DOESN’T Christmas catch you out?
It’s weeks since I was tucking into my turkey and stuffing and the indigestion is long gone and even the ounces have started to recede, if not the pounds.
But the financial legacy is still taking its toll.
You see, like many others, we are paid a few days earlier at Christmas. It allows us to make those last minute purchases with a fresh, much-needed injection of cash.
However, that means you have to wait a few days longer for the next pay day...and cope with the extra expenditure of Christmas.
Oh, the trials of modern day life!
But I should think myself lucky. I have a job.
There are plenty of people – a growing number by the week if you believe the press – who are in a much worse situation than I am.
They are the ones thrown on the scrapheap.
Mind you, it is not such an uncomfortable for some...at least for the time being.
They are the ones who have learned how to milk the system, how to squeeze every last penny out of the welfare account that it is possible to grasp.
And the amounts some have received can be staggering, at least to people like me.
Now there is a row in parliament whether this amount should be capped.
Damn right it should, I say.
But the Bishops in the Lords, supported by other liberal-thinking individuals say otherwise.
Hang about. My sympathy for this way of thinking disappears when I discover that they are arguing over the level of the cap.
The Government reckons it should be £25,000 a year. Not enough to live on, say their Lordships.
They should read The Star’s letters page where two items caught my attention this week. Both were from chaps who had struggled but managed to raise families.
And both of them spoke in one voice when they said they had achieved this by never earning anything near £25,000 a year.
I know there may be a few exceptional circumstances where individuals have such special and demanding needs that they have to receive extra support. And it is only right that in these cases the state – you and me – should foot the bill.
But there are too many instances where this is the norm rather than the exception. Where people are too willing to sit back and let the state do its bit for them.
You can’t blame them, really.
It is not worth their while to get a job. If they did, they would lose money.
But isn’t that where we have made the biggest mistake of the welfare state’s life? We have replaced self respect and achievement with dependence and indolence.
By filling people’s pockets beyond their wildest dreams – and certainly beyond their earning capacity – we are removing any incentive whatsoever to shake off their dependence on welfare handouts.
And with that comes so many other problems. Such as the Devil finding work for idle hands and the torpor that comes with a lifestyle whose only guides and boundaries are set by daytime television choices.
Capping benefits could well be the first step to encouraging people to help themselves.