First Things First

by richardhutton


While unemployed, popular judgements and notions are going to become a constructive and unavoidable feature of your life. In times of crisis and hardship, large sums of money are given to the very wealthy in order to regenerate their failed enterprises and stimulate prosperity, commerce and economic recovery. It is a motivation for them to work hard and efficiently, despite evidence that they do very much the contrary. Conversely, people who are poor are subject to increased strictures, because money would merely discourage them from working and ‘bothering’. This is called a ‘socio-logical’ policy: that is, logic arising in response to popular opinions, largely generated by helpful journalists and concerned political commentators.

Money is never a problem when you’re unemployed – you’re receiving cheques from the government in return for doing nothing, as only too many people are only too kind and willing to inform you. ‘In fact, if anything, you have too much money’ they may be inclined to point out to you helpfully, which is perfectly true – unless you need prescriptions, clothes, or food. Or the myriad petty objects that sap your income: shaving utensils, batteries, cooking implements, paint, house-repairs – like electricity and plumbing. And as long as you don’t enjoy social events of any kind; don’t require trips to the dentist; don’t have to worry about mortgage payments; and never need to buy gifts for relatives or friends when it’s their birthday (not to mention the horrors of Christmas).

Curiously enough, the poorest people – despite their prominence at the table of earthly favours – are often to be found in debt and impoverished. This of course, only goes to prove how irresponsible they – and of course you, by implication – really are. They have everything handed to them on a plate, and yet they always have precious little to show for it. In fact, whenever they exploit their exalted position and actually buy things, they seem to get poorer and more destitute, and find it increasingly difficult to manage their finances. They have to put things off continuously, and then whenever they do have money, because their needs have accumulated – along with their debts – their money is frittered away irresponsibly as soon as they have any.

This is when people begin to get into financial troubles. Debt is a vicious circle, and inescapable when you’re on a low income – primarily, of course, because of your own improvidence. If you had the gumption to work your way out of debt then you would never get into debt in the first place. This is meritocracy. This is obvious. But how can the poverty/debt cycle be avoided once it has become unavoidable?

Quite simply: by resorting to crime.

Consider the following: when unemployed, one must learn how to cook properly. Rubbishy low-cost, low-quality food is too expensive when you’re on a budget. You need to aim higher. You have to be inventive, and adventurous – if not, in fact, positively daring. Shop-lifting is underrated as a skill in modern society; but if undertaken with the greatest of care, and in a responsible manner, it can yield excellent dividends for little to no cost. For instance, this simple recipe for macaroni:

– Pasta
– Goats cheese
– Cheddar
– Tomatoes
– Basil
– Bread-crumbs
– Olive oil
– Salt & pepper

will prove nutritious, delicious, and cost-effective, as long as no costs are actually met. You can live a life of modest opulence and slender abundance – provided you’re willing to break the law. I’m not sure if Jamie Oliver covers this matter in any of his books, but you never know (and at c. £15 per book, you have more than one incentive to steal one). If you get caught, of course, it only proves that the poor really are a criminal underclass and are thoroughly deserving of their poverty. For shame if you hadn’t surmised this already.

 Budgeting is therefore vital. Inessentials need to be jettisoned from your spending: chewing gum, straws, tissues, milk, cigarettes – all of these have ready and cheap replacements: rye grass, freshly burst inner-tubes, freshly ironed shirt-sleeves, dishwater (killing two birds with one stone), and haddock (again, two birds – one stone. And a fish, of course). You may not have the resources to purchase the groceries required to keep you healthy, but margarine is an excellent source of vegetableness; while fruitiness – a vivid feature of orangeade – is recommended by professionals (I’m not saying in which field, or whether they’re peer-reviewed, or – indeed – are at liberty to practice. Or at liberty full stop).

 In truth, one must maintain the ‘never give in’ spirit of The Blitz – that is, if the Luftwaffe had peppered recipients with small amounts of money, instead of high volumes of explosives.