Thursday, 22 October 2015

Beggar's Banquet

There’s an abnormally strong whiff of envious malcontent in the air and the usual non-sequiturs are doing the rounds:

Boo hoo: the Chinese president rides around London in a golden carriage – why do we tolerate that while there are homeless people in those streets?
Boo hoo: look at that lavishness of that state banquet – how dare people dine like that while some people are nearly starving?
Boo hoo: even though we have no idea what the price of energy will be in the future, how dare the ‘cruel Tory government’ take such expensive steps to secure our fuel needs for the next fifty years? (The absurd counter proposal is that they should invest that money in the entirely uncertain output from wind farms, whose figures are rigged and which make rich landowners richer.)

Meanwhile, in many parts of the world people literally die from starvation, not from going two days without a KFC bargain bucket. Homes by the thousand are swept away by floods and landslides and tsunamis and earthquakes in countries whose governments are powerless to help. Despotic rulers disappear their detractors and whole populations are driven to desperate measures to escape wholesale slaughter. And if you ever see a satellite picture of the earth at night, only the wealthy margins of the populated world have any electricity at all.

But - boo hoo - 2.25 million Londoners are ‘living inpoverty’. Oh, do fuck off; the numbers are meaningless, our measure of poverty is absurd, but underlying it all is a common thread – the cloth of gold called entitlement. From where came the notion that everybody deserves so much? Nobody owes you a living. Nobody even owes you life. But you’re here now and if you spend it all waiting for somebody else to fend for you, you will die disappointed. But if you are fortunate enough to possess all your limbs and your faculties, you might want to consider the pecking order for aid while you’re waiting...

The national cake is only as big as we can bake it – no, Labour, borrowing is not free money, you still have to pay for it. So after covering the costs of roads, schools, hospitals, police, defences, etc whatever is left is all there is to go round. Where do you put yourself on a scale of leukemia sufferer to multiple amputee? Is your home an exposed park bench or a cosy squat? Does an adult with a lifelong mental age of four deserve more help than a life’s-end Alzheimer’s sufferer? Do you think of the children or the cancer ward when you give to charity? Is your new hip more important than her new lungs? Who gets the single donor heart when four are needed?

Look deeper and you can go on and on and on – everybody wants a piece of that last slice of cake – in comparison, how great is your need? Nobody in Britain actually starves except by the direct neglect of others. If you’re concerned about feeding you eleven children did you stop to consider for one moment who was going to have to go without so that you could have what you wanted? What unique and debilitating condition do you possess that makes you so much more deserving than others? Just how much of other people’s money do you think you should have.

Ed Miliband demonstrates the extent to which Labour can really help.
Thanks very much... I'll have two quid.

So, it’s a shame for the steel workers and homelessness is a national shame and dear oh dear the bloated NHS still has only days to live. But if you can’t see that we must live within our means and that by lavishly welcoming potential contributors to our national bake off we are spending millions to gain billions your argument for the spending to come your way is somewhat short on logic. My suggestion? Unless you absolutely rely on others for your every living need, the first place you should look for help is in the mirror.