Saturday, February 15, 2014

I agree with Abp Nichol

I agree with Archbishop Nichols in his statement about the plight of the poor, he is to be commended.

Our parish is facing financial difficulties, there has been a serious drop in income over the last few months, it is all too noticeable people have less to give. For many poor people the choice is often between eating or heating. Many of my parishioners have real fears of debt, rent arrears and homelessness Mothers go without so their children can eat.

There are psychological effects; depression, a sense of hopelessness that comes from poverty. Some people, a very few, are masters of the social security system and know precisely what their rights are and how to get them but others simply give up, having neither the inclination to jump through the  hoops set up for them, nor the disposition to cope with the investigation, interrogation, suspicion and possible rejection.

Recently I have been meeting parents who are terrified that there poverty is placing their children in a situation where they fear their children are likely to be taken into care


nickbris said...

All right thinking people know that this is true.We must all stand by for a new anti Catholic onslaught.

The totally corrupted BBC will be organising another "Big Question" with Colm O'Gorman spreading his vitriolic bile again.

Gungarius said...

While single people are being to be blunt Victimised and made to jump through all sorts of hoops and sanctioned etc over trivialities for an unlivable on £70 a week unemployment benefit, the situation for people with children is still quite generous compared with single people.

Child benefit of approx £1000 pa for the first child plus £600 for the second is available. Child tax credits of up to £2,690 per child are available and rebate of much or all of rent and council tax is available.

Anyone who wants to know what they are able to get needs to got to

I think the problem is often that people do not know how to live cheaply. I fear that, for example, people plead poverty while buying expensive processed food and ready meals because they don't know how to cook from scratch.

While there are inevitably those who will fall through the net and they will suffer more at a time like this, I fear that in many cases the problem is that because since 1945 people expected the state to mother them these home economics skills were lost. The state is now bankrupt and can no longer mother them. This is where the church can perhaps rather than promoting failed socialism educate on the principal that if you give a man a fish you give him a meal, if you teach him to fish he can get himself a meal every day.

My wife comes from (South) Africa where there is zero social security. One day early in our marriage she made a really nice soup. It turned out that the main ingredient was the broccoli stalks cut away before the previous nights meal was cooked. She had learned that at home because in Africa you need such skills to survive when work is short. I think this also explains why immigrants seem to be more successful over here.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am sure you are right Gungarius the problem is that our schools, and our social outlook are orientated towards full employment, to the point where people are not taught to to live cheaply.
In many European countries 50% of young people are going to to be unemployed for the forseeable future, no government seems to want to educate them for this - how to be happy, or even functioning, with little or nothing.

Newefpastoremeritus said...

Yes, he deserves to be acknowledged for that

Newefpastoremeritus said...

He spoke the truth, but people who put political party membership before their Faith will still object, I suspect

Gungarius said...

The biggest problem is housing policy which is enriching a tiny number of landowners and bank shareholders at the expense of everyone else. Rental contracts are notoriously insecure (6 months renewable) with the poor facing regular costs and disruption to move house as a result.

Unfortunately housing benefit is a welfare benefit for landlords that inflates rents. However the government have decided to tackle it in a way which hurts those at the bottom most by just cutting it and leaving it to the poor to negotiate reduced rents, which will eventually happen, but not before an awful lot of people get hurt.

The biggest problem in this country is house prices and rents. The whole country is gradually being economically strangled as half the country hand over vast sums every months to landowners in rent or lump sums to buy at ridiculous prices which are then paid for by 25 years debt slavery in a mortgage to the benefit of bank shareholders.

This is making the country uncompetitive as people cannot afford to live on wages that are higher than most in the world because of housing costs and causing the government to get into debt as it has to give welfare to working people to make ends meet which actually ends up in landowners pockets.

In london even the most fortunate, younger people on £50,000 - £100,000 (youngish professionals like Doctors - not city types) are effectively living in poverty after being gulled into paying £500,000 for a two bedroom flat - the going rate in much of London - and having also to pay student loans. God help them when interest rates inevitably rise. I think the lucky ones at the moment are those too poor to be able to afford to be tempted to take on such a millstone.

This government though is inquitously doing its best to inflate house prices and make the problem even worse.

As more and more young people get shut out of any decent way of living then this ought to become more and more of a political issue.

It is a common fallacy that house price rises are due to a shortage of housing. There are less than half as many people per household as there were in the 1920's The reason dates back to the artificial "Barber Boom" of the Heath government. Prior to this mortgage lending was rationed to an income multiple and mortgage lending by banks for profit was banned (mutual building societies only), but since then people have been able to borrow vast amounts which has caused vast house price inflation, together with the Thatcher selling of social housing, much of which is now in the hands of private landlords who are the beneficiaries of artificially low interest rates.

The whole thing is a highly toxic brew that will sooner or later blow up and make 2008 look like a vicarage tea party. Then the Church will be needed like never before, as there will be no one else.

I suspect Pope Francis having seen much the same happen in Argentina already can see this coming and this may be one reason he is so keen on focusing on the Poor (who in Argentina include many who at the moment consider themselves middle class in the UK).

Dont think this couldn't happen here:

Dom said...

Housing benefits are here for the foreseeable future. However, they inflate the cost of buying and renting for everyone. Until a government releases far more land for development and builds social housing the situation will continue.

Sadly the system for for all the right reasons seeks to alleviate child poverty. Because so many and so much of the most generous benefits are attached to children, they effectively becomes hostages.

Ultimately, we need more social housing and a greater commitment to providing unskilled and semi-skilled jobs. We have a political class that hates working class people.

As Catholics, we need to join political parties and exert our influence. It is pointless people complaining if they have made no effort to engage with the political process. Perhaps we should start a Catholic political party?

nickbris said...

I wish I knew what Gregarious was on about

Liam Ronan said...

"Bishop: Jean Valjean my brother you no longer belong to evil. With this silver, I have bought your soul. I've ransomed you from fear and hatred, and now I give you back to God." - Les Misérables

The government is a brute animal, loathe to respond to issues related to poverty and when it does, never within the Catholic ethic. In the end, I suggest it falls upon the Catholic/Christian community (and individual) to collectively roll up it sleeves and provide the dynamic leadership and sacrificial witness for the triage needed in the current situation, though always with a view to steadily permeating the apparatus of government so that may eventually do its duty as Christ the King would have it.

Liam Ronan said...

Sorry I forgot to add Our Lord's personal and radical command to His disciples, i.e. you and me, not NGOs; not the Government; not the U.N.:

"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." Matthew 5:42

Of course, occasionally the poor are to battered, too oppressed, too weary, too dehumanized to even ask for help as in the account of the victim cared for by The Good Samaritan.

I don't suppose we can turn up on Judgement Day, when the Lord asks what we did for Him when He was hungry, and we try to beg-off by pleading He had nothing from us because the Tories (Lib Dems, Labour)misspent our tax monies out which we had fervently prayed the poor might have had a better cut.

Liam Ronan said...

Whenever I find myself over-awed at this or that utterance from anyone (myself in most particular), I remind myself of a few words from the Old Testament:

"And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey..." Numbers 22:28

Deacon Augustine said...

Gungarious said: "It is a common fallacy that house price rises are due to a shortage of housing. There are less than half as many people per household as there were in the 1920's."

Gungarious, I beg to differ - there is currently a shortage of about 1 million homes in this country, when today's average family size is taken into account rather than family sizes seen in the 1920's. Divorce, family fragmentation and immigration have all put demands on housing, and the supply side has not been able to keep up under governments of all colours.

The ridiculous planning rules we have in this country are largely to blame. Green belt land is nice to look at, but the needs of real flesh and blood people are greater. The only 2 ways that housing will become affordable are either a massive building programme, or drastic steps to reduce the population by slashing immigration, penalising child-birth, introducing euthanasia etc. Problem is that no government has the cajones to take on the nimby's in the shires in order to get a coherent building policy through.

As for IDS being a "practising Catholic" as alleged in the Torygraph, didn't he support the same-sex "marriage" legislation???

Kristin LA said...

Archbishop Nichols missed a golden opportunity to draw attention to the root cause of much of Western poverty, particularly child poverty, i.e., the breakdown of the family. This is no small thing. Baroness Thatcher had it right: "The two-parent family is the most effective anti-poverty program there is for children."

Nicolas Bellord said...

Nickbris: I think one could summarise what Gungarius is talking about in one word: USURY. We leave in a society where the majority are in debt to the minority at usurious rates of interest. It did not use to be like that and it need not be.

Gungarius said...

Nicolas, I think the word Usury sums it up very well. While with housing mortgages currently interest rates are low the deliberate luring of young people to take on ruinous levels of mortgage debts by removing earnings multiple limits starting in 1973 and the current state of rented accomodation and rent regulation with people forced to hand over huge sums of money per month to, a landlord (either person or corporation) who lives well off that rent, on a renewable six month contract which effectively makes it impossible to complain against defects (or they are out at the end of six months) are both forms of usury.

I disagree with Deacon Augustines analysis. If you build lots more houses due to family fragmentation, divorce etc. you just encourage more of it. They tried this policy with road building from the 1950s to the 1970s (it was called "predict and provide") and it was a disaster as can be attested by driving round the M25 as it just encouraged more of the same.

If mortgages were limited to three times joint earnings and capital gains tax levied on profits from all property sales, along with council tax being replaced with an annual land value tax, house prices and rents would soon come down to reasonable levels.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Gungarius: I am not sure that a capital gains tax on the sale of one's house would help. It might so deter people from selling that the whole system clogs up. As it is the cost of moving - stamp duty, agents and lawyers fees etc is very onerous.

One think I would suggest is fixed rate mortgages only. I can remember having to pay 17% on my mortgage back in the 1970s or so. I cannot help feeling that we are sitting on a time bomb that will go off when interest rates rise.

In the past I could go to my bank and arrange an overdraft for a modest amount at perhaps two to four per cent above base rate. Nowadays I would have to pay 19.5% - the same and more on most credit cards; even more for store cards. No wonder bankers think they can just put their hands in the till and award themselves enormous bonuses. (Yes one can borrow larger amounts more cheaply but for day to day purposes the rates are usurious). And think of pay day loans - an utter obscenity.

However I think the fundamental problem is the breakdown of the family through divorce etc. It is a pity that Archbishop Nichols did not mention that as far as I know. On the TV to-day he spoke of the need to have respect for everyone - it was a pity he did not mention respect for the unborn and the elderly infirm but I suppose he regards such as being too controversial. Such a pity that our pastors rarely teach the faith.

On usury there needs to be a debate - one could start with Hilaire Belloc's essay written after the 1929 crash.

Gungarius said...

Sorry, error - three times the highest earner in a couples earnings, not three times joint earnings which encourages both parents to work and therefore destroys family life.

Gungarius said...

Sad that this thread about the plight of the poor has attracted a third of the comments a thread about 6n off the cuff comment about the EF by HH attracted. Maybe F1 has a point?

Supertradmum said...

Father, thanks for this post. Sadly, too many Catholics have a Protestant work ethic attitude and blame the poor for being poor. This is simply not true.

Also, a socialist agenda has caused people to say, "Let the government take care of these people" which is an attitude that kills charity.

Real charity is among people.