Friday, August 22, 2008

Welfare for the underprivileged

There was an interesting discussion going on between two commentators in my earlier post on beggars. Essentially, there was some heated exchange about whether people asking for charity on the streets are deserving of our help.

Sabriena pointed out that having came from an under privileged background, she clawed her way out of poverty. Along the way, she knew of some alcoholics and drug addicts who were blaming everyone else but themselves for the state that they were in.

Is Welfare the way to go?

No one wants to be asking for charity. That I can safely assume. Shouldn't the rest of us then extend a helping hand to those who need help to get a leg up in the society? In an ideal civilized society, where no one abuses and exploit the system, that is indeed the enlightened path.

Like I said, that's in an ideal world.

Instead of being grateful and striving to be productive members of the society, many welfare recipients failed to seize the one opportunity they have and developed a 'crutch' mentality. Instead of recognizing and dealing with the issue, they vented their frustrations on those they perceived to possess more than them.

That's the downside of welfare, which the society is not ready to deal with.

However, having said that, an acquaintance, who worked in the Central Narcotics Bureau, told me of an incident of a drug bust that he participated in. After hauling up a couple who were obviously stoned, he found their 4 year old kid hiding in a cupboard.

He was sniffing glue from a small bag that he clutched close to his chest.

The world is not fair. It is never meant to be.

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Black Woman Thinks said...

What an interesting site! Especially as I am a woman who was born in England and now in the Americas so your observations from London are interesting to me. I'm not only seeing it through the eyes of someone who was born elsewhere but I'm viewing it from a distance too.
I wanted to make a small point about this subject of 'welfare for the underprivileged' - as someone who believes that we are who we are through a combination of nature and nurture I find it almost impossible to condemn or look down on someone because of their particular lifestyle or circumstances.
It is easy to show people who have pulled themselves out of a difficult situation (Hollywood does it all the time!) but unless you have experienced everything that the person in gutter has then it is a little difficult to talk authoritatively about their lives and what they should do. Life is tough and it is survival of the fittest in some respects.
I don't have all the answers and I'm sure no one does but we could start by being a little more compassionate about people who we perceive to be in the gutter. One day, we never know, that 'gutter person' just might be one of us.

C K said...

Thanks for the enlightening comment.

I am fortunate to have a roof over my head and do not have to (overly) worry about where my next meal will come from. As such, I may not know be in a position to empathise with what some of the less priviledged are going through right now.

However, I cannot but feel frustrated when I saw a mother getting 28p beans for her two kids and got herself a pack of cigarettes for 5 quid at the supermarket. Her kids look like they could do with some nutrition.

Did I mention that she also got a 6-pack of beer as well?

I mean, at the end of the day, we must be able to recognize that the only (real) help that we're ever getting will be coming from ourselves.

SheR. said...

Having gone to school in London, I've met some of the worst and best people who live in the council flats.

I've heard of how single mums (one who was previously abused by her husband and fought 12 years to divorce him) struggled to survive. They were lucky enough to be giving a flat to live in. And they were thankful for it.

On the other hand, we see some who abused the system. Claiming to be struggling single mums or asylum seekers... they get a flat, car and a job all without too much effort. A few of them went to the same school as I do paying only less than 200 quid (mine was 10,000 pounds) so that they could continue to receive subsidies for their latest "trendy" hairdo. And whenever someone points out that they are pests of the society, they will say he is biased or racist.

I think an abuser of the system OR a real needy. It boils down to one's conscience. (Hope the abuser has one.)

Renee said...

Why is it people pick on the poor and not the system that impoverishes? There are people that are actually working full-time jobs that are homeless. In my country last winter many had to decide between heat and food. Imagine having to make that choice.
I find it interesting that C.K. commented on the purchase of beer. Alcohol is a drug and if you were living in poverty would you not want to self-medicate some of the depression that comes with living a life like that? He noticed that the mother didn't buy better food but nothing was stopping him from offering her a few bucks or purchasing some food himself. It is much easier to judge than to offer a helping hand isn't it? Since the 1980's the poor have been under attack. We have been socialized to hate the welfare cheats and frauds, but really what do they cost us in comparison to the money spent on war, or the money stolen my greedy CEO's? How many tax breaks do coporations receive annually while they move to outsource labor so that can exploit even poorer people? Does anyone not see anything wrong with picking on the most vulnerable class in society?

eastcoastlife said...

The Singapore Government doesn't believe in welfare systems although it has in place some subsidies and short term assistance schemes.

Our old and poor have to find ways to help themselves.

For the Chinese, saving face is very important. Many poor Chinese either live simple lives, eating preserved food and having porridge daily. Some prefer to work as toilet cleaners or dish washers to earn their own keep.

Should we have welfare systems like the West? I don't think so.

waitingkitty said...

I support eastcoastlife's comments. I do not believe in having welfare system to take care of the poor because people will tend to abuse such a system. And beer is definitely not a drug for self-medication, for goodness sake! Alcoholic drinks and cigarettes are luxury items the affluent has created for self-amusement. And so are all those crazy drugs out there for having a "high" time.

Dutchie said...

Hello ck ! Yes, I'm still around ;-P. Been busy since I hv to do everything myself as my sparring partner is not here to lend me his 2 hands :(

Anyway, I read with interest ur articles on Welfare/Beggars. From another angle, I do wonder if some ethnic groups r more prone to them than some Asian countries where the shame of it would drive them to pull up their own socks ? It's just a thought, I'm not here to put people down or trivialised their predicaments.