The welfare state is a strange thing. It encourages a certain type of behaviour, especially in those who are brought up in it from an early age. In the same way as Pavlov’s dog learnt to respond to a bell, knowing it was dinnertime, these children learn that the money comes in every month, without any sense of responsibility, any need to drive your life. The house simply is, the TV with premium TV package works fine and the pic ‘n’ mix is plentiful. What more is needed, why should I try?
Simultaneously, such people can proclaim loudly to others, those who were brought up to learn that a home, food and the occasional treat are earnt, whose self-sufficiency is a source of pride, “You are obsessed with money!”. Without ever realising who has the real money obsession and how rabid their obsession becomes if any of those governmental credits they receive doesn’t appear in the account with a satisfying cash register kerchinggg on time.
I can see exactly how it began. Coming from a coal mining community, I really can. All the miners sat around, “It’s a shame what happened to Dave, isn’t it?”, says one. “How about we all put tuppence a week into a fund just in case the same thing ever happens to us and we have a serious accident, leaving our wives and children in the street?”. Thus, a seed was planted that seemed to grow into a noble oak. Yet even as the oak grew, the rot set in. How many days was it before the first person to utilise the service decided to take a few days off more than necessary after an injury? No rush after all, no consequences. Worse still, it probably didn’t take long before people started eyeing up the size of the fund, watching those extra tuppences flow in every week. The Health Service is the prime example, it’s completely hijacked by big pharmaceutical companies now. Why bother with common sense advice like exercise, good diet, fresh air, when you could just take a direct debit of drugs instead? There’s no money to be made out of healthy people, is there?
Coming to Denmark in this way, I should quite literally have swallowed my pride and went with the flow. Perhaps big pharma needs a new drug called Pridax we could take? Instead I resisted, trying hard to support a non-working partner and all my children. It was impossible and when my ability to carry the load was really tested, I mentally collapsed. I was told by the in-house medical expert that “depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be fixed with drugs”. I believed it, even though years later my doubts have been proved right. What was that about big pharma hijacking healthcare again?
Somewhere amongst it all, I began to work out the real reason for the depression. One incident really sticks in my mind and if I look at the photos on Facebook even now, I see the sadness on my face. At this event, I sat and endured a discussion at the dinner table on how those big earners who pay topskat should pay even more. Topskat, for the uninitiated, is a Danish tax that kicks in when you have the audacity to earn over £50k a year and subjects the terrible capitalist in question to a tax of about 57%. As I looked around, I realised that every single person at the table was a beneficiary of government largesse in one way or another. Except for me.
To put it in Cluedo terms, we had :-
Colonel Mustard, the man in his 40s, who had never had a proper job since being diagnosed with some brain illness and now had the proud fortidspensionist (before time pensioner) stamp, meaning he’d never have to work ever again. It never stopped him spending all day watching videos and playing computer games though. You might have thought bright flashing lights would be bad in this case, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Professor Plum, who had been on the sick for years after getting a bad back at work. Bad backs are a favourite, I hear, for their impossibility to diagnose. This bad back did not prevent him raising livestock, building treehouses for the kids using timber he cut down himself, or slaughtering his own animals.
Mrs White, wife of Plum, who at one point, when welfare tried to cut her husbands welfare did a ruse of pretending to split up, so they could live in 2 houses and claim 2 sets of benefits. She’s now worked out being a foster parent means £££. It does.
Mrs Peacock, the professional student, who took loads of courses she never quite finished, or did finish and never used. She once took a 3 month holiday in the UK, all funded by the taxpayers, of course. She even got bullimia in her 30s, probably when welfare started asking too many questions – it resulted in being on the sick for quite a while and government funded stays at health farms for weeks at a time. She is now passing on her immense knowledge in this area to a young woman, almost 19, who is currently on her second college course without successfully completing anything.
Miss Scarlett. At that time a student, but this one also worked out that welfare comes in extra forms. Find the right form and you can live off that until it’s exhausted, then when it is exhausted switch to the official Welfare state option favoured by those above. Even now, Miss Scarlett is an expert on the kinds of benefits available at the press of a few computer keys – with names like boligstøtte, uddanelsesbidrag and børnebidrag.
I really don’t know why they don’t just invent a new one, called Dovendanskerbidrag (lazy Dane contribution), where any Dane (they don’t give these benefits to foreigners, remember?) can just tick a box confirming their eligibility based on the key criteria of being Lazy and Danish. Then this extra welfare payment will just appear every month. Magically. It would cut out a lot of red tape and some of these government departments could close instantly.
Now I see the big differences between us. It took over 20 years to do so. A Dad in Denmark can always be replaced and he often is. He’s only a walking wallet anyway. And walking wallets can easily be replaced by the biggest wallet of all – The Welfare state – even if behind it a variety of incompetent government employees are just pulling levers to still take it from him in the first place. I don’t expect anyone on Dovendummedanskerbidrag to ever work that out though.