YOBS RULE, OK!: Ungrateful and unwashed ‘youf’ burden the British taxpayer
One of the factors at work in Britain is
that young people aren’t prepared to take menial and relatively low-paid jobs
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE famously and disparagingly described the English as a nation of shopkeepers. Were he to return he might call today’s English a nation of yobs. Having just passed a week in rural France – followed by a week in the Cotswolds – I’ve been struck by the differences.
France works. There’s a palpable sense of civic pride in even the smallest of villages. You can safely sit at a pavement cafe and not be bothered by drunken young louts bellowing at one another and anyone else in hearing, as is the case in England. At night – even in decent neighbourhoods in England – it isn’t at all unusual to be kept awake by these feral creatures prowling the streets. Most of them are unemployed and on benefits – ungrateful and unwashed burdens on the British taxpayer.
While unemployment of those aged 18 to 24 in Britain – at 20% – is seen here as a disaster it is of course not in the same league as ours. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study of 36 countries placed South Africa worst at 50% youth unemployment.
One of the factors at work in Britain is young people aren’t prepared to take menial and relatively low-paid jobs. Welfare – either their own or that of their parents, boyfriends, girlfriends or fellow squatters – makes it possible for them to laze around between puffing pot and binge drinking.
There was an echo of SA in a comment by British Chambers of Commerce director David Frost on the fact that British businesses often prefer to employ youngsters from countries such as Latvia and Poland, as they tend to be far better educated and motivated than their British counterparts.
Businesses, Frost said, expected “young people to come forward who are able to read, write and communicate and have a strong work ethic, and too often that’s not the case”. Both SA and Britain have suffered from ruinous education from what the Daily Telegraph calls decades of “liberal tinkering”.
An insidious effect of the welfare state is, of course, the self-perpetuating culture of dependency. In some families there have been no employed members in generations and in SA – with 15m out of a population of 50m now drawing benefits – we face an even bleaker future than Britain, where 6m out of 62m draw benefits.
And the welfare state attracts foreign spongers as honey does bees – with often bizarre results. Recently a Nigerian woman who had been taking a course of high-dose fertility tablets flew to Britain for the sole purpose of giving birth to quintuplets on the National Health Service. That cost the NHS well over R2m and the proud mother is now refusing to return to Nigeria – claiming that, her five babies having been born in Britain, she is entitled to remain here. Should she succeed it can be guaranteed the state will have to provide lifelong sustenance.
The rotten state of British welfare is also reflected by the cost to taxpayers of housing some London families on welfare costing more than R1m/year alone. Critics of the welfare state point to that sort of example as a situation in which working taxpayers are forced to finance a lifestyle they themselves can’t afford.
There are lessons here for SA. The State would be ill-advised not to take into account the danger of losing even more skilled and experienced taxpayers faced with a growing burden that’s employed principally to provide Government jobs and to fund welfare. It makes no sense in our situation to embark on grandiose schemes such as a national health service. If Britain can’t make it work, how can SA expect to? Our Government faces unenviable choices but we must stop behaving as if there’s a bottomless pit of money to fund our growing welfare class, a burgeoning public sector with all its entitlements, a crippled educational structure, and so on.
No system is perfect, but the path to ruin surely lies in the embrace of the failed notions of socialism and collectivism?