From the Daily Mail website:
Unemployed Julian Styles, 58, who was made redundant from his factory job in 1984, said: ‘I’ve been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years. `Tonight is party time. I’m drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.’”
The article, which chronicles the outbreaks of violence and antics of – mostly – young people following the death of Margaret Thatcher, does not inform us as to whether Mr Styles has been permanently out of work since 1984, a period of 29 years. It may be that he has worked for periods, no doubt adding his magnificent skills, charm and knowledge to the global economy. On the other hand, I suppose it is possible that this individual has spent the last, entire 29-year period living off the benefits provided by fellow taxpayers. I hope he has managed to cope. He sounds as if he certainly will be able to drown his sorrows with plenty of drink.
Forgive my sarcastic tone, but while I certainly do sympathise with anyone made redundant – I have been through that experience and I know what it feels like – it seems to be stretching one’s natural compassion to the limit to feel much sympathy for a person who might have been out of work, or at least some form of productive activity, for almost three decades, even while remaining an able-bodied citizen. (The article does not say if he is disabled.)
Among the many things that the late Margaret Thatcher strived against was what she thought of as an “entitlement mentality”: the idea that we are, simply by virtue of being alive, entitled to coerce our fellow man into providing us with things or services. The assertion of such “rights” is impossible without stipulating that others have some duty to provide these things. But how much of a right does one have? To one job? To a permanent job? A highly paid one? A moderately paid one? In your home town? Globally?
To pose such questions is to cut to the heart of the incoherence and contradictory nature of such bogus “rights”. A right is, by definition, an assertion that one has a personal space that cannot be invaded, which is why property rights are an essential component of the idea, and why socialist “rights” are a hopeless muddle. I suppose all this philosophy might be a bit of a stretch for this ex-coal miner and his fellows, but it might be nice to think that in contemplating some of the sentiments of recent days, one might also reflect on the principles that are highlighted by Margaret Thatcher’s 11 momentous years in power.