The Right-Minded View On Adam Perkins’ ‘The Welfare Trait’.

by richardhutton


It is a source of constant wonder that in the midst of wealth, poverty should exist in abundance. Many’s the time I have walked through the grey streets of this city, and marveled at the number of people importuning passers-by, including yours truly, for what might be termed ‘alms’. The reason for this is well-known: adults who are poor are giving birth to an increasing quantity of children who are poor; thereby increasing the proportion of people in the country who inconvenience their betters on a daily basis.

Of course, it is not a phenomenon limited to the King’s town of Hull – on the contrary, it is only too common on a national scale. So much so, in fact, that nobility obliges the decent among us to to intervene; lest we should find our dreams haunted by the voices of entreaty, and subsequently sleep without ease in our otherwise comfortable bedchambers.

As fortune would have it, a thought-provoking purview on the moral perils posed to society by those who are poor has appeared in the pages of the The Times newspaper. Having no motive besides the public good of our country, a Mr Adam Perkins adduces that the number of people who demand our nation’s charity has increased dramatically in recent years; for reasons which have long defied any conventional explanation. However, the right honourable gentleman has fortunately managed to identify what he – and many other upstanding members of the non-scientific community, besides – refer to as the ‘poverty gene’ (“fifth gene on the left” Perkins cautions, sagely, with a nod).

Accordingly, it is a simple fact that parents who live on low incomes, in the poorest areas of the land, with the weakest local economies, experience a 95% likelihood (with a 5% margin for error) to have children who are poor. Mr Perkins is therefore indisputably correct to claim that this circumstance can only be due to genetic inheritance. There can be no other reason.

Accordingly, this passing of the destitution-gene from one generation to another is manifested in multiple facets: not – as the popular imagination would have it – via a family’s inability to feed themselves, or by the absence of sufficient means to cover such trifling things as heating costs during the winter months; but rather by the number of identifiable morals within a household, and by its members’ adherence to respectable standards once outside it.

This is undoubtedly a social problem of quite some magnitude, and bearing. Rather than wring our hands, however, let us turn our minds to a just solution. If experience is any tutor, then benign intentions necessarily lead to benevolent outcomes, I say. What I propose, modestly, therefore is that what these people are really suffering from is not so much an absence of opportunity – let alone any shortage of material comforts – but, instead, a simple lack of moral fibre.

To that end, town-square stocks must be reintroduced throughout the land, whereby the charitable cases in question can be pelted with the old five-a-days by the more respectable members of the public. This is for their own benefit, of course; and would serve the general public interest, likewise.

It would achieve several outcomes, in fact. For one, it would imbue social responsibility amongst those receiving the odd brassica on the nose; by leaving them conscientious and agreeable – if not fully conscious for several hours. For another, it would make good use of any superfluous fruit and vegetables which have long since passed their best-befores – and let us not forget that, as the wastage of food is a significant social-ill in today’s world, this would serve a rectifying example to all witnesses present. Last, but not least, it would provide members of the local neighborhood with a communal activity, and thereby a sense of community, if not pride.

Since modern types are forever mithering about the virtues of recycling/environmentalism/community spirit, their only objection to this would be the social responsibility aspect of the scheme – which we can safely say marks them out, in their own right, for the future administration of improving peltings.

Alas, there is the additional circumstance identified by Mr Perkins, which compounds the problem in consideration: namely, that the more successful – and meritorious – members of society aren’t reproducing their own genetic inheritance quite as often as they might, these days.

This can be easily rectified, however; with a very simple programme: every single British citizen must be given a set of formal instructions on how to perform the whole how’s-your-father-business with maximum efficiency – possibly by virtue of a supplement in The Times newspaper itself; and will be expected to participate at least once every five years, or so. For most members of the general public, this will mean much less of the old please-and-thank-you’s; for many readers of The Times, however, it will mean much, much more.