A Helot Society 307


So we are back with a vengeance to notions of the undeserving poor. Electronic cards are to ensure that the poor can only spend their benefits on basic necessities like food and clothing, and not on a lifestyle of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Having lived a rather spectacular life encompassing both ends of the social spectrum, I can state with utter conviction that consumption of illegal pleasure-giving stimulants is far higher among the very wealthy than among the very poor. The notion that only the rich should be allowed to have any enjoyment in life is deeply offensive. It is fine for the Bullingdon Club to get plastered on Krug and cocaine and smash up restaurants. That is all jolly japes and high spirits. For a desperate man to seek solace in four cans of Tennant’s strongest or a bottle of Buckfast is however a dreadful sin and sign of social irresponsibility.

The high streets of our poorest towns are strewn with betting shops, bargain booze outlets, pawnbrokers and payday lenders. For anybody to believe that state compulsion of the patrons is the answer to the problem is the ultimate counsel of despair. Forget giving people a better hope, a greater chance, more socially useful pleasures. Just ban the little solace they have now. We have a government which holds a large section of the population in contempt; which cannot imagine that given a different birth, these people might have been sitting next to them in the Bullingdon Club; in short, which has no notion whatsoever of human dignity.

This latest move against benefits claimants is consistent with the entire development of the modern British economy. High wage economies generate a self-sustaining high domestic demand which keeps the economy growing. Our three main political parties postulate a low wage economy, with a minimum wage below the level which can sustain a family. The low wage economy is defended as a guarantee of strong international competitiveness and thus export performance. In fact Britain’s low wage model is entirely different, and the vast majority of those on low wages have no relation to exports. What Britain has developed is a model where a thin layer at the top are on extremely high remuneration. This of course includes bankers and the financial services industry, but also through the cult of managerialism, CEOs and directors have vastly increased their remuneration. For the multiple between the highest and lowest paid in a company to be 70 – the cleaner on 15,000, the core level majority on 20,000 and the CEO on 3,000,000- is now absolutely routine.

Even the public sector is ruled by this pretence that executive work is harder, more stressful, more uniquely difficult than core work. Well, I have been an Ambassador and a barman, and I can tell you which was hardest work. University vice chancellors are on over 300,000. Local councils regularly have a score of people on over 100,000.

We have no media willing to take on the triumph of greed. The most “left wing” of British newspapers, the Guardian, pays its editor total remuneration of over half a million per year and “star” columnists 300,000, while exploiting interns and junior staff, and squandering 35 million pounds a year of C P Scott’s great endowment in losses – straight into its senior staff’s pockets.

Britain has developed a new kind of low wage economy – one where the bulk of those on low wages work to provide services to those on very, very high remuneration. In a sense it is very old. We have become a helot society. It should be stressed that low wage is a deliberate policy. There is absolutely no reason why those in work could not be paid more. The economy would not crash. In Norway the median wage of the lowest 10 percentile is over 20,000 pounds, while the multiple between the lowest ten percentile and the top ten percentile is less than one third what it is in Britain. The UK’s astonishing and accelerating wealth gap is a result of deliberate ideological policy, founded on a notion that those at the top are possessed of rare and extraordinary abilities – whereas in truth, in the UK more than anywhere, their main achievement was usually to be born into the right family.

The concomitant of that worship of the rich is the belief that money measures worth; that if you have a low income then you are scum. That is the attitude that underlies these benefit smart cards. It is truly disgusting.


307 thoughts on “A Helot Society

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  • glenn_uk

    Squonk: Last time I visited, my posts got deleted with an insult (unprovoked and unreturned), from you, on the way out. I still don’t know why. Embarrassement might be avoided by saying up front, not everyone is welcome.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    We Both Look O.K…We are both older than Craig Murray..and he looks O.K. too

    But neither My Wife, Nor I have Taken Elocution Lessons…and then I was Dancing at The Front a few years ago..and This Geogeous Girl Turned Up out Of Nowhere..I Just Said Pour It Down My Ear Love…I Haven’t Heard That Like That For Years..She said The most Extraordinary Thing To Me..I Said I would love to…but That is My Beautiful Wife Standing Over There…

    We All Come From Lancashire and Love Each Other…

    We just say it as it is..If You don’t like it..take elocution Lessons in Lancashire.

    And No I have never shagged her..it just wouldn’t be Polite..She is My Best Friend..I tell her everything…and she tells me everything..it’s just like being mates…sure she is completely lovely…I find it easy when I invite the lancashire girls on holiday with us..but I find it hard..when my wife invites blokes….bur fair do’s we both flirt like fuck ..but we all know where to draw the lines…you step over that line mate..you come over too strong..then I will and have at Full Volume..Played The DARKNESS…”Take Your Hands Off My Woman Motherfucker” at Full Volume…they usually get the message …sometimes we have to almost cart them out the front door..Most blokes Fall In Love With My Wife..She is just so nice (She is Lancashire Like Me).

    Tony

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Sorry, I am just trying to communicate something…that maybe lots of people will understsand.I ts a Thing Called LOVE..not gone yet..

    here is No Way, I can Explain This..but it is True…I Really Did Want To Go and See The Sex Pistols.in Manchester upstairs at The Lesser Free Trade Hall..she was a Posh Bird…and she Destroyed Me..How Can You Possibly Not Want To See “The Sex Pistols”..”I have seen them on TV – and they are extremely rude..and they can’t sing and they can’t play”

    How can You Not Come and See This Moment in History??well of course I didn’t know it was a moment in history…at the time? do you ever..But I Wasn’t there..and I wasn’t There cos of Some Posh Bird…So I dumped her. And asked My Southern Girl(well she wasn’t really my Girlfriend…Hey..do want to come and see Renaissance with me..She said O.K. and we fell in love and nearly got married…and we met earlier this year for the first time in 33 years..She turned up in a Thunderstorm on Time 11:00am at Cambridge Rock Festival.. I thought there is no way she will turn up…and I met her in the pouring rain..and we gave each other a hug….

    Look we are at a Effing Festival..and we are all rather old..and I hadn’t yet boiled the kettle (though my wife and I had – and she was still half naked)… I said you have to come into our tent..you will get rather wet out here…

    My Wife Invited Her In…I Said…This is My Ex…

    And They Got On Brilliantly Together..Like I Knew They Would

    Good Girls.

    Tony

  • OldMark

    ‘But in addition, the Germans have been extremely energetic in the snap together business. Outsourcing production to cheap-labor Eastern Europe then sticking on a “printed in Germany” label and collecting a fat mark-up on a not-so-very-German-made product.’

    Fair point Canspeccy- the Japanese adopt similar tactics, outsourcing the ‘snap together’ elements of the manufacturing process to their Asian neighbours, but keeping the high tech stuff very much to themselves, as the Germans also like to do. You are probably familiar with the work of the Japan based economist Eamonn Fingleton on this issue with reference to the Far East.

    ‘One glaring exception is where housing benefit goes directly to already wealthy landlords, and acts as a direct transfer of taxpayer money to the rich.’

    Glenn uk- you are seriously out of date on this one- ‘Housing Benefit’ for tenants renting in the private sector is now called ‘local housing allowance’, and is normally payable direct to the tenant. and not his/her landlord-

    http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/what_is_housing_benefit/local_housing_allowance

  • Jives

    All these benefits cards will do is create a black market.

    On benefits day jackals will offer,say,£30 cash to a claimant for their voucher card worth,ssy,£50 face value.

    Thus claimants will buy even less food and nastier cheaper booze and drugs to blot out the horror.

    This will cause more deaths more quickly,and younger.

    Great plan IDS,great plan.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Blair as a paid consultant. One for you Baal.

    Think I may have visited that one already, Phil. But no harm in another look:

    Blair’s Africa governance Initiative is the cover for this one: as usual this is acting as the advance guard for globalisers to turn Kigali into Canary Wharf, while competing with the Chinese for African resources, notably columbium-tantalum ore. This piece ( http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/31/tony-blair-rwanda-paul-kagame ) summarises Blair’s original involvement – much the same idea as Tony Blair Associates’ arrangement with Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev (here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/31/tony-blair-rwanda-paul-kagame )

    Blair doesn’t seem to have had much civilising effect on Kagame, either; http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-190013/why-kagame-cannot-risk-free-election . Blair as usual claims to be an unpaid advisor to Kagame – as usual this is because his rakeoff comes from outside aid and investment funds. Kagame isn’t paying him directly.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Oh, and in the graphic on that page, you can see Portland Communications mentioned. Tim Allen’s PR-and-corporate-lobbying firm…Allen was an adviser to Blair when the latter was PM.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    OldMark

    “‘One glaring exception is where housing benefit goes directly to already wealthy landlords, and acts as a direct transfer of taxpayer money to the rich.’

    Glenn uk- you are seriously out of date on this one- ‘Housing Benefit’ for tenants renting in the private sector is now called ‘local housing allowance’, and is normally payable direct to the tenant. and not his/her landlord-”
    ____________________

    OK, Glenn’s word “directly” in the first line was perhaps out of date but the point he makes is still valid practically spe5aking, isn’t it – it is a transfer of funds, via the tenant on housing benefit – from govt (therefore, from the taxpayer) to landlords, many of whom make a fat living from renting out their “portfolios”.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “All these benefits cards will do is create a black market.

    On benefits day jackals will offer,say,£30 cash to a claimant for their voucher card worth,ssy,£50 face value.

    Thus claimants will buy even less food and nastier cheaper booze and drugs to blot out the horror.

    This will cause more deaths more quickly,and younger.”
    ______________________

    What Jives says is of course a possibility, but the risk he points to says more about the “jackals” (and society as a whole, perhaps) than about the idea behind the proposed scheme.

    I do not believe that it should be beyond the wit of man to devise certain safeguards to lessen that risk.

    And I cannot resist adding that here is yet another area where identity cards would have shown their usefulness. The proposed scheme should never have been dropped (most Continental countries seem to love quite happily with them).

  • Squonk

    Glenn_UK

    Squonk: Last time I visited, my posts got deleted with an insult (unprovoked and unreturned), from you, on the way out. I still don’t know why. Embarrassement might be avoided by saying up front, not everyone is welcome.

    EH? I certainly don’t recall anything like that. You posted over at squonk for months and the comments are still there. I certainly don’t recall you ever saying anything that would cause me to delete it even less insult you. Sometimes the Akismet spam filter eats comments and it can do this even AFTER your comment has appeared.

    If I somehow did insult you in any way I apologise – but I’ve no specific recollection. Only once do I recall deleting a bunch of posts when the conversation got over-heated and frankly depressed me but if it was that night you are referring to then it wasn’t anything personal against you – I just deleted all comments from everybody one evening – including my own.

    If there was something specific that I’ve forgotten please let me know.

  • Jives

    Habbabkuk,

    I disagree with your assessment and proposal.

    Yes “jackals” are a symptom of society.Well,whether its pay day lenders or black marketeers it shows a sick society.That starts and is maintained from the top down.

    ID cards,like these benefit cards,will be easily hacked and copied.

    You talk about the strength of the idea behind the proposal?

    Nope…an idea is only good if it has been thought through to conclusion with full awareness of the consequences-intended or otherwise.

    This is clearly a deeply flawed idea,as seen by the inevitable consequences.

    Even with biometric ID cards the claimants will just buy the food themselves and sell it,for a greatly reduced cash price,right outside the store.

    What do you propose then?

    Govt surveillance in homes to ensure claimants are actually eating what they’ve bought?

    Force feeding?

    You ought think things through a bit more Habbabkuk,

    It’s a ridiculous,ill-conceived and dangerous proposal that will hurt the most vulnerable in society.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Jives

    You make a number of relevant points which I would be prepared to go into in more detail if you are prepared to discuss seriously and politely.

    Let me just take up, for the moment, your last sentence

    “It’s a ridiculous,ill-conceived and dangerous proposal that will hurt the most vulnerable in society.”

    and ask you the following:

    1/. Do you agree that there is a problem with (some) recipients spending their benefit monies in ways that harm not only themselves but also their families?

    2/. If you do agree with that, do you believe that govt has an obligation to attempt to do something about it and if so, what would you propose it should do to tackle the problem?

    3/. Or would you agree with Mrs Thatcher who – according to another commenter – said that people should be free to spend their money (note – not money they have earned by their own efforts but money from the state/wider community) as they please?

  • Jives

    Habbabkuk,

    1. Agreed.

    2. Disagree. It will never be a perfect society,some people will always harm themselves,whether unemployed or very rich.Give them information to make better choices but don’t force anything on them.The nanny state has an awful tendency towards function creep.

    3. Agreed

  • glenn_uk

    @Squonk: Hi… last time I visited your site, I noticed a number of my posts had been disappeared. They didn’t contain anything of particular offence to the best of my knowledge. Reading down further, an explanation stated something along the lines that if someone’s posts had gone, that was because you hated them.

    Fair enough, I thought, and – not wishing to hang around where not welcome – never returned.

    Did I misunderstand something?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Jives

    Thank you for that. I agree with you that no society, system or structure is ever perfect (given human nature). Also about the tendency of the nanny state to expand its nannying.

    But, re your answer to Question 2 : if pushed to the limit, your line would imply that murder – or indeed any sort of misdeed – should not be sanctioned either, or that govt should not attempt to do anything about them.

    You would probably not agree with that, hence the question : where would you draw the line for where govt should attempt to intervene and why would you draw the line there?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Jives

    Sorry, I forgot a supplementary: in the question of self-harm (and harm to others, whether family or other), do you feel that the source of the income that finances the self-harm, ie, income from earnings or income from the state and thus the wider community, is relevant?

  • Jives

    Habbabkuk,

    Well..;there are degrees and scales of deeds isn’t there?

    You can’t legislate on the basis of constantly extreme extrapolations.

    A seperation and grading of acts is necessary,

    Secondly,apply your question,for example,to army recruitment?

    Does a billionaire(through inheritance)with a terribly self-destructive life style have more right to act in their chosen manner than a person who has worked most of their life but claiming a period of state benefits when life throws a simple unkind twist of fate at them?

    And so it goes Habbabkuk,endless and unknowable really…

  • Squonk

    Glenn_uk,

    I think I said I deleted an evening’s worth of comments because some people seemed to be expressing growing hatred of other posters and it was escalating that night. Because other comments referenced the posts I mainly wanted to delete I just, feeling depressed, deleted a bunch of posts between two time periods. Undoubtedly there were posts that didn’t deserve to be deleted.

    I honestly don’t remember a post from you that I didn’t like but if it fell in the timeslot it got deleted. Had I been feeling less depressed I’d have cleaned up more accurately and not just scrubbed a bunch. I’m genuinely sorry if it upset you (or anyone else) but it wasn’t the intention.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Jives

    “A seperation and grading of acts is necessary”
    _________________

    That is true – and why I asked you where you would draw the line. But as far as the case in hand is concerned, I think it’s clear you would put that particular sort of harm to self and others in the category wrt which you do not think the govt should try and interfere.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “a person who has worked most of their life but claiming a period of state benefits when life throws a simple unkind twist of fate at them?”
    ______________

    I suspect you are giving the example here of the sort of person with whom the proposed legislation is not essentially seeking to deal; we weren’t really talking about people who became drug addicts or alcoholics after a lifetime of honest toil and we were not talking either about a “period” of state benefits but about long(er)-term dependency without too much prospect of a return to the mainstream.

    (But I’ll admit that the case you mention could be caught up in the proposed changes.)

  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    Glenn; Go to Squonk. AA is a great host.

  • glenn_uk

    @Squonk: It looks like we had a misunderstanding, thank you for clearing that up. Clearly, the comments were not intended the way I thought. Heck, I’m used to getting thrown out of places, it would not have surprised me too much 😉

  • frazer

    I work with some of the poorest and disinfranchaced people in the world.
    People who count themselves grateful to earn £100 a month if they are lucky. What pisses me off (I am a humanitarian aid worker) is the organisations I work for pay me shit money for putting my life on the line, they quibble and whinge if you overspend a budget line, constantly harp on about reducing budgets and spending less on benificiaries. Yet the CEO’s of these organisations pay themselves £150 – £250.000 a year, just for sitting in a fucking office in London and attending posh jollies at the UN. Now THAT is disgusting.

  • frazer

    Oh and @Tony Opomoc….Less of the poetry mate..you can be interesting when you are off the sauce !

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