Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The way we are

Today was a long slog through airports. Five hours in the air, two hours in security queues, plus a couple of hours in cars to and from. Now I am safely back in Russia, away from Communist Britain, where I spent a long weekend.

The “war on terror” from the point of view of the ordinary man consists of being ordered about by government employees with attitudes at least a mile higher than their intellects. Everywhere in Britain, behind the heads of these time-wasters, there are signs warning us not to hit them. It’s the only real evidence that our Government has any idea of what we are thinking.

Finding myself in a terminal-long queue at Manchester Airport. I politely asked a government no-neck with a “security” swing tag what the problem was. He replied in characteristic style (irritated expression, nouns and verbs unaccompanied by social niceties) that “it’s passenger volume”. I thought this a little offensive. I am lavishly built, but my volume was scarce greater than his. Given a three foot start, it would be a very unfit terrorist that he could catch.

How typical though that he perceived the taxpayers he serves as “volumes” of liquids or (presumably noxious) gases, rather than numbers of individuals. We were just a constant flow of irritation to him.

I called Mrs Paine (who is staying in England with the Painettes for half term) and whinged sarcastically about the “communist Northern thugs” who were herding me and my fellow travellers like so many zeks in a gulag. When I hung up (feeling much better for having vented) the gentleman ahead of me in the queue turned, smiling, to say he agreed and we fell into conversation.

He was in manufacturing. I can’t remember meeting a Brit in manufacturing during the last 15 years, so this was interesting in itself. His company has just been taken over in a massive leveraged buyout by a foreign company, having made the mistake of building up cash reserves attractive to such a predator. He is moving to a Nordic country with 59% income tax, having calculated that, net of all the stealth taxes he pays in Britain and bearing in mind the lower cost of housing and superior quality of life, he will be better off. He had many reasons to go, but mainly he is sick and tired of being part of the oppressed minority of productive workers ripped off to pay for parasites; both those “working” for the government and those living off benefits.

He summed it up nicely. He said that the British Welfare State has thrown the laws of evolution into reverse. What we have now, he said is “the survival of the unfittest”. We have accustomed generations of our people to lives of idleness - so many of them that we have to import 300,000 legal immigrants (and God knows how many illegals) to do the work they are too lazy to consider.

He recounted an experience of trying to staff a new factory in Birmingham. He and his colleagues arranged to do a presentation at the local Job Centre, only to be told by the lady in charge that “You won’t find anyone here. These guys are third generation. They have no intention of taking a job.” Unsurprisingly, his company has no expansion plans in Britain - they are building factories in Russia instead.

This reminded me of a conversation in a local shop yesterday where the owner told me he watched vans drop off builders, their working clothes soiled, at the Job Centre opposite. The vans waited for them to “sign on” as unemployed before driving them off - presumably back to the site for some overtime. As a taxpayer, he watches himself be defrauded. “Why can’t the Job Centre people see it, if I can?” he asked naievely. “They can,” I replied “but it’s not their money - it’s yours.”

Maybe this is a feeble link to my blog’s main theme, but “liberty” is in such trouble in Britain at least partly because “rights” have become more important. What I want from Government is - mainly - liberty. I want it to stay out of my way so I can get on with my life. Unfortunately, many of my compatriots want the Government to stand in my way like a highwayman, so that they can have “rights” to income at my expense.

2 comments:

Rob said...

What an extraordinay coincidence. I asked one of my employees today if he would mind stopping off at the post office during his lunch break to get a SORN notice filled in before the deadline tomorrow so that I could avoid having to pay the £70 fine. On his return, he handed the form back to me with the receipt stapled to it and went on to tell me that the whole transaction between him and the post office clerk had been totally one sided with him obeying the normal rules of conversation and the person behind the glass screen not saying a word throughout. His wife is quite ill and he often accompanies her to hospital and has observed similar rudeness from the receptionists he meets there. He was puzzled to know why. I explained to him that unlike in our dealings with a shop or bank, employees of the state know that we have no choice but to deal with them and can therefore treat us they like and we have no choice but to accept it. It is a form of ritual humiliation which a shpokeeper could only indulge himself in once as the customer would never return.

We then moved on to talking about the tragic case of Tom Grant, the young student who was murdered on a train by a shaven haired ear ringed yob. I don't know anything about his background, but seeing his picture alongside that of Mr. Grant's suggested that he probably didn't go to a fine school like Oakham, but wasted what little opportunity of an education he had and like so many of his generation left school totally unprepared for the challenge of the discipline of the workplace. In other words he was a complete waste of space and a typical product of the welfare state. My colleague commented that he didnt know what would become of the country when his ( that is the hairless alleged murderer) generation are in positions of responsibility. He reminded me of the problems we have in recruiting young men to work in our factory. Even if you can get one to come for an interview, they are more often than not sullen and incapable of even the most rudimentary conversation.

I was reminded of a convesation I had recently had with my cousin whose company buys, amongst other things, steel pressings. The company in Birmingham from which he buys them has had endless problems recruiting decent labour, a problem we has only been solved by employing Russians. He now will not employ locals and recruits exclusively from Russia. His only complaint is that unlike his British employees who take 10 to 15 minuted to "wash up" at the end of their shift, the Russians will not leave their presses even after the whistle has blown.

Anonymous said...

Tom,
Excellent description of what is wrong with Britain and why the welfare state is so ruinous. I am interested in speaking with Rob about the recruiting problems at the factory in Birmingham, which I think touches on a huge problem that is eating away at the UK's business competitiveness. I edit a global business magazine and want to hear more about this ...