The man next door is not your enemy – a rant on the side of the people

The man next door is not your enemy. He may well be in receipt of many hundreds of welfare money and reliefs each week, but he is not your enemy.

The young girl who has a baby to ‘get ’a house is not your enemy. Would you wish that lifestyle choice on your sister, daughter, or friend?

The chap doing the nixers and claiming the dole is not your enemy.

People make choices but often choices are forced on them. It could be accident of birth, education or geographical location. It could be as result of job loss, divorce or bereavement. It could be the school you went to, the kids you hung out with, or what your parents did. It could a desire to follow a dream, or conversely inertia and laziness. It could be because you fell in love in final year, broke up in final year, or could not find love in final year. It could be the books you read, the books you hoped to read, or more importantly the books you never read. It could be the songs sung to you in the cradle, the songs you hummed as a child, or the songs you made out to.

Choices are often involuntary. Will your child become a doctor? Chances are only if his parents were. Will your child become a plumber? Chances are only if his parents were. Will you child go to college? Chances are only if his parents did. Choices are often parameterised by circumstances – past, present and future.

So if your neighbour is on the dole, if the girl next door has babies to earn a house, if the chap who fixes your washing machine demands cash because he is on the dole…he is not your enemy.

The enemy is the lazy agent of government which refuses to make the welfare state more equitable. The enemy is the process that applies a slap-dash approach and ties up worthy recipients into a mire of red tape. The enemy is the over paid senior manager who runs a department in the same way it was run before because that is how it has always been done.

Why does seniority of tenure demand a large salary without expectation of greater performance? Why don’t we find entrepreneurs within government and institutions of state? Are they choked off by inertia, by ‘more than my job’s worth’, by sheer intransigence of circumstance, of history, of a sickening series of accumulations that together create an amorphous mass that cannot be shifted.

I am very tired of government and the people who are supposed to be in charge ducking out of responsibility for tackling issues. Instead they prefer to set the people at the bottom against each other, dividing and conquering, kept busy so that the injustice up the ladder is not seen.

The squabbling classes. The squabbling masses.

Throw them bones so they tear each other apart. There was a report in all the major news outlets in January. It said that the people most affected by the new universal charges and levies are the middle classes, the squeezed middle classes. Those in receipt of social payments were said to be largely insulated from the rising costs. This was the headline in news reports and in the broadsheets, as well of course in the tabloids. It took a few days but then some bright spark questioned the source of this report. There was none. No source. No survey.

Then at the start of February we had the Magda scandal of the polish woman who was supposedly here as an economic tourist, living off the dole and laughing at the Irish people. The report was utterly wrong and so far from the original polish translation, but it not only ran in a broadsheet but had several senators and councilors roundly criticising her – the same senators and councilors who have access to large sums in expenses.

And don’t get me started on the laundry expenses kept by TDs in excess of €3000 per year. Are politicians meant to be prettier than the rest of us?

I refuse to look at the man next door and see him as my enemy.

There are many abuses to the social welfare system, not least that the self employed cannot access it. The self employed person by their very nature tends to be a self starter and wants to work for themselves or create larger companies. But sometimes the self employed need help too. I may be very good at my job. I have years of experience but that does not guarantee my success nor an increase in salary each year. Last year my company failed and I was unable to get any help. Instead I was visited by bailiffs. I still cannot get any help – and now is when I need it. I have no intention of remaining on welfare but I need it now and I cannot access it. I can only strive to re create my business. This is wrong.

Welfare should be administered on need. It should be compassionate. It should also be a right not a privilege. But it needs to be fair. If there are inbalances then these need to be fixed.

The army of people working in the department of social welfare are not all pen pushers. They are not all administration people looking at the rules and then applying strictures. I will not insult the vast army of people working in these departments, they are of course intelligent, intuitive, and interested in getting the job down.

But why are the rules so hard to change, to fix, or to amend? I do not have access to the salaries and CVs of those working in management but I am sure they are high flyers, high earners and high achievers. Where there are inbalances, can not a critical mind re evaluate how they should work. Checks and balances. Why are they so undone?

My heart also stops when I hear the latest news from welfare that the department is going after the welfare dodgers, the abusers, the parasites in society. Why is it that a man in receipt of a lowly figure on welfare may be considered a parasite, while a politician in receipt of a laundry expense (just to pick one frivolous example) is entitled to look pretty?

Fix the system from the top. Look at Eamonn Maloney, Labour TD and the only politician who refuses to take expenses. He is not on a crusade; he believes his salary is sufficient. I am not saying that expenses are the work of the devil, but please let us count them the same way we count for the people on the dole, the self employed with no safety net, the old and those on the breadline.

The man next door is not your enemy. We are not in Orwellian country now where pig cannot be told from human. Look up people of Ireland to fix our country. Those in power, in salaries, in positions of authority have to earn our respect. They have to earn their salaries and positions in society.

Look up People of Ireland.

Posted in Debt, glorious Debt, Rants in Modern Ireland and tagged , , .

Journalist, Broadcaster, Writer, Speaker, Law Changer, Dreamer


  1. Great blog Gillian. I agree with all of the above. Especially with regard to people setting up businesses. There is no incentive to create a business- just red tape and no dole if thing’s don’t work out because you were ‘self-employed.’
    I have tutored a couple of adult with literacy difficulties and are unemployed. All they want is a job, any job and some dignity back in their lives. I’m not paid to do this by the way. Can’t claim any ‘expenses.’

  2. The man next door is not your enemy – a rant on the side of the people | Jillian Godsil I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks! your article about The man next door is not your enemy – a rant on the side of the people | Jillian GodsilBest Regards Agata

  3. Thank you Jillian for articulating this age old problem so well. Very unfortunately this is nothing new i.e., the many people in high positions behaving like that & the existence of frustratingly unjust policies left unchecked, unchallenged & unaddressed.
    It goes on all over the globe & those guilty won’t be inheriting the earth anytime soon – that I definitely know.
    Good leaders please stand up & people of the world open your eyes & support them. We are interdependent – one cannot survive & thrive without the other.
    Inspirational Jillian – more power to You & good people everywhere XOX.

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