Wednesday, 1 February 2012
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?