Words cannot express, though I must try to make them, how much I loathe the system under which we live. It’s a system which rewards the rich, no matter how undeserving, and hammers the poor, no matter how they came to be so. It’s a system which assumes that wealth equals merit and that the poor deserve their fate. It’s a system which bypasses, even demonises, compassion and makes an enemy of welfare. It’s a system which punishes benefit claimants and hammers those in debt.
I’m not one of the worst-off. Not even close. I’m not on the streets or hanging on a phone line trying to find out why I owe the DWP money having received a threatening letter, nor am I a refugee about to be put on a plane in the middle of the night (Priti Patel makes my blood boil). I have somewhere to live and clothes to wear; I can’t be deported and nor, thank god, do I claim benefits. But I do have a substantial overdraft and no means of paying it off. Until recently I was coping with the charges: they made a hole in what I laughingly call my income but I could manage. And this month I was sure that in spite of Christmas and Daniel’s birthday (neither of which I grudge in the slightest) I had enough in my account to cover the charges. But this morning I had a text from the bank which I am not ashamed to tell you made me cry, because it informed me that I was about to go over my overdraft limit and should pay in funds today to avoid further charges. Fortunately I can ask OH to help me out here, otherwise I would be on a downward spiral to god knows where.
This has happened because last January the bank decided, out of nowhere, to virtually double the charges for those owing over a certain amount. Why? Just because they could, I guess – they didn’t bother giving any sort of rationale for it. I guess they needed to make up some money they were losing elsewhere, and who better to take it from than people like me; the poor, the overdrawn, those with nowhere else to go? I mean, they could hardly ask the rich, could they? You can’t ask someone like Jeff Bezos for money – he’s far too well-off. As George Bernard Shaw’s Millionaire says, ‘a man as rich as I am cannot afford anything.’ But we shall leave the rich in their self-made prisons for now and consider how many people out there are in my situation; stuck in some kind of debt incurred through no fault of their own – losing their job, an inability to make enough money, disability or illness – and being hammered by government, banks and other bastards. We feel isolated and helpless, we feel constantly hammered and unable to climb out of the mire. We feel abandoned by society and blamed for our own problems. We feel defeated.
We have to do better as a society, to find ways of helping each other. This is not a plea for money but for a better way of doing things. So let’s give our minds to that and together we will find a way.
9 thoughts on “Let’s Play ‘Hammer the Poor’”
I agree one hundred percent. I think what it comes down to is how honest most people are prepared to be with themselves, and I don’t include you or me or my immediate family & close friends in that, because I know for certain that they all want a better world as much as I do. It is almost impossible to avoid generalisations, no matter how much I dislike them, but I fear that too many people are content to ignore the plight of others worse off, if they even recognise it, because their own material accumulation is the only thing that matters to them, believing it will bring them security and peace of mind [perhaps synchronously knowing full well that they then have to spend money & time, and endure mental anguish setting up ‘protection’ to prevent these material riches from being stolen away from them, possibly with violence]; look at the attitudes of people who voted for this present government: to a large extent, it was ‘self, self, self’. I know I’m far from perfect; I’m very happy with a modest lifestyle, and I’m very grateful for what I have, but I am not optimistic for a speedy improvement in social standards unless there is a global readjustment away from self-interest towards willing co-operation. It will probably mean that those of us who care enough, in the environmental, social justice and monetary readjustment movements have to become more militant, but this is also purposively being made more difficult by the increasing suppression of the right to protest: that is not a coincidence. We all have a part to play, and any positive influence we can bring to bear will be a step in the right direction. Cheers, Jon.
Quite right Jon. We have to find a way and if we pull together we can make it happen
Thank you 😀
Spot on Liz. The narrative from the privileged is the poor deserve to be poor â heartbreaking. Sorry to hear about your bank â Iâve been there. First Direct do a very good overdraft deal but not the most ethicalâ¦
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Thanks. I would happily change banks but they normally want you to have some money rather than just transferring your overdraft…
I grew up in a low income family (and parents always in debt) but it has become normality for me; I live on a low wage but ‘fortunately’ my lifestyle means I’m comfortable enough. It just irritates me when I do work for people who clearly “have money” but then quibble about what I’m charging or quoting, then other times people who aren’t “well off” are generous and pay me extra!
I despise these banking charges that make life harder and even more stressful for people already struggling to make ends meet. One bank I was with encouraged me to open a separate savings account with some money from my main account… some months in and I managed to go over-drawn on the main account due to the funds not being there, costing me what I was set to gain from having the savings account. I closed that savings account after that experience.
Good points, Brian. I do admire the frugal way you live but banks are a perpetual menace. They kept trying to get me to take out a loan but when I asked whether the overdraft facility would still be available they hedged – so I realised this would just get me deeper into debt
Oh darling – hugs xx.
At some point I’ll get together a post on it being expensive to be poor and the links to thermodynamics, but in the meantime here’s the thing I wrote sur la demi-patisserie:
Interestingly, people seemed to think of this in two different ways according to whether they were left- or right-wing.