There are a number of things you get to hear about when travelling far and wide. There are significant differences between each country, but I have been surprised that there is the exact same grumbling about parasites in the community. I thought it was just a European thing, but this is not the case. They are in China, Mauritius, America and so on. The same tale of people doing little all day, getting a pay out just enough to see them through. Is it fair to call people that live off money provided by the states, parasites? It is certainly parasitical behaviour.
The issue is more political than philosophical. However, there are some interesting features to consider. From the political standpoint we have a government that forces people to pay tax. If you don’t pay you get your goods removed. In serious cases you go to jail and still have to pay the outstanding amounts back when you get released. Given that we can’t opt out, we like to think that a government does its utmost to ensure that all the money is spent in the best way possible, keeps fraud to an absolute minimum and makes sure the people in real need get it. The likelihood of going to jail for making a false benefit claim is minimal and any repayments come out of more benefits handed out.
People that make a benefit claims whinge about all the forms they have to fill in and the hoops and hurdles they have to jump through. This is brought about because of the general dishonesty that has gone on before over the years by millions of claimants. A lot of time and effort none the less. Now compare the rigour and extent of a tax investigation. Having worked in the retail and wholesale industry for a good while I can tell you that I know of not one trader, who has not had a tax investigation. Some have had multiple.
Mine started innocuous enough. It said “we want to see if you are paying too little or too much tax.” I can assure you that not a single minute was spent by them, on whether too much was paid. After 18 months of digging deeper than Loch Ness it was finally resolved. Every single bank statement, every credit card account and every single transaction was looked at. I was asked if I smoked and if so how many cigarettes per day. How much do I spend on clothing and what Christmas presents I bought for everyone. Thousands of invoices and hundreds of receipts were examined and many queried about. Each holiday taken was logged. No financial transaction was left aside.
People may or may not have heard of a now bankrupt company called Enron. They double counted and falsified accounts. The inland revenue liked double counting too. So if a cheque bounced it will show on the statement:
1/1/2000 …. £800.00 CHQ
2/1/2000 ….-£800,00 CHQ Returned
4/1/2000 …. £800 CHQ Represented
So now on their calculations I have received £1600. This and similar, occurred many times. However, it was me who had to prove it and me who had to point all these things out. Let’s just say that the initial proclamation that I owed them X thousands, gradually became a little more than a tenth of this first figure. All in all, about 1% of the total turnover.
What do you do now? You have a nice choice. Either accept the figure or go through the whole process again going back through 5 further years of accounts. That would take several years. They helpfully suggested that there is an ‘independent’ arbitration system. I suspect it would be a form of kangaroo court, so quite a gamble. After hours and hours of interviews and paper work submissions, countless phone conversations, I looked at it like landing on Mayfair in the game of monopoly. Just bad luck and grudgingly paid. I made a lower offer and they accepted. I suspect they just wanted some money out of me. Is a form or two to receive free money such a pain compared to this?
The first thing a person on benefits will shout about, is all the large companies not paying their dues. They have a point and it is something that often needs to be rectified. However, a thief can’t justify their action by pointing to people committing larger crimes.
Now to the area which is a little bit philosophical. We each are motivated by reward. That means you have to work on something to get it. Of course some pensioners no longer work as such, not for money always, they are less likely to be supporting a family or saving for a house etc. They more than likely will have done their bit. Work provides more than just money. It can give us a real sense of purpose and it is a beauty in itself to be able to just provide for you and your family. Most people get some kind of job where there is satisfaction. Even a dustbin man returns home after a hard day’s graft feeling better in themselves. In fact, most of the dustbin men I haver talked to love what they do and enjoy the camaraderie. Those not-working don’t get much of this.
You do not have to be paid to get the same kind of reward. Many do voluntary work and are happy with the thanks and appreciation shown by those they assist. I heard of a gentleman who went on holiday to Spain and did a shift on the bin lorries there, proud to, revelling in seeing a different bunch doing a different sort of collection round.
Those given the gift of a free life, paid for by those that work, have one enviable thing; Time. Time to do what they want within reason and time to tinker and trade to earn some pin money. You can’t blame them for taking as much of what they can from what is handed out so readily.
People give to those in need, gladly. People do not mind that much if someone were to opt out of work for a short while to recoup mentally and physically. What they mind is the fact that each extra one not working, causes a rise in the rate of tax on income, goods, insurance and other services. It is not about forcing people to work. It is not about encouraging people to work. You can be a tramp and live a free life that way. The issue is; being made to pay for those that get money for nothing in return. Being on unnecessarily benefits, benefits no one. Not those in receipt of them and not those forfeiting the money.
Does it make you angry? It sure makes you mad when you call a helpline to get something sorted and they say “press 1 for.., press 2 for..” and twenty minutes later you can’t speak to anyone. All those idle people that could be working in these call centres to make the lives of the workers less troublesome. A call centre job is not for everyone, it is quite tough, but acts as a good test of whether someone can contribute or not towards all that they are given.
In the UK we have a very corrupt system. People say to anyone that will listen, that I get £250 on benefits and would only get £300 if I had a job. So I am expected to work for £50. £1.20 and hour in effect. Then we have those that have children and nobody want to see youngsters in ‘poverty’. (Poverty is when you have to walk 5 miles to fetch water, have no money for a $0.50 life saving medicine and no shoes.) The less well-off are usually poor because they have so many debts. Borrowing is for the stupid. Paying half of their income out each week on ‘have now, pay for the rest of your life’ furniture and gadgets.
Depression and mild illnesses can be made worse or caused by the life out of work. I have not met one person on benefits that shows real passion for life. I have been around a good few and I see nothing but frustration and dissatisfaction. They claim to have stress, but that can disappear rather than increase when they enter work.
In the UK there has been a rise in the number of foodbanks. Some people that use them really need the food, not all are using them as a way to cut costs and have more holidays. These are one of the best things to emerge in a long time. Most children in backward homes only eat yellow food. Chicken nuggets, fish flavoured fingers, pizza and chips. Upon arriving home from a food bank kids get to see foodstuffs that they have never encountered before. They provide a pretty balanced diet, ideal for their growing needs.
A taxpayer has to console themselves with the fact that not all the tax contributions gets spent on those not working. They can ignore too, the unfairness relating to pensioners who may be getting close to double what they paid in. (Those retired now, forget that they had a state education and support throughout their life which ate into most of what they put in.) If money comes in fairly easily it is not nearly as hard to swallow as when life is a constant grind. When twenty of so workers have to forego quite a bit to allow one to live in unjustified merriment, it is painful. For a typical worker, after paying rent, rates and food they are not left a lot. To see the tax money they sacrifice evaporate by those taking advantage is cruel.
There can be a trigger that makes people decide to retreat into the world of living on benefits. Some sort of feeling of being hard done by. “Fuck it”, why should I bother now. They can then place the onus and the fault on someone else. Whether that is the case or whether from the moment they left school they have no intention of playing a part, they will put a lot of mind power and effort into getting what freebies they can and stringing it out for as long as possible. Few people escape some sort of injustice or major instance of unfairness. Business people will hit rock bottom many times before they hook into a winning formula. The difference is in the thinking that it is only you that have been subjected to some kind of misfortune.
Able, albeit at a more leisurely pace.
A young lass was in the news recently having done another short shift. She started collecting the glasses in the pub and is gradually making the nerve-wracking move upwards to pouring the pints. The beam on her face while in the part-time job is heart-warming to see. Her face makes her stand out a little. We class them as disabled. What we can’t allow, say those with morals and high ethics, is to pay them a paltry amount. It is better to have them at home, bored and frustrated. It is fine to allow a self-employed person earn a fraction of the minimum wage, but if they are to be employed they must be paid the same as those that work five times faster.
The great people of Great Britain have renamed the personnel department, human resources. Like oil, gas, copper and tin we are now a resource in their minds. Resources are exploited. Why not exploit all those wonderful people that can’t achieve things in the same time scale? Any money they get brings great delight. So long as we ensure that employers don’t go overboard and take excessive advantage, then those that have a lot to offer will get the same chance as the rest to have a stake in the great country we live in.
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