Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This is modern London?

I leave London for three weeks and this is what happens? I've been following the riots online and through sensational American television and I'm just stunned. I've been concerned about returning to a crazy city but have been assured our 'hood is all right. I read that they closed the Hampstead High Street stores early the past few days and that really set me on alert.

Rioting and looting is something I don't understand at all. I understand frustration at have social services taken away and being unhappy with your station in life, but attacking your own city, your home, destroying your neighbours property and businesses, stealing things in a free-for-all frenzy is just barbaric.How 14th century of them.

The socialized system in England has its benefits and its flaws, its not perfect, certainly. I don't have any answers on how to fix it. But here's a little glimpse into ONE family I know (her children  used to go to school with Cate.) A lovely lady, around 25 years old, has three children 2-7 years old. She has a live in boyfriend. Neither is working. She cannot work because she has a 2 year old to care for and can't afford daycare. She is on the dole. She receives council housing and a monthly stipend that is to feed, clothe and care for her and her three children. Her boyfriend went to trade school to become a security guard/bouncer. When he was offered a job for £8 an hour as a bouncer, he turned it down. It wasn't enough money for him to get off his ass and support his family. He doesn't have any source of income and takes his girlfriend's monthly government cash (that's right - she is paid in cash - no food stamps, or checks, etc.) to spend on cigarettes and beer, his iphone, etc. She scrapes by trying to keep enough food on the table and her kids happy. She cannot do anything for herself. Yet she keeps this loser around and let's him call the shots. He doesn't help with the kids - he doesn't pick them up from school or watch the little one so she can go to the store alone. He does NOTHING. He wants more but won't go out to find a job for himself.

My council tax and income tax pays for him. This enrages me on two levels. She's smart and could work but is stuck in a pattern that she can't break free from - so why not dump the loser and do better? And he can coast in the system with no urgency to get a job. He is the mentality of the rioters - feeling like the world owes him something just for existing but doesn't want to do anything for himself (in my opinion)

This to me is a clear indication that the UK needs to restructure how they deal with the unemployed, etc. As I said, I have no answers - but would be very interested in hearing what other people think about this.

I could go on and on but this is not a political blog so I'll keep it mild. I just know that I am forever striving to do better for myself and my children. I only want the best education, care, food, and experiences for them. We moved to London to explore a new culture and travel through Europe so our children would be more worldly (and because Fen and I have wanderlust - always have). Why wouldn't everyone want the same, or simliar for their children? Doesn't everyone want their kids to do better than they did? I do. How 'bout you?


  1. I agree with your comments about the over-generous benefits system in the UK, but the looting and rioting is no longer restricted to that country. After Hurricane Katrina, while there were people breaking into stores for badly needed food and water, there were also thugs running off with 54" plasma TVs and other electrical items that were completely useless given that the city had no power.

  2. I enjoyed this post. I agree wholeheartedly.

    p.s. So sorry about your sister.

  3. Your friend sounds like she needs to dump the loser. If he can't even be bothered to get on jobseekers allowance that's not good. I'm extremely grateful that we have the system we do, but it is meant to be a safety net, not a long-term solution.

  4. Why wouldn't everyone want the same good stuff for their kids? Not everyone is good. In fact, good is not the natural human state. Good takes work, effort.
    Cross, if you want to say more political, you can comment at mine and keep this blog politics free if you like. I'm always happy to do political.
    Alex, welfare is always meant to be a safety net, but when govt does welfare, long term entitlement is what happens. Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I wrote lots today, but too tired to link. I am home. Its almost 3am. Perhaps sleep...

  5. Interesting. On the whole I think our 'socialised' system is a good thing - i think it's shocking the way people can fall through the net in the US, without things like health insurance. But yes, there are always people who will take advantage.

    I've just blogged on whether it could ever happen here - would be interested to hear your take.

  6. Interesting. I agree that the riots have revealed an attitude of "life owes me", but I also think it's a lot more complicated. There's a lot of anger bubbling away under the surface, and we'd do well to listen to that too.


Go ahead, make my day!