Browsing the BBC news website this morning led me to two interesting and contrasting stories, which I really must comment on.
The first is about a 19yr old woman called Suada Hamidi who has to live on £50 per week. Out of that, she has bills to pay and travelling costs in order to sign on as unemployed. By the time she’s finished, she has less than £5 to spend on food and living expenses for seven days. She has done a video diary for the BBC about her plight and search for work. The thing that amazed me most is that she manages to smile through the obvious pain and fear she must be feeling. I have so much respect for her courage in the face of such hardship. At her age, she should be earning a reasonable wage and going out enjoying herself while she’s still young and free. The government has absolutely no clue at all. How can they say they are helping people like Suada? If she takes a full time job on the minimum wage, she’ll actually be worse off financially because she would then become liable for payment of the full amount for her bills as she’d lose the financial “help” she recieves via state benefits. Her story and video diary can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8015182.stm
Which brings me on to the next story I read and the one which made me feel sad. Apparently, many of our richest pop stars are struggling with their finances because of the current downturn in the UK economy. As many of them rely on investments to fund their so modest lifestyles, they are finding themselves losing money, hand over fist. For example, Sir Elton John has seen his tiny bank balance drop from £235 million to £175 million (yes, that’s pounds sterling!) in the last year. Well, how will he manage? Where is the next Porsche coming from? How will he feed himself on £175 million pounds? I feel so sorry for Sir Elton. Really. If it carries on, he’ll be so poor, he’ll have to sell a mansion or two. My heart bleeds for Sir Paul McCartney too. He’s really suffering. According to the story, he’s seen his measly £500 million drop to a terrifyingly low £440 million. What on earth is he to do? It’s dreadful to think that he’ll have to seriously reconsider purchasing that yacht he’s been eyeing up or the tenth holiday in Bali this year may have to be downgraded to Monte Carlo. What a crying shame. This story can be read here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8015303.stm
I’m not sure whether the BBC story about those poor music stars was meant to garner sympathy or was dripping with sarcasm. You decide. The point is that it makes me sick to think of the people out there in desperate need of help, with nowhere to turn and the contrasting wealthy elite are crying into their Amani suits about the loss of a few million quid off their immense fortunes. Who cares? Yes, some of these people do have incredible talent and deserve to be earning lots of money for their artistic contribution. However, it still saddens me to think of the people at the opposite end of the spectrum, who are promised help by our government, to no avail. Empty promises of help getting back into work and retraining and financial support for their plight. It clearly doesn’t work. So, although the rich are currently getting poorer, I would contend that many of them have no idea what the word “poor” really means, government ministers with their second homes least of all!