Sunday, November 20, 2011

Church of England takes a 'moral stand' against welfare reforms

The introduction of a cap on benefits, as suggested in the Welfare Reform Bill, could push some of the most vulnerable children in the country into severe poverty. While 70,000 adults are likely to be affected by the cap, the Children's Society has found that it is going to cut support for an estimated 210,000 children, leaving as many as 80,000 homeless. The Church of England has a commitment and moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice. As such, we feel compelled to speak for children who might be faced with severe poverty and potentially homelessness, as a result of the choices or circumstances of their parents. Such an impact is profoundly unjust.

We are urging the government to consider some of the options offered by the Children's Society before the bill is passed into legislation, such as removing child benefit from household income for the purposes of calculating the level of the cap and calculating the level of the cap based on earnings of families with children, rather than all households. The government could also consider removing certain vulnerable groups from the cap and the introduction of a significant "grace period" of exemption from the cap for households which have recently left employment.

The Bishops of Bath & Wells, Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, Leicester, Lichfield, London, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Wakefield and Truro

The above open letter appears in today's Observer, over which CofE bishops routinely pore on the Lord's Day as they partake of their English Breakfast tea and marmalade on toast. The letter was apparently written with the blessings of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who are of the opinion that the imposition of a £500-a-week benefit cap on families is 'profoundly unjust'.


His Grace would like a pad in Virgina Water, preferably on the Wentworth Estate. Failing that, a nice pied-à-terre in Kensington Palace Gardens would suffice. The reality, of course, is that his abode is commensurate with and proportionate to his meagre stipend: he has no expectation that the taxpayer should subsidise his desire to dwell in an area he cannot afford.

£2000 a month represents the average weekly wage for working households. Adopting the mean income would appear to be a manifestly fair way of apportioning welfare, the bill for which presently runs at £192bn a year. But the bishops are concerned that the reforms risk pushing thousands of children into poverty and homelessness. How in the name of St Gemma could an income of £2000 a month be considered poverty? Certainly, it won't be enough to pay a rent in Kensington or any major city. So move.

When it comes to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in society, the Government's measure of poverty is woefully inadequate. His Grace has said this before, but he will say it again for the economically obtuse. If poverty continues to be defined in relative terms, then Jesus was right to insist that the poor will always be with us. For when the average household income reaches £35,000, there will still be children being brought up in households where the income is a meagre £21,000, and thereby damned to be brought up in ‘Dickensian levels of poverty’.

The proportion of UK households defined as living in poverty has been around the 20 per cent through many decades of both Conservative and Labour administrations.

If the Conservative Party were intent on eradicating child poverty, or any other kind of poverty, they would first need to confront UN/EU/UK definition of the term and reassess how it is measured, for the social(-ist) scientists have being very busy moving the goalposts.

The bishops are right to highlight that subject of poverty, for it was foundational to the ministry of Jesus: he preached more about money than he did about eternal salvation. But when examining what he said about the poor, consideration has to be given to context and audience, and the nuances of Greek vocabulary also need examining.

What does Luke mean by ‘the poor’ (6:20)? The peasants who possessed little material wealth were not called ‘poor’ (‘ptochos’) if they possessed what was sufficient (ie subsistence) - they were termed ‘penes’. Jesus was (and is) concerned with the literal, physical needs of men (ie not just the spiritual [cf Acts 10:38]). When Luke was addressing the ‘poor’, he meant those who had no money - the oppressed, miserable, dependent, humiliated - and this is translated by ‘ptochos’, indicating ‘poverty-stricken…to cower down or hide oneself for fear’ - the need to beg. The ‘penes’ has to work, but the ‘ptochos’ has to beg. Those addressed by Jesus are the destitute beggars, not ‘penes’ or the general peasant audience of few possessions.

This is an important distinction upon which the bishops might like to reflect. The Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, said the unity of the bishops should convince the government to act: "We are proposing something positive rather than just saying something negative," he said.

Bishop, with enormous respect, being positive isn't the same as being right, just, fair or moral.


Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Ummmm .... yes. Another way to remove 'relative poverty' is to cap everyone's income at £20k per year. Hey Presto! No more poverty.

What bothers me about Housing Benefit most is that landlords are able to artificially inflate prices in certain areas because they know Local Councils will pay. This will address that and establish a fairer market.

Unfortunatly, as with every change, some families will suffer and some childre. Not quite the 'Highland Clearances' but still disrputive. And families on benefit will be competing with more and more working households who cannot access mortgages.

It is right to limit benefits and to lower the dependendency of some on the welfare state. How this cap of £500 per week will play out in areas like London and other parts of the South East with inflated rents remains to be seen. Bus loads of people heading up the M1 and M6?

20 November 2011 at 12:07  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Admittedly I don't have children but my household income is just above £1,000 a month (neither myself nor my wife have ever claimed any form of benefits). Whilst life is not exactly plush, we can maintain a perfectly reasonable standard of living (sans the "essentials" of ipad2s etc.). Obviously, I would expect households with children to have significantly greater expenses, so I'm not sure I disagree with the point that a cap of £500 a week is probably not going to help people living in the South East, but it would seem to be a reasonable benchmark for what people may expect as a minimum.

Beyond that, I have to say that I have no sense of entitlement. If I cannot afford something, I do not buy it. And if it's a choice between luxuries and essentials - the luxury goes. I remain bemused why so many other people find this offensive. The possibility remains to get a better paid job - and if that isn't realistically achievable, you just have to downscale your ambitions. I don't really see any alternative - nor do I see why it should be the responsibility of the State to furnish me with what others have earnt through their own work.

20 November 2011 at 12:39  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Proverbs 28:8 He who increases his wealth by exorbitant interest amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

20 November 2011 at 12:56  
Blogger langtrygirl said...

I would ask two questions in response to the above: Will the benefit cap achieve its stated aim of saving money? And are these measures fair?

The families forced to move due to being unable to afford their rents under the proposed changes will have to live somewhere. It has been reported that some inner London councils are already looking into 'block-booking' B&B accommodation in outlying areas of London/Kent in order to house them, with the bill also being payable from housing benefit. So, not much saving there. In addition, due to the exorbitant cost of travel, some people may be forced to give up their employment, thereby simultaneously depriving the Treasury of their tax payments and raising the amount they claim in benefit. (As I'm sure His Grace is aware, many people in work are also in receipt of certain benefits, especially housing benefit).

In addition to the above, there will be the human costs of these forced relocations - the loss of community, the disruption caused to children's educations, the impact on services at possibly under-prepared councils. The bill for the benefit cap will be high financially and socially.

The real winners in the current situation are not the benefit recipients-they gain shelter and sustenance, but they do not gain wealth. The winners are the landlords who have both a capital asset & a steady source of income. Would it not be more equitable to cap rents?

I would always bow to His Grace's superior theological knowledge, but my last observation is this; we are all born into the world dependent on the support and goodwill of those around us. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society, almost by definition-particularly in a society such as ours, where the ability to deploy material resources is increasingly essential to one's chance of progressing in life. Thankfully, we are no longer a country in which children are forced to be 'ptochos'-let us not punish them because their parents are merely 'penes' or workless.

20 November 2011 at 13:21  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

Christians around the world gather each Christmas to worship the “poor baby Jesus” asleep in the manger with no crib for his bed.

But the Bishops look inside that manger, and they do not see a poor baby at all.

They see a baby born into wealth because the kings visiting him gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. They see a messiah with so much money that he needs an accountant to track his wealth. They sees a saviour who wore clothes so expensive that the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled with each other to own them after his death.

God bless the Bishops of England

20 November 2011 at 13:26  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

...imposition of a £500-a-week benefit cap on families is 'profoundly unjust...

Cough - splutter - gasp @*#&?*#! and the C0E wonders why the nation does not take it seriously? - better to be in 'poverty' in the UK than in full time work paying taxes!

20 November 2011 at 14:17  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Perhaps the Bishops should look back at history and the days when parish relief was largely managed by the "overseers of the poor" usually the Vicar and churchwardens.
Most had a rule along the lines of "No person in this parish on relief should earn more than the lowest paid working man in the parish".
Note that, the "Lowest paid man", not the "average paid man".
And if they didn't belong to that parish, a removal order was issued, returning them to their parish of birth, another idea which could be usefully adopted, substituting "country" for "parish".

20 November 2011 at 14:41  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

His Grace forgets that the £500 per week benefits cap can indeed impose severe and inhuman hardship on families consisting of a father without functional English and marketable skills, three or four illiterate wives who cannot show their face in public and a dozen or more children. Get with the times, Your Grace!

20 November 2011 at 14:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The moral hazard in this argument is that it makes children into a vehicle for guaranteed income. Parents make bad choices but cannot be held accountable for those bad choices because that would inflict injustice on the children. In this circumstance, the welfare recipient trades his welfare income plus the leisure time it purchases against a potential salary when deciding whether to work. It considerably raises the amount of money he is willing to accept to move from welfare to employment. Since he probably does not have the market skills to command the salary he requires, he quite rationally chooses to stay on welfare. In order to incentivize the welfare recipient to work, the welfare payment most be low enough to offset the benefit of leisure time. To put it simply, you must make life on welfare miserable. Otherwise, you are giving people a decent standard of living simply because they breathe, and they will have no incentive to take low-paying hard work. Human nature being what it is, people will take that deal.

Paradoxically, the best way to maximize the benefit to children is to force parents to make good choices through the whip of economic necessity. Disconnecting work from leisure and comfort is a disastrous way to shape society. We don't like to say it, but pain is a wonderful teacher. You can say you are 'protecting the children' but what you are really doing is locking them in a morally and economically unsustainable situation. If a man can achieve a comfortable standard of living without effort, he will tend to do so. The implicit resulting tax on economic effort will raise the cost of goods and services and drive them to lower-cost markets. So you kill the very source of economic activity on which you depend to fund welfare. There are plenty of people in the world (cough) China ... India (cough) who understand the proper connection between work and leisure and are willing to put in the effort to receive that economic activity.

The actual source of welfare must not be entitlement but grace. It is entitlement that causes the moral hazard. That means you have to let people suffer the consequences of their bad decisions. The suffering will teach people to make good decisions and reduce the necessity for welfare over all. So then who is the rightful recipient of grace. The widow and the orphan. The blind and the cripple. Not the able-bodied man who would rather receive an adequate income for sitting home watching TV than see himself employed in a low-wage job. If children must be protected from this mechanism, then they must be removed from the home. The absolute worst thing you can do for the children is pay their parents simply to maintain a standard of living for their children. In practice, the money goes to maintain the standard of living of the parents. And that breaks all the natural incentives that people have to work.


20 November 2011 at 15:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...


20 November 2011 at 15:24  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

And on it goes.

20 November 2011 at 15:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

There is something deeply wrong with a country that actively calls for immigrants to come over to do the work our pampered benefit spongers refuse to do. There is something deeply wrong with a country whose young aspire to be ‘celebs’, with only little thought given on how to support themselves in the unlikely event they fail.

There will be enough observational comment on this thread, but the Inspector has always been one for offering solutions.

First. ALL regular benefit recipients to appear in front of a panel of three. The idea being to see what can be done to get them OFF benefits. And for God’s sake, no 21 year old sociology graduates on the panel – a minimum age of 30 required and no long term spongers either ! Appearance to be at least once a month. Anyone not prepared to get up and attend, no more cash.

Second. Scrap housing benefit as it is now, which is enriching some of the wealthiest people in the country. Remember, the rentable value of a property is only as much as individuals are prepared to pay for it in the market.

Third. Send our hard working immigrants home where practicable. And yes, the jobs will be there. This of course will mean cabinet ministers driving their Philippino maid to the airport, and picking up a Sunderland girl from Kings Cross. Yes – this new approach to our feckless is really going to hurt our Ministers of the Crown.

Fourth. Remind all and sundry of the phrases “we can’t afford it” and “making ends meet” and “saving up for it”...

Fifth. From the savings made, revive tax allowances for children...

20 November 2011 at 15:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Well done that Carl Jacobs, logic so eloquently put.

A quick word from the Inspector on marriage. Our sinful welfare system works against this essential unit. Miserable indeed should be the recipients existence. Less so those who manage to keep a marriage.

20 November 2011 at 15:47  
Blogger niconoclast said...

Even some of the do-gooding Socialist of yore like Octavia Hill believed in the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor and that nasty smelly indigent council dwellers should be kicked out of their dwellings and that having a job should be the precondition of accommodation if I am not mistaken.The bleeding heart liberals of today would probably dismiss her as a Thatcherite. Smilesian Self help has gone out the window.The poor will always be with us said some fellow or other.But does it not also say somewhere in that famous book 'you do not see the righteous begging for bread'?Are the bishops closer to God than Mr Cranmer in their Socialist zeal to cushion the poor from the realities of life?Is not Christianity and Capitalism incompatible?

20 November 2011 at 15:59  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Avi 14:54
Then they can just go back from where they came from if they cannot afford to live here.
£500 is more than adequate for a weekly rent.

If the Bishops are so worried about the standard of living slipping for a few, why don't they come up with ideas for job creation and innovation?

20 November 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Have you been reading up on the Victorian British 'Poor Law'? The 'deserving' and 'underserving' poor? God help us all if there isn't a better way of addressing welfare dependance!

Let them work or starve. Let them be miserable. Leave them to it and take their children away. If they can't afford medical care, let them die.

The approach you advocate, based on an extreme application of the protestant ethic, sure is building a healthy society in your own country.

Presumably, when the impact of your social policy bears fruit and the genuine ‘ptochos’ take to the streets you'll: "Give to the one who asks you, and ... not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."?

Just when are you expecting an civilian uprising in the land of the "Free and the land of the Brave"? The right to bear arms will come in handy.

We're just a little bit more aware of the implications of social policy over here. Yes, our welfare system has gone too far and we need to disincentivise benefit dependency but let's not abandon common sense.

20 November 2011 at 16:05  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Go and ponder this awhile. Tell me what it means.

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

I notice you did not have one answer for any point I raised. Just Sturm und Drang. Not surprising.


20 November 2011 at 16:17  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

langtrygirl, your concern is commendable and in many ways morally and practically sound. The modern economy requires some sort of a welfare system to provide stability in our society and to maintain opportunities or at least a chance for those caught up in its cogs. Given how the billions shovelled at capitalist cronies who have latched onto the "green" scams are also a form of welfare, a humane system to insure families can function with a modicum of decency would certainly be hard to argue against. Bureaucratic incompetence, social activist pipe dreams and abuses of the system, however, not only cost money, but mess with local and national economies, affect real estate rates and can have adverse, vicious-cycle inflationary effects...and that's without trying to calculate adverse social effects of being a welfare lifer. Obviously, there never will be a clear formula we can all agree on, and all we can do is that we will competently judge and adjust the type and amounts of assistance. Carl Jacobs, makes a good point about welfare recipients exploiting their children for

Regarding rent caps, though, you are essentially suggesting that government economists and social workers should have the power to mess with the housing and rental markets? It's been tried and the idea results either in inflating rents, when welfare is increasede, or in critical losses of low-rent property when the payments are kept low. I know quite a few people here in Toronto, who have sold or abandoned to the banks their rental properties simply because they cannot afford to provide the low rents expected by our social services. Maintenance, upgrades, rising costs of energy, proliferation of municipal regulations, licenses, fees, fines, insurance, legal expenses, pest control, damage to units and losses of months of rent and utility costs while waiting for very kind, progressive and generous judges (with other peoples' money, of course) to reluctantly issue eviction orders which cost the landlord yet more money have made low-cost housing a thing of the past. Several years ago I "invested" with a friend in a low-rent building. We fixed up the units, cleared the filthy backyard and installed benches and a play area for kids, build a wheelchair ramp and retrofitted a unit for a disabled person with the latest accessibity geegaws and treated everyone with respect. Within several months, all of the units were trashed, the backyard became a dog pooh-covered dump and the disabled guy dealt pot in the open, brought in stray dogs and bed bugs. Soon enough more than half the tenants stopped paying rent, the disabled dude got the municipality to force us to clean the dog pooh from his dogs in the yard and even in his unit, and since it was winter time, evictions could not happen for months, while we had to provide heating and unlimited electricity and water. After subsidizing everyone and losing quite a bit of money, we sold the building to a developer and actually managed to partially recuperate our losses. In a quick order, the new owner, who obviously had experience in this sort of thing, managed to clear the units in record time, knock down the building down and to build a high-rent commercial property. I drove by the building on the "day of reconing" and saw several sheriffs, piles of household goods being dumped on the sidewalk and agitated former tenants milling stupidly about with nowhere to go. A sad situation for which not only the tenants were responsible, but the entire system which allowed this to happen. As other landlords were getting out of this "business" for ever or simply folding and declaring bancrupcies, the town where this took place is now dealing with record homelessness. Noble ideas and good intentions can have very bad consequences when there are no adults around to make smart decisions.

20 November 2011 at 16:17  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Gosh, I had no idea that I was living in poverty all this time. How on earth do I manage to pay a mortgage, pay my bills, drive my Landy and afford to be able to eat on less than £500 per week?

It's not like I budget carefully rather than spend profligately is it.

Oh, wait...

20 November 2011 at 16:19  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Now, I'm no expert, but wasn't this letter written specifically to the new Christian community in Thehessalonica? I am not aware of it being a wider social teaching of St Paul.

Jesus taught a less contextualised message.

What points of your general argument didI not answer? I think I covered all of them. Economic forces and individualism will produce good upright citizens - yhe rest will starve.

20 November 2011 at 16:52  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Marie1797, I should employ the sarc on device, as I can be unclear at times. Actually, given that welfare ceilings for families in Toronto range between $800 to a maximum of $1,100 CDN per month, I find your benefit rates simply unbelievable. Why keep on trucking without seeing my family for weeks at a time, when I can get us over to picturesque Britain and have a decent life in front of the telly and with much better beer than here?

20 November 2011 at 17:01  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


but wasn't this letter written specifically to the new Christian community in Thessalonica?

Ah, yes. The old 'Paul didn't really mean that to be applied broadly' argument. For my sins I used to live in Southern California. You will find a lot of men standing on busy street corners in Southern California with cardboard signs that say "Please help." At first I gave them money unconditionally - until I discovered that men were making $200 a day tax-free on this scam. Do the math. That's $50K a year. That was 25 years worth of inflation ago, and it was considerably more than I was earning at my job at the time.

So I got wiser. When people asked me for money I started asking why they wanted it. They would usually say they wanted food. So I would offer to buy them food. That offer was almost universally declined. I remember specifically one woman who approached me in the parking lot of a grocery store and asked for money for food. I offered to buy her food in the grocery store right behind her. And she got mad at me. She didn't want the food, you see. She wanted the money. For drugs? For alcohol? I don't know. I left her there cursing me in the parking lot. Exactly one person accepted the offer of purchased food in all the times I offered it. And to him I gave money because I didn't want to shame him.

So was this woman the "deserving poor?" Should I have made no distinction? I will not give money to someone to subsidize an immoral lifestyle. I have no Christian responsibility to do so. I will not do so.

Oh, and just for the record. The Scripture is not a treatise on public policy. The moral imperatives placed on individuals do not extend to governments. The Sermon on the Mount is not an exposition on Good Government. If it is, you better start explaining how the officer of the law must turn the other cheek when he is stricken with a fist.

What points of your general argument didI not answer?

Ummm ... the entire moral hazard argument that I just made. Here, let me be specific. If a man can 'earn' £500 a week for doing absolutely nothing, why should he abandon that income and the leisure time it provides in order to find employment? If his marketable skills are not capable of commanding £500 a week, he would incur a significant drop in his standard of living. He would both earn less, and he would not have all that leisure time to spend as he sees fit. So what marginal increase in his income would be sufficient to overcome the benefit of idleness that his welfare check provides him? This is not a problem of 'welfare dependence.' It is a problem of subsidized idleness.

So answer then? How do you get around the moral hazard of idleness that comes with a guaranteed standard of living?

And you should remember one other thing. You cannot repeal gravity and you cannot repeal the laws of economics. People do not have a right to a certain standard of living. They have the right to receive what they can earn. There are lots of people in the world who would love to possess the jobs that fund these welfare benefits. The reality is that market forces will make that transfer inevitable if you make your economy unproductive and expensive by saddling it with entitlements. You can rail against this fact, but you can no more stop it than you can stop the tides. So choose what you want. But understand that not all choices are available to you.


20 November 2011 at 17:36  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

No, you were very clear and accurate. You not lived in UK lately?

“I find your benefit rates simply unbelievable. Why keep on trucking without seeing my family for weeks at a time, when I can get us over to picturesque Britain and have a decent life in front of the telly and with much better beer than here?”

So come on over why dontcha! Bring the family you wont have any bother gettin in, open boarders now you see. And as the kids grow up have a few more, we'll pay.

20 November 2011 at 17:41  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. a decent life [in the UK] in front of the telly and with much better beer than here?

...and who would blame you ! It’s somewhat cold and dark and damp in this clime for 4 to 5 months of the year. Certainly not the weather to be going out in, or even getting up for, you know.

We have the phenomenon of ‘crapumentaries’ over here. An interviewer, camera man and sound man, going around and, for example, talking to some of our feckless. What they have managed to siphon from the tax payer is never enough – always looking around for more. Shameless types ! Tis an abomination to watch, and that’s for sure...

20 November 2011 at 17:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

A funny anecdote. In the last Lebanese-Israeli conflict, when Israel attempted to stop the Hizbullah rockets from flying into its heartland and in the process apparently violated the civil rights of the Hizbollah family members, Canada discovered that it was responsible for thousands of "Canadians" living in th3e conflict zone. Ships were engaged, flights organized and the poor dears were brought "home" safe and sound to our caring busoms. What many found out through word of mouth and having friends in public service, though, is that a great number of aour repatriated "Canadians" were, ehem, on social assistance, pretending for years to be living in Canada. Being out of the country for over 6 months requires you to wait for reinstallment of medicare and defrauding social services is supposed to lead to a cut-off and even prosecution. None of this happened. The "refugees" didn't lose a single welfare payment and were immediately eligible for medicare on ministerial orders. Most of them eventually skipped back to Lebanon, where their Canadian benefits go much further than here.

Lots of people were understandably enraged over this and clamored for tougher checks on the abuses, but not I. I would, actually, like to see the government offer them free flights and to make it easier for this to go on; better to pay these types their pittance and send them nice care packages and flowers if it's going to keep them the hell away from here.

20 November 2011 at 17:56  
Blogger non mouse said...

Are you sure it's open borders for ex-pats, Canadians and Commonwealth citizens, Marie @17:41?

I thought only foreigners had that privilege: that is, people who are citizens of the euSSR and (theoretically) taxpayers there. Brits who've paid death duties and property taxes through and for different generations don't count, either.

Of course, I've heard tell that people can make 'arrangements' to get in by one of the euro doors...

WV: sicicill

20 November 2011 at 17:56  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Note: This might be a duplicate. One of my posts got lost in the ether.

but wasn't this letter written specifically to the new Christian community in Thessalonica?

Ah, yes. The old 'Paul didn't really mean that to be applied broadly' argument. For my sins I used to live in Southern California. You will find a lot of men standing on busy street corners in Southern California with cardboard signs that say "Please help." At first I gave them money unconditionally - until I discovered that men were making $200 a day tax-free on this scam. Do the math. That's $50K a year. That was 25 years worth of inflation ago, and it was considerably more than I was earning at my job at the time.

So I got wiser. When people asked me for money I started asking why they wanted it. They would usually say they wanted food. So I would offer to buy them food. That offer was almost universally declined. I remember specifically one woman who approached me in the parking lot of a grocery store and asked for money for food. I offered to buy her food in the grocery store right behind her. And she got mad at me. She didn't want the food, you see. She wanted the money. For drugs? For alcohol? I don't know. I left her there cursing me in the parking lot. Exactly one person accepted the offer of purchased food in all the times I offered it. And to him I gave money because I didn't want to shame him.

So was the woman in question the "deserving poor?" Should I have made no distinction? I will not give money to someone to subsidize an immoral lifestyle. I have no Christian responsibility to do so. I will not do so.

Oh, and just for the record. The Scripture is not a treatise on public policy. The moral imperatives placed on individuals do not extend to governments. The Sermon on the Mount is not an exposition on Good Government. If it is, you better start explaining how the officer of the law must turn the other cheek when he is stricken with a fist.

What points of your general argument didI not answer?

Ummm ... the entire moral hazard argument that I just made. Here, let me be specific. If a man can 'earn' £500 a week for doing absolutely nothing, why should he abandon that income and the leisure time it provides in order to find employment? If his marketable skills are not capable of commanding £500 a week, he would incur a significant drop in his standard of living. He would both earn less, and he would not have all that leisure time to spend as he sees fit. So what marginal increase in his income would be sufficient to overcome the benefit of idleness that his welfare check provides him? This is not a problem of 'welfare dependence.' It is a problem of subsidized idleness. So what say you? How do you address the moral hazard of idleness that comes with guaranteed income?


20 November 2011 at 18:12  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Indeed, Inspector, you wouldn't expect me to take up trucking in Europe, what with your anemic looking, tiny cab-over tractors and narrow roads. Give me my Kenworth with my well-furnished sleeper or give me the dole!

20 November 2011 at 18:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

If the border controls for NON EU individuals are in place. Could someone explain to this man why his west country town is lifting with Turks. Not blaming them mind, Turkey’s standard of living is just one third that of the UK (...presumably that would be a modestly paid tax payer, and not a wealthy multi child producing sponge). But if there was any justice, they would be herded into a container and shipped back...

20 November 2011 at 18:21  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

I'm afraid nonmouse may be right, Marie; Commonwealth citizens would have trouble being admitted. Half the fun is in claiming refugee status (impossible from Canada), which I'm sure gets one all sorts of goodies. But if I can fake a refugee story, I can certainly fake an accent and provide myself with several years of settlement funds and ESL lessons! UK, brace yourself, here I come!

20 November 2011 at 18:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. Hmmm ‘Refugee Status’. How about a UK Roman Catholic being persecuted on a protestant (...and God knows what else...) blog site, including hounding by an unspecified (...and certainly not ‘lovable’...) furry creature ?

20 November 2011 at 18:40  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

P3erhaps, Inspector our Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicators are kind and understanding souls, to the point of waiving curmudgeony admission requirements for several terrorists. There is one problem, though, two actually; admission standards for Brits are quite high and you are, I'm guessing, rather pale in appearance, yes? Now, if you were to intelligently utilize a tin of brown shoe polish and to make your way to Mexico for my next trip, I may be able to find a hidey-hole in my tractor trailer....

20 November 2011 at 18:53  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. No problem, and have even mastered a Peter Sellers Calcutta accent ("Oh goodness gracious me!"). Will turn up with a Thompson machine gun for good measure...

Incidentally, you seem to be hitting the ‘3’ a bit today. Uneven road no doubt. Might be an idea to pull over when typing !

20 November 2011 at 19:01  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

LOL! You're onto me, thou sleuth! I use a dashboard-mounted mini laptop and can use my right hand to type with without looking. And, I only do this on open highways with little or no traffic, or in cities when stuck in traffic or waiting to unload at docks, btw...if anyone has any ideas to duplicate my bad habit.

20 November 2011 at 19:11  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Btw, Inspector, if you're near your trusty Atlas, I'm bobtailing back from the town of Tobermory, Ontsario on Hwy 6 on the Bruce Peninsula, having just now passed Edenhurst.

20 November 2011 at 19:28  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Do not Google 'penes'!

20 November 2011 at 19:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Avi, somehow thought that you would be a Western Star man. Keep safe.

20 November 2011 at 19:54  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. Found you ! Amazing to think that massive stretch of water is fresh !

20 November 2011 at 20:05  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

O, bluedog, don't make me weep! Last year I was fortunate to team-drive in a gorgeous candy apple red WS "heritage style" (i.e., straight hood) tractor bristling with chrome and with a custom wood-panelled cockpit all the way to Edmonton. No air ride on the seat, though, and we're still looking for my kidneys. Today I'm suffering in a 1993 Volvo; biggest there is, I think, but with that ugly aero-dynamic downward-pointing hood and a dashboard designed to look like one on a family car. Yuk!

20 November 2011 at 20:25  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Considering that my income now I am retired is around a third of £500 a week, I would consider myself to be "in poverty" if it were not for the fact that my partner is in a well paid job. However, prior to my proposal ad her acceptance, I was struggling - and not entitled to a penny on "benefit" because I had dared to attempt to make provision for myself, as in buying a flat, the mrtgage for which cost almost as much as my monthly pension. No, I didn't plan it that way, but the collapse of the economy under that nice Mr Blair certainly didn't help.

There is something seriously wrong with our national thinking if we think it fair and just to pay an ever increasing "benefit" to a set of feckless parents producing numerous offspring (usually with multiple fathers) and demanding ever larger and more expensive housing at the taxpayers expense. Having raised three children of my own, gone through a divorce that left me penniless and homeless and having had to rebuild my life from there, I'm afraid I resent the largesse I am compelled to pay for while not enjoying any assistance myself from any of these organisations. I will add that I have been a Licensed Minister of the CofE for over 25 years, but have yet to have the church suggest it might be interested in helping me ...

I think it is high time the "baby factory" mums living on benefit get the same sort of response as the rest of us. "You will not get any further help than you already have. There are many other people in our society who need help far more than you."

What their Lordships and the Children's Society among many others fail to recognise is that many of those who "live in poverty" in our society, choose to place themselves there by adopting a lifestyle that includes excessive use of alcohol, drugs and self indulgence. As a result the children suffer - but, of course, their "Human Rights" to having children and keeping them in poverty (often abusing them as well) would be "impaired" by removing the children for adoption.

Living on a "sink" estate for a couple of years and working in the parish certainly opens one's eyes to a very ugly society ...

20 November 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

The Gray Monk
Yep, I guess a middle class background and, presumably, a Doctorate in Divinity doesn't really prepare one for mixing with the comman man or bringing God's message to them.

20 November 2011 at 20:42  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Yes, Inspector and you even get decent surf and unnerving undertow, especially on the shallow sandy beaches of the Georgian Bay. Everyone here dreams of Vancouver, BC, its warmer climate and dramatic mountains and I've been there many times, but I'm in love with Ontario, especially in the quiet winter months. Going off for now, folks, traffic's picking up and I want to make it home for dinner, so some creative clutching and shifting are in order.

20 November 2011 at 20:46  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Gray Monk makes an important point. The truly vast sums of public money are thrown at the irresponsible ‘single’ mother. She of course is encouraged by a lazy system that rewards her pregnancies. The Inspector suspects that these people score high on everyman’s Repulsive scale. The result of course, is mini repulsive girls for the next generation of taxpayer to look after, and in the case of boys, the courts to deal with...

Avi. A fair wind with you...

20 November 2011 at 21:21  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Amidst all this bemoaning of the feckless let's not forget this state of dependency has been created by the Fabain socialists. Let's also remember that the secular culture has undermined stable family living by encouraging divorce and immorality/

One of the proposals of the Bishops that has been overlooked in the mad rush to critise them seems reasonable to me:

" ... the introduction of a significant "grace period" of exemption from the cap for households which have recently left employment."

What can be wrong with this? Without this losing one's employment could result in homelessness and upheaval for families and children. Do we really want this? We also know that the stress from financial hardship is a significant contributor to divorce.

20 November 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

Hardy a theologically liberal closed shop. But a clean sweeep from the West Country, with Suffolk and most of Norfolk also covered, among other areas that, being rural, I have from time to time been told in all seriousness cannot, by definition, have a working-class population.

Once, there was the movement of those who have resisted enclosure, clearances, exorbitant rents, absentee landlordism, and a whole host of other abuses of the rural population down to the present day. Those who obtained, and who continue to defend, rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. Those who opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks, and who continue to demand that those services be reinstated. Those who have fought, and who continue to fight, for affordable housing in the countryside, and for planning laws and procedures that take proper account of rural needs. Those who object in principle to government without the clear electoral mandate of rural as well as of urban and suburban areas. Those who have been and who are concerned that any electoral reform be sensitive to the need for effective rural representation. Distributism and the related tendencies. And those who are conservationist rather than environmentalist.

Farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others organised in order to secure radical reforms. County divisions predominated among safe Labour seats when such first became identifiable in the 1920s, while the Labour Party and the urban working class remained profoundly wary of each other throughout the period that both could realistically be said to exist at all, with several cities proving far less receptive to Labour than much of the nearby countryside. Working farmers sat as Labour MPs between the Wars and subsequently. The Attlee Government created the Green Belt and the National Parks.

Real agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare (leading to safe, healthy and inexpensive food) as against “factory farming”, and it is a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market. The President of the Countryside Alliance is a Labour peer, Baroness Mallalieu, and its Chairman is a Labour MP, Kate Hoey. For at least three consecutive General Elections until 2010, few or no Conservative MPs were returned by the hunting heartlands of Wales, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Devon and Cornwall.

Those Tories utterly committed to the Church of England, Shaftesbury and Wilberforce, used the full force of the State to stamp out abuses of the poor at home and slavery abroad, both of which are now well on the way back in this secularised age. Upper and upper-middle-class people joined the early Labour Party precisely because their backgrounds and involvement in the Church of England made them familiar with the importance of State action against social evils, and they used their new party as a platform from which to defend Establishment against Liberal assaults. The House of Lords inflicted a cross-party defeat on Thatcher’s attempt to end Christian religious instruction in state schools.

Today, who will take up in the realm of party politics the evident re-emergence of these vitally important, but (with the partial exception of Wilberforce) almost completely ignored, tendencies in our history and heritage? All three parties might have done, but two of them have made that impossible for themselves. The third, however, has defeated the contrary forces by defeating Blairism at its last Leadership Election. Ed Miliband, over to you.

21 November 2011 at 00:51  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

21 November 2011 at 05:51  
Blogger non mouse said...

@ 0051, Mr.Lindsay writes: "Ed Miliband, over to you." Right. As a descendant of recent migrants from communist euroland, Miliband is not indigenous British--- which qualifies him admirably for his role in puppet government.

We already accept that massive proportions of our taxes maintain the euSSR and its placemen. All the remainder should also go to our Masters: if the yoke of euroland leaves nothing behind for Charity, 'enough already.'

Have we not conceded that the sooner the British are eradicated the better... ?

[PS: Irony alert]


WV: wigan [=oe to fight, wage war]

21 November 2011 at 05:57  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Avi @ 20.25, not surprised to hear that you recognise real quality. Not so much a truck, more a cultural statement. I can imagine a Volvo would be pure euro-pansy by comparison.

21 November 2011 at 08:50  
Blogger Mark In Mayenne said...

I also like the US system whereby your amount of benefit is calculated in relation to the number of children you have when you first claim. If you have more children later, no increase in benefits

21 November 2011 at 08:54  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr David Lindsay @ 00.51, there's so much in there, including everything that's wrong with the Labour party today. It is truly said that Labour used to represent the cream of the working class, but has been taken over by the dregs of the middle class.

Let's take couple of points as exemplars of middle class confusion. 'Absentee landlordism'. You just throw this in as one of a number of 'abuses' of rural populations. Now start thinking very carefully and precisely. Are you suggesting that property rights should be differentially based on proximity? If so, how do you define proximity? Are you an absentee landlord when you leave your flat to go on holiday? If you follow the logic it leads directly to a situation where all land is owned by local collectives, possibly the dream of yourself and Comrade Miliband.

'Real Agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities.' Since when? Apart from your failure to define 'Real' as opposed to unreal or surreal agriculture, you seem oblivious of the fact that farming is a capital intensive business. Businesses are owned by individuals, families and other interests and the key to success is very simple: the return on capital employed must exceed the weighted average cost of capital.
Now if a farm does not achieve that it goes broke once the shareholders equity has been exhausted. That, my friend, is the Real World. Fortunately Labour governments are good at triggering inflation so that the value of rural land appears to rise, which keeps farmers ahead of the bank.

Have you thought of settling in France where the CAP perpetuates farming as a theme park and a sheltered workshop at the British taxpayer's expense?

21 November 2011 at 09:24  
Blogger James Reade said...

It's probably much too much to expect someone who pompously adopts for himself the title of a long-dead "high priest" to take a humble, non-judgemental and evidence based stand on matters such as this.

A man well versed in his Bible as much as an Archbishop should be will know better than I where the appropriate passages are relating to whose it is to judge, and my limited recollection is that the answer is that it's God's, not man's.

Certainly not man's without any evidence to support assertions about the luxury with which benefit claimants are living on. Could we have some links please? My suspicion is you live in the south of England, an area in which monthly rents and all associated utility costs will easily eat up 50% of that £2000 if not much more, before we even get to food bills and other essentials.

It's interesting that the word inflation doesn't even enter your post. Because of inflation, the definition of poverty has to move; whether it should move with mean/median income is another matter, but I suspect a Biblical case could easily be made for that - much as right wingers think that poor people should just get on with it, we live in a fallen world and the likelihood of poor people just getting on with it in a more and more unequal society is unlikely.

It's really hard to see where arbitrary caps in benefits such as those proposed, for the weakest and poorest in society (stop focussing on the few examples the Daily Mail manages to pull out each week and actually take a look beyond whatever it is you have for breakfast on a Sunday morning) is going to achieve a society where those nearer the bottom don't feel there's a rather large and unbridgeable gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Of course, more drastic measures are required. But to think up such measures involves looking at the data, looking at the structures, and doing so without the prejudice against the poor (idle) that laces this post.

I don't know whether these Bishops are right, but their speaking up for groups that are neglected by someone purporting to be of the cloth then pontificating without bothering to look beyond his Daily Mail is commendable.

21 November 2011 at 10:14  
Blogger Nowhere man said...

£2000/mth is more than the average when you consider that it is not taxed, they do not have to pay commuting costs and they continue to receive other benefits such as free school meals and travel.

The bishops not only demonstrate how out of touch they are - but how stupid.

21 November 2011 at 10:27  
Blogger Theo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

21 November 2011 at 10:44  
Blogger Theo said...

Am I right in assuming that the majority of signatory bishops were appointed during the last labour administration and that a bishopric is in the gift of the Prime Minister.

It seems that their graces do not take seriously the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" (even to pay the voters to keep the thieves in power)

Taxation to redistribute to whoever one thinks is entitled to largesse is simply theft. I am quite capable of feeling compassion for the poor and distributing to them what I feel is necessary, but I would prefer to make my own judgement as to where my money goes.

21 November 2011 at 10:51  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr James Reade @ 10.14, recently this communicant attended a presentation by the chief executive officer of an important Christian charity. Expecting the standard rant about something must be done because we are not doing enough, I was astonished to be told that we are doing too much.

This CEO drew on the contribution to western thought by those economists who have introduced the principle of 'incentives'. The CEO was adamant that in general, western liberal democracies were getting welfare badly wrong by creating incentives for people to game the welfare system rather than to become tax payers. The rewards for work should be higher than the rewards for manipulating the system. Until they are, the entire welfare and benefits system will remain out of control. Interestingly, the Chinese said the same thing when they declined to finance the EMU bailout fund.

It is therefore suprising to find other Christian leaders such as these CofE bishops seemingly unable to accept that the system is broke. Certainly most western democracies have been sent broke by feckless politicians who sell the tax-base multiple times to the electorate in the form of benefits.

Now if those at the bottom of the heap feel they have no chance of catching up, they are quite right. Forty years of Marxist influence in public education has been successful.

21 November 2011 at 10:55  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Is James Read making a serious point or simply chewing a cassock? Thousands of people living on benefits in the over expensive South East do so out of choice. If the benefits did not act as an ever escalating enabler they would have to support themselves by their own efforts and landlords would have to set their rents more realistically to suit the real market price.

Take the sugar off the table and the freeloaders will think twice.

21 November 2011 at 11:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the nuance of claimants' individual circumstances is lost in the exchange of fire here. I don't accept all James Reade's points, but then I also think that the some of the usual right- wing commentators here would like to see all benefits abolished and would enjoy the sight of the poor back in debtors prisons... It's refreshing to see Dodo not amongst them though - Well done that man. I'm also interested in your willingness to take a contextualised reading of the Bible (but we'll save that one up for future debates! ;-))

I can't help feeling that part of the problem here is principal- agent based. The people authorising benefit payments (agents) don't really have any strong incentives to reduce the number of people receiving them. In fact, their jobs are more necessary the more benefit claimants that there are. Whereas the principal (the taxpayers) have an incentive to see benefit claimants contribute to the pot.

A centralised, one size fits all approach to benefits encourages the state to treat everyone the same (which some of you will complain I'm usually in favour of with my wacky 'gay marriage' views) but I do think benefits should be given according to need (as distinct from desire).

I can't help feeling that this is a classic example of where localism could be best. There are risks to this strategy - such as random bias against individuals or families by a locality, but on balance, people close by have a greater incentive to help their fellow man than a faceless bureaucrat hundreds of miles away does, and also a greater incentive to assist their fellow man on the journey from benefit recipient to tax contributor (provided that significant elements of the benefit pot are raised from local taxation).

I would be interested in a strategy that helps to narrow the gap between claimants and contributor whilst protecting the latter from vindictive elements in the former.

21 November 2011 at 12:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a comment which appears to have disappeared...

What I think I remember saying was that I was concerned that, in this debate, the truth is lost between two positions - those for whom benefits always represent a sop to the feckless, and those who regard any attempt to alter the status quo as a an attack on the poor. (Also, I noted that it was interesting that Dodo has adopted a contextualised reading of the Bible in these circumstances - and noted that I would save this for later ;-))

My issue with benefits isn't really their amount, it's the principal agent problem. The people at benefits offices (agents) have no real incentive to reduce the amount of benefits paid - their jobs are more necessary the more benefits are dispensed. Meanwhile, the taxpayers (principals) have every incentive to reduce benefits provided that the gains from doing so aren't outweighed by other social costs.

I strongly feel that there is a case that localism could play a part here - whereby local taxation and benefits are administered to ensure that physical and financial distance between those people raising money and those distributing is minimised. Annoyingly, I'm sure I explained it better last time, but, assuming we could design a system whereby we could limit the chance that claimants would unfairly treated by a locale, people nearby would be better placed to ensure that benefits were allocated according to need (as opposed to desire) and to encourage claimants back into the job market.

Anyway - I'm sure it was wittier and better explained last time. Bloody blogger!

21 November 2011 at 13:38  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Inspector, "...a fair wind with you." Thank you! Now, I do like that one. Beats "keep yer wheels on the road" and such. I will have to adopt it, you understand. Poetic and with a whiff of the romance of sea faring. Suits my self-created and carefully maintained road persona.

Bluedog, you hit the bull's eye: "Not so much a truck, more a cultural statement." There isn't really a big difference between the machines once you are hauling. The Volvo is a decent tractor and has probably the best factory sleeper cabins, but yes, it's that made-in-damn-Yurup look, that strain to look stylishly "cutting-edge" in comparison to our clunky, garishly chromed and airbrushed proletarian beasts that sets the old timers' teeth on edge. Not that I'm an old-timer, though.

And another bulls-eye, bluedog, with your deconstruction of David Lindsay's visions shared by the remnants of the agrarian parties and their real base, the philosophically conflated commies and fascistas of the Continent. The maudlin dream of the happy craftsman and crofter labouring, by the sweat of his honest brow, for the glory of G-d and the cause of the Holy Envir-nment. Raising happy chattel and wholesome crops at a "fair" price from his unmoving and immovable place in the assigned Orders. Sheltered from the caricatured middleman, with a modest but ostensibly guarateed income as long as he and his keep to their time-honoured station. A recipe for a famine in any age or place.

21 November 2011 at 14:22  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Every now and then someone it's Jon, yesterday it was me... loses what feels like one of the best of posts. This usually happens when the word count is exceeded and clicking by habit blows away the beloved magnum opus to Kingdom Come, as they say.

Always remember a simple safety protocol, kids. Every few minutes do a select (ctrl a), copy (ctrl c), and if things go awry, paste (ctrl p). The trick, though, is to remember to do it.

21 November 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger Elby the Beserk said...

For James Read (2009)

The state will pay out more in social security benefits than it raises from workers in income tax this year, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The stark evidence of the growing imbalance between what the Government raises and what it spends is likely to intensify the political row over the public finances and may strengthen calls for cuts in spending.

Treasury figures show that welfare payments will exceed income tax receipts by almost £25 billion. Normally, income tax receipts comfortably cover the benefits bill.
In 2008/09, gross income tax receipts were £152.5 billion. In the same year, social security benefits cost the Exchequer £150.1 billion.

In 2009/10, the Treasury is expecting to take in £140.5 billion in gross income tax receipts. Social security benefits are projected to be £164.7 billion.

Do you think this is sustainable, and if so, how? I'm all ears.

21 November 2011 at 15:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turns out mine re-appeared and wasn't as good as I remembered. Ah well...

21 November 2011 at 16:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elby - do your figures include national insurance?

21 November 2011 at 16:10  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Do these figures include the universal old age pension? Given the demographic imbalance in the UK with more pensioners than workers, maybe it's time to consider means testing this.

Do all people over the age of 65 years need this payment from the State along with bus passes, winter fuel allowances, TV licenses, free presciptions and sundry other benefits?

Yes, I know, National Insurance "paid" for it (allegedly), its a "contract", people planned their retirements on the expectation of getting it, and its an "entitlement". But remember these payments are available regardless of need - to millionares and paupers alike.

No government would dare even raise this as a possibility because they would lose power. The price of democracy!

21 November 2011 at 16:32  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Catholic social teacing, my man. Take a look at the key texts about social justice. However, don't expect me to shift anytime soon on Christian teaching about individual morality. The messages of Jesus on both are firmly rooted in the Old Testament.

Many of St Paul's letters to the new Christian communities address specific issues facing the emerging church. A point repeatedly overlooked by protestant exegesis.

21 November 2011 at 16:46  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

YES, YES, YES, YES, You're Grace.
Hold on; is that my right wing Tory thinking coming out?
Where is my social conscience in all this. carl jacobs wrote 'Parents make bad choices but cannot be held accountable for those bad choices because that would inflict injustice on the children'.
The Chinese would deal with this by a one child policy or compulsory sterilisation.
So where do we go from here? Other commentators have referred to the traditional role of the Church in caring for the poor but that has now mostly been relegated to the Crown.
It is right that the Bishops should be concerned, but their involvement would be better served if they were unified in their doctrine and pursued the propagation of the Gospel more vigorously.
The renowned 20th C author A. Hilton wrote, ‘Christians should always be prepared to contend for justice, truth and liberty’. He goes on to say that when these are ignored, the world gets darker and man gets more Godless. The problem with this is that in society today these values indeterminate. One man’s truth is not another man’s truth.
The only invariable values are those of God as expressed in The Holy Bible. That is why we need a Government of integrity with a Judaeo/Christian conceptual background.

21 November 2011 at 17:04  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Avi Barzi;
I think I just saw you on Google Earth, Street view.

21 November 2011 at 17:13  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Integrity, that's remarkable and potentially very helpful to me. I've been messing with my timing belt, suffering the manual valves adjustment nightmare on my personal Japanese 4-wheeler toy and in a rush to finish the job, broke off two sparkplugs. In the resulting process of hurling objects unfortunate to find themselves within my reach, I appear to have misplaced my last No 10 wrench somewhere on my overgrown lawn. If you spot it, please send coordinates.

21 November 2011 at 17:44  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

It has been suggested that right wingers on this thread want to impoverish the poor, the feckless and the idle. Not so. This one observes that it is the liberal left wing who effectively says to these career benefit claimants, “here’s your money, now get out of our sight”.

The rest of us want to ‘help them to help themselves’. Give them an incentive to go out and experience the dignity of work, contributing as they can to society, and not just spend their lives consuming.

‘No work, no eat’ – universally understood that one, in the real world.

21 November 2011 at 17:57  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

It's even worse than that, Inspector. Methodically and incrementally and with only a few well-placed "social justice" policies the left has succeeded in creating a massive and permanently dependent sub-class, a bona fide culture of poverty which has trapped millions for several generations. Why anyone would do that becomes clear only when we look where we are not allowed to and see social work for what it is in material terms: A lucrative growth industry for an educated and politically indoctrinated lower middle class, with guaranteed-by-the-taxpayer returns and seemingly unlimited help and support from governments, the judiciary, the police and the media. This industry sector offers lifetime employment and benefits to its guild of practitioners and freedom from the ups and downs of the marketplace. Even a massive asteroid collision or an out-of-control thermonuclear war will not shake this lot; glowing cockroaches and two-headed social workers on inflation-indexed pensions shall inherit the Earth.

21 November 2011 at 19:00  
Blogger Elby the Beserk said...


No idea. No idea either why you should think they are "my" figures. Did you read the article? I suspect not, as NI is not yet classed as a tax, tho' we all know it has been such for years. Regardless, I'd love to hear you tell me if you think this is sustainable, and if so, how?

21 November 2011 at 19:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. Man the individual is a fairly stupid animal. And if he has any saving grace, he will recognise that. But what’s this ? Apparently, if he attends university and gets a degree (...of learning, often low...) he is in fact ‘educated’. So wearing his sandals and silly beard he takes a job in the Welfare Dept in the 1970s. Tragedy strikes 15 years later – he’s running the dept, and to our ruin. He thinks he’s quite good too, it looks like someone called ‘taxpayer’ will underwrite his generosity....

By the by, a fair wind with you comes from the Inspector’s motorcyclist days. He was for a quarter of a century, a ‘gentleman motorcyclist’ (...and not a ‘biker’, he’ll have you know...). To get a fair wind when you were riding modestly powered British types made all the difference. Those chaps on high powered Japanese machines wouldn’t have noticed. It was all about quality then, not quantity; being at one with the road and elements, not screaming past at 80 mph....

21 November 2011 at 20:17  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

A true motorcyclist! I do know what you mean. My Mom's uncle, a radiologist living modestly in Eastern Europe, was one of those dedicated "bikers" with a love of the machine and the roads. He rode a rumbling, dark red Czech Java from the early 60s with great skill and an odd tenderness for the machine. Took me on countryside tours from time to time and after becoming comfortable with the movements and turns and stopped strangling him as I held for dear life, I learned to appreciate that oneness with the road you mention. I tried a motobike a few times and totally chickened out. I didn't have the knack and felt that my judgment was too slow and poor, with my tension and outright cold fear leading me to dangerous moments of indecision and a few close calls I still cringe at. Not a machine for everyone. A friend I had in high school here in Toronto, a Londoner with the funniest Cockney expressions one can imagine, introduced me to the lore of the modestly powered British motorbike. He even got himself a grasshopper-green 500 cc Triumph "Adventurer," which wasn't easy to get in Canada. Alas, he became a figure of fun to the Harley and the Japanese racer show-offs, found it hard to find parts and gave it up after a while. We live in shallow and crude times.

21 November 2011 at 20:52  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi. The Jawa CZ 250 was the very first motorcycle the Inspector stripped down, and reassembled. He was one of 3 spotty youths at the time. No idea why we did it now, but sure there was a reason. The Inspector had to give up motorcycling due to the poor road sense of the young car drivers, and that was a few years ago. Lost his nerve thanks to their antics...

Looks like you are this blogs site’s choice for British PM. And of course there is a vacancy for a conservative PM as we don’t have one at the moment. When you land on our soil, we’ll join you. We could call it the ‘Glorious Revolution’ - what !

21 November 2011 at 21:45  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Inspector, whatever next! Good to hear that you sharpened up your stripping down skills on motorcycles. Didn't always work out, did it?

But seriously, this communicant started on the same path. Aged 15, to his father's utter fury, this communicant paid 15 quid for a 1934 Norton ES2 in partially restored condition. The intention was to put it on the roads, but various bribes were tendered and accepted that prevented an early demise. Despite that we set up a motor cycle club at school where the Norton was kept and a lot of unregistered riding on quiet back roads took place.

I've still got the Norton.

21 November 2011 at 22:49  
Blogger Berserker said...

A lot of pensioners have to survive on very little money and a lot of these started work at 16! They didn't go on the whole Peter Pan experience of long secondary education, then UNi or College then a gap year. We always hear about the ageing population demographic but most people don't start paying taxes until they are 23 or 24 years. So can we hear a little less about the ageing population burden and more about the perpetual child adult that now festers in our society. Everyone should start work at 16 and work for say five years before going on to further education. Most school leavers and graduates can't write a simple letter

On the radio the other day there was a graduate moaning about not getting work although she had been applying for over a year. I believe she was a chemistry graduate. But how come my dentist is a young Hungarian, a delivery man for an online food company is Polish and there is a Roumanian who etc etc. Not to mention farm and hotel workers. They all get jobs, even with sometimes less than perfect English.

21 November 2011 at 22:49  
Blogger IanCad said...

I'm sorry YG but this thread has drifted so far off topic that it is now open season.

Avi; to enlighten those across the pond allow me to link to an UltraBeast that you may or may not drive.

My hat is off to you Sir!

21 November 2011 at 23:16  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 November 2011 at 00:06  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

You're not telling me the likes of Philip and Elizabeth Windsor 'need' their old age pension? Or all those greedy bankers with the big pay offs?

Nobody's saying deny the pension to those who need the benefit, just apply a means tests. There are more people over 70 years of age now being supported by a diminishing working population.

All those on 'gold plated' public sector pensions above £30k per year could be excluded - including MP's and senior civil servants. Similarly, private pensions above that level too.

Seems fair and sensible to me.

22 November 2011 at 00:09  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Avi and Inspector

A cross Atlantic Union

At 1am Greenwich meantime get your heads shaking and at the top of your voices scream:

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightnin'
Heavy metal thunder
Racing in the wind
And the feeling that I'm under

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climbed so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climbed so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

22 November 2011 at 00:16  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Inspector and Bluedog,

Everyone seemed to be stripping and rebuilding their bikes back in the day. No more of that, what with the fancy new machines you need an engineering degree and an electronics consultant to eben look at the things.

A Prime Minister? Me? There's been talk? That means my application to serve as your monarch, King Avraham I, isn't doing very well, is it? Her Majesty never even got back to me for the first interview. O, well, as PM the full nationalization of the scotch distilleries is still on, and I'm adding a grab for the North Sea herring fisheries and the only butcher shop in the world that makes kosher haggis. After these essentials are out of the way, we'll handle Yurup.

22 November 2011 at 02:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

O, MrIanCad, that's sure pretty. I've driven straight-top Kenworths a few times, but for short trips. I'm a big fan of Peterbilts too. I mostly use a Volvo 780 like this one: I do like the roomy sleeper with plenty of storage nooks, that's about it. That, and the size and the bulbous look which seem to scare four-wheelers (or, "roller skates") away from getting underfoot better than most.

But no need to doff your hat, Sir. Some shifting practice, air brake certification and about 6 weeks, and most everyone can do it well enough to get to places and back into loading docks without rolling over anything or anyone. Rest of it is experience, stamina and love for the road!

Sorry, Dodo, all this machine talk can be terribly boring for me, about five years ago when I rode a computer. The truck talk isn't entirely off-topic. Trains, with their confined paths, huge infrastructures and teams of unionized specialists to make them move are for liberals; tractor-trailers, riding at will and driven by independent folk are for conservatives. Now there's deep political thought for you.

Thanks for the lyrics to that Steppenwolf classic! I don't think I've ever seen them in one place or knew all of the lines, and most of us just mouthed the words. If we could even manage that, given the circumstances around which we groved to Born to be Wild.

22 November 2011 at 03:30  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Me I was Greece, Turkey and India 'Back in the Days'; no time
or money for machines. Then after 2 years of wandering, literally and metaphorically, home, some recuperation, worked for a couple of years and onto University.

Happy Daze.

22 November 2011 at 10:09  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo: hm, I might have guessed, a bloody Jesuit hippy! ;o)

22 November 2011 at 18:29  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

Oswin, can one be a Jesuit and a hippy?

22 November 2011 at 19:00  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo: Well admittedly, it sure stretches the imagination. Were you 'on a mission' perhaps: have stiletto, will travel ... albeit somewhat slowly?

23 November 2011 at 16:50  
Blogger Dodo's Way said...

I never inhaled, ever. Honest!

23 November 2011 at 17:52  

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