Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The Squirrel and the Grasshopper


The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed.The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.


The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving.

The BBC TV shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food.
The English press informs people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.

The Labour Party, The Greens, Family First, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of England demonstrate in front of the squirrel’s house. The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing “We Shall Overcome”.

Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, rants in a TV interview with Jeremy Paxman that the squirrel has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his “fair share” and increases the charge for squirrels to enter Birmingham city centre.

In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel’s taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders, for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work.

The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel’s food is seized and re distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper.

Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to the UK as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of the Englishman’s apparent love of dogs.

The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to then return them to their own country were abandoned because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from peoples credit cards.

A 60 Minutes special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel’s food, though Spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn’t bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshopper’s drug “Illness”.

The cats seek recompense in the high court for their treatment since arrival in the UK .
The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery.

A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost £10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up. Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. The asylum seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching England ’s multicultural diversity and dogs are criticised by Tony Blair and the government for failing to befriend the cats.

The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a minister.
The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the UK .

The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.


Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Single parents on benefits

Yesterday I lightly touched on the fairly taboo subject of single parents on benefits. Mentioning a distant friend of mine, though i dont know her well, only in passing, here I am going to attempt to do a case study highlighting her as a random example of a problem that is costing our country billions a year, £400+ million of which by single parents who are no longer single.

First of all a profile is in order, she is fairly young at 23 and has had a fairly steady boyfriend for 7 years, she has one child with him and is expecting another. She used to live at a hostel but now has a council flat in central london, of which she spends her various hours on a fairly expensive computer, playing a variaty of games, one which required only the first initial fee, the second requiring monthly payment off approx £10 (not a huge amount).

Foodwise she tends to live on a lot of take out, however she does also do a fair amount of cooking.

She buys designer clothes in the low-medium expense range (The usual slightly 'chavish' brands) for both herself and her child.

She is a fairly heavy smoker, a habit that costs dearly, she has no intention of giving this up when the new anti smoking laws come into place as she does not frequent drinking establishments regularly. On the same line since she does not drink out a huge amount this saves a fair amount of money. She does occasionally go out, and does occasionally drink at home, but neither to a degree of concern.

The first thing to point out is that she is currently commiting benefit fraud. She is one of the people costing us tax payers £400 million plus a year as she has a partner but has not chosen to inform the government of this.
A major factor is that she freely claims that this lifestyle was a choice, and that she does not want to work. Quite a worrying factor is that people are now considering living off benefits a 'choice', when it should infact be a 'saftey net'

Her child now goes to school which allows ample time for her to get a part time job to help bring in some cash, she does not however wish to do this as she likes staying at home.
Her boyfriend does work, and does share some of his income with her, though his job is not extremely high paid it would be more than enough for them to live on while claiming the applicable benefits.

The big question is this, why is she, and thousands other like her doing this?

The simple answer?

Because its stable and comfortable. Its not the best life, she could get better, but she is comfortable where she is, after spending so many years in this position she feels both safe and simply has no desire to move out of it. This is a situation apparent in many aspects of life, even in my on job I could go for something better but have become stable and comfortable where I am.

The Problem?

This lifestyle is costing us dear, with the billions we are losing thousands of nurses, police and teachers could be hired. the economy of the UK is, despite what the government claims, on a massive downswing, people are going bankrupt at 3 times the rate of two years ago. The people working are having less and less to live on, especially the lower paid. Inflation calculated by third parties is hitting 8%-14%, and even council tax is raising by an average of around 5%. Of course the government is boasting of how inflation is at its lowest ina long itme at a good 2.5%, which is what many peoples wages are based on. Hence why my cost of living has gone up by about 9%, despite the government assuring me its 2.5% and my job giving me a good ol' 2.5% payrise.

Monday, 29 January 2007

First post

Its always fiendishly hard to decide what to write about in a first postI could write an introduction, describing the fantistic moi and how incredibly brilliant this blog is going to be. I could jump straight into the deep end and discuss how America is protecting its own economy with the wars in Iraq. Maybe I should take a topical angle and discuss the racism flare that has errupted from the UK's Celebrity (Without a Celebrity) Big Brother. I could even go as far as discussing the current turmoil in Africa.

I decided against all these on the basis that each one is only of interest to a specific party, I thought to myself, what possible topic could affect the majority of people who would stumble onto this blog. Afterall, the wars America have started no longer interest the vast majority of people, racism has been over discussed and how many people out there can truthfull say that they have a deep interest in africa and not just a passing sorrow?

The answer I came upon is immigration.

While a deeply divided and much discussed subject I have seen very little in the way of subjective arguments on this. All arguments tend to verge on the extremes, the BNP saying that all immigration is bad, to the die hard supporters of freedom who point out the countless numbers of people who will be killed if returned to their native lands.

My personal view is mixed. My brother who is heavily dyslexic seemed doomed to some kind of low level factory work in our hometown, however in the last few years the number of polish workers has increased dramatically, to such an extent that all jobs of this kind have had their positions filled with the cheap polish labour.

In the same vein I also disagree with the fact that christian people have had to stop wearing religious objects due to the risk of 'offending' people of a different religion. My view on this is that if people come into this country they should aapt to the english way of life. Do not misunderstand me on this, I dont expect muslims to come over and convert to christianity (I myself am an atheist) But I do not expect them to come to this country and then complain about the christians. Britain is a multi cultural society, and people who move here should be prepared for this.

In the same respect though if a muslim came to this country I would expect any person to show respect towards his religion, as I believe anyone has a right to believe what they want, even if I myself do not believe that a said diety/ies exist.

Then there is the limits placed on immigration, how many people should be let in?

Britain is undoubtedly getting overcrowded, their are too many people claiming benefits (not only immigrants) and too few jobs. When someone immigrates to this country they are given all kinds of benefits that people who already live here are in dire need of. (Although our own residents are already abusing this, the fact that young single mothers think this is an acceptable choice of lifestyle, I know one mother who chose to have a child and live off our benefits system, this is unfortunately becoming more and more common)

Another problem with immigration is the outflux of money from our country, there are many people from mainland europe who come over to work at better wages but send a large portion of their income back to their own country. This is immensly damaging to our own economy, with many businesses now struggling to make money against the tide of superstores and e-commerce. Their have been many propositions to increase tax on money leaving the country, however this would be very hard to regulate, and already customs and excise are missing out on billions of tax from people purchasing products overseas and not paying duty on them, usually by having the product checked as a 'gift'.

However immigration does have many benefits, it brings in a diverse culture, new foods and skills, many skilled jobs in our country that are not being filled by our own citizens are being filled from abroad. It also saves the lives of many asylum seekers who are living in constant danger in their own countries. WhenI was younger and working in a factory I worked with an Iraqi who had fled for his life, as he had the countries army chasing him for voicing opposition against Suddam Hussain, had he not left his life and his families would have been forfeit.

Of course there is always the remaining fact that the people fleeing for their lives flee to the UK, neatly avoiding the multitude of other countries between us and them, where they would be just as safe from persecution. While the usual response to this question when posed is 'england provides a better life' or something similar, should this raelly be a factor when its a matter of life and death?
Then of course the people who come to the UK have to be let in because of their circumstances.

Fortunately the world is becoming more and more globalised, prices have to come into line or people will buy from and goto where things are the cheapest, hence the UK will soon have to go through a depression, along with America etc simply to compete with foreign countries where things are cheaper. I cannot predict this being a slow steady decline as due to credit facilities being stretched many people are living beyond their means and bankrupcies have all but trebbled over the last few years, a sure sign that things are starting to lose control. As the economy equalises people will move to where they want to be, more than there it makes more financial sense to be. Im thinking Jamaica, or maybe switzerland!