So, who’s going to be operating the feckometer?

Cameron to axe housing benefits for feckless under 25s as he declares war on welfare culture.

Mail on Sunday headline, 24th June 2012

Have you ever wondered how much feck you possess? Don’t worry – you don’t need to know what feck actually is. Me, I haven’t got a fecking clue. However, I still have a pretty good idea that feck-wise, I’m doing better than most of my neighbours.

I live in a former council house on a poor estate. We could have bought a much smaller house in a different area – one with a far higher concentration of feck – but this was the house we wanted (it’s big and it’s near Bargain Booze. Who could argue with that?). Many of the people who live on my street don’t work. I’ll be setting off early in the morning to drop off the kids at school whereas they’ll be, um, setting off early in the morning to drop off the kids at school, too. But they’re probably hungover. And they might be having a fag on the way, before going back home to watch Jeremy Kyle.

Many of our neighbours have more children than we do. Here’s me, thinking we can’t afford to have another child, and there they are, breeding like rabbits. Only rabbits who smoke. And who don’t have any feck left in the burrow. Obviously I am very resentful about this. Every day I think ooh, you, you, you feckless people! How dare you even exist without possessing the requisite amount of feck! 

Fortunately David Cameron is feeling my pain:

Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Cameron said: ‘We are sending out strange signals on working, housing and families.’

He argued that some young people lived with their parents, worked hard, planned ahead and got nothing from the State, while others left home, made little effort to seek work and got a home paid for by the benefits system.[…]

‘A couple will say, “We are engaged, we are both living with our parents, we are trying to save before we get married and have children and be good parents. But how does it make us feel, Mr Cameron, when we see someone who goes ahead, has the child, gets the council home, gets the help that isn’t available to us?”

Yeah, Mr Cameron! These people, they don’t half piss me off! I mean, speaking personally, I didn’t actually get engaged and live with my parents and try to save before getting married and having children or any of that bollocks. I’ve always just bumbled along being middle class. It always seems to have worked out, just about, for me. I’d obviously like a better economic environment, in which things weren’t quite so difficult for working parents. But still, in the absence of any policies that are going to make working and having children more affordable, yeah, let’s just have a go at people on benefits. It’s the very least we can do.

If I’m really honest, I wouldn’t say I worked out of some great desire to be “good”. If anything, I read the pronouncements of politicians such as Cameron and get a huge desire to change my behaviour just to be “bad”. But I work so I have prospects and a future. I work so I don’t feel trapped. I work so I feel I’m using the skills I had the opportunity to gain. I don’t do it because of my feck, whatever that is. It has crossed my mind that, if everyone around me on our estate is having such a great time, I could try to join them. But it doesn’t look that much fun from where I see it. It’s hardly winning the lottery. They’re not working because they don’t know what else to do and how else to be, and no one, as far as I can see, is giving them the opportunities to change or making change affordable.

Cameron claims that “at the moment the system encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work AND have children”. I agree. Working and having children is hard emotionally and financially. I can think of many possible solutions – increasing childcare vouchers, encouraging childcare providers to fit around shift patterns, working to decrease the pay gap, investing in depressed communities to ensure that there are jobs – but cutting benefits for “the feckless” seems an odd one to start with. It won’t make things any easier for most people. I don’t know, perhaps if my neighbours get evicted, I’ll be able to do the school run marginally more quickly, then I might get to work earlier, then I’ll get a pay rise, then I’ll actually be able to afford the nursery fees I’m paying for anyhow… Is that the thinking? Cause I’m not sure that’s going to work. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ve got enough feck to make this doable.

Well, thankfully it won’t be me who has to operate the feckometer. Because knowing feck all about the morality behind it, I just wouldn’t know where to start.

Postscript: Since writing this post, it still looks like everything’s going badly wrong, but I have at least worked out the answer to the original question: it’s obviously Father Jack.