Seeing Red This Christmas

The content here has delved into some deep matters so here is something so stupid to blog about it that you’ll either laugh at the fact it is deemed blog worthy or cringe and moan at the depths humanity has sunk to in its ignorant rage. There is genuine talk in the news and on social media of Christians urging people to boycott Starbucks for their new Christmas cups. Why you ask? Do the cups have Pagan images on or Satanic verses? Nope, the cups are plain, the cups are just plain red paper cups. Starbucks have done away with images of snowmen and wintry trees and opted for a minimalist design so as to appeal to as many people as possible by not bombarding their customers with Christmas themed imagery and thus excluding those who do not celebrate the occasion. Seems reasonable right? Well, apparently not.

Internet Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein is perhaps the most well-known opponent of this decision, accusing Starbucks of hating Christians and Jesus, urging people to keep the Christ in Christmas and encouraging people to tell their barista their name is Merry Christmas so the barista is forced to write that on the cup. Oh, very clever, well-played – the cups have never had those words upon them, even when they had snowflakes on. A lot of people are calling this a “war on Christmas”, I’d call it the exaggeration of the year but today the Sun published a two page spread on why Jeremy Corbyn is a dick for not bowing down and weeping for the fallen at a remembrance parade (Even though he attended two separate parades in two different areas and passed up on a VIP party to meet some of the veterans face-to-face). Starbucks has never claimed to be a Christian company and if you want to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, pushy Evangelists and whatever, there are more Christian things to be doing than protesting about cups. This same Feuerstein fellow protested the anti-second amendment rule (In the USA, Starbucks do not permit open-carrying of firearms in their stores) by waltzing in with a weapon on show and calling it his patriotic freedom. To recap then, we have ourselves a zealous gun nut defending his faith and freedom by waving a gun at a hapless barista and ‘pranking’ the unassuming customer service worker into writing Christmassy messages on a cup because the cup doesn’t have a picture of a snowflake on it… do you realise how stupid that sounds? This is what God allowed Jesus to die for is it? Paper cups with pictures on?Sure, I remember that passage – the Lord gave His only son that we might have decorative receptacles for our warm beverages.

If you ask me, the red cup is the perfect happy medium, it’s Santa’s sleigh red so it’s Christmassy enough but without being over the top and pushing the images of angels and baubles down our throats. Starbucks has never been all about the Christian market, they’re neutral on political and religious stances so as not to offend people – they only join in on Christmas because everyone does, it’s Christmas, it’s fun and you make a shit ton of money when you put out those festive deals. Christmas has its fair share of issues, a Christian hijacking of a time dangerously close to the Winter Solstice celebrated by Pagans, the imagery of Santa’s sleigh is taken from the Vikings and as a Christian celebration goes, this time of year is becoming more and more about throwing bigger parties and spending more money to get more ridiculously expensive gifts than it is about actual goodwill and charity. Therein is my biggest problem with this war on Christmas idea about the cups, the cups are not what is ruining Christmas, we are.

Put simply, if you’re outraged by these paper cups but not by some people spending Christmas face down in a gutter or soldiers fighting in a foreign land rather than gift wrapping a PS4 for their kids, I have serious beef with you. If you need a coffee shop chain to represent Christmas spirit FOR you, take a good long look at yourself and your relationship with God – rather than getting some barista to scrawl Merry Christmas on a cup, why not do something to keep the Christ in Christmas that has meaning? Soup kitchens always need volunteers, maybe give that red cup of hot choc to someone freezing in the cold and rain, maybe you could get less caught up in some trivial bullshit about a coffee shop packaging design and do something selfless that Jesus himself would smile if he witnessed. Life is much too precious to waste it on boycotting a shop for not selling the right design for you, is the biggest and brightest thing you can think to do this year for Christmas to be the guy who encouraged people not to buy coffee from some place? That’s your impact is it? That is what God wants people to remember in their hearts this time of year? I may not be of faith but if there is a God, he expects us to be good people at Christmas and all throughout the year, whatever our cups look like.

The spirit of the season is one of inclusiveness and togetherness, of spreading joy and happiness to all, friend and stranger alike and Starbucks has done so by offering a neutral stance at a time when some of us get a little too crazy for angels and babies in mangers. God sent his son to preach to us the importance of love and community, not snowmen and trees covered in tinsel. Maybe it’s easier for you to get upset over a cup than it is for you to show genuine concern about how many of us will spend Christmas in poverty or in a hospital bed or possibly won’t even see Christmas at all but that tells us only volumes about you. The Christ in Christmas is in loving one another, not in loving Christmas.


Close Call Cafe

Set your mind back a while now, do you recall December 2014? Recall a blog post I wrote back then about an independent business that sold rare brands of cereal to those looking for a unique/quirky/hipster-baiting experience? No. Refresh your memory:

Why do I bring them up? Haven’t you heard? They were the target of a protest, not a peaceful picketing either, full on property damage and graffiti on the walls. Why? Their prices are in the region of £2.50 a bowl, quite dear yes ($4 upwards for the Americans in the room) but then again this isn’t a bowl of corn flakes and a mug of tea affair, this is “Hey, remember this weird cereal from your childhood that was nothing but chocolate, marshmallows and delicious tooth decay?!”. Essentially, Cereal Killer Cafe was one of the targets of the Class War Anti-Gentrification protests, ‘anarchists’ seeking a war against those who pursue personal profit over the community and fixing issues such as poverty in the area. The protesters argue that it is their mission to target these niche stores devoted to using their resources to sell overpriced goods to narrow markets, rather than setup businesses that sell affordable products to the masses and play their part in helping the community. A slightly misguided cause, the world of business is not so black and white, not every manager or business owner is a penny-pinching fiend nor is every charity entirely honest and above reproach, but I can appreciate their core drive. We live in an unfair society, I do think more needs to be done to tackle poverty and inequality, there are diseases that need cures, countries that need feeding and natural wonders preserving but this… this is not the way.

Independent businesses suffer to stay afloat, in a society where the coffee is always cheaper elsewhere and products are easily copied and made at lower production costs in another country, the savings are passed onto the consumer and those that know how to do it on the cheap, ethically or not, get ahead. Outsourcing jobs, inferior materials, dealing inventors and designers duff hands, there’s no blow too low for the top dogs of the global market. Scale that down to a small family run affair based on a street corner, you don’t have a vast network to rely on, no contacts or partners or sister-companies, you have your life savings, your best friend who needs a job and a dream. Coffee shops charge us through the nose because they have to compete with Starbucks and Costa. If you are the best-known name in a trade, you can afford to charge less because your customer base is so vast, what does it matter? A 50% off sale is easy for some stores because it will encourage sales but some places just can’t afford to sell their wares for less, every penny counts. Your money, to an independent business, is all the more important, the difference between breadwinning and just dreaming of bread. So of course, they have to charge more, any less is profit-shaving they can’t afford, prices are tailored to be enough, to get them by – when have you ever seen the guy running that little tea garden swan off to Cuba for a fortnight just because? Chances are if they did, they either had good money to start from their social standing or they scrimped and saved like fuck.

Anti-gentrification in and of itself is a loathing of capitalism and what it has done to us as a people, I understand that, I sympathise, but the independent businesses of the world are not the villains, they are like us but they just had the resources to hand to build a business and they went for it, many of us would do the same in their shoes if we could. However, blaming them for their prices is blaming the wrong people? Can’t afford tea and cake at Julie’s Sweet Treats? Blame Starbucks for driving her prices upwards with their loyalty schemes and vast wealth of ingredients. Couldn’t afford new threads from that Etsy dealer? Blame the high street for making the hipster-crowd their target, finding a way to mass produce that ‘vintage retro’ look at the price of a few sweatshop slave wages. Hate stupid trends brainwashing the masses? Don’t take it out on people trying so hard to make their business stand out from the common crap we devour every single day. The people of these crowds claimed to fight for their community and yet they came together as a collective to do what they could to destroy it, to tear apart businesses in their area for excluding them with their prices. Cutting one’s nose off to spite their face is perhaps a release of frustration but you look no better off without your nose you know?

I’m angry myself, I’m angry and upset to hear the word protest become smeared with the mud of violence. Protests should not be violent, protests are standing up and saying this is wrong but being damn decent about it, channeling that anger towards injustice into a creative force for good. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, not common thugs but souls that endured shame, humiliation and hunger to defend what mattered, they could have resorted to firebombs and punching the police but they knew that to be heard, they had to be seen as reasonable. If you use that anger for destruction, people do not respect what you represent, trust me, they merely learn to fear your anger and to hate the person behind it, to demonise them and view them as a mindless beast. I get angry, I blog, I give back to my community by just being a good person ready to help someone in need and by giving my free time to charity. Imagine if this gang of hooded vandals had decided instead of rioting and attacking small businesses, they would clean the streets or feed the homeless or do some mass participation event to raise money for Cancer Research or British Red Cross or Oxfam. Such efforts would speak volumes of the worth of this community, this has just caused us all to see them as thugs.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand this rage at the system, the divide between rich and poor is ever expanding and the two ‘most developed’ nations of the West have poverty rates that’d make their charity cases look on with sad eyes, successive governments have taken more and more power away from the common man in favour of the business owner. We are angry at those who have anything because we’re told we live in great nations of wealth but see so little of it, the people at the top however are so wealthy it makes me physically sick. The eighty richest people in the world own the same wealth as the three point five million poorest, that’s not even enough to fill a double decker bus. The riot here, or protest as you might see it depending on your viewpoint, is a symptom of a disease that has afflicted society since the dawn of such and that has only worsened with time. Mark my words, ‘violent protest’ will only get more and more common a phrase in the next few years unless something is done to bridge this poverty gap. You of the middle class upwards might say those in high positions worked hard to get ahead and deserve what they get, you might be right, but do you really think that the world is just a nesting ground for millions of layabouts? Honestly? That there are so few people of worth you could fit their names on two sides of A4? I think not, if nothing else then the ‘lazy sods’ of the lower classes deserve at least the bare minimum – shelter, security, food – then maybe they can ‘get off their backsides and contribute to society’

The Shout

Heads up, sensitive topic/moral grey area being covered here on the topic of abortion, not a subject I’ve given much coverage before but with the rise of the #shoutyourabortion hashtag, it’s hard to bury my head in the sand on this one. Needless to say, this isn’t going to be pleasantries over tea and crumpets so if this is a subject that makes you uneasy then this is your opportunity to go read one of my articles about comic books or science fiction shows or for you to say sod it altogether and carry on scrolling through your News Feed on Facebook to find a cute picture to comment on. Ok, weeded out all the sensitive sorts then? No easy way of doing this, let’s just go for it.

So last Saturday, whilst I was busy watching Doctor Who, Lindy West was busy starting a Twitter trend to stand in solidarity with the Planned Parenthood clinics of the US, who are apparently due some budget cuts courtesy of the House of Representatives. “Shout Your Abortion” works on the premise that these changes are approved because we as a society still cling to this notion that abortions are sinful deeds we must commit in secrecy if at all and a potential mother giving up a potential child is somehow morally defunct. Therefore, to fight back against this oppression, women are being encouraged to divulge in the details of their abortion and come to terms with what they did, not so they can repent but so they can realise they shouldn’t have to, it was their choice to make and they chose what was right for them. Obviously, you can tell from my wording where I stand, I’m with the shouters here – there shouldn’t be laws on what you can and can’t do to your own body, it’s perfectly legal to pierce every inch of yourself and tattoo swastikas all over what remains, why should it be illegal to carry out a medical procedure to terminate a ball of cells in your womb?

“Pro-life” and “Pro-choice” are terms that are thrown around a lot, the former coming across as ironic when they defend a potential life over an existing one, which is akin to pushing people over on the street so they don’t get hit by a car whilst having a blind eye to the kid who isn’t looking before he crosses. Anyway, point here is more about the Planned Parenthood clinic, who have defended themselves by saying that only a small percentage of what they do is actually related to aborting children and that they’re not some murder mill but a place of learning for young potential parents that happen to offer the morally questionable possibility of abortion. I’m not happy that this is how they defend themselves and evidently, I’m not alone in that unease, why they should have to stick up for their line of work by saying “But we don’t even do it that often” is atrocious and I’ll explain why.

Make your clinic a murder mill for unborn children if you must, put big signs up and everything because abortions are important, crucially important. You might say “Oh but they’re knocked up teen sluts who didn’t use protection, serves em right hurhurhur!” but you’d be dead wrong and even if you were, how does that serve them right? They fucked up their life so give them MORE LIFE to be responsible for?! What? You don’t give an arsonist matches! A CHILD is not a punishment for questionable choices in life, a child should be a planned decision and the next step in a relationship, not some sort of karmic rain. Abortions are vital, abortions are what allow a victim to not have to carry the child of their assailant, abortions can save a life that can’t endure the suffering they’d go through in childbirth, abortions are what stops girls from savaging themselves with wire hangers to desperately hide their pregnancy. You need to leave that choice open to people, if it is a choice that will save their goddamn lives, you offer them that choice, to withhold it is to allow them to die!

The shame surrounding abortion is the idea that pregnancy is a woman’s fault, like it were a conscious decision but then America does genuinely have politicians who think the womb has anti-rape hormones, sperm blockers, Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, mustard dispenser, Siri voice search etc. A dangerous lack of sufficient sexual education has led to unnecessary finger-pointing, fused with traditions and outdated ideals, this means women who don’t want to go through childbirth are seen as demonic sperm-receptacles. I wonder if the fact we don’t just tell our kids where babies come from means there’s a mysticism and magic surrounding childbirth that is as dangerous as it is lovely. Sure, it’s nice when a child is born and you hold it and d’awwwwwwwwwwww but it also means people put it on a pedestal so when you become pregnant, people expect a child of you and if you willingly terminate that child, they hold you with the same regard as someone who swipes candy on Halloween and burns it or smashes Christmas gifts with a giant hammer, taking that mysticism ans destroying it for them. Heaven forbid your body be about you, the moment a woman is pregnant she suddenly becomes lesser, all attention being on that growing bump in her belly, even to the point of them prioritising it over her. Well on behalf of women, let me get my hammer…

Pregnancy is a process of nature, it is about as magical and awe-inspiring as taking a dump. I mean no harshness, I’m not saying if you’re pregnant and happy about it your child is worthless but stop referring to it as a miracle, a miracle is an act of God and we know that’s not what pregnancy is (Or at least we should know that by now). A sperm fertilises an egg, or two, the egg divides and cells multiply and so on and so on until a baby arrives. Abortion is a means by which to step in before that egg resembles a baby and just stop that process. There is no ‘death’, no ‘soul’ is harmed, no ‘miracle’ undone, you are literally just destroying an egg cell, you destroy cells all the time when you scratch an itch or pull a hair out. Comparing pregnancy to miracles adds a layer of religious fanaticism to it that is dangerous to consider when this should be a process of science by now, one we can track WITH SCIENCE and stop WITH SCIENCE if it is so required. Abortion is the only medical procedure we seem to actually say “No, you know what, this isn’t right, maybe we shouldn’t do this, maybe let those cells live?” about, you wouldn’t spare a second thought for the spread of cancer but pregnancy? We want to protect something that doesn’t even have a face yet over someone who has had dreams, memories, lovers, failures and potential yet untapped. I’ll tell you something, I will save someone who is alive over someone who might be alive one day.

Oh, another thing, this whole “The cure to cancer is in the mind of an aborted baby” argument? Horseshit. You think that’s how progress works? Only one person can have an idea ever and if that person doesn’t invent what they were ‘born’ to invent we just do without? You think we’d never have electricity without Franklin? Never have the Internet without Berners-Lee or computers without Babbage? No, if it is ever going to be invented, it will be invented someday by someone, it’s not like we’re only without holodecks because the prodigal holodeck child isn’t alive yet, someone has had the idea and people are working on it, multiple people. If Benjamin Franklin hadn’t discovered electricity, someone else would have, it might have been a while longer but it’s not like God said “Damnit Ben, you had one job on Earth, what happened?”
“My mother was pro-choice you see..”
“Oh those fucking liberals, ruining my schemes. Ah well, guess humanity will never have electricity. Shame, Netflix was going to be a big deal…”
The ‘babies’ aren’t heaven-sent prodigies, they can’t scream or cry or protest, mainly because they don’t have lungs or brains and also because they wouldn’t know what was going even if they did. How do you think an abortion works? A flamethrower up the foof?

Shout those abortions ladies, shout them without fear or shame because there is nothing wrong in saving your own life or realising that you cannot provide for another. I would rather children not be born than be born into poverty, you want to protest they should let these ‘children’ live? Well you better pay their expenses then! What’s that? Oh you won’t? Didn’t think so. Truth is, if we have the ability to do this for people, let that choice fall to the people who have to live with the consequences and don’t put bills or laws or cuts in place that take that choice away from them because as we’ve seen from third-world countries, the necessity isn’t taken away with the facility, people will attempt to do these things at home and they will do it wrong. Please, please, if you are “Pro-Life”, save the lives that have lives to lose! Women, keep fighting for your right to own your own body, let it be known I’ll fight too!

This Is Cereals Business

Trigger Warnings – None

Ah, yesterday’s post went down well it seemed, earned a few new subscribers – come on in guys, make yourselves a cup of tea or something, kick back and relax. So what’s the topic of the day? Well, following the news here in the UK, I decided to weigh in on the Cereal Killer cafe, the first ever cereal cafe in the UK, set up in London to provide breakfast cereals both beloved and rare at a bit of a hefty price but hey, it’s the current economy, what doesn’t come at a hefty price now? Channel 4 sent a reporter to visit the place and the reporter noted the cafe was set up in one of the poorest parts of the city but still charged the steep price of £3.20 a bowl and asked if the owners can really justify such prices. Yes. Yes they can, the owner fought his case poorly on the spot but he was distracted and not prepared for an interview, he later responded by letter much more eloquently but I thought I would say my piece as well because that’s what I do and that’s what you’re here for, I hope.

We live in a harsh economic climate really, independent businesses get it in the neck from all sides and I’ve even given bad reviews of one on here though I admit a personal motive was the basis for that and hey, that’s not cool but whatever, bygones and shit. Anyway, running a shop isn’t as simple as sell stuff, replace it, sell it, there are taxes, wages, bills, suppliers to keep happy, stocks to keep fresh, facilities to clean and maintain, the world doesn’t run on positive attitude alone, it runs on money and that’s just a fact of the world at the moment. If you are buying something, you are not just paying for that item alone, you are paying a value tax, you are paying the shop so it can resupply itself with more of that item and you are paying towards the profits and salaries of the business. You might protest “I don’t want to pay their wages, that’s their boss’s job” – Duh, of course but where does the money come from? Now this is less of an issue for big businesses with proper payroll and budgeting staff but a small business has to take all the money from one big pot and divide that fairly, it doesn’t have a head office or a human resources department to make sure every barista or shelf stacker is paid this month. You pay into that pot, you get your slice of carrot cake, your waitress gets her wage and if that upsets you then go make your own cake, simple.

Don’t get me wrong, £3.20 is probably steep for cereal but hey, this isn’t a bowl of Shreddies, this is imported rare cereal you can only find by obsessive hunting like the owners did and buying your own box of it would set you back a pretty penny so be grateful. The reporter said this wasn’t practical, they never set up their business with the intention of being a community service kitchen, it’s a luxury, it’s a once-a-week/once-a-month treat like a trip to Nando’s or Zizzi’s. The business certainly seemed busy anyway, you build it and they will come, perhaps for the novelty but as long as they make money then good on them and the owners even stated that if they’re a success, they’ll set up a charity programme to bring healthy breakfasts to local schools. I didn’t know it fell on the shoulders of two hipsters in a cafe to save us all from starvation and poverty but it’s been thrust upon them apparently so go buy a bowl and help them become a big deal so they can use their vast wealth to buy me a solid gold unicorn for this advertisement… I mean, save orphans, whatever.

Britain is currently trying to push this ‘support your local small business’ thing whilst also berating them for steep prices and pretentious attitudes but maybe the prices are so steep because these guys pay their taxes? Just a wild idea but perhaps a real push to support small business would be turning the critical tongue on Starbucks and getting them to start paying us back, how’s that? Prices would increase, sure, but then your small business has a chance of competing and at least you can feel morally righteous in paying for coffee that is tasty and giving back to the local economy, not just a CEO’s pocket. As for the attitude, the guy came off in the interview as a twat but hey I’ve been in management, if it gets busy, you become a twat, you reduce everything to priorities and run around doing everything whilst this annoying alarm goes off in your head like “But what about this? Is someone talking to you? Is everyone working as hard as they could be? Smile! Smile! Smile! Happy manager means happy customers, why aren’t you smiling dickhead?” so fuck, if I was being interviewed on the job, I’d probably slip some sort of faux-pas like saying the business isn’t for poor people or whatever, cut him some slack. Incidentally, in relation to my small business attack on here ages ago, my apologies, you were quite aggressive in your disposition and I took it as you being a stuck up cow but maybe you were stressed too, I appreciate customer service either makes you a ray of sunshine or a dormant axe murderer verging on being not so dormant.

Ok, this cereal cafe won’t save the world, heck, it might not even last past the novelty stage but if we’re expecting small businesses to fight the fight for a fair economy, let’s play fair with them and give them a fighting chance. The owners of this place don’t need me to fight their battle for them here, he was pretty on point in the letter but still, I’m sick of the media and the government looking to blame anything for anything. Steep prices in a capitalist society? OH NOES, THAT’S EVIL! No, it isn’t, it’s the price of not wanting your investment to make you homeless

Can I have a free box of cereal now?

Blame The Beneficiaries

I had a rant in the works that was going to be rather interesting but seeing as I can’t string that rant together sufficiently well enough to be pleased with the message it gives out I’m going to instead turn my attention to another matter that is really getting under my skin, a television program that is nothing short of an atrocious attempt to demonize the lower classes. If you’re British and have a television, you are probably aware of the show I am referring to, the delightful TV morsel that is of course Benefit Street.

Benefit Street is a program shown on Channel 4 about the lives of those claiming benefits in a small section of Birmingham where nine out of ten households receive some form of benefits. The program follows the lives of people going about their business, applying for jobs and the like all whilst we are treated to scenes of anti-social behaviour and foul attitudes which we all know is par for the course when you look around these kind of neighbourhoods but the fact of the matter is that this is only a reflection of the government at work, which I’ll explain in detail later. Benefit Street is what you’d expect of what passes for a documentary in this day and age, a shameless montage of the best and worst examples of a certain demographic with some touching human interest stories that are flashed in your face briefly long enough to make you feel something before they shuffle along and drop the violin.

A controversy surrounding this televisual feast is that the people shown in the program were lied to when the TV crews arrived, believing they were taking part in a documentary about how solid community still matters to a broken nation and so many of them agreed to take part, only to be made out as scrounging wastes of oxygen by the media to the point where some participants have been disowned by their families and made to take on new identities to escape the hatred. Channel 4 denies deceiving their participants and says that they fully explained the concept to the participants but even if that were true, I doubt they explained it in simple straightforward English and instead spoke in cleverly ambiguous promises. May I remind you that this is the TV channel that brought us Sex Box, a show in which couples of all kinds, be they gay, straight or disabled, are shoved into a big steel cell and told to have sex (thankfully, this isn’t recorded) before coming out of the cell and discussing what they did and how it felt. Channel 4 likes to think of themselves as “cutting edge, pushing the boundaries of tasteful television” but frankly ever since Charlie Brooker and Derren Brown vanished from their showings, that pushing of boundaries has just meant shameless parades of total shite. I thought Hollyoaks was bad but compared to the other bollocks on that channel of late, Hollyoaks is the only jewel in the Channel 4 crown that isn’t made from a crusty turd.

The program is cut up and edited to show you what the government wants you to see. Oh, she’s applying for a job? Yay, skip the bit in which she gets mocked over the phone by her potential employer (According to an interview with one participant, what started as informal banter became degrading and insulting but that bit was cut out… not that she even knew the phone call was being taped) Oh all these houses next to each other each claim JSA huh? Evil demons, who cares about the fact the houses directly opposite don’t have benefit claimants living in them? Sadly we have to remember that Channel 4 and BBC are the speakerphones of the government and as much as they’d like to call themselves neutral, their purses are filled by politicians who give them slaps on the wrist for saying rude things before handing them a bag of sweets and giving them a pat on the head. America has this same thing with FOX, a channel so right-wing it might as well be a lopsided duck, but it lets some programs like The Simpsons and Futurama get away with the “Republicans are evil” gag because people still sit there and watch, even the left-wingers.  The media is a double-edged sword wielded by a bloated carcass wherever you look because it takes whatever side it fancies and calls itself the champion to be entitled to the rewards, before flipping over again and doing the exact same thing for the reverse side.

I know what some of you are thinking though, that these rats that live off free scraps deserve our hatred right? Benefits aren’t a lifestyle, they’re the absolute bottom line between having a roof over your head, or a sheet of corrugated steel. David Cameron once said £60 a week covers the common man’s bills easily with cash to spare but were that true, why do we not see these money-sponging fiends, as the conservatives amongst us might call them, rocking designer labels and brand new gadgets? I’m pretty sure the hot cars of the street were Corsas and Fiestas, not Enzos and Aventadors? Speaking as a man of the lower class, the only way you get something fancy is either by walking a lot in lieu of paying for petrol or bus fare or by waiting for it to devalue considerably. I mean, I’m playing my PS3 on a CRT TV, that’s right, the big fat black televisions you’d expect from Life on Mars, not Life in 2014. The PS3 isn’t great either, it’s one of the old ones and if I were to sell it, I’m not looking at getting anywhere near the price paid to buy it, the outdated relic it now is. Benefit Street is a stick for the Tories to beat their lessers with, a justification for the benefit cuts announced for 2014 and a foul-smelling message of “This is who you should hate, not us!”. I tell you what though, if someone is stealing the taxpayer’s money, I’d rather find out it was to buy food than to refurbish their second house!

I said I wanted to explain how these “scroungers” are a reflection of the government and for the purposes of this explanation, let’s assume these people are as bad as the show portrays them to be, lewd drunken washouts with no prospects for the future that now suckle from the money tit of the government. We operate on a system that is extremely dictated by class and has people set up to fail before they even start, that is becomingly increasingly expensive to live in but is offering less and less support and has sold out the future generations already by closing schools and youth clubs en masse. You’re broke, your education isn’t worth the paper it is printed on, you can’t afford a hobby and you’ve got no hope of a job and the only people to thank are the people that judged you before you were even that look in Dad’s eye when he had too many lagers in his system. Sponging is all you can do, aside from wade through shit that reaches up to your eyes and hope to find something that offers you a snorkel. You might have lazy demanding self-entitled people but the people of a nation reflect the rulers for the most part, namely our lazy demanding self-entitled government who sit on mountains made of solid gold and diamond, throw us pennies and call us greedy pigs.

As a fan of history let me take you back to a period of history I know very well, ancient China after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The Northern Territories were united under a man called Cao Cao, a charismatic yet harsh man who believed in a system that basically boiled down to “Every man has something he is good at, if he can discover this talent and apply himself to it then he shall be paid fairly according to his efforts and his family will have food”. No benefit system, sure, but Cao Cao never let a single potential worker go to waste and the people under his rule lived in a thriving kingdom, where they all had something they could do to earn their keep and this promoted discipline. Cao Cao was strict yet reasonable and prized hard-work above all else, his people and his subordinates were very much the same. The system isn’t perfect by any means, you could be facing a harsh winter if the bread-winner had an accident or couldn’t grow any crops but the main point is that Cao Cao had never heard of “scroungers” because he gave them reason (and opportunity) to work. Our current system offers no opportunities and is less about giving each man fair reward for effort but instead a flat rate regardless. In this country, if you find you can’t afford to work for less than a certain wage, you find yourself watching Dimitri Fuckyourselfinski coming in from the EU to take the job, working for pennies and taking them home to his country where those pennies are worth diamonds and he’s set for life. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure even a governmental system as archaic as Cao Cao’s didn’t have the rule “If your people are not happy with your rule, replace them with different people”

Oh, and for the record, even if these people were sponging money, let’s put that into perspective:

Tax Avoided/Evaded/Uncollected in 2013 – £120 Billion (Tax Justice and PCS Estimate)
Tax Avoided/Evaded/Uncollected in 2013 – £30 Billion (HMRC Estimate)
Benefits Unclaimed – £16 Billion (HMRC Estimate)
Benefit Overpayments Made In Error – £1.4 Billion (DWP Estimate)
Benefit Fraud – £1.2 Billion (DWP Estimate)

Cameron buddy, do some math – your big problem is companies evading taxes pal, clamping down on that £2.6 billion is still short of the £117.4 billion more you could be paying attention to and tell you what, if you do that and leave the benefit stuff alone, we as a people might even let you buy yourself a duck house as your reward hey? I mean, don’t get your hopes up but you know, it could happen… if you were competent.