When E for England comes before D for Dole

I cannot understand being paid not to work and then mocking the privilege – and Indians often lead the pack

bikram

Bikram Vohra | September 22, 2014



They should take the Statue of Liberty and ship it to England. Not so much for taking in of the wretched and the poor but certainly for the less than huddled masses who are currently taking the whiplash of empire building to the cleaners under a system called the 'welfare state.'

Whenever I visit England I am amazed at the incredible tolerance with which the people accept the blatant pilfering of the national till in a game called Doing in the Dole.

Indians lead the charge and it would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

The dole is a quaint little exercise under which the government is responsible for you getting a job, and if you do not have one it looks after you. That is wonderful, and somewhere in the distant past must have had its genesis in bright-eyed state benevolence. But since no good deed ever goes unpunished, the Dole in England is now fair game for anyone to exploit, and exploit it is what they do.

I read in the papers while sitting on a tube in an atmosphere akin to a dentist's waiting room that one lady with five children has complained that she has been given a council house with only four bedrooms and that is not good enough. A case is being made on her behalf and it is believed the verdict will be in her favour for an upgrade in accommodation. Cases even more absurd than this abound, and while it does speak volumes for a system that 'cares' it also underscores the utter contempt many of its beneficiaries have for the spoon that shovels food down their throats.

Many of those on Dole are reps of far-flung former colonies now residing in the mother country and clutching their little EC passports in their hot little palms and enjoying the perks that go with it.

But that is where the affection stops. And the Dole becomes a symbol of the enemy, whoever or whatever that enemy is. It exists to be misused. So you have legions of young men and women feeling gleeful that they have put one over the system and are receiving money for doing nothing. Many of them moonlight at night in unregistered jobs to augment the dole and think it is all very acceptable.

Getting even seems to be operative sentiment. For what? History? The past? An assorted selection of slights, real and imagined? Any, or all, of these? But none of these explanations can justify the fact that milking the Dole is unfair, especially to the thousands of working stiffs who literally 'eke' out a living under very trying circumstances and vexing taxations. I use the word 'eke' because that is practically what the financial residue in hand would be labelled.

And then you have these layabouts enjoying free money and not even making the slightest move in the direction of getting a job...nothing is good enough or right enough for them.

And then, being a visitor you open your big mouth and say, but this is cheating, you guys are not being very nice, you know there is a harsh, hard world out there, the government doesn't owe you a living, how come you guys get away with it and you are still ungrateful, like it isn't enough.

And they look at you and grin and say, so who cares.

A recent report by Peter Sutherland says the new wave of anti-immigration intolerance can be traced to several factors, which might include a misuse of courtesy. With 30 million-plus Indians around the world, and many of them in Europe and the US, there is a sense of discomfort.

“On both sides of the Atlantic, anti-immigrant politics are undermining democracies and damaging lives. Far-right nationalist parties are gaining traction in Europe, while millions of undocumented migrants suffer in the shadows. In the United States, president Barack Obama, concerned about his party’s ability to retain control of the Senate, has decided to put off immigration reform until after the election in November.”

Yet that may be the wrong approach. A new public opinion survey by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) reveals that anti-immigrant sentiment stems largely from misinformation, not entrenched animus.

I guess we can understand medical help and subsidised housing and free schooling and busing and even subsidised meal services and soup kitchens. But I cannot understand being paid not to work and then mocking the privilege.

Something's wrong in all this and I always come away feeling diminished by these people, some of them even friends of friends, who firmly believe it is all owed to them.

For what?

For the fact that the colonists should never have sailed the seven seas and now it is payback time.

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