Tuesday, 28 May 2013

You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two Boys - Part 2 - Get Off Yer Lazy Arse

When I was growing up in the seventies, there were many powerful messages in the media and in society that made an impression on me. The economy had been booming but it started to fall apart, and towards the end of the decade we had a time of strikes and unemployment, at exactly the time I went out into the world of work. I was very cynical about it all. Politically in my teens I was somewhere left of Lenin, while not really understanding the big picture. This is awfully common in young people, for two reasons. One, they worry about their future, and two, they haven't seen the ups and downs over time that form the patterns. So everything that is NOW looks like everything there is.

It was an ugly time in British history, and it was reflected perfectly in this sort of thing:

And I related to that. I think in some ways I still do. I don't think the little punk rocker ever went away, she just calmed down.

I knew what they wanted from me, you see. It all became very clear in one short interview with a "careers offiicer" who came to my all-girl school, to help us (!) decide what to do with our lives. I was a bright student, but I really had no idea what I wanted to do after school. I did know, however, what I didn't want. I didn't want a mind-numbing office job. I wanted to travel, somehow, I wanted to do "more" than what was expected of me. But I had no idea how.

So in walked this man who was supposed to be helping me, and he looked through the subjects I was taking.

"You're taking French and German, and European Studies, which includes Italian and Spanish, that's FOUR languages!"


"You are obviously good at languages, I see you also have extremely high marks in English."


"But you are not taking typing, why not?"

"Because I have no desire to be a typist."

"But what else will you do with all those languages? There's only really bi-lingual secretarial you know"

He was a professional careers advisor, but to him the ONLY thing a girl with language ability could do was secretarial work. Well, she was just a woman, so who cares, right? Oh yes.....It was the seventies but that attitude still prevailed.

I left that interview not only still with no idea what I was going to do with by life, but utterly, totally convinced that the system didn't give a shit. I was right, of course.

What they wanted was to churn out workers. Drones. If you were not very bright, off to the factory. If you had a brain you could do office work. Nobody mentioned higher education. As if it didn't exist. None of us knew it was an option. When I tell people that now, they tell me I'm being ridiculous, but that's how it was at the time. You only know what you are taught.

As it was, my somewhat rebellious nature and a bad school clashed head-on, I was "asked to leave" and I left. I got the dreaded office job, civil service no less, and because it was military, there was a fun side to it. Still, it was terrible job, so I used my brain, and got a promotion.

I then went to work in an Unemployment Benefit Office. This was in 1981, at the time this was happening:

These images are recent, but it applied then as now. I was working among the people who were at the bottom of the pile, big burly grown men crying because they didn't know how to tell their children they were out of work AGAIN, and there were suicides of course. It cemented my left-wing heart.

We had been told all our lives that all you had to do was work hard and everything would be fine. Work hard in school, then go and get a job, and work hard, and you'll be fine. The work ethic that ordinary people are brainwashed with. You all know it.

But there was another side to it. The corruption wasn't only in government, in the established system. It was in everything. The unions were just as bad as the employers. Their leaders got rich off the workers just the same. They paid thugs to go in by the busload and beat up those who wouldn't strike.

Meanwhile, we had a busy fraud section at the UBO, as the scummier members of the working class tried to have their cake and eat it, taking jobs from their fellows, and still taking money from the system too.

And all the time, the fat cats at the top were doing just fine, thank you.

So there was the attitude of many of people...why work? We don't need to. The government will support us. The system is corrupt, fuck the system. So they did.

Except...it was never the government supporting them. It was the rest of us. The money that went to the benefit recipients did not come out of the pockets of the rich, it came from the masses, the taxpayers, the friends, families, and neighbours of those who had decided they rejected the system.

My rebellion ended there. I was never a supporter of that attitude, I couldn't be. No matter what is going on among the greedy, and you'd better believe I oppose the way money flows up. There never was a trickle down. http://chovblog.blogspot.ca/2013/03/why-youre-poor.html

So, it looks like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it? I acknowledge that the system is corrupt. Yet, I continue to work within it.

I have no control over the system, I'm just one woman. I therefore have a choice of living within it or fighting it, and I choose, for now, to live within it and write about it as my form of protest, as my contribution. Each must make his own decision as to how he will face this challenge.

You can fight. Power to you. Keep up the good fight. I will approve.
You can just get on with your life. Plod on. Accept the status quo. I will approve.
You can choose to leave the system, and manage without it. I will approve.

But if you are screwing others, I will not approve. If you are corrupt, diverting resources away from those who need it, to those who already have far more than they need, I will not approve.

I will not approve of those who choose not to be part of the system, but then steal from it. And that applies at all levels of the social strata.

When I say this I always get a reaction. That's fine. If you approve of those who BY CHOICE put themselves into a situation, where they do not, will not support themselves, and call upon others for their basic needs, you go right ahead and support them.

We've all had a friend or a relative who was a sponger. They always take, take take. Relying on charity. They need a place to stay, they need a meal, they need a loan, they need........and they ask, and expect people to help them out. And people do. Because we are kind, we are generous, and we are suckers. And if they can, they claim money from the government.

If it's not their fault, if they're in a jam, when times are tough, not a problem. I'll help anyone out who is on his uppers.

But if they wilfully, continually, and shamelessly live off alms from those around them, they are parasites.

Because this system that they eschew, which none of us really like, but are stuck with, has within it already limited resources due to the greed of the elite. They are already creaming off more than their fair share. We don't need any more pressures on what we have to go round.

Fortunately, these mendicants are also a minority. No matter what the right-wing media tell you, the vast majority of those receiving government assistance of some sort, are not doing so out of choice. I hope I've stressed that enough, because if I get anyone telling me this fact, I shall simply ignore it. I am as sympathetic as anyone to the plight of those that the system has shat on.

I am also fully aware (so, again, don't bother) that FAR MORE money is stolen from the community pot by the rich than by the poor.

The fact remains that the idealists among the mendicants give long flowery political justifications for their ways, and some people buy it. I'm not sure why. Not even hippies believed in sitting around doing nothing and waiting for others to feed and clothe them, some of them worked very hard in their communes. But these people simply refuse to work. They don't approve of it. Well, I don't approve of them. They are just as bad as the idle rich avoiding taxes. They are in fact the same critter.

If you want to opt out, do it properly. Fend for yourself. Let me know how that goes.

Postscript: A wise man. Worth watching.


  1. I didn't really understand the greed until the tornado hit Joplin a couple of years ago. People donated so much and so much of that went into pockets of people that didn't need help. I am not talking about scammers I am talking about Joplin city government members and Joplin school board members. And the people the money should have gone to get notices from the fat cats that they need to hurry up and rebuild or forfeit their property.

  2. As usual, I agree. How very boring. You are one of the few people I know who can see the yin in the yang and vice versa. I can't believe they were still pulling that sexist garbage in the seventies! Actually I had this experience in 1972 or so, in the Grand Forks period. I went to see the Employment office, it was called Manpower at the time, with the following request:"I have this useless degree in French langauge/lit, and no desire to be a High School teacher. I have a good mind, but tend to be clumsy. I would like to retrain for some sort of trade that uses my brain instead of my body." The reply:"How would you like to be a practical nurse?"

    1. Yes, a complete lack of imagination. What I actually did, if only for a short time, with my languages, was in the travel industry, and had I not been so keen to see more of my children, I could have made a lifetime career of it. But also nobody suggested anything like a trade (I'm good at construction), which is what makes our planet go round. No, sit at a typewriter and translate things.

  3. Coming from the "mind numbing" office milieu; any job is what you make of it. From a factory line, to construction, to the classroom and the office, if you know where to look, then you can create something for yourself using the system to your advantage.

    At this point in my life, I can say that none of the office positions that came my way were mind numbing. I learned something valuable in each and every one of them. No job is truly pointless, when a human being is involved.

    1. It's not a question of pointless, it's about how it affects me, personally. I had this conversation with Ashley the other week. He's just finished a business diploma and wants to do book-keeping. He's excited about it, this is his passion, his thing. I would rather slop out pigs. I agree that what you get out of a job is what you put into it, but not everyone is ideally suited to all jobs, and if you are in the wrong job, being content, never mind any chance of enjoyment is that much harder. I will be covering this a bit more in one of the blogs.