Scroungers, Chancers and Human Nature

2 Mar

One of the things about human nature that progressives have a nasty habit of ignoring is that a single (metaphorical) slap is remembered much longer than a thousand caresses.

This happens, I think, because we have a tendency to remember bad things because bad things can threaten our lives. Gaining a thousand pounds will have less effect on me than losing a thousand pounds, if only because the sudden absence of the money will force me to scramble to compensate for the loss. I might be unable to feed my family, for example, because some bastard nicked the money I was going to use to buy food.

The thing is, this happens on an interpersonal scale as well. Humans have a habit, as I have blogged before, of separating the world into ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ We see ‘us’ as a collection of individuals and ‘them’ as one vast hive mind. Therefore, to use a reference that will be familiar to my readers, the ‘Puppy-Kickers’ saw the ‘Sad Puppies’ and the ‘Rapid Puppies’ as a single unit, instead of a loose group that included people such as Sarah Hoyt and Vox Day.

Now, if you have a bad experience with someone from such a group, you will assume – perhaps consciously, perhaps not – on some level that everyone else from the group is equally bad.

What brought this on, I should say at this point, was an online rant about how people were showing much less sympathy these days. (I’ve managed to lose the thread, for which I apologise.) The writer was complaining about how he hadn’t been able to get his special needs catered for or something along those lines. And then I started thinking …

The problem with sympathy is that it has its limits.

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that a guy you know has just lost his job. You think he has excellent prospects, so you loan him £100 on the understanding that he’ll pay it back the following week, when he has a job. The next week rolls around and, instead of paying you back, he asks for another loan. Don’t worry, he’ll pay you back next week. When you ask why he isn’t employed, he gives you a story that has your bullshit detectors ringing like crazy. And the next week, he asks for MORE money. How long would it be before you ran out of patience and refused to give him anything?

This guy is what we in Britain call a ‘scrounger,’ a person who lives solely on handouts from others (notably the government).

Now, there are plenty of people on benefits who have very little prospect of getting a job, either because they’re disabled or they have too many children to risk leaving the home. I’ve met people who were ashamed of being on the dole and worked hard to get off it as soon as possible, if only for their own self-respect. But when we think of scroungers, we think of people like these, people who milk human kindness for all its worth. We curse them for ruining it for everyone else. (If you want someone to blame for the Tory Government’s assault on benefits, look at these people.)

And so we get cynical about demands for more and more help.

The more and more absurd the demands for help become, the more pathetic the excuses, the more we start tuning them out and ignoring them. Students who want ‘safe spaces’ get sneered at because the real world is not a safe place; students who want speakers banned because they are ‘offended’ (note that said students could easily avoid going to such speeches) get mocked as pathetic cry-bullies, proto-fascists and thought police wannabes.

But this has dangerous effects on human interaction. The more such whining we hear, the less inclined we are to pay attention to it. And because we are becoming conditioned to regard whining as whining, we ignore people who have genuine problems because we have heard too much whining. If a convention manager is asked to arrange for wheelchair access – a perfectly reasonable request – he may refuse to handle it because he’s just finished enduring a whining fit from someone who is refusing to come unless a particular panellist is removed from the bill. And this isn’t remotely fair to the person in the wheelchair!

It gets worse. If one happens to need help, one does not get to dictate the terms on which help arrives. (I’m sure the Jew who was rescued by the Good Sanitarian was horrified at the thought of owing his life to an enemy personage.) You do not get to make a fuss when the food and drink you are given (which you are not paying for) does not meet your religious requirements. Nor do you get to engage in criminal acts in the country that has taken you in, at some quite considerable cost. All you do is you alienate people against you – and, because of human nature, they will regard your conduct as a sign of how everyone else like you will behave.

If you take advantage of someone’s generosity, do not be surprised when they turn against you.

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15 Responses to “Scroungers, Chancers and Human Nature”

  1. duncancairncross March 2, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    As my old boss used to say
    “Sympathy is in the dictionary between syphilis and suicide”

  2. shrekgrinch March 2, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    “This guy is what we in Britain call a ‘scrounger,’ a person who lives solely on handouts from others…”

    In America, we call ’em Bernie Supporters. This holds especially true of all the Millennials living in their parents’ basement who turn out for the guy. Although, I suppose the vast majority of them would quality as ‘Scrounger Wannabes’ because they want the handouts Bernie is promising.

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 3, 2016 at 12:30 am #

    Several years ago, my parents started to help this woman who claimed that she was trying to “pull her life together”.

    They gave her money from their savings along with getting our church involved in helping out this woman.

    Well, although this woman said that she’d pay them back, her life never seemed to get “pulled back together”.

    After Dad’s death, she left town without leaving a forwarding address and for a while we were getting telephone calls from her creditors (my parents had allowed her to use our phone as a message phone).

    Oh final note, her youngest daughter showed up at our church pregnant with her boyfriend.

    The girl claimed that she was attending another local church but wanted money from our church.

    While our church secretary may have thought of the girl’s mother (ie just a taker), she asked the girl why the girl hadn’t asked the other church for help. (Don’t think she got an answer).

    I suspect that the girl was lying about attending another church.

    The girl was thinking that our church was an “easy mark”. [Frown]

  4. Brian Wheeler March 3, 2016 at 12:46 am #

    “…human nature that progressives have a nasty habit of ignoring..”

    I’m aware you are a conservative, but there is no need to antagonize people for no reason. This article can be applied to progressives as much as it can to conservatives and everything in between.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard March 3, 2016 at 12:51 am #

      And progressives always have a reason to “antagonize” conservatives?

  5. Joel Li March 3, 2016 at 2:13 am #

    All I want to say, is that the us vs them mentality is very strong in America.

    As an outsider, I really hope that Americans stop using such labels like Democrat vs Republican, Liberal vs Conservative, etc. And just go your own way and your own ideology on issue to issue.

    Stop reading only one sided arguments and find out all sides on each argument before making a choice.

    Anyways, on this issue I strongly agree that the minority spoils it all for everyone else. Although, to stop exploitation, you got to have strong enforcement and punishment.

    Which, I know, many Westerners will scream as inhuman. But to me, what is more inhuman is the few screwing it up for the rest.

  6. Tim March 3, 2016 at 3:43 am #

    Just an FYI, Chris: Good Samaritan, not Good Sanitarian… 🙂

  7. PhilippeO March 3, 2016 at 6:36 am #

    ” It gets worse. If one happens to need help, one does not get to dictate the terms on which help arrives. … You do not get to make a fuss when the food and drink you are given (which you are not paying for) does not meet your religious requirements.

    If you take advantage of someone’s generosity, do not be surprised when they turn against you. ”

    I think you confuse generosity/help and governmental duty. generosity/charity/help is happen on personal relationships, A help B, C give charity to D, etc. Government is created by citizens, who provide it with manpower, tax money, legitimacy, etc; so government has duty to take care of its citizens. Its two-way relationships.

    Sikhs soldier who fought for Britain deserve to get allowed to wear Turban in airport without harassment. Muslim shop owner who pay tax deserve to get Hallal food when imprisoned, Just like Jewish engineer to get kashrut? food when in jail. Businessman who pay VAT for years deserve help when he is bankrupt. Teacher who teach for years deserve help when her son get cancer. etc. etc.

    Everybody in society provide something, and government who act as arm of the society should help them.

    And secondly the tenet of modern liberal-democracy is “everyone is equal under the law” and “people should be judged individually”. This two tenets is valuable enough that occasional failure or inefficiency is preferable too government who abandoned this tenets. We don’t want nobility privilege and collective punishment applied again.

    And conservatives too often take too much time, money and energy to concern themselves with “free riders”. Every system always give opportunity for someone to take advantages without giving anything. There are employee who work very little but get paid, club members who rarely attend but enjoy food during party, The businessman who take investor money then disappear, etc.

    The key is “free riders” is often miniscule. Reagan welfare mom is chicago criminals, but millions Americans suffer because of Reagan policy. Republican tighten voters qualification because of “fraud voters”, so far they find 2 people who actually did it, but millions lost their opportunity to vote.

    Personally, I think anything below 2% is irrelevant. Business often perform much worse. Government already function pretty well in getting rid of free riders, some no doubt did exist, but as long as they below 2% of welfare recipient, i think its best to ignore it. More effort beyond that line usually counter-productive, harming false positives and throwing money and time for nothing.

    While i generally agree with ‘safe spaces’ has get out of hand, I’m not sure about speakers. Speakers often getting paid, and even when they not, nature of graduation speech often imply “endorsement”. People boast when give speech on this or that school.
    Alumny boast who attend their graduation. In many case students do have rights to complain, when their graduation is used for endorsement of something they hate. This, of course, not apply for non-event speech, but many cases when student protest, is because administration invite someone to student event without consultation.

    ” In America, we call ’em Bernie Supporters. This holds especially true of all the Millennials living in their parents’ basement who turn out for the guy. ”

    Old guy, especially who get their first job between FDR and Nixon shock, should really look at themselves first, before mocking millenials. The fact is America between 30s and 70s, interfere MASSIVELY in economy. the long prosperity happen because government meddling in currency, in export, in industries, etc. In many ways its practically “managed” economy.

    Besides farmers in America get price support, workers in factory get FDR era legislation (and autoworkers even get government help repeatedly), retiree get their social security (despite myth, most retiree receive more than what they pay), and businessman often get government subsidy. Helping millennials on service economy is only fair.

    They are a lot more “scrounger” already get something in America, Millennials didn’t receive anything and shouldn’t be punished.

    • duncancairncross March 3, 2016 at 8:24 am #

      Absolutely!
      I got free university education – supported on a student grant!
      The kids these days don’t get that
      I saw a post about the costs of US education v wages
      Back in the 70’s it was 4 hours of minimum wage per hour of tuition nowadays it is 17 hours!

    • JJ Reuter March 3, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

      You are absolutely clueless. There is so much inaccuracy in your post I can’t begin to waste my time picking out the errors. The progressives have held the reins since the 30’s. Cogitate on that fact for a while.

      • PhilippeO March 4, 2016 at 4:01 am #

        I do agree that progressives held reins since 30’s.

        ” between FDR and Nixon shock,”

        ” The fact is America between 30s and 70s, interfere MASSIVELY in economy. the long prosperity happen because government meddling in currency, in export, in industries, etc. ”

        which historical fact that you think faulty ?

        My argument that between 1930s to 1970s, progressive economic policy generally practiced. This eventually result in post-WW2 boom that benefit a lot of baby boomer.

        Nixon Shock and Reagan economic policy ended this policy. creating boom and bust cycle again. Generations who unlucky to be adult during bust period suffer significantly without fault.

  8. Anarchymedes March 3, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    Well yes, I agree: help obliges. And when one accepts help, and then starts whining about its nature, he/she not only looks ungrateful, but downright pathetic. And what it means to me is that first, if you want to retain at least some remnants of self-respect, do not – repeat, do not, ever! – ask for help unless you’ve exhausted the last, most desperate means to help yourself. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing something you want to step on – hard. And that ain’t cool.
    And second, if you happen to be either an immigrant, or a member of any kind of ethnic, religious, eye-colour, nose-shape, whatever minority, you always represent that group in everyone else’s eyes, whether you want to or not. People will look at your behaviour and judge the entire group by it, not just you. And if you personally isn’t particularly happy with this group’s ways and would like to distance yourself from them, get ready to handle PTSD caused by the sheer amount of suppressed rage you’d end up carrying. Because no effort of yours will be quite enough! Stereotypes rule – unfortunately. And the only way I know to combat a stereotype is not to conform to it – even though it doesn’t work quickly, and you may not live to see the results.
    Am I speaking from experience? Yes – and I’ll leave it at that: don’t want to exacerbate my PTSD.
    As for compassion – again unfortunately – it’s a luxury, which not everyone can afford. And after the GFC, the first world (especially its Gen-Y) are learning that one the hard way. So it pays off to be grateful when you get it, but not to expect – let alone demand! – much of it. And no matter what those wise gurus say, it also pays off keep one’s own interests in mind when offering it.

  9. Tom March 16, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    I wonder, how you feel, Chris, about our government giving huge tax breaks to big businesses such as Google and Amazon?

    • chrishanger March 17, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      It would depend on what they were doing with the money.

      Chris

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