Getting Hacked off

rich and poor

I don’t watch telly any more. At least that way I don’t see the faces of the sanctimonious as they tell us what’s good for us and how we should behave.

But believe it or not, I’m worried about this country and the way it’s going. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing and is becoming entrenched.


For example we have people with job security, index linked pensions and the right to retire at sixty, writing rules to tell people with nothing who’ve turned up late to an interview that they’re sanctioned and aren’t going to get anything to live on for the next two weeks.

Now this isn’t the work of tory scum, this is the work of the employees of the state, of people who frankly don’t care and have no compassion and who are as likely to vote Libdem, UKIP or Labour as they are Tory.

Why these people do this is beyond me. The same hole in the ground beckons, whether they’re a modestly respectable junior civil servant or a drunk on the street. The modest respectability might keep you out of the hole for another ten or fifteen years, but it’s still waiting for you.

What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?


And then I was listening to somebody talk. They were talking about helping refugees settle in this country. When the possibility of the refugees being housed in a certain area was raised, the answer was an immediate ‘No’; because frankly the area wasn’t fit for people to live in. This I can understand. If you have people whose lives have been shattered, then you need somewhere for them to live where they can feel secure. In which case why were they using the same area to dump our poor? After all if it’s not fit for people to make their homes in, it’s not fit, full stop!


I was listening to somebody else talking about how government was making things difficult for a particular group of migrants. The rules were always changing; decisions taken were arbitrary and made no obvious sense. The person telling me was shocked. I had to gently explain to them that this is how government always treats the poor, but as a bright middle class person it wasn’t what she was used to. The migrants were being treated like lower class natives of the country.


I’ve talked to all sorts of people, and we have, at the bottom of the heap a lot of people who have chaotic lives. Some of them have mental illness, diagnosed or undiagnosed. Some of them are not particularly bright; some of them have other issues. They cannot cope with complicated systems. In reality they never could and they never will. I know men in middle age who know they will never be more than semi-skilled.


So what’s needed? A big injection of money? More Mental Health workers? Better education?
Well all of them might help a bit, but I’m old enough and cynical enough to know that’s not going to happen. There might be a token scheme in London.


What we really need is simple, it’s compassion. And that’s the tricky thing to organise isn’t it. We talk about our ‘caring services.’ No, we don’t have caring services; we have ‘administrative provision.’ The bureaucracy, the system doesn’t care. Only individual people care, take the time to ensure that justice is done rather than merely following the rules.

So we need more people with compassion. Tough call that one.


For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?



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30 thoughts on “Getting Hacked off

  1. The Story Reading Ape July 7, 2016 at 6:23 pm Reply

    I’m afraid you’re spot on Jim 😦
    However, there are, I’m glad to say, a LOT of people who DO care and have compassion, they just don’t get the same amount of publicity as the ne’er-do-wells, bigots, scoundrels or other (more strongly titled) self indulgent, narrow minded and completely self-centred people who seem to abound, but are still (I hope) in the minority 🐵

    • jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 6:29 pm Reply

      Oh there are, and I suspect they feel swamped at times. One reason I wrote this was so that people out there who do care and do have compassion realise that somebody appreciates them and somebody else cares.

  2. keirarts July 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm Reply

    I think some of this attitude is born of rage. Usually fuelled by the tabloids who seem to be desperate to keep their readers by peddling fear.

    • jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm Reply

      ‘Fear and Greed’, the two reliable triggers. Vote for us and we’ll see you all right. Vote for the other lot and they’ll beggar you/destroy your livelihood/destroy the health service

  3. Will Once July 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm Reply

    I’m struggling here, Jim. I really am. Yes, the Government is making it more difficult for migrants to settle in this country. But they are largely doing that to appease people on the Leave side of the referendum, including “that bigoted woman”. So who do you want to feel compassion for? The immigrants or the people trying to stop the immigrants? You can’t have it both ways.

    And yes the poor and the immigrants tend to get homed in places that other people wouldn’t want to live in. That’s largely because of the complaints that the social services get when they try to put them somewhere else.

    The people managing the welfare state are not nasty ogres trying to make peoples’ lives a misery. They genuinely do care. But they increasingly find themselves torn between different groups of people, such as the needs of immigrants and the opinions of people who don’t want immigrants to live anywhere near them.

    Yes we need compassion but we also need the ability to see things through someone else’s eyes. And that includes the many people that you seem to have a problem with.

    • jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm Reply

      Actually we probably can have it both ways. But we’ve got to do it properly. As far as I can make out one problem in the Boston area was first they were told there wasn’t a problem, then they were told they were a lot of racists, and then finally the schools kicked off because they weren’t given the resources to cope with the sheer number of pupils they had with little English.
      Being honest with people helps. Listening to people helps, immense damage was done by people who shut down debate by hissing ‘racist’. You do not win over people by saying they’re stupid.
      We’ve got to put in the resources to not merely make things possible for migrants, we’ve got to put in the resources to make things possible for people already there.
      We need training schemes which aren’t run purely for those running the training schemes (I know somebody who has had to do Key Skills English eight or nine times.Always the same level and he’s passed it every time. But if he doesn’t take it, he’s threatened with being sanctioned.)
      Then we need jobs. But jobs where people actually do things. We probably need better schemes for helping people start their own business. Run by people who have run small businesses

      • Will Once July 7, 2016 at 9:10 pm

        And how are we going to pay for all that when half of the voting population has just voted for a recession? Exactly what resources are we going to have to put into anything?

      • jwebster2 July 8, 2016 at 6:07 am

        well we start by stopping paying for stuff that isn’t working. We scrap the training schemes which are being run as a cash cow, putting people repeatedly through the same key skills tests for the money that brings the scheme.
        And why should we have a recession? The easy way to get a recession is to talk yourself into one. With half the population walking round in sackcloth wailing woe, woe, then yes, people are going to be worried about spending. With a low pound we’ve got a chance to get exporting again. Even Port Talbot steel starts looking competitive on the world market

      • Will Once July 9, 2016 at 7:10 am

        People are worried about spending because there will be job losses as we walk away from a very advantageous trade deal. The Leave campaign promised there would be no economic impact. It was one of their many lies. Now they are trying to blame it on people talking down the economy. Sooner or later they will have to admit the obvious. It wasn’t project fear. It was the truth.

      • jwebster2 July 9, 2016 at 8:12 am

        There are always job losses as the economy changes. When the euro collapses and Europe re-nationalises there will be job losses. The important thing is to keep creating new opportunities. We have plenty of opportunity for new trade deals, for example we could have one at any time with Canada. The only reason the EU doesn’t is that the Canadian government won’t give free access to citizens from all member states.
        Same with India, China and places like that. Because the EU has been dragging it’s feet (negotiating a deal with China since 2007 and with India since at least 2010) we’ve got a chance to get in there

      • lercio October 20, 2016 at 11:37 pm

        I like to catch the news programs, the US election providing much food for thought. As I’ve been a salesman for most of my life and comparing his approach to mine as the jobs are similar.
        A Salesman first of all sells himself to his customer whereas it seems that a politician first sells his soul to the Devil.
        If I make a mess of customer care (like selling a load of rubbish) then I have to put it right, even if I make a personal loss.
        If a politician sells us rubbish promises, he thinks, “How the Devil can I get out of this?”. A voice tells him ” You can always put a nice gift in four years, just in time for the next election”.
        Oh yes back to the U.S. News. It’s fortunate that Mr. Trump employs Salesmen to sell his Realestate.
        The next item that Chanel five threw at me was the interviews off the street about how the well the Prime Minister will do with our exit negotiations.
        Tw said it could be difficult and the other four said either she wouldn’t do very well, one even saying we wouldn’t get anything.
        The latter four all had East European accents, which made me think.
        How many of the 48% who voted remain were recent immigrants to the UK ?
        But then it’s late and I’m just thinking of making a nice black coffee to help me to sleep. Ah, I do miss Bernard Manning. I can always watch some re-runs of the “Wheel Tappers and Shunters Club”.

      • jwebster2 October 21, 2016 at 8:02 am

        It is, as they say, a funny old world. I’ve seen figures that seemed to indicate that immigrants from the former empire were in general more likely to vote to leave, and one can only assume that immigrants from the EU are less likely to vote to leave.
        It’s interesting that people from the first group that I’ve talked to have a strong view of ‘Britishness’ or ‘Englishness’ which is what appealed to them and led them here and they see it being lost in the EU

  4. jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm Reply

    Compassion is vital. You don’t have to have much contact to discover how easy it is to end up homeless. I met a chap who’d worked for the same company for years, done well, got pensions. Took early retirement and he and wife rented a house while they looked for somewhere to buy. Six months later she was dead,cancer, and he had effectively collapsed with depression, took to drink and six months after that he was living in a homeless shelter

  5. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt July 7, 2016 at 7:30 pm Reply

    I wish there were something I could do, beyond sending money to charities. For me, personally.

    The one thing I’ve tried, writing compassion and empathy into fiction, is having a hard start. I had hoped to do useful things with my retirement; instead, I barely manage – and could probably use someone doing useful things for me. And I can’t even find such a person to pay to help.

    It’s a HUGE problem, dealing with the half of the world which is, by definition, below average. It doesn’t take much to lose a lot. I’m sorry for that chap you describe. How is he now?

    • jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 8:14 pm Reply

      I’m lucky, there are times and places where I can step in and help out. Also I’d a gobby beggar and can cheerfully shoot my mouth off, if only in writing 🙂
      Because then the other people who care don’t feel so isolated

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt July 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm

        Aye. Isolation makes things so much worse. It if were not for my online friends, I’d be a burden on the spouse and children. I’m going bonkers as it is.

        Even introverts need to talk occasionally.

      • jwebster2 July 8, 2016 at 6:09 am

        Yes, they’re beginning to realise that loneliness is a problem over here

    • jwebster2 July 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm Reply

      oh and about the chap, he was lucky, the homeless centre he ended up with helped him sort himself out, and with support he could live in a flat, and then started putting his life back together.

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt July 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm

        Poor guy. But whatever you do, drinking is NOT the answer – it adds a whole other layer of problems, physical, mental, and especially financial, to the ones you already have.

        Fortunately for me, it makes me sick.

        I’m glad he’s sorted out, or at least started. I’m so sorry he lost his wife after taking the early retirement she probably wanted him to take so they could spend more time together. Not fair.

      • jwebster2 July 8, 2016 at 6:08 am

        Drinking is never the answer, certainly not to depression

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt July 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm

        I’m finding that sugar is not, for me, the answer, either.

        It is incredibly hard to resist something that should give me a pick-me-up, and a little bit of extra energy to get over a bump – and instead takes days to get out of my system. Talk about loan-shark interest rates.

        Which is shy I’m so glad I CAN’T drink. It makes me ill. But the fact makes sure I can never go down that path; it’s bad enough on the others when you haven’t had energy for as long as I haven’t. I know you understand.

      • jwebster2 July 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        I think it’s a case of having to pick your own way through these things

  6. Mick Canning July 8, 2016 at 10:09 am Reply

    Compassion is absolutely vital. I’ve worked in the ‘caring services’ and, yes, they do care. very much. But, as in everything else, policy is influenced – and sometimes dictated – by those that hold the purse strings, those that want to make continual cuts, and those that keep reinventing the wheel just to justify their positions. Sometimes, the caring finds it hard to get a look in.

    • jwebster2 July 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm Reply

      I agree, and that’s why we have to work more broadly, have you seen this? Just as an example of what people are doing out there

      • Mick Canning July 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

        I hadn’t, but what it says resonates with me. I work occasionally with troubled youngsters on an outdoor project, and what they need more than anything else is often, as the article mentions, a male role model (frequently they have absent fathers, or fathers who are at home but are abusive or take no interest), but more than anything else, they need someone to listen to them and tell them that their thoughts and ideas matter; that their contribution to the project is valued.

  7. earnestern July 10, 2016 at 3:19 pm Reply

    Thanks Jim for your post and to those who have contributed to an interesting discussion. Interesting too that it quickly drifted into a Brexit debate! I suspect many discussions in the immediate future will have such a component. Getting back to the original point of the post, I believe that there are many caring people out there with a huge amount of compassion for those with chaotic lives (a good way of putting it Jim). I have witnessed, however, cases where such good people have had the compassion literally beaten out of them by the very people they are trying to help. We also need to make sure we care for the carers.

    • jwebster2 July 10, 2016 at 5:40 pm Reply

      Yes, you’re absolutely right, we have to care for the carers and make sure they know they’re valued.

  8. lercio October 20, 2016 at 11:57 pm Reply

    I can remember about five years ago I noticed someone buying a half bottle of vodka and asking for two packs of paracetamol (32 tablets).
    I stopped the sale and issued ‘do not serve’ instructions.
    Printed a photograph and put it behind the counter with the other standing orders.
    I lost a customer, but sadly she was found dead in less than three weeks.
    It wasn’t suicide, it was just a dangerous way of getting drunk without spending too much money.

    • jwebster2 October 21, 2016 at 8:05 am Reply

      I think one of the main things we have to do is provide people with hope. In the last few months I think I’ve seen more people lifted up and cheered by the results of the referendum than saddened by it, but that might just be the part of the world I live in.
      But as last they feel they are important enough for their government to listen to them. It’s all part of just giving people hope, to value themselves enough so they don’t go down the sad strange byways that you tried to save that person from

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