Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Child Poverty

Ok, so I read National Statistics Online every day - I'm an amateur econo-nerd. Got a problem with that?
Although yesterday's NSO release on investment was of much the same up is down, left is right, through the looking glass quality of the majority of the National Statistician's effusions, it did contain one little diamond.
It stated that,
"Total net investment by insurance companies, pension funds and trusts was £25.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, £0.7 billion higher than the figure for the third quarter. A decrease of £2.8 billion in net disinvestment in UK company securities was the main factor in the rise, whilst net investment in British government sterling securities and other assets increased by £0.3 billion and £0.1 billion respectively. These increases were partly offset by falls in net investment in short-term assets and overseas securities of £0.6 billion and £1.9 billion respectively."
I stand to be corrected, but from where I'm sitting a 'decrease of £2.8 billion in net disinvestment in UK company securities' does not exactly indicate that the smart money was overly confident about the state of the stock market at the end of 2006 - an analysis perhaps borne out by the ease with which it fell earlier this year.
Hopefully we're not living in a house of cards, because if it does all crash we have a lot of mouths to feed.
Yesterday the Breast Beating Corporation was beating its breast about child poverty. That these penniless nippers might not be going shoeless, or in some cases Nike-less, is irrelevant; poverty, you see, moves.
Those who have seen the move 'A Bridge Too Far' will recall the irritation with which Gene Hackman greets Denholm Elliott's news that the Polish Brigade cannot take off for Arnhem because of the fog - 'it moves, you see'. Watching the BBC report last night, I must confess to feeling much the same way as Hackman.
Amidst yesterday's breast beating one could determine the very faint hint of spin. Poverty is now determined by separate meters of income for single persons, married couples and households with children. There are 200,000 more juvenile indigent buggers than was anticipated; and yet if there was ever a classic example of analysts being unable to see the wood of truth for the tress of ideology, the BBC's report was it.
The first poor person they interviewed was Barbara, a single mother with three children living on benefits. Barbara had a clearly visible tattoo. The fact that one of her kids was white while the other two were black might indicate that she has had issues sustaining relationships while failing to resort to perfectly legal, if not morally acceptable, forms of birth control; or if else fails, keeping her legs together.
We were not informed of Barbara's level of educational attainment and work history - unfortunate, as this might have provided necessary context as to how she arrived at her current pass.
But we know she's poor.
The BBC's second interviewee was Constance.
Constance has a young child, is in work but is finding it hard to make ends meet. As such, she has my sympathy.
Constance is also African.
Thus, perhaps, did the BBC reveal the real causes of why the 'scourge' of child poverty remains among us. If Barbara had led a slightly less chaotic lifetsyle when she was younger, her children might not be in poverty now. We would not even be discussing Constance had she not been permitted to settle in the UK; and it must be said that one hopes that she is not sending any of her limited income back to her country of origin in the form of remittances. That's just throwing money away.
I could be doing both of these ladies a great dis-service - they might both be widows, in Barbara's case a serial widow; in which event her case is doubly tragic.
However, that in such cases 'poverty' is a flexible event demeans the very concept of poverty. Poverty is Africans living on a dollar a day, not a British single person having to live on £190.00 a week or whatever.
Poverty is not defined by ideology - it cannot 'move' to where the advocates of the welfare state and mass immigration say it is, and try to make us weep when those practices' beneficiaries fall within its scope.
To attempt that is in itself a form of poverty - poverty of knowledge and poverty of pride.

3 comments:

haddock said...

The figures are based on relative poverty - defined as households on less than 60 per cent of average income. There will always be people in 'relative poverty' using this yardstick, as wages go up so does the level at which people are considered to be in poverty. It is another of manybloody silly votecatching nulab government aspirations which is impossible, statistically, to achieve

Umbongo said...

That two of Barbara's children are black and that Constance is black and that they are relatively poor proves that they are suffering from the effects of slavery. Accordingly, in addition to receiving all the benefits they're already "entitled" to, they should immediately receive a down-payment on their part of the £7.5 trillion claimed to be Britain's contribution to Slavery Reparations Inc.

Shotgun said...

You forgot to mention how the BBC will make sure that ethnic people are sen as the predominantly poor and therefore need more help.