I think it’s fair to say, now, that the poor have been completely disenfranchised from the system and thus from society. This was made clear, in my opinion, with the appointment of Rachel Reeves as shadow work and pensions secretary. Her opening statement clearly laid out Labour’s desire to distance themselves from the lower classes and to fight IDS at his own game, which is, in my view, a race to the bottom.
This was also further reinforced this morning, amid the monsoon we appear to have moved beneath, in another appointment with my GP. To her credit she has agreed to support me with sick notes, but at the same time isn’t really helping me at all. Not to be ungrateful but facilitating survival rations is hardly the support one should expect from a civilised rich post industrial nation. Yet we are lucky to get even that.
I say ‘expect’ because she raised the point that I was sounding ‘entitled’. This has become a dirty word these days. It is capitalism’s code for “expecting things to be given without earning them in a way acceptable to the status quo”. Welfare claimants are entitled because they expect to receive an income more than dire poverty. This is how far we have sunk, that people with nothing who want to live are branded as greedy. Her point was that by wanting support I was behaving thus, yet I have been placed on the Work Programme and have received no help. At all. Where is the entitlement? Is that not what is supposed to happen? After all Salvation Army Employment Plus are not participating in this scheme for free (even though they argue they get nothing, more fool them).
I don't even really know what to think. All I know is that this world is a hostile place to me. I can't get on with it. Whatever I think seems to be out of sorts and at odds with the convention of the day. Whatever I say is misunderstood. I am not knocking people that work in shops; I don't criticise the person that does the job and there are plenty of venues that would probably be a lot more fun to work in than, say, Tesco. But you get no help to find such a job - unless it happens to show up on Universal Jobmatch (I even tried explaining how crap that was, but of course I just sound like I'm having a moan).
Curiously she commented that I have a lot of 'wherewithall'. What she means is that I know my own mind. Good, but is she saying I'm being a bit disingenuous or even dishonest? That, because I'm smart and perhaps more capable than should be right for someone claiming on the sick, my claims to have problems are unfounded. Again assumptions.
Some of us need help. I’m sure it’s not easy studying to be or working as a doctor, but that is an acceptable profession that, resources permitting, one can reasonably expect to try for. Yet when I told her that having worked in retail and as a cleaner she again felt I was being ‘entitled’ when I said those were not jobs I aspire to as a career. It seems that not wanting a career in a notoriously low paid sector or a job clearing up after other people is unreasonable. Sorry, but I doubt she would want either of those as careers either, and aren’t doctors entitled? Don’t they get paid well? Don’t they expect decent terms and conditions, particularly when it comes to after hours work? Who isn’t entitled? Not politicians, businessmen, corporations, or bankers. It’s ok to be a snob if you are in that position, but not otherwise. That’s hypocrisy.
I have all but given up on my GP surgery now. They simply don’t listen. They don’t understand the issues. She even suggested that I might have some empathy with the opposing point of view. In other words, what about those poor taxpayers having to personally bail out the poor – as if there is a queue of hard working souls outside the expensive rented doors of paupers passing a bucket of money down the line like firemen of old. That isn’t the function of social security; it’s to keep society together and to protect people for the greater good. I’m not asking for a prescription I can take down Bright House for a massive plasma screen TV. But I’m supposed to empathise with the difficult position the government is in with a straight face while talking to a GP that clearly knows nothing about what is really happening. Of course if I make that point I seem to overthrow objectivity and thus destroy my own credibility. It is a no win situation.
I tried explaining that GP’s need to understand the benefit system and the motive of the maniacs in power. I fear it falls on deaf ears. She has this annoying habit of asking a question and then, before I can even respond, to start nodding and saying “Aha, mm hmm, ahuh, yes, hmmm.” as if she’s actually listening. It’s almost comical it’s so obvious. I wonder if she even realises she’s doing it. It comes to something when even the medical profession are swayed by the right wing ideas that dominate, but it is hardly surprising. The conditioning is everywhere and by not allowing me the space to properly express myself I simply do not get taken seriously. Consequently it’s easy to resort to stereotypes and lazy assumptions. For example she, like the rest of them, continues to make the point that living perpetually on the sick is undesirable. I have tried many times to explain how this is no longer possible. Eventually I will have a tribunal and at the very least the decision will be taken out of her hands. A year later and the ESA entitlement, if I make it into the WRAG, will end. Of course this is too much information to get across without her interrupting, which she does. A lot. Aha, mm hmm, ahuh, yes, hmmm.