

12:46 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

When New Labour got in we thought things would change.
It did - 90% of the staff of my college (which the Tories took away from Local Authority) were made redundant.
The NUT was totally impotent.

Still I bet you're georgeous now.

But I still can't imagine you as a lumberjack.

5:44 pm  
Blogger CyberPete said...

I'm so *not* a lumberjack. But if you know any, I'll be glad to check out the wood with them

6:25 pm  
Blogger Malc said...

And before they know it, some git in a cheap suit will be round to assess them so the Government can "encourage" them back into work.

I'm so bitterly ashamed of the party I used to be a member of and campaigned hard to get elected in '97 - I can only apologise.

Pass me the AK47, I'm off to see Gordon.

7:15 am  
Blogger ziggi said...

in this real world, as opposed to the ideal one, a lot of charities (I'm not including English Heritage who should be shot) play a very important part in helping those in need. Of course it's not the 'right' way but it's quicker and more effective than writing to your MP or waiting for the government to step in a realise that there really are struggling people out there.
Accepting charity which has been given for that sole purpose is not, or shouldn't be seen as, demeaning, but just as much a right as state benefit.

Since when did offering and accepting a helping hand become 'demeaning'?

Do you think recipients of organ transplants should look on it as demeaning charity? Or d'you think they're just bloody pleased to be given what they needed? (In some countries organs are bought from the relatives or sometimes live donors and sold - god forbid we go that way).

*now stepping down from soap box*
(it is Sunday)

Nice Sheep.

8:36 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

If I knew any I'd be keeping them for myself!

Yes - and the result of the 'assessment' may depend on whether his girfriend was nice to him the night before.

I too used to be a member.
What on earth has become of Gordon?

Society couldn't function without charities and many are excellent. People do have a need to be generous - think of British blood donors. The system doesn't work as well in the countries where they buy the blood.

However, I don't think charities will help the letter family to pay for their fuel and they shouldn't have to.

That would really be a Dickensian scenario.

P.S. I'm getting concerned about all the sheep fanciers round here.

10:34 am  
Blogger CyberPete said...

I don't blame you one bit

3:11 pm  
Blogger Beth said...

Well said that woman!

I scream at the radio when people whine on about all the inheritence tax they'll have to pay (no you won't, you'll be dead actually, so what's the problem?) and about how they might have to sell their house to pay for their nursing home - again, so what? If you can't live in it it's no good to you is it?

Also - why does 'bettering oneself' have to equate to 'making more money to buy more stuff' anyway?

(Yes, I'm another one who thought it was all going to be so very different)

7:50 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

You are too generous for your own good.

Good point - about being dead.

Far from being different it's getting more and more upsetting.
The shadow of Dave looms large.

10:58 am  
Blogger CyberPete said...

I know. I should be all "hands off my lumberjack biatch" and then do a quick move with my hand and snap my fingers.

Maybe I could move my relationship status from "it's complicated" to something better then.

2:41 pm  

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