Let’s Assume you’re a Crook!

June 18, 2020

Today in Parliament Sir, note the knighthood, Iain Duncan Smith, note Iain, and not Ian, posed (a poser?) an objection to a government having been placed under public pressure by a young black 22 year old professional footballer and his campaign; and which had decided, changed its mind on the issue, to offer a coupon worth around £15 per week to children who normally would enjoy school meals free were the schools open.

Sir Smith’s objection raised a fear that these coupons, ‘one does not know into whose hands they might fall’ !!

The knight just could not accept the human fact that maybe some people not entitled to benefit from this £15 per week would enjoy that sum. Maybe he thought there was a large number of such persons ‘out there’ who would, or who would seek to place themselves so that they did benefit without legitimacy to do so?

Maybe he just could not deal with the thought of any portion of this ‘public money’ being siphoned off by persons not entitled to it?

Can you imagine the blackmarket trade in meals coupons for children? Can you imagine the glee a crook might enjoy had he or she managed to get hold of £15 worth of kid’s food tokens?

Can you conceive what was going on in Sir Smith’s mind when he had the idea and followed through by objecting to this measure?

Maybe politically he accepted the role of being a ‘plant’ so as for him to as it were, stand up for the feelings of that portion of the Conservative vote whose hackles would be raised by this measure being allowed? “We are giving this concession but we don’t like it” so to speak.

Whatever reasoning one follows, there remains the implication that there is a divide and a distrust and a distaste behind which the Conservatives raise their parapets from which to reconnoitre and skirmish with the enemy who ‘expects - or grabs for - something for nothing’?

This concession of coupons had to be handled ‘diplomatically’ since it was only public pressure which had caused the government to cave, as this had been rallied by the professional football player, together with that fear of a weight of ignominy besmirching the reputation of such a government, the brunt of which would be brought down on its head, and this especially in the light of the ‘new faithful’ of the economically depressed ex-Labour voting areas of the realm, those people who recently turned their coats and whose switch of loyalties has considerably helped vote the Conservatives into power.

How is it that George Orwell puts it?

“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink”

And how else does a government in power act so as to handle the politics of situations in which it needs to satisfy the opposite and contrary feelings and opinions of its electorate, and to manage successfully how it is perceived by a divided people?

It praises its policy of ‘deregulation’, which, it claims, has thrown off and thereby released (the potential of) business and trade, companies and service providers, all that long list of words which now carry to the ears of most of us the senses of favour and of positive vibes, conditioned into us by their having been bandied about in the media and in sound-bites, speeches and interviews in such a persistent and dogmatic upbeat way for so long now. Business can do no wrong. Business is the salt of the earth. Business is what all the working people who are employed by businesses owe their wellbeing to, no, their very being, one would think from the guff and bluster.

This policy of deregulation is no such thing. This policy of deregulation has not deregulated. The burden of regulation has been passed ‘down’ the economic scale onto the employee, and onto the client, the consumer and the customer, on the candidate, and the student, and those seeking employment, or a registration with a GP, or an entitlement of any kind: such as a welfare service; all of which benefits – notice how the word automatically raises hostile antipathies in you! - not long ago all of us were freely entitled to expect, without having to face intensive and aggressive quizzing and the raising of, and the entertaining of, and the following through with, doubtful assumptions about our authenticity. That we are crooks is now the default and implied starting point for public and private organisation personnel who ‘third degree’ you these days.

Further – along with this default presumption as the definitive starting point in any interview that we are all crooks on the other side of the table, or of the microphone or of the email, or on the form to be filled in, or on the telephone; whatever – along with this is arrogated, purloined, assumed, haughty and proper, that the interrogator, whether official or employee, holds the higher moral ground, also the weight of authority in terms of the relationship as established, as to be established, and furthermore the requirement threshold is always formidable, even for an ordinary bona fide person and her/his case, and above which an interviewee is required to rise, before the interview and the interviewer are sufficiently satisfied that you are now considered fit to proceed and be allowed entrance through the outer gate, often the first of several.

When one is taken into hospital as an in-patient and the diagnosis might have been made, and it is not pleasant, but yet the full import of the consequences of it are still not yet told to you – this is the common situation for most patients in such circumstances.

One sits several days on one’s bed and sometimes wanders the aisles and wards chatting and whiling away time, unless your case needs emergency treatment immediately, as day by day the doctors gather like a flock around your bed area and little by little you are gradually and slowly spoonfed, initiated into the mysteries of, the bottom lines for your condition, until you are in as full a state of knowledge as the flock requires you to be; and if it’s an operation then you steel yourself and you’re up for it.

One is able to see the wisdom of, the reasons for, this slow and measured induction into one’s own medical state. There is no trace of any medic or nurse suspecting – ah, this patient is swinging the lead, ah, this patient is not whom she says she is, ah, this patient has a funny accent and displays funny skin colour and diet etc etc – maybe this patient is FOREIGN!! - God forbid! Maybe this patient is here to avoid paying a debt, or the bailiffs, or the courts, or the police, or worse than all - The Immigration Service!

God forbid that anyone should be cured on “The Sabbath Day”! Turn away that person in need of present help as medical treatment! Cross the road to the other side; she’s a horrid Samaritan!

Besides the ethical side of this, and besides God’s Commandments, which however have uppermost priority in such matters - but we are talking here to those for whom God conceded to Moses that he could allow a writ of divorce to be written only because of the hardness of their hearts, - there are the practical and actual conditions which bear upon a common consensus and which have to apply, and the common consensus sadly is not on God’s side.

The common consensus is mixed but on the whole conservative, in that generally it does not accept or approve of ‘people coming over here and taking our jobs, our schools, our health facilities..”, facing our prejudices. But the nature of hospitals is that when persons are sick, and indeed the more seriously the moreso, persons shed like scales from their eyes all these ideas of privilege and difference and class and status and better and worse people, and of pulling authority and all the stuff that makes our lives a warren to maneuver through.

There’s no status of difference in the face of mortality; as like the Lord Jesus and His Heavenly Father, death too is ‘no respecter of persons’. Thus it is not fit and is inappropriate for a person to stand upon their rank unto the very last breath. If a sense of common humanity, a sense truly that indeed ‘we are all in this together’ is ever going to dawn upon a person, it is in an encounter with life-threatening illness.

This is why the nurse the doctor does not ask in such cases: “Is this guy authentic?” “Is he really who he claims to be?” ‘Is he hiding something?’ ‘Is he a crook?’ No, the human need for care and cure overrides all this stuff and nonsense. The default position is not presumption of doubt and distrust – it is acceptance without terms and conditions in these cases

But with officials and with that employee clerk or call centre guy or gal on the end of the phone when you want to sign up for services, utilities, provisions, etc the great catalyst which transforms gold into lead and which interferes vigorously and pejoratively with their vision of things, deflecting it from the things of the heart, and from the plainness and clearness of last things – this is simply MONEY!

In our world as we have made it so, money buys power. Power is in the hands of those who dispense concessions to others; and no concession is dispensed without a return of payment. This is the way of power in our world as we have made it. The private and the public companies and organisations; their officials and their clerks and call centre guys, to whom is delegated on pain of unemployment a modicum of power to wield solely in the service of their masters, the powerful; these are always all set up and with much care and thought are run so as to handle those modicums of power to the sole best interest of the powerful disposers behind them.

They are money acquiring machines with human, administrative, legal and mechanical parts. Their raison d’etre is money acquisition. The powerful behind them have it this way – and it is all controlled over above all else by designing and designed usage and manipulation of money. Money is the cement which binds together the kingdom of this world as we have made it.

The phrase is a person would not do it – for love nor money” - the two prime movers of the nether world; only one of which partaking of a higher place. Money moves the people of the world; love moves the persons in the world but not of the world.

By the designed trick of having passed down the economic scale the burden of regulation so as that under the power of money to have made the world a world of self regulation for the person petitioning for a place or a service, he or she who is lacking and needing or desiring of something able to be bought or provided by economic means, this sleight and trick has been effected so as to allow more freedom to Mammon and money acquisition – beloved business.

‘Let them eat cake’ said Marie Anoinette facetiously and scathingly, when not even stale bread was available. Those seeking employment, or a service or welfare or access or a condition or any thing which denied them makes them struggle the moreso, in most instances these persons struggling are those people at the bottom of the economic monetary power scale, as setup and maintained by the people of the world, who are its masters under Mammon.

Hence a person on the streets – perhaps at the very base of the economic monetary power scale, penniless, unemployed, unemployable, no material or financial assets – has without great assistance and care, next to zero chance of reestablishing herself in common society – no assets, nothing going for you in worldly terms means the end for you.

This is the very antithesis of the close encounter with death in a hospital when all false barriers break down in the light of real and foundational things staring one in the face. This is the diabolic effect of money, power, and its tunnel-vision acquisition.

There’s a story about a man who insisted on crossing a busy road on a zebra crossing, even though heavy lorries were bearing down on that crossing. He was hit and in his hospital bed just before he passed away he was heard hoarsely to have pleaded: “But I had right of way!”

The lorry that hit him was the weight in the power of the world of money. The zebra crossing was a temptation to circumvent that power on one’s own terms, to pit yourself against the inexorable ways of the world. His last words were his misunderstanding – looking to the Highway Code to exonerate him, even to cry loudly FOUL! INJUSTICE! The Highway Code has been breached and this is the wretched and unjust result.

Looking for salvation in regulation -but the lorry was the deregulation of business; the passing down the scale to the petitioner the burden of supplying every necessary credential. And not just once for all, but for the same privilege or benefit several times repetitively at each stage and for each department one successively is forwarded to.

Everyone reading this of mine KNOWS what I’m talking about and knows it is the case. The younger among you may have known nothing other than this Bedlam state, this Kafkaesque lunacy; this farcical nightmare. You might believe it has always been like this; that this is ‘normal’ and ‘standard’. It is prophecy fulfilled, prophecy given by great Christians such as Jacques Ellul and TS Eliot, as Isaiah and Jeremiah, as John the Divine and a cloud of The Great Divines of Post Reformation England.

Deregulation as an issue tends to pale beside the huge considerations my discussion of it has led me into. And yes it is an iceberg’s tip, the froth of the pit, the fin of the shark; and the full complement of evils which our present ways of life present to us as being ‘standard’ or ‘normal’, to which our eyes no longer blink, and our minds give never a second thought for, cannot be listed here even, let alone laid out in any exposition, without me testing your patience overlong.

I finish up by asking you to consider on how business and business start ups are looked upon by the officials and by the avid part of the populace which seeks to ‘go into busines’ and become ‘my own boss’.

Contrary to you wanting to sign up with a GP or to get some new provider for your phone; when you are starting up a business, local government will, as we say, ‘bend over backwards’ to assist and encourage you. There are grants, loans, courses, subsidies, help with this and that, tax and rate breaks, and no obligation but to start trading, no penalties no comeback were you to fail in business. It’s just the expected attrition of a rate of about two thirds of startups failing within two years.

There was a move to axe completely the Overseas Aid budget of national government and so send nothing graciously to the less fortunate nations from Britain. The money ‘saved’ was encouraged to be spent on attracting inward investment into Britain. What a turnaround that would have been! – from rags to riches – from love to money.

In this present silly affair of social restrictions, It is business that has had money for furloughs, help with fixed costs, and it is businesses that line up bleating that dreadful euphemism – ‘we need help’ – which is in English – ‘give us more money’ . As much news has been about the economic crisis as about illness – the aim of getting the balance right between restrictive measures and the economy is on presenters’, politicians’ lips daily. Said more precisely – what is the cost in illness we are willing to tolerate so as to have the ‘unnecessary goods and services’ shops and businesses open and trading again?

Many shops we have done without and barely if at all noticed any loss or deprivation. I am not talking here about numerous people who have met with hardship due to these events – I am talking about – government’s own words - ‘unnecessary’ shops and businesses. Propped up, supported by government. Favoured and privileged above plain needy actual living people. Ah, the economy, the saint economy. The rich guys’ power base and money making machine.

Yet it took an ethical shame campaign led by a young black professional footballer to get our government – those who are said to serve the people – shamefacedly chidden enough to cave and so offer a £15 food token per week to schoolchildren who normally, in better circumstances, would otherwise have been enjoying free school meals.