One of those questions

I’ll never forget trying to feed myself and my son on £10 a week. I was a single mum, absolutely skint and living hand to mouth, even after I started working as a trainee reporter for the Southend Echo, following 18 long months of looking for a job.

In all the stories about Jack Monroe I never did work out why the father of the child wasn’t chipping in.

It is still a legal requirement that he do so, isn’t it?

Then there’s this which is just stupid:

most benefits are paid to people in work, which means our taxes are bailing out the poverty-level wages paid by corporations who dole their profits out to shareholders rather than their staff

If they’re paid to staff then they’re not profits, are they?

45 thoughts on “One of those questions”

  1. It is indeed a legal requirement that the father contributes. But very difficult to enforce if the father isn’t interested. And esp so if he is low skilled and in and out of work.

  2. I notice the headline conflates a no deal Brexit with problems allegedly encountered whilst Britain was a full EU member.
    An odd conjunction!

  3. I see that the following comment I made earlier was cancelled: “Lots of demands on ‘the government’, ‘the corporations’, ‘the trade unions’…but none of the people who are supposedly suffering from this ‘food insecurity’, such as maybe not having kids you can’t afford and expecting everyone else to pay for them.”

    Apparently it breached the CiF standards, so there you have it – they are a paper by scroungers, for scroungers.

  4. “2.5 million young people in Britain are estimated by Unicef to live in “food-insecure” households. “Food insecure” – it’s such a sterile way of describing the disgusting reality that, in 21st-century Britain, millions of us are afraid of going hungry.”

    These being the same 2.5 million comprise part of the “obesity epidemic”?

  5. Jack never did correct her paternal advice to the poor, oft repeated in books and blogs, that tinned totties were cheaper than fresh ones.\

  6. The point about in-work benefits is valid. We have spent the past 20 years encouraging a low productivity economy and importing labour to do shit jobs, which have to be subsidised by the taxpayer. You might argue that it all evens out, as higher wages would mean more spent on goods and services rather than tax, but there are other costs to importing the world’s peasantry.

  7. “If they’re paid to staff then they’re not profits, are they?”
    The assumption is that the corps have the cash to pay the workers, but don’t (because it’s toppped up by benefits), so that cash is available to pay out to shareholders.

    Which is, I think, reasonably fair. The bit not seen is that if there’s a downturn, the shareholders take the hit first rather than workers having to suffer a pay cut, which is usually unpalatable.

  8. “I’ll never forget trying to feed myself and my son on £10 a week”

    Well no; if it’s been the main plank of your journalism career ever since, you’d make sure you didn’t forget it.

  9. The Pedant-General said:
    “The assumption is that the corps have the cash to pay the workers, but don’t (because it’s toppped up by benefits), so that cash is available to pay out to shareholders. Which is, I think, reasonably fair.”

    Is it fair? Payroll takes up a major part of the income of many companies, profit a very small part. If 40% of your turnover is wages, and 3% profit, there’s not much scope for increasing wages as a percentage of profit – a significant wage increase means pushing up prices.

  10. A frequent false claim is that corps underpay because they can get away with it thanks to the gov’t benefits. But that’s 180 degrees wrong. If there were no gov’t benefits poor & low-skilled workers would be more desperate, which does not improve their bargaining position. If your kids are on the brink of starvation (not just “food insecure”) you can’t argue with your boss over anything, let alone demand more money.

  11. “Jack never did correct her paternal advice to the poor, oft repeated in books and blogs, that tinned totties were cheaper than fresh ones.\”

    There have been times when they were. There was a period when I shopped at Tesco, they were selling 780g tins of spuds at 17p, may have been around the time she made the claim. That would have been less per kilo than at least the smaller bags of fresh. (you do lose some bought weight in peeling) It’d be effectively cheaper than the big bags if you’re not using a car. There’s a limit to how much you can carry. Large bag of spuds is most of a shopping trip’s worth. If you don’t live within waly walking distance of a store you have to factor in bus fares.
    The error she’s made is common with people write self-help stuff. Using unique or unusual things as generalities. The prices you can find at a giant Tesco on the A406 N. Circular are not the same as in a small town store out in the boonies, doesn’t have a Tesco.
    The other thing annoys me is the recipe that can feed two for under a pound that would cost 20 quid to buy all the ingredients go in it. Because only fairly well off people have jars of pesto & bottles of tarragon vinegar hanging round the kitchen.

  12. BIS– I won’t say it’s impossible to find one cheaper and of course depends on the fresh comparator but what she actually published was – as a tip, mind you, accompanied with the usual prologue-Dear reader i’ve lived a hard life and let me share with you my accumulated knowledge:

    “Use tinned potatoes instead of fresh ones as they’re a fifth of the price”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44597169

    anyone of her target audience who trusts her and goes straight to the tinned aisle, ain’t getting the high quality advice the reputation suggests. My guess is a lot know this, they have to, and then you have to ask what use is Jack monroe’s advice to poor people?

  13. Gladrag trying to cash in on coming hard times by re-cycling tired old poverty porn.

    “£10 a week while a trainee reporter” is interesting. I don’t know hags back-story. Is she a journo because the dole office sent her to trainee reporters job? Or was she extra poor cos she wouldn’t do owt else but be a hack?

  14. How can you blame the father for being absent from a lesbian wanna-tranny alky who’s done the bare minimum to collect some sperm, quit her job despite having no other means of support, and fucked off to be with her girlfriend?

  15. Mr Eks- the main problem, i think, was Jack’s housing benefit was stopped, multiple times. She was strapped alright for a certain period. Ironically feeds into Tim’s critique of food banks, The hardship comes not ‘cos peeps aren’t entitled to the money, it’s that the government finds it hard to give money to people.

  16. Mr Ecks September 11, 2020 at 11:59 am – ““£10 a week while a trainee reporter” is interesting.”

    People who choose poverty are often poor. How is it anyone else’s fault?

    This fruitcake is a monument to bad life choices. Why should anyone else have to pay?

  17. “Jack never did correct her paternal advice to the poor, oft repeated in books and blogs, that tinned tatties were cheaper than fresh ones.”

    I did make a formal complaint to the BBC over that article, pointing out that at the time of publication it most certainly wasn’t true, and provided prices from all the supermarkets to prove it.

    I eventually got the usual ‘Bog off, we’re right’ answer that relied on the argument that because a tin of potatoes was cheaper in absolute terms than a larger (and far cheaper per KG) bag of loose spuds that made her correct. Which might make sense if benefits were paid every few days, but as they are paid at least fortnightly, and for people on UC monthly, its total bollocks.

  18. Until someone actually provides a spreadsheet of incomings and outgoings to accompany these poverty porn stories, I’ll stick with my belief that an disproportionate amount of money is spent on non-essentials.

  19. Jim- sheesh.Yeah i remember. so don’t buy this 2.5kg £1 bag of potatoes = buy this 20p can of spuds. 20p is the fifth of the price. Even though i subscribe to the view technically correct is the best kind of correct this still doesn’t constitute a top tip.

  20. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    In all the stories about Jack Monroe I never did work out why the father of the child wasn’t chipping in.

    The most likely reason for that is also the most obvious… She isn’t sure who the father is.

  21. “If they’re paid to staff then they’re not profits, are they?”

    There is a difference in outlook between private and public companies. In a private company where many of the shareholders also work, and likely manage the firm, you tend to think of profits as being the figure before you start doling it out, some of which is given to rank and file employees and bonuses and usually more distributed to shareholders.

  22. I wish people would explain just how grim it is to be a cum sponge and to follow through with it.

    Stop talking about how shit the benefits system is and start talking about getting an implant. The benefits system is never going to be great for single mothers. Partly because government is shit but mostly because this is a broken family model. Children need looking after and families need income. Unless you’re some hot shot lawyer, you are not going to manage this well as a single mother. Two parents sharing the load works.

  23. Melissa is a nasty piece of work who is nuts and intellectually incapable of making good decisions, hence the poverty and single motherhood. Which of course is all someone else’s fault and nothing to do with her sluttish ways.

    I despise benefit monkey scum like her.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    bis,

    There was a period when I shopped at Tesco, they were selling 780g tins of spuds at 17p, may have been around the time she made the claim. That would have been less per kilo than at least the smaller bags of fresh. (you do lose some bought weight in peeling)

    You peel spuds? Why?

    Its a complete waste of time, effort, flavour and, it is claimed by “health experts”, nutrients, but its the first 3 that I use. Even our oven chips aren’t peeled.

  25. “Until someone actually provides a spreadsheet of incomings and outgoings to accompany these poverty porn stories, I’ll stick with my belief that an disproportionate amount of money is spent on non-essentials.”

    There was a wonderful story on the BBC a good few years ago, that actually did that. There was some failed computer programmer type living on benefits in North Wales (I think) with a family of plenty, and moaning bitterly about how it was so hard to make ends meet. And they did a complete ingoings and outgoings on him, and the idiot obviously told the truth. He ended up admitting that part of his (not inconsiderable) benefits payments went on Sky TV, fags and booze, and (if I remember correctly) phone contracts for his kids. Even the BBC comments had a field day.

    Edit: here we are:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16812185

    It was around the time of the benefits cap debate. He was getting over £30k/yr of tax free income. Which equated at the time to him earning £43k before tax.

  26. Bloke in North Dorset

    Jim’s comment brought to mind a BBC program Mrs BiND used to watch called Eat Well For Less. The program was based on families who wanted to save some money had a couple of guys look at what they were buying in supermarkets and substituting cheaper goods without the knowing which they were.

    I have to admit I stopped reading and started watching, some of the stuff they were buying was 2 to 3 times the price of the own brand and they couldn’t tell the difference. In most cases they preferred own brand. That was the only issue, in a lot of cases even those with time on their hands bought convenience and they brought in people to show how to cook simple meals, wil they also preferred.

    I know it’s easy to criticise and blame manufacturers but something has gone missing in the education (and I don’t mean schooling) of young people. It seems they haven’t been through necessity being the mother of invention stage.

  27. Jack Monroe is a lying Labour shill. She had a public sector job, fire service admin ~£30k pa then, but left after maternity leave to be an unemployed mother

    Her choice sure, but stop publishing the never ending dirge on the life she chose to live

    £10pw will easily feed two peeps, especially when one is a “creative poverty chef”

  28. BiND – peeling spuds

    Like the vitamin C, most of the toxins in potatoes are in or just below the skins. The elderly, infirm or children should always deep peel to avoid nightshade/belladonna poisoning. The unwary can eat green skinned potatoes and be quite badly poisoned. This is exactly what happened to me and now I have to avoid them except in the smallest quantities: chips and roasts seem to be survivable but baked and boiled churn me up something terrible. Even Cadbury’s Smash is bad for me. As a result I also now have problems with tomatoes too (same family of nightshade). I have noticed that potatoes turn green all to readily these days, I suppose that they are washed before packing and that is what ruins them.

  29. …I started working as a trainee reporter

    These people never get training as plumbers or electricians do they. Never anything useful and productive or the slightest bit dirty, and never anything that, outside the public trough, is going to pay the bills.

    Fucking leeches all of them.

  30. BiND,

    “I know it’s easy to criticise and blame manufacturers but something has gone missing in the education (and I don’t mean schooling) of young people. It seems they haven’t been through necessity being the mother of invention stage.”

    I don’t know. Remember, they’re finding these people. Doesn’t mean everyone is like that (although kids generally have less skills in cooking than 30 years ago).

    It’s like the number of “rip off Britain” stories where I just feel like the person is like the weak gazelle that the lion gets on the Savannah. “my mobile company left the price the same after the phone part was paid off”. Seriously, you’ve got a device with automatic reminders. Why don’t you put a “renew phone” event in for 11 months time? I don’t even have a phone part and I do this. Because you can negotiate a cheaper price or get some goodies.

  31. “…18 months looking for a job……”

    He was a software developer – a computer programmer. His “excuse” was that he worked on educational software and that market was stagnant (I don’t think it was, particularly), if anything it was growing as more and more computers came into schools.

    This is like saying you only paint bathrooms. The same skills are used to paint any other room, or even other things, sometimes with a minimal tweak.

    The difference is that some things are not used, of course. So for example educational software is less likely to use large databases.

    The problem with this is because the various providers are keen for people to use their products large amounts of training material is provided for free. Then there’s the significant amount of online tutorials and also major open source projects that have their own free tutorial. It’s one of the few careers you can set up entirely on your own with no costs (other than a computer and the internet which they already had).

  32. wat dabney,

    “These people never get training as plumbers or electricians do they. Never anything useful and productive or the slightest bit dirty, and never anything that, outside the public trough, is going to pay the bills.”

    There was a time when being a reporter was fairly useful, but she started around 2012, and various sorts of news content were already going to the internet by then, to dedicated sites and blogs.

    Writing cookbooks or even doing YouTube cooking shows, has to be one of the craziest things to do right now. There are a gazillion recipes on various websites, all ad supported (so sod all money) and searchable. Most cookbook writers are posh girls or do it as a spin-off (like restaurants selling a book).

  33. @ BiND
    Peeling is easier than scrubbing sufficiently well that I am sure that they are clean. Nevertheless I still scrub baking potatoes. These days most potatoes are supplied machine-washed but why should I trust them?

  34. @BiND September 11, 2020 at 8:51 pm
    +1 A very good programme, I’m regularly astounded by how useless so many are at basic budgeting, cooking & practical skills

    Also how parents never allow children to help/watch in kitchen which is how I learned

    @Ottokring
    You’re very rare. Potato skin is fine for 99.99%, even a bit of green. The “do not eat” is any shoots/roots, break them off and potato still Ok

    If Smash makes you ill too, you have an allergy. Have tests

    @john77
    We cook the unpeeled potatoes straight from bag, in 20+ years no probs. The cooking kills any bugs

    Carrots, Mushrooms, Fruit etc: raw, remove from bag & eat

    Walks: wild blue, black, raspberries… – pick, eat

  35. Hello Pcar

    Actually it’s an intolerance to a substance called solanin which is in all nightshade-style plants. I had been rather poorly and so my immune system was weak, meaning that when I was poisoned it probably over produced antibodies which now automatically attack the toxin. Boiling doesn’t kill it off. This is why the elderly or ill need to peel spuds. The Smash incident was quite a shock, but the consensus is that its concentrated nature caused the problems.

    Like many things, until it happened I didn’t realise that is quite a well known complaint. It took a few incidents until I linked it to potatoes, because I simply didn’t believe it was possible.

  36. Ottokring – is the solanin in tomatoes also in the skin? If that’s the case, you can make an excellent (and safe) tomato salad by dunking the tomatoes one at a time in boiling water for ten seconds and nicking them with a sharp knife when they come out. They are then very easy to peel by hand. Chop them into pieces,discard the seeds and pulp, and put the pieces in a bowl with a little mild French mustard and a pinch of salt.

  37. @Ottokring
    Yes, solanine is a poison and concentrated in green potatoes and potato root/shoot/sprout. Although small amounts OK, like coffee, apple seeds etc

    The higher temp of frying, roasting vs boiling neutralises most solanine. A pressure cooker might do same for ‘boiled’. Is stew, hot-pot OK?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *