Friday, April 27, 2007

Pants Takes No Prisoner

Something is becoming of me and I do not know what to make of it. I can’t even get interested in politics any more, much less be funny about them. I do know what’s causing it. The housing association from hell has become the monster that ate sanity. I can’t talk about it because it’s all gone a bit horribly legal. Suffice to say it is doing my fucking head in.

Incredibly, I’m still making very good progress on novel No. 3. As you may recall, I am at fourth draft stage. If you do, you are more in touch with reality than I am. Being in Ben’s head is a relief from the torpor of my own. His seemingly idiotic knee-jerk reaction to his marriage failure of buying a bar, sight unseen, on the Costa del Sol is as an exemplar of calm rectitude when compared with the reckless base jump into the bowels of hell triggered by my notion to sell my flat to a nice first-time buyer and retire to an isolated location in Australia where I can recycle my organic waste.

However, while I was fretting over my own predicament and trying to find a way to keep my jaw from taking up permanent residence on the floor, a much greater menace was at large in the shape of Melanie Phillips of one’s Daily Mail, wielding non-sequiturs the inventiveness of which my puny housing association could only dream. Melanie’s unparalleled skill for making up words and facts was much in evidence in today’s article entitled How welfarism is destroying Britain!

The direct link between welfarism and the 'me-society', between welfare rights and the erosion of the ties of duty that should bind us together, is unmistakable.

Intoneth la Melanie without the slightest botheration to join up those particular dots with, say, reference to a confirming research study or even a drunken conversation at the Pillar and Puke with Hooray Henry and a couple of his stock broker chums.

Yet no politician, even Conservative ones, will go near this subject. For all the windy rhetoric about irresponsibility and state interference, the root cause of these problems — the welfare state - remains a political untouchable.

Well hold the front page and rewrite the Book of Revelation. Where even angels, Katie Price and Boris Johnson fear to tread, in wades ‘Pel Mel’.

Frank Field was the former poverty campaigner who famously was instructed by Tony Blair to think the unthinkable on welfare.

He duly thought the unthinkable, came up with the radical proposal for an insurance-based welfare system - and was promptly sacked from his ministerial post for his pains.

An insurance-based welfare system? Did anyone test Frank Field for dalek blood at the time? Next thing you know it will come to light that this unthinkable thinker was planning to call this unspeakable atrocity 'National Insurance' and proposing to give every man, woman and child in the country a ‘number’, recalling terrible memories of the candy striped purgatory that was Patrick McGoohan’s ‘village’. That number, (no please you’re hurting meeeeee), would contain a pair of alphabetical letters followed by three pairs of numerical digits and a final letter (chosen personally by Carol Voderman) which would devour 11% of your salary for as long as you were lucky enough to be in employment. On Planet Pel Mel, that hardly applies to anybody. It’s like a Brave New World where tax credits are the soma.

Many more Britons are hooked on the dependency culture as benefits were renamed tax credits and applied ever higher up the income scale. The vast welfare bureaucracy enables the Government to intrude ever more into people's lives, particularly in the areas of family life and child-rearing.

Sorry Mel, even I know that Government wouldn’t dream of confining itself to spying on the tiny percentage of the population on benefits. It wants to know everything about all of us.

At this point I have to admit to being a little bit confused. Is Pel Mel saying that her made-up concept of ‘welfarism’ is a malign culture pervading our Great Britain?

The crucial point was that welfarism detached behaviour from its consequences. It held that material need must be met, regardless of behaviour.

Again Mel, pardonez-moi, I thought that was capitalism. Who’s doing your research – ‘Sir’ Philip Green?

Politicians are reluctant to admit the welfare state is bust because it is embedded in the national consciousness as a symbol of British decency, embodying principles of altruism and caring. But it betrays these principles every day. Look at the appalling neglect and abuse of elderly people in hospital. The poorest people in countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland receive a higher standard of care than they do in our NHS.

Couldn’t agree more Mel – the concept of the whole of society being responsible for the care and welfare of every individual within that society, no matter how disadvantaged, is a formula for abuse and neglect. Why Marx didn’t twig to that one, I’ll never be able to fathom.

Take family life. The Government says welfare must meet the needs of children whatever kind of household they live in.

The very idea! If Queen Victoria isn’t turning in her grave, I’ll require a plausible explanation as to why not.

People assume, for example, that the state will look after their elderly relatives. Increasing frailty, inevitably, means rising demand on state services - but much more could still be done by families to look after their elders. This climate of expectation has created in turn the something-fornothing culture and a climate of chronic self-centredness, shorttermism and sentimentality.

Madness, or what? As for public services, people should be paying into compulsory personal and social insurance schemes for pensions, health and long-term care and, in return, paying less tax to the state.

Well Pel Mel, there is the small matter of that 11% ‘National Insurance’ (yes – it’s a reallytruly thing), contribution that most of us have paid over a whole lifetime of working. If you don’t know anything about it, you obviously haven’t been paying into it. Services like health, social security and pensions aren’t ‘free’, they’re ‘pre-paid’. You know, like your mobile – you pay for calls you haven’t yet made, even if you never get to make them. Insurance is like that.

You know, I’m actually starting to feel a little bit better. I have to go now because I want to watch Life Line – a show about the dead. I have high hopes of spotting a few people whom I have been secretly willing over to the other side. Please wish me luck…

Graphic from The Prisoner BBC Television series


Reading the Signs said...

I'd like to ask more about the housing association - but I'll exercise restraint. Word is going round that no-one's buying at the moment. Why not? I'm beginning to take it personally.
Would you share a fragment of nove in progress?

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs - no can do at present. Will email you with gory details. I will go very public when it is all over, believe me.

Ellee said...

Good for you, I hope they pick up on it, they should if they are savvy.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ellee

Tbanks for stopping by. Now I know that you're the that appeared on my stats, I feel a bit easier. Not sure I get what you mean when you say 'I hope they pick up on it, they should if they are savvy.' I think you sort of have to be quite dead to get on Life Line and I wasn't planning on doing that for a while yet.

But thanks. Nice to hear from you.

Janejill said...

Pants - Thanks! I now have something to look forward to later - I only have time to read the first paragraph of your latest post and so know I have a treat when I get in... x

That's so pants said...

Now that's what I call loyalty.

Love ya Jane Jill.

Boris said...

Hi Pants, you hit a nerve about National Insurance. As you say, it is a pre-pay system, but I fear that by the time I want to claim on my insurance, it won't pay what it was supposed to pay when I first started paying in (if you get my drift). If this unthinkable pessimistice situation should arise, who do I sue?


Janejill said...

Tsp - I do appreciate real talent (and I love being slightly shocked as part of me is sadly still a wee bit prim,) so loyalty is very easy. Love the bit about the expectation that all material needs should be met - did she walk into THAT one!
I'm sorry for your problems too -if I can help in any form do let me know - I am quite good at fighting for justice.....
One little question - I have read and loved Hey Dude (?) but lost the date - is there an easy way for me to get to it again? xx

That's so pants said...

Hi Boris - I am already resigned to facing old age in poverty. This is why I intend to buy a house in Australia with solar panels, rainwater tanks and wood burning stove in a forestry area with a lake so, at the very least, I'll be able to wash, forage and fish. My clothes are all quite sturdy and should last. I know I can live without shoes and you can make paper out of bark. I should be all right, I think.

Hi Jane Jill - The date of Dude, Where's my Country is 23rd October. You can reach it through the archive options on the sidebar. I have to admit I'm not all that good at this sort of stuff and you might find it easier to google it. Thanks for offer of help. We are very lucky here to have a great MP whom I have now seen and enlisted to aid us in our mission for justice and a modicum of common sense. Thanks though. It's nice to know that there are so many sympathetic and smart people out there. It goes quite some way into restoring one's faith in human nature.

Ms Melancholy said...

God, I really loathe Melanie Phillips. Someone landed on my blog recently having googled 'I hate Melanie Phillips', so I have obviously mentioned this fact already. And now they will land on yours too if they ever google it again. She is a sanctimonious cretin with shit for brains. And I hope she sues, because I would just love to argue this fact publicly.

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms Melancholy

'I hate Melanie Phillips' eh. So someone got onto your blog by googling 'I hate Melanie Phillips'.

That ought to do it.

The Moon Topples said...

Just popping by to remind you and your readers about the GBA(s)FC #2, which kicks off May 1st over on my blog. Hope to see you there.

Sorry to post off-topic.

That's so pants said...

Hi Mr Moon Topples - Don't worry.

People - The wonderful Moon Topples hosts a regular story competition which you are sure to enjoy and should enter if your write stories. Please follow The Moon Topples link to find out more.

Boris said...

Hey Pants, that sounds like a fine plan to me. Just make sure you have enough sloar power to run your laptop so you can keep blogging!


That's so pants said...

Hello Boris - I have thought of that. I plan to invent a peddle-powered laptop, or at the very least try to encourage someone else to do it. I could do with the exercise.

I am rather hoping that the need for this blog will evaporate along with my present travails once I am safely ensconced in the tropics, where I am counting on everything being not quite so pants.

Reading the Signs said...

Let's hope it's sufficiently pants then for you to keep posting. I mean, you might have found your shangri-la, but that's no reason we should have to suffer.

That's so pants said...

Signs - you wouldn't be wishing me ill by chance?

There may be enough in the pants archives to keep going for a bit, but it may be a question of motivation. At least I hope it will.

I could always start a new blog, perhaps entitled

Compost Rocks
The Darling Buds of Maize
Fishing not Fisking