Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not looking through rose coloured glasses

A letter to The Guardian posted at Samizdata

Dear Ms Featherstone

I think the people who should truly say sorry for such events are the opinion leaders of the Guardian. Please allow me to explain.

Last week I visited (as a doctor) a family in a council estate. The mother was concerned about her 12 year old son. She was very pleased that her older son was now on incapacity and would therefore do well for himself in terms of money. There is nothing wrong with this older boy that makes him incapacitated, but that is another story. She also had a 14 year old daughter, who while I was there, constantly argued with her mother demanding money for cigarettes. The three children had three different fathers, all absent. The kids, while I could see were still children, gleamed with malignant insolence. I can see them turning into damaged adults. I feel sorry for the trap they are in – the trap created directly by the welfare state whereby the family, and all those in the neighbourhood, see welfare as a lifestyle option. They live in squalor but have more wealth than most people I knew in India; they certainly have more material comforts than I ever had growing up in Delhi.

The Guardian describes such families as poor. The Labour party wants to throw money at the family. The Guardian readers blame Margaret Thatcher for this state of affairs, smug in their modern pieties, their intellectual laziness, and their stupidity masquerading as sanctimonious concern. I used to work with slum children in Delhi; they had very little, but even the most physically disabled amongst them made an effort.

There is no hope for Britian. Civilisations don't die, they commit suicide. And before they commit suicide, they read and believe the Guardian.

I truly and deeply feel sorry for all the children who are the victims of the welfare state. Things are much, much worse for the slum children in India, I saw more dignity among them and certainly greater hope.

I am not sure if you will understand this message. I am too tired to explain further. Either you will get or you wont. Either way, it will make no difference to anything.


phil sage (sagenz) said...

wow. thats right on the button. there are some, like john key and paula bennett who will work themselves out of such a position. there are others for whom the government handout is sufficient. My feeling is that investment in education and a steadily more invasive program of welfare is required. The newly unemployed gets cash to get themselves back on their feet. then they get training requirements to get that cash, then you move towards vouchers for food and income and finally to the point where some lives will be almost completely controlled. work programmes, domestic training and maintenance, any kids in school and not truanting.

The problem is not new. there has been an english underclass for centuries. But education and training is the only way to ensure people understand their place and value to society.

I dont see that placing expectations on that mother to train her kids is realistic. she never got that training herself.

The key to breaking the cycle is being prepared to support education education education.

not just job skills, but cooking, looking after a home, parenting, ethics. everything that a middle class home takes for granted but the underclass have never experienced.

Interested in your thoughts

Sus said...

Good heavens, Phil.

That all-encompassing recipe sounds like wall-to-wall socialism, the likes of which the old Soviet images depicted of happy, rosy-cheeked kids holding hands with loving parents all gazing toward the sunset, their every need met by a paternalistic govt.

The problem is that central control does not achieve that and never can.

KG said...

Phil--you missed out the bit about camps with "Arbeit Macht Frei" emblazoned across the entrance...
Or should that be "Socialism Will Triumph"?