NOW I Understand Who Caused the Banking Crisis...

Mark Steel at the Independent has a great column on the root cause of our economic instability - poor folks and all the trouble they cause by not quite appearing to do the evil deeds they do!

It’s a tricky argument to pull off, that the poor caused the debt so they should pay it back. Maybe that’s why most weeks there are stories in certain newspapers about a woman with 45 kids on benefits, who then bought a giraffe and now that’s on benefits but she said it was cramped so the council has put it up in the Shard, and two of the kids have got Compulsive Potting Disorder so they’ve been given a snooker table but she couldn’t be referee because she’s allergic to white gloves so the mayor has to do it, otherwise he’d be put in jail by Europe.

Then they quietly drop the story when it emerges that the reporter missed out the detail that although it did happen, it was in a dream he had while suffering from food poisoning.

So it’s replaced with an article about a man on invalidity benefit who turned out to be secretly competing in triathlon tournaments in his loft, and there’s a woman who hasn’t worked since 1975 who receives so much in housing benefit that she pays Martin Amis to fill in her claim forms for more money. And they’ll print an extract that starts: “You ask why I have attended no job interview in 38 years and I can only weep the tears of a fallen angel, reach to the constellations and ask that you, dear assessor, replete in your cruddy crude crudeness, be spared the dodgy knee I’ve had all that time. Time. Whatever, whenever, whoever my succulent sobriquet, that may be. Oh, and I need a new fridge.”

What amazes me is that the poor have the time, between all their jobs, and waiting for buses and sitting around applying for benefits.  Amazing what some folks can accomplish.


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I see that the UK has adopted our fashion, pioneered by Saint Ronald Reagan himself, of apocryphal anecdotes. The first item you quote is a recognizable descendent of the story Reagan often told about a Chicago welfare queen who drove her Cadillac to pick up her welfare checks. The Chicago woman actually existed; the problem was that Reagan made her sound typical, rather than the anomaly who was prosecuted once her fraud was discovered.

Thanks for the link. Good satire like that is hard to pull off.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 29 Mar 2013 #permalink

The column is so right - the political system is so frustrating! Why are we making the poor pay for the banks gambling habits?

The bedroom tax in particular makes my blood boil. Basically people who get housing benefit to help pay their rent, will have it reduced if they have more bedrooms than they need. So separated parents who have a spare room for when their children visit at weekends will lose money.

The stupid thing is that there is nothing most people can do about it. They can't just demolish the extra room! The government expects people to move into a smaller home at short notice or take on a lodger. Taking on a lodger means sharing your bathroom, kitchen and living spaces with a stranger and the income you receive from the lodger will then be deducted from your benefits! Some people have lived in the same house all their lives and now won't be able to afford their rent and may be forced to move. As you might imagine there is a surge in demand for affordable homes with fewer bedrooms, so moving isn't even an option for most people.

Given that the average dwelling in the UK is only 860sq.ft, compared to the average in the US, which is 2,300sq.ft, losing this extra space makes a big difference.

Who's stupid idea was this? I'm hoping it is going to be yet another U-turn from the government, because it isn't going to work. Shame they had to cause lots of distress for people before putting their brains in gear.

The icing on the cake of course is that everyone over 60 years old is exempt! Firstly, this is totally unfair to not apply the same rules for everyone. Secondly, if there was a group of people who are likely to be living in over-sized houses, and would actually benefit from being helped into smaller accomodation it is the elderly. I don't want them financially penalised, but many struggle to heat buildings that are bigger than they need to be. I guess the government was too concerned about losing votes from this group to actual apply any common sense.


Environmental Science. Thank you.

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