Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Meet Raymond

Meet Raymond. Raymond lives in Wales with his wife and six of their eleven children. Raymond doesn't work, and has not worked for a decade. It's not that he's lazy, it's just that it's much nicer to be able to sit indoors watching TV and drinking lager. Raymond's wife doesn't work either, as it makes her anxious and moody. This is unusual, as most people love going to work. But Raymond and his wife have a problem. The cruel and heartless government are proposing reforms to the benefit system that would mean that instead of getting £30,284 of taxpayers' money every year for doing fuck all, they're only going to get £26,000 of taxpayers' money every year for doing fuck all. This, frankly, is a travesty of social justice, and as Raymond himself puts it, "I see eight people here having to choose between eating or heating".

It just doesn't seem fair does it? That extra £4,284 doesn't even cover the cost of Raymond's cigarettes and lager, and yet the government want to cut it. It's disgusting. And not only that, how is Raymond going to be able to afford his £780-a-year SKY TV subscription? And the £1664 of mobile phone bills? None of it is free is it? It's got to come from somewhere, you can't expect Raymond to go out and earn money to pay for it can you? No, Raymond can barely make ends meet as it is, let alone after any cuts.

I think the government has got this badly wrong; the whole policy needs scrapping. In fact, I think they need to move dramatically in the opposite direction, and increase benefits for people like Raymond and his family. 24 cans of lager per week really isn't very much, not even two cans a night each even if you include Raymond's weekly pub visit. After a hard day sitting around watching SKY Movies HD, I think a bare minimum of three cans each is needed - that would only add around £780 of benefit payments a year. Similary, 200 fags a week between two isn't very many at all, not even with the large pack of tobacco on top. What's that, 14-a-day? Each? I think 20 each would be a fairer deal for Raymond, some of those pay-per-view sports matches can be quite stressful after all. This would only add £1250 of extra benefits a year, a mere drop in the ocean. At the moment Raymond's weekly shop is only 39% cigarettes and booze; if we as a country could just find that extra two grand or so, then Raymond could bump that up to 47%, and maybe get a better SKY package as well.

I know what you're thinking - that Raymond could cut the £32-per-week mobile phone bill and use the savings to fund the extra beer and fags. Tsk tsk tsk. No, that wouldn't be right at all. He and his children need those mobile phones, they're not a luxury that they can simply do without. Don't forget, there are eight of them in the house, and they won't all want to watch the same channel. Phones are therefore essential. What do you mean Raymond spends more on phones and internet than he does on electricity and gas? Well of course he does, doesn't everyone? Seriously, some of you need to take long hard looks at yourselves, and ask whether you could simply just cut out essentials like cigarettes and booze. Why should he, when the government could just give him a bit extra to get by? It's not easy sitting at home smoking, drinking and watching TV, give the man some credit.

Sure, Raymond could try and retrain, try and gain some new skills that might allow him to contribute to society instead of being falsely portrayed as the biggest fucking scrounger the planet has ever seen, but that would be difficult, and require effort. You might think that would be fairer to all the people who work their socks off day in day out in order to fund Raymond's extremely relaxed lifestyle, but it wouldn't be fair on Raymond, and he's the one that matters. Ten years of lounging about will have been tough on him, give the guy a break.

Please vote this government out of office. Their proposed changes to the welfare system are ill-conceived, and will hurt the most needy people in our society like Raymond. And Rupert Murdoch, who relies on people like Raymond. We cannot sit by and do nothing, or Raymond and his wife might have to get jobs like the rest of us. So if the government won't help him, we should. I'm going to set up a JustGiving page for Raymond and his family, and to be very clear, the money can only be used for additional luxuries like iphones, whisky, and hookers. Please give generously, your hard-earned taxes are not enough. Thank you.

PS in case you missed this popular BBC story, you can read about Raymond's hardships here.
PPS in order to remain responsive to the top themes of the day, my earlier rant about Google has been replaced. Let's face it, it doesn't help Raymond does it?


  1. Hmm, I agree with you about this particular example. But it serves the media very well to highlight a particularly ridiculous example of benefits recipients who waste money, have lots of kids etc. I'm sure there are some like this lot but there are also plenty of people who have fallen on hard times and still need somewhere to live (and no matter where you go, rents are extortionate). Also, there are plenty of people "earning" money who might just do the world a favour by not working (Murdoch, Donald Trump, Exxon, road builders etc), they probably cost society a lot more than this idiot, shameful though his example is.

    Those on benefits who won't make the newspapers are maybe studying, trying to save money by cutting costs, not owning a car or travelling, not smoking/drinking, doing volunteering and so on. I know a number of people who are doing these things and wouldn't criticise them because they are improving themselves and giving back to society.

    Also, the disabled will be badly hit by the government's populist reforms, even cancer sufferers and those who need help with mobility (to do luxury things like, er, leave the house and get food to eat). Not everyone has lots of money saved up for hard times from their city job so they don't need to claim benefits when they lose everything :-)

    P.S. - the Egyptian Geese garden tick post: I'd have counted them, but you'll probably see another lot going over your garden at some stage anyway.

  2. Hi Joe, indeed an excellent example the media has chosen - extremely easy to mock - and 1258 comments on the BBC in the space of a few hours show that there is a certain depth of feeling. I am far less right wing after two years not working then I ever was before, but examples like this simply make my blood boil. I'm hoping the BBC will justify their so-called objectivity and publish a case at the other end of the spectrum, of people who are entirely honest and sensible, and who genuinely do have the difficulties that Raymond only thinks he has.

  3. I must say I was a bit take aback when I saw his Sky TV subscription, alcohol intake and number of children though... sigh... He's not doing anyone any favours and just makes people react angrily (including me!). But yes, from the media a bit more of the other side of the benefits spectrum would be nice and would give more balance and reality to the debate.

  4. Quality ranting. I don't know about Birdwatch Jono, but you could get a job at the Daily Mail at the moment!

    Forget about Raymond, you have a wonderful fulfilling life. Be happy and enjoy it.

    The govt love Raymond - he distracts from the huge number of disabled people (including children) who will lose their disability living allowance through the reforms, and the sick people who will be forced into work (not sure where)etc

    Even the govt's own figures suggest that 100,000 children (not mine or yours though thankfully) may be pushed into poverty through the reforms.

    In terms of the cost to us, as noted in the current Private Eye, HMRC and the idiot Hartnett who runs it might serve us better if they stopped allowing Vodafone (and many others) to avoid paying tax (£2billion recently - which easily covers the DLA mentioned above - on top of a previous £6billion, enough to keep a nation of Raymond's in Sky subscriptions and tins of lager).

    Move to the coast Jono, it's better for the soul, and there's lots more birds.

  5. Good ranting. I like a good rant.

    The vast majority of people on benefits, of any kind, are claiming them legally and spending them sensibly. Under any welfare system there are always going to be a few who either claim fraudulently and spend stupidly, but I guess you have to accept that if you really believe in the concept of the system. In fact, even if someone could prove that the majority of parents claiming benefits claimed and spent them fraudulently and stupidly I'd probably still support the system, to an extent, as these people's kids didn't ask for their situation or birth in the first place. I should probably have grown out of my idealistic views about 10 years ago, but I haven't.

    Raymond is obviously a bit of an idiot. I agree that there are huge savings to be made in his lifestyle and he should start with the beer and the Sky subscription. I'll let him keep his internets; they might help him find a job, his kids with school stuff and on top of that can provide more TV to watch than there are hours in the day. The only thing I'd point out is that "anxious and moody" does a disservice to what true bipolar disorder or anxiety actually are. If Mrs Raymond actually has these, I'd probably cut her more slack than I'm willing to cut Raymond. As has been said, him and his family are a very well/badly chosen example, depending on who you ask.

    Tim Allwood is right, about the amount this kind of thing actually costs us, and about how pumping out examples like this just distracts our attention from the huge, vast majority of claimants for whom benefits, and the cuts of, are a serious concern.

  6. Yes, a ridiculous example to choose of what living on benefits must actually be like, but one that resonates highly with Joe Public. Daily Mail journalism from the BBC: I was happy to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of a good rant, even if it included taking the piss out of bipolar disease, which I would not wish on anyone. Apart from a few dog-walkers perhaps. As you say, we cannot know whether Mrs Raymond (not her real name) genuinely has it or not, though if you read the story as it is intended to be read, she's probably just a malingerer who should get a bloody job and quit whinging about how everything is so unfair...

    I would boot Raymond and his kind out to work in an instant. Perhaps not both of them though. From personal experience, I would say that having one parent at home makes life so much easier, though there are financial sacrifices that come with that. As Joe said, I was extremely fortunate that I was able to stay at home with the kids for a while (sadly now over and I am back down the salt mines), though I would point out that I slogged my guts out for ten years to be in that fortunate position. Then again, if you're going to have 11 children, you should probably think harder about how exactly you're going to support them all. Or is that harsh?

    As you can see from the bottom of that article, they're looking for other case studies, so lets hope we get a sensible one where there truly is a looming choice between eating and heating, rather than a choice between that and spending 8k on fags and booze and sitting on your fat (if Raymond is thin I will eat my hat) arse all day.

  7. Someome told me this is a birding blog. What a lot of piffle that was!


  8. Whoever told you that must have hit lucky one day!

  9. Well, from a distance every single one of these comments seems extremely reasonable and on-target (yours and others). Despite our pretty minimal safety net, people in the U.S. don't seem to have much sympathy at all for the out-of-work, sick, and the poor. We think we deserve to get rich, we think everyone else must deserve to be poor. But yeah, Raymond is not good sympathy material. (At first I looked at some of the values and thought "that's not so bad" until I realized they were weekly not monthly...)

  10. Actually, as rants go that was cringe-making and, naturally, impotent.

    Chris F.
    BL International.

  11. Lets face it, you can't honestly envy the guy? In these cases if in doubt. Ask yourself 'Would I really want to be him/her'?

  12. Would I want to be Raymond? Er, no. I would rather pay double the taxes I already do and not be Raymond. I am pissed off with Raymond's flagrant piss-taking, but I would not want to trade places with him. Note that does not make Raymond's £100 a week booze and fag habit acceptable.

    Chris F from company I've never heard of, thanks for your comment, which I have happily published. 99% of rants are impotent. Please send me the link to one of yours that is any better. Ta.

  13. I think you're being a bit harsh. He ONLY has 7 children, not 11...makes all the difference, no? I'm by and large with Parus on this one, although I think the government is right to change the system in some way, but they are wrong to do it in a way that harms the kids. As objectionable as Raymond may be (and I have no idea if he is, but the BBC report certainly doesn't paint him in a good light) and as irresponsible as he and Mrs Raymond may be to have not known about or used birth control, it's not their kids fault.
    Good birding in north Wales - he should get out of the house a bit more, swap Sky for a pair of binocs, do the family the world of good, although not sure if the fag-affected lungs would cope with all that fresh air.
    Matt Evans

  14. I used to like you and your Blog but of late you seem to have become a bit of a fascist and right wing. Why is this or were/are you always so inclined?It seems a shame and I am very disappointed

  15. There once was a bummer called Raymond
    Who lay on his ponce back all day long
    The taxes we'll pay
    Until he can say
    That he drives a Bugatti(cunt!)Veyron

    1. Fascist and right wing I doubt. Just the side effect of having to raise your competitive instincts to uncomfortable levels just so that you can survive. Some people win and others lose. Jon isn't out to win but he's damned if he's going to lie back and lose. Most of us are quite passive but try to win at our expense then don't be surprised to get a reaction that takes you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes 'using enough gun' is too much gun. Tough. Its called reality. Live with it.

  16. Excuse Jono he's self-rightous at the best of times. Sad really.


  17. Gotta take the rough with the smooth I suppose.

    I'd invite people to compare the semi-anonymous comments on this post with the ones that have usernames and see if you can detect a pattern. Sad really.

  18. Semi anon?! Suck it up Jono.


  19. Yes, semi-anon because basically you can put down any name you like.



  20. Tim Kearsey - any better?