Monday, June 20, 2005

Welfare Culture: the Social Disaster of Entitlement

Julie Atkins is a single mother with three daughters living in public housing in Derby, England. All three of Ms. Atkins' daughters have given birth to new babies, which might seem like a pleasant development until one learns that her daughters were twelve, fourteen and sixteen years old, respectively, at the time they gave birth. One might be tempted to wonder exactly what their mother was doing during the run-up to such events, but not to worry, Ms. Atkins knows exactly where to place the blame for her daughters' fertile predicament.
Mrs Atkins told the Sunday Mercury: "I don't care what people say about me. I blame the schools - sex education for young girls should be better."
Her comments caused some of her neighbors to point out certain flaws in Ms. Atkins's logic, as Val McQueen points out in her excellent article on Ms. Atkins and her burgeoning brood on Tech Central Station.
When the neighbors, reading this, lost no time in calling the papers to report that Mrs. Atkins had been allowing her then-11-year old daughter to have sex with her 13 year old boy friend in the family home, Mrs. Atkins widened her sphere of culpability for her daughters' pregnancies to include "the government."
Actually, Ms. Atkins would do well to look closer to home for clues to her daughters inability to remain out of the maternity ward.

Although Mrs. Atkins, currently divorced, has been married twice, she was never married to any of her daughters' fathers, so the three girls are themselves illegitimate, a glittery point lit upon by magpie Aussie author of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer. Never slow with a pert social comment, she opined in The Daily Telegraph, "Social historians will tell you that illegitimacy is highly hereditary. There have always been women like Yeats's Crazy Jane whose gardens grow 'nothing but babies and washing'. They live in an alternative society that is matrilineal, matrifocal, and matrilocal, a society that the patriarchy has always feared and hated." Ah yes, the patriarchy. Where would Dr. Greer be without it?

And then, as conservative commentator Melanie Phillips points out, there is the long-gone Martin Dodd, father of two of the new mothers, who claims not to have realized his daughters were pregnant until he read it in the papers. Unlike his ex-girlfriend, the girls' mother, Mr. Dodd does not blame the schools or the government. Instead, he blames her. He said, "I think they have only copied what they have seen at home. … Having one pregnant daughter could be an accident, but three seems irresponsible."

Writes Phillips in The Daily Mail, "Seems? There can be surely not a scintilla of doubt that the whole grisly situation is the very quintessence of irresponsibility. What does not seem to occur to Mr. Dodd is that he is very much part of that irresponsibility himself.
Clearly, there is plenty of irresponsibility to go around. Nevertheless, one might think that Ms. Atkins would show greater gratitude toward the government, since it alone has been responsible for permitting her to live a relatively comfortable life while raising her three daughters.
Currently, including the council-provided house, the Atkins family is estimated to be costing British taxpayers around £650 -- $1,178 -- a week, or around $60,000 a year. Mrs. Atkins, though, has expressed herself dissatisfied with current arrangements, complaining to the papers that now her three daughters have babies, she is finding her three-bedroom house "cramped", and is requesting larger accommodation from the local council.
And what of Ms. Atkins's daughters and their new-born children?
Natasha recently gave birth to a girl, just around her 16th birthday. Her sister Jade, 14, also gave birth to a girl.

However, the first of the three sisters to deliver a baby was 12-year old Gemma, who gave birth to a boy. She named him T-Jay, which presumably means something in 12-year-old circles, and was chosen, of necessity, without consultation with the 14-year old father, who has made himself scarce.

Nor does 14-year old Jade seem to have any great expectations of seeing the father of her baby any time soon either, noting off-handedly that she became pregnant as a result of "a one-night stand".

Delightful. And all of this happily subsidized by the British taxpayers, who do not, it would seem, even merit the benefit of Ms. Atkins's gratitude for their beneficence. Of course, the politically correct policy "advocates" and old line leftists who current man the helm of the British ship of state - and who are busy scuttling it on the skoals of social decay - view Ms. Atkins not as an example of utter irresponsibility but as a victim of Victorian moralizing.

Meanwhile, married couples with children no longer get preferential tax treatment, as Tony Blair's government has declared that no one form of "family" should have a tax advantage over another. Anything anyone chooses, however temporarily, to regard as a "family" is as good as any other. Given that the family is the basic unit of human society all over the world, this typical Labour perversity is not unintentional. Tony Blair gave a speech a few years back, in which he vowed to "destroy the forces of conservatism" -- meaning everything that binds society together -- and he has laid about him with a wrecking ball ever since. Middle-class British parents, meanwhile, are mortgaging their futures to keep their children out of state schools, or to buy homes in areas where the local state school has a civilized reputation.

Blair's old confrere, Roy Hattersley, a creepy socialist ex-MP, lost no time in dashing off an article for The Guardian, in which he castigated the opprobrium and japery being heaped upon the Atkins household. "Why," he spluttered in outrage, "they're being treated like characters in a Victorian morality play!" The Victorians were notably continent and family-oriented, so one can understand his repulsion. Regarding the £650 the family takes from the taxpayers, Hattersley opines, "Shocking? It certainly is. But not for the reasons that have excited tabloid passions. Despite their 'rent free, three-bedroom council house', the Williams [the daughters' surname] family is expected to survive on less than £70 ($127) a head. The three babies are being brought up in poverty. And society does not care."
In a sense, Mr. Hattersley is right. British society does not care about Ms. Atkins and her brood. If it did, it would never have permitted such nonsense to continue. It would not have subsidized Ms. Atkins reckless lifestyle, thus making it possible. If the British government truly cared about Ms. Atkins or her children, it would have demanded that she provide a stable home for her children, and removed them from her care when she didn't. A truly compassionate government would have demanded that Ms. Atkins learn to fend for herself economically and would not have burdened the taxpayers with the bill for her behavior. If the British government cared about British society, it would have demanded that, whilst receiving public assistance, Ms. Atkins refrain from having additional children, and would have taken steps to ensure that she did. But the British government doesn't care about Ms. Atkins or her children, or worse, about the British people. It cares only about the failed ideological fantasyland in which most of its officials continue to believe, despite the rampant evidence of societal decay rapidly mounting around them.

Ms. McQueen's article is well worth reading in full.


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