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The honest thieves

The other day I was watching the news and saw a story about a sudden influx of Romanian gypsy children into Slough (of all places). Several things struck me about the story.

Firstly, the children they interviewed were entirely candid about the reason they arrived in the UK: state welfare. They had come to Britain because they learned that all you have to do is turn up and you will be provided with free housing and food which is better than what they had in Romania.

They were entirely honest what their motives were. So I suppose unlike in Romania, they do not have to steal to support themselves, they are counting on the British state to do it for them. That said, several shopkeepers were also interviewed and they were aghast at the prospect of these new arrivals.

The second thing that really stuck me was the sheer idiocy of the spokesman that was quoted (I assume he was from Slough Council), who said “we are working to figure out how to reunite these children with their parents”, or words to that effect… as if these parasites were washed up after a storm rather than having intentionally travelled from Romania to Slough. Quite rightly the reporter commented that there was no indication these children were likely to oblige as they were clearly very satisfied with what they were being given.

However my guess is that once they have established themselves, they will indeed be “reunited with their parents”… who will arrive in the UK to do exactly the same.

It is interesting to contrast this with the highly successful influx of Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and now Baltic immigrants into the UK over the last few years. High initiative, quickly integrating Eastern Europeans attracted by the more dynamic economy of Britain, have joined the work force and broader British society generally to the noticeable benefit of everyone… but in this case in Slough, the welfare system has attracted the worst kind of bare faced parasites from a predatory sub-culture. An interesting contrast and proof yet again that ‘immigration’ is not a problem, it is immigration-plus-welfare-handouts that causes the problems.

37 comments to The honest thieves

  • michael farris

    I do think social safety nets are feasible but they require that recipients either

    a) feel ashamed at having to be helped

    b) feel grateful for being helped

    Either will work and tend to curb abuses. Social safety nets bsolutely do not work with immigrants who have no concept of civil society (this includes gypsies and most muslims among other groups who feel no shame at receiving handouts nor gratitude to those who don’t belong to their in-group).

  • michael farris

    I’ll mention in passing that I’ve known a few gypsies personally and this poor sap from Slough (wherever that be) just has no fucking idea what he’s in for. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

    Gypsies are not domesticated the same way that european or american city dwellers are. I once watched two Romanian gypsy girls (each looked less than 10 years of age) flank and rob a very muscular guy in his 20′s. If you replaced the little gypsy girls and muscular guys with leopards and an antelope respectively it could have been on Animal Planet. They do not recognize the social rules that their host societies live by and pretending otherwise is just asking for trouble.

    The concept of childhood does not really exist for gyspsies whose children are functionally adults (with the requirement to earn their keep and a fair amount of autonomy in what they do) by the age of 6 or so (once girls hit puberty their autonomy is curtailed quite a bit until they’re married).

    Gypsies are absolutely against the concept of education and literacy. As one gypsy acquaintance told me: “Once they get to school they start thinking about right and wrong … and that’s just the end of them as gypsies.”

  • As always it just goes to show you can have open borders or a Welfare State, but not both. We seriously need to get rid of the Welfare State as soon as possible.

  • Dave

    If you were a thief, would you rather be a thief in Britain or Saudi Arabia?

    Obviously the answer is Britain as we are a soft touch.

    So therefore welfare isn’t the only reason ‘undesirables’ come to Britain, surely?

  • GIB

    How about instead of calling it welfare, we tell the recipients it’s a loan, that must be repaid.
    Even if we don’t ask them to repay, the fact it’s called a loan will stop the muslims from being able to accept it, seeing as their backward religion (is there any other kind?) forbids loans.

  • michael farris

    Islam doesn’t forbid loans, but interest (technically I think it just forbids usury but most muslims don’t make the distinction).

    Many muslims get around this by calling it something else. By actually saying loans with interest, honest practicing muslims would not be allowed to take them or would just require the interest to be called something else.

  • A small reminder in case anybody got the wrong impression. Gypsies live in lots of different countries and cary lots of different passports. They do tend to congregate in Romania, I believe mostly because we’re better at taking a gypsy style joke than most outsiders and we tend to kill them and burn them out less often historically over the space of centuries. I guess that made us something of “an easy touch” too.

  • Paul Marks

    It is not fully true that the Welfare State causes all the problems (although it causes a lot of them).

    One can have a criminal influx without being a W.S.

    For example, General Santa Anna’s army was essentially a criminal enterprise – he had plundered various areas and was (in 1836) trying to plunder Texas.

    That is why, for example, the banners on the Alamo were “1824″ (not 1836) – they were drawing attention to the Mexican Constitution of 1824 (which the General had used to wipe his rear end on – as a American President was to do with the United States Constitution a century later).

    Nor do criminals have to come as army. They can come as individuals or small groups.

    I certainly have no problem with Governor Rick Perry’s belief that people who are sent to prison in Texas for crimes should (if found to be from other countries) be sent back to them after they have served their time.

    On the Gypsy thing:

    One should not go overboard on this (I know that it daft comming from me, I am about as un P.C. as it is possible to be – but there we go).

    There is such a thing as reacting to how one is treated.

    Michael Burlegh in “Sacred Causes” (Harper Collins, London, 2006) points at the different experience that Jews faced in Romania and Bulgaria.

    There really does seem to have been a different “national culture”, in Bulgaria most people were ashamed of plundering Jews and did not do it.

    But in Romania bribes were demanded at every turn, and if money and possessions were not given they were taken.

    This is not because the Romanians were particularly antisemitic – it was because they acted when they spotted someone was in a weak position (could not defend himself). Of course there were many honourable Romanians – but too many were not honourable.

    Now think about being a gypsy in Romania – part of a despised group. They have not been treated well over the years and they have learned that if someone shows weakness they are to be plundered.

    Of course this does not justify their crimes (I am not one of these “he was a victim of society” types), but it is does not hurt to understand their back story.

  • GF

    No-one has mentioned why the “contrast” between the Romanian immigrants and “the highly successful influx of Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and now Baltic immigrants into the UK over the last few years” exists: because the British government has decided to let Romanians and Bulgarians into the country, as long as they don’t work! They can’t claim state benefits either, unless they are children who are without parents, as the Economist this week explained:

    Lone minors of any nationality are entitled to a bed, a £45 ($89) weekly food allowance, a one-off £100 clothing grant, health care and, if they are under 16, free schooling.

    Brilliantly,

    being accompanied by an adult would immediately deprive them of these benefits.

    Yes, at least they’re honest about why they’re here. But can you blame them? Wouldn’t you do the same in their position, when offered money for free that in your home country you’d have to work rather hard for? It’s the stupid policy formulations of our Government that are ultimately to blame.

  • Midwesterner

    I do think social safety nets are feasible but they require that recipients either

    a) feel ashamed at having to be helped

    b) feel grateful for being helped

    Unfortunately, neither of these responses seems to survive a generation. Certainly they never survive two consecutive generations.

    The solution is private aid at the discretion of the giver.

  • Bogdan of Australia

    Let’s be frank about that; Great Britain (in fact, all so called “democracies” are) like a slutty woman, who loves sex, sex, and even more sex. She loves also to get drunk and open her legs widely. Then, the next morning, when she wakes up, she is surprised to find a strange, dirty, smelly, unshaven, but obviously very satisfied man at her side. Start mending the humanity with yourself by abolishing any garbage of welfare state and trashing another idiocy: universal health care… It is like in the army; you want to be respected, you have to be tought. Have you got any political leaders capable of filling the shoes of such an officer? I DON’T THINK SO!!! For your comfort; nor we have in Australia…

  • DocBud

    Because I came from towards the bottom end of the social scale (for want of better terms), and so did my much better half, I knew and still do know many people who at various times in their lives have relied on welfare. You can also throw in that the wife owned a Post Office which caused us to meet some interesting welfare recipients. Some of the people I have met have wanted me to tear my hair out, the “why should I work brigade” or the people being paid a carers’s allowance for looking after their own kids when there is clearly no financial cost. However, many are genuine cases, such as those temporarily out of work after a lifetime of paying taxes or those for whom the modern world is a little beyond them. In a fruit growing area, those who had no qualifications and were barely literate or numerate could get picking jobs in season, but out of season they struggled to find any kind of work, but they worked long and hard when the work was there.

    What I’m trying to say is that I should prefer not to live in a society which doesn’t feel it can look after those in genuine need, either permanently or temporarily. The downside of this is that to ensure the deserving are helped, some undeserving will help themselves, we should be concerned with reducing the latter without harming the former.

  • nick g.

    The only reason you heard about this is because it was a Slough news day….
    Maybe the gypsies saw “The Office”, which was set in Slough

  • IanP

    How strange that we were discussing the extreme, near miraculous foresight of the DfES only a few weeks ago, in suggesting that Gypsy (Romany) should be one of the languages that are taught in schools.

    Was Slough on the list of schools I wonder….

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    What I’m trying to say is that I should prefer not to live in a society which doesn’t feel it can look after those in genuine need, either permanently or temporarily.

    And you trust the state to do this? I’d rather trust a multitude of charities with this, at least if a charity stuffs up, it can only do so on a small scale, when the state does, it is universal.

  • Well said, Brendan.

    Also, only I would argue that only a charity can provide a ‘social’ safety net because tax is the aspect of state not society, whereas charity is a aspect of society, not state… state ≠ society.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    What evidence do welfare staters have that left to our own devices, typical citizens would not give to charities voluntarily and with good grace? For how many citizens is recieving a tax bill an enjoyable experience? How many of us can truly say when we look at out pay slips and see the x % going to the state that we believe this money will be spent wisely and on causes for which they personally approve?

  • DocBud

    I’d argue that for taxpayers at least, a certain level of welfare is a right. The state happily takes as much tax off you as it can when all is going well, why shouldn’t you get some back when you fall on hard times.

    I’m not sure that charities can be relied on to provide a universal safety net. Money spent on welfare is not wasteful if it is going to the people it is designed to help.

  • Julian Taylor

    I’d argue that for taxpayers at least, a certain level of welfare is a right.

    I’d be quite happy for the state to significantly reduce my burden of taxation in return for welfare provision for just the genuinely needy and disadvantaged and certainly not for what used to be referred to as ‘welfare tourists’, as the Slough Romany children seem to be.

  • I’m not sure that charities can be relied on to provide a universal safety net. Money spent on welfare is not wasteful if it is going to the people it is designed to help.

    The trouble is rules based safety nets often end up subsidising what they are supposed to be alleviating.

    The big advantage a charity has is that they do not have to give you anything if they do not think you actually deserve it… the state on the other hand operates (quite rightly) not by using discretion but by following politically derived formulae. To get things from the state all you have to do is understand the system. This has all manner of unintended consequences when you (in effect) nationalise charity and replace private institutions with public ones… in short, when you replace charity with an entitlement, you completely change the rules of the game.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    DB,

    You present an argument for tax reductions, not welfare.

    What evidence do you have that people aren’t charitable? Everytime I turn on the TV I see people donating millions to plenty of charities, so much in fact that some charities are able to give millions away to individuals through lotteries and still fund charitable work. And this is despite already paying around 30% of their income in tax? How much more generous could we be if we only paid 10% tax or even less?

    The Australian federal government’s social security and welfare budget is around $90 billion, about 45% of federal spending, and about 10% of GDP. Do you really think that the state needs to subsidise Australian incomes to the tune of 10% of our GDP? That’s being pretty generous with other people’s money.

  • Re: “How about instead of calling it welfare, we tell the recipients it’s a loan – that must be repaid.”

    Better yet put a time limit on it and insist on photo/fingerprints to back it. Then there is the possibility that the recipient may abscond back home and never come back to avoid paying it.

    Re: ”I’m not sure that charities can be relied on to provide a universal safety net. Money spent on welfare is not wasteful if it is going to the people it is designed to help.”
    and
    Re Brendan’s: “What evidence do welfare staters have that left to our own devices, typical citizens would not give to charities voluntarily and with good grace? “

    The evidence is pretty solid that we do give.

    Take the tsunami appeal. As I recall private donations far outstripped State. Or how about Children in Need, Red Nose day, Live Aid, Mari Curi… Then there is all the local stuff like Air ambulances, hospices, animal shelters etc. But it would have to be stuff that the donor felt was worth while.

    Who knows there might even be a few willing to subsidise Junior Romanian Romanies. I recall the winter before last a tramp moved into a bus shelter I know of.

    Some of the neighbours were so concerned he might freeze they supplied him with blankets, plus regular warm meals and drinks until he moved on.

  • guy herbert

    The state happily takes as much tax off you as it can when all is going well, why shouldn’t you get some back when you fall on hard times.

    That’s just the piggy-bank theory of the state. If you want to save then controlling your own savings makes sense. Handing the money over to a stranger to use as he sees fit and trusting him to give just some of it back to you when you need it, is madness. Universal welfare systems are like christmas hamper clubs. They can only work by giving you back much less than you put in.

    Thus they are most popular with those who are so risk averse as to be blinded to better options, or those frightened by their own fecklessness, or by freeloaders. The working poor are better served by institutions such as friendly societies and credit unions, so people in the first two categories are being subtly defrauded by the piggy-bank theory. The piggy has a hidden hole in the bottom.

    Those who are dramatically unlucky, ill or incapable aren’t served by the piggy-bank theory at all. They need to take out more than they can put in or they have put in. In that case a state welfare system does the same thing as charity. There might be some circumstances where for some reason or another charity is not forthcoming because of social taboo or geographical or economic black holes, so I don’t completely discount any state relief of poverty, but in general it is likely to be a considerably worse bargain than the more direct charitable giving.

  • nicholas gray

    Brendan, an Australian show (Foreign Correspondent) just mentioned a private charity (Outreach?) in Kenya, and how the money actually gets to the people who need it, without disappearing somewhere in the bureaucracy. To any non-libertarian, I hope it was an eye-opener, though it just confirms the point that government bureaus have no incentive to track where the money goes, but private firms have much better incentives. SWEIN, right?

  • As Midwesterner and Perry said.

    Btw, the Gypsies have not become honest, but have realised that theft can be outsourced to the State at no cost to them.

    The rule about unattended children is just another example of how rules to entitlement will be used systematically for dishonest purposes. Remove the concept of entitlement.

  • Paul Marks

    Nice (in the old sense of the word) story from Texas (sorry I have no idea about “links”).

    Illegal immigrants are refusing jury service.

    “Quite right too, jury service is slavery and besides noncitizens are not supposed to be on juries”.

    Accept that in Texas (as in Britain) jury people are drawn from the voting rolls.

    So the migrants are registering to vote (so they can vote for people who promise them more benefits, education money and so on) and then saying (when called for jury service) “I do not have to do it I am not a citizen”.

    I wonder if even the Romanian gypsies have thought of this example of having it both ways.

    Of course non citizens are not supposed to be able to vote – but like so many rules this is not being enforced.

    Almost needless to say, I have not heard of people who are registered to vote in Texas and then do the “I am not a citizen I do not have to do jury service” thing being punished.

  • michael farris

    “I wonder if even the Romanian gypsies have thought of this example of having it both ways.”

    I would assume that Romania has a tradition of civil law (like most european countries), which means that juries are essentially non-existent, guilt or innocence being determined by a judge or judges (guided by written regulations).

  • guy herbert

    Yes; but for half a century it was in the Soviet Law tradition in which the function of a trial was not to determine guilt or innocence at all.

    That’s not much relevant to what Romanian gypsies do or don’t think of the British system. A lot of migrants seem to come here with an historical idealisation of what Britain is like, and are surprised by the actuality.

  • DocBud

    I’ve struggled coming up with figures. New Zealand is the best I could come up with which is probably not the ideal example due to its bloated welfare state. Anyhow, charitable donations are running at about $350million based on claimed deductions. Welfare is about $11billion. Even doubling the charitable donations for those who give but don’t claim and assuming half the welfare is wasted still leaces a pretty big gap to close.

    Additionally, there is the issue of which charities people donate to. If people donate to animal and overseas charities (while the government still gives overseas aid) then the pooch at the pound might be better off than the unemployed or invalid.

    Having watched people come into my wife’s Post Office and walk out with benefits way above what we had as a disposable income and having a brother-in-law who has barely worked in over 20 years but who still bangs on down the pub about his rights and what the government should be spending money on, I’m under no illusion about the problems of the welfare state. However, I’m not convinced that scrapping it entirely is the solution.

    I have a son who has just had to go on invalidity benefit. He had to give up the job he really enjoyed because his condition made him a potential to himself and others. He has no plans to be permanently on benefit, hoping to go to university so that he is able to pursue a different career. I do not believe in a country like the UK that he should be reduced to the status of a begger for no fault of his own. With a welfare entitlement, he at least knows how much he has to live on each week.

  • I’ve struggled coming up with figures. New Zealand is the best I could come up with which is probably not the ideal example due to its bloated welfare state

    As many years of welfare have now ‘crowded out’ the charitable sector, you are right, it is not a good example.

    However, I think we can say with absolute certainty that if welfare disappeared, it would not all be replaced by charitable works and quite rightly too. A significant number of parasites would just have to find a job.

    Although unfashionable, I very much agree within the Victorian notion of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. And who gets to decide which is which? The people giving them their money in charity, that’s who. People who cannot work due to genuine disability are exactly what charitable giving is about and that is the mark of a civilised society.

  • DocBud,

    You have a son. He is your son, therefore he need not be a beggar as you should see to that. It may be hard for you as you are likely forced to pay for all the other “cases” just like we are. If you were not so heavily taxed you might be able to support him better.

    Although unfashionable, I very much agree within the Victorian notion of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. And who gets to decide which is which? The people giving them their money in charity, that’s who. People who cannot work due to genuine disability are exactly what charitable giving is about and that is the mark of a civilised society. – PdH

    Seconded, unfashionable or not.

  • Stephanie

    The total dominance of pro-welfare politicians, I think, speaks to a real urge to charity. (Okay, and a real urge to other people’s money in some cases.) Someone keeps voting these people into office. If the welfare state vanished tomorrow, I don’t think people would pay quite as much to charity (given that they’re not being forced to anymore), but I certainly think they’d still give. That urge wouldn’t disappear along with state-run charity.

    (Though personally, my bigger concern with welfare is ethical — is the money being taken coercively, and did the taxpayers give something akin to meaningful consent to that? — rather than practical.)

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    The other side of the coin is that people would be free to pursue insurance against “no fault” events that affect their ability to work. The amount of cover and for how long would be up to the individual. The market in insurance would cover all income levels, as other forms of insurance do know. Only the truly unfortunate and the feckless should have to resort to charity, and I can’t see charities supporting the feckless for any length of time, which would be excellent motivation to minimise the number of individuals like DB’s brother-in-law, which would be a good thing in society.

    Charity would not need to replace welfare, particularly middle class welfare, the churing of tax dollars to provide working people with things they used to pay for themselves, like healthcare, childcare and education. Welfare just doesn’t crowd out charities, it crowds out profitable enterprises.

  • Bill Framton

    Children should be allowed a chance to become citizens. If adults were to do the same, chances are people would become extremely angry.

  • Yes, a chance to become citizens…of Romania.

  • Paul Marks

    We are all “citizens of the Eurpean Union” now – with all the positive welfare rights this leads to.

    Of course with something as big as the E.U. “citizen of the E.U.” is open to everyone in the world.

    For example if Cuba can sell visas in Syria (to anyone at all, from anywhere) and people can go from Cuba to Mexico and then to the United States, I am sure that a similar thing (with a twist) can be done with Romania (or other E.U. members).

    Romanian officials can sell visas in Syria (or other such places) and then these people (when they get to Romania) can be sold documents showing that they are Romanian citizens – and (thus) have a right to visit Britain.

    Makes a nonsense of “border security” but there we go. Of course “I.D. cards” will also be quite pointless – as terrorists will be able to enter the country without difficulty (they are pointless anyway as domestic terrorists are happy for their identity to be known – indeed they want to be known, and so would be careful to have their I.D. cards on their bodies).

    Of course my point about “jury service” above was not really about how a trial is organized. It was over people being happy to be “citizens” for some purposes (such as voting), but being quick to point out that they are non citizens when things they do not like come up.

    It is a bit like flag waving – the people who waved the Mexican flag on May 1st 2006 (the date is important as this is NOT the date of American Labor Day), waved the American flag this year (same date). It would be nice to think they had become loyal to the United States over the last year – but I leave it to Americans to make that judgement.

    Remember the basic assumption of free migration theory. That people become loyal to the country they go to – if they do then free migration can work, if they do not it is not “immigration” it is an invasion. What matters is not the colour of a person’s skin – but the ideas in their head (something it is harder to make a judgement about – but there are some “tells”, for example if people choose to march on May 1st that tells me all I need to know about them).

    By the way this voting stuff is quite important. One Democrat State Senator was carried on a hospital stretcher to vote against a measure requiring some proof of citizenship before someone could vote.

  • richard

    I have never heard such a racist bunch of people, all on one place ! the comments i am reading on hear shows how evil, Jealous and vindicitve british people have become ! being of british descent dating back over 100 years but a Gypsy am very succesfull and proud of where i am from and all my Gypsy friends have never claimed benefits in their life and only payed in one way to the state ! you all state that the gypsy`s are scroungers but the majority of gypsys are to proud to scrounge and would rather work if given the oppotunity people born in britain speak as if the land belongs to them but in fact we are all here for a short time only and while we are here the earthly belongings are only on loan which means the non gypsy population have no more right to live in Britain then the Gypsy population after all what makes this country belong to the people that are born here we did not create it ! we have not done something special to claim it is ours merely we was born here ! we have no god given right to claim what we see as ours as there is many other races and people who live on this earth and no one person has the right to say whos world we live in i personally believe we live on gods land and he is the begining and the end and when you judge people from where there from you will be judged !