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.