So Lord Snooty, aka Jacob Rees Mogg, is coming in for a whole lot of stick for his remarks about UNICEF providing food for poor children in the UK, aka “playing politics”! If people like Rees Mogg need reminding that it is completely wrong for children in, what?, the fifth richest country in the world to be going hungry, then someone needs to play politics.
I remember there being poor families when I was a child. There was always the occasional smelly child in the class, the one we all knew came from a home that was to say the least inadequate. There was a family who lived across the road from us on the council estate where we lived for a while who seemed to have a million children under five. Actually probably only four or five of them. There were four children in our family but we were a bit more spread out. Maybe their mother was overwhelmed but the little kids never seemed to be properly dressed and always looked cold and vaguely unwell. Such families received parcels of food from the harvest festival, where those of us who were more fortunate took something along to a service at church. Looking back I wonder how my parents managed to provide four such baskets of fruit and veg and tinned stuff. We weren’t exactly rolling in money. But I suppose we must have been better off than some.
The thing is that although poor families existed there was never the need there is now for food banks. Maybe the local community helped out to some extent but there did not seem to be such dire need. We knew that some families bought clothes at the church jumble sales. In fact sometimes items were set aside with families in mind. And as I grew old enough to help out behind the stalls I was sort of trained to look out for the secondhand clothes traders who came and tried to buy all the good stuff, which they then cleaned and pressed and sold on at more elevated prices. (Before graduating to true helper status, I would sit behind the stall reading back issues of the Dandy and the Beano, comics my father would not allow in our house - too trashy - we had sensible, educational comics like Swift and later Girl, for the girls of course, and Eagle, for our brother.)
But that was a more than half a century ago and we did rather hope that things would improve. Indeed for a while we thought it was happening.
News reports tell me that church organisations continue to do this sort of helping-out thing but it seems that in recent times more and more food banks and even clothes banks have been necessary in our society. And I would ask how we got into this mess but I already have an idea of how our increasingly grasping and greedy lifestyle created it. What I don’t know is how we get out of it.
I was reading about MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon man. Over the past four months she is reported to have donated more than $4billion dollars to hundreds of charities and aid organisations. Which is great! And it would be even greater if all the rich people did the same - a sort of self-imposed income tax. Now, MacKenzie Scott is said to be personally worth $60billion so giving away $4billion isn’t going to leave her destitute. But she is at least doing something. After she and Bezos divorced last year it seems she pledged to give away much of her wealth. So maybe this is just a start.
Or maybe the governments of the world could start taxing the rich more efficiently and crack down on tax evasion. Maybe the accountants who make a tidy sum advising on how to avoid taxes could go down a new, possibly less lucrative, route advising on how best to give money away instead of how to hoard it. After all, how much money does a person need to live on? And I mean to live well, not just to jog along barely making ends meet.
That’s enough of a rant for the time being. And I have not even got started on the Brexit fiasco, which looks to have no easy resolution, despite extending talks. And that will no doubt add to the problems of the less well off while enriching those at the other end of the scale.
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!