Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Housecleaning And Class

Below is a link to an interesting episode of a 2013 TV series called

Britain On Benefits.

The idea of the reality show was to compare the benefits that are available now to what folks could get in 1949, when that whole government program took off. This particular episode features 3 cases, two of which are rather obvious: a single mom and an jobless immigrant. The third case is an interesting one.

We see a blended family, the wife with a couple of kids from the previous relationship, her new husband and their baby. The guy has been unemployed for several years prior to their marriage (if they are officially married), and  apparently never bothered to clean or to maintain his house in any way, and the new wife enthusiastically joined him in trashing the council property.

So they and their four children live in what could only be properly described as squalour, yet get rather aggressive when it's pointed out by the social workers. It's rather obvious to anyone that the problem with these so-called "poor people" is simply that they are both incredibly lazy and entitled. The guy won't work and won't do anything around the house, and the wife doesn't encourage him to, and does nothing herself, apart from minimal child care.

The 1949 solution is to temporarily place them in a correction home, where they are taught, among other things, to eat properly at the table, as a family; something which many modern families, who have middle class aspirations don't bother to do any more.

Now compare their way of life with a more traditional British couple, where the mother is at home with their three kids while the father works (though with the popularity of her channel she probably makes quite a bit on advertising, too):

Daily Morning Cleaning Routine

They are apparently well off, and their house is clean and organised. The truth is, that living in what amounts to a pig-sty, never cleaning and never cooking isn't a sign of how progressive and emancipated people are, whatever they are telling themselves. It's a sign of degradation, of poor work ethics and of belonging in a lowest tier of society.

Of course, we all know that both parents working isn't particularly friendly to regular housecleaning, but even in this situation, an effort should be made to maintain at least some semblance of a standard. It's definitely worth it.


  1. The latter video was indeed mere advertisement. One should not use Vanish on baby laundry, for heaven's sake.

    When it comes to topic, I have had for a long time the conviction that modern poverty is not mostly the lack of money, but the lack of brains. Here in Finland we have lots of conversation going on about "bread queues". That is, people stand in queues waiting for charity food. Leftovers from supermarkets, that is. Those people, who cannot afford to buy their own food, quite often can afford to smoke. I have yet to see poverty dokument where all the poor people (or even one of them) was non-drinker and non-smoker.

    Western poverty is mostly just bad decisions. Not lack of money.

  2. There are many housecleaning vids on YouTube which I like because even if there's advertising in them, they encourage other women to do a better job at housekeeping. Having a tidy, neat house is a sign of class and always has been.

    Poverty, unless caused by war or disease, is quite often the case of the lack of brains, btw:) One of the reasons behind anti-alcohol movement of 100 years ago was the fact that fathers of the families spent heir wages in the pub instead of buying bread for their children. Poor people happen to have money for beer, cigarettes and expensive tattoos, but not for half-way decent-looking clothes or normal food. At least, this family were not overweight:) But the principle stays the same, they wouldn't be poor if the guy in question bothered to find a job.

  3. I¨d like to point out that there is absolutely ignorance included, too. Is someone lazy if she has no idea what to do? We as a civilization are reaping what we have sown. So many of this (lower class) people grew up without knowing any better. Of course they know that there's such a thing as 'cleaning' or 'cooking', but they didn't grow into it. Most likely their mothers were working and there were o resources left back at home. I am partly speaking from experience: my mother taught me everything about homemaking, gardening etc. I've said several times I grew up on a farm. It was supposed everyone to participate. It was just a different kind of world back then. My children, on the other hand, were not able to get same kind of guidance as I did, no matter how badly I wanted it to give (and I still feel failed as a mother because of this, that I couldn't reach the level my mother was on) because I absolutely needed to work outside the home (as did their father). There were times and years I'd gladly go to a 'bread queue' if there was one, but there wasn't. But I knew I'll survive and I'd somehow figure out how to make it to the next day, because of my background.

    But if you didn't know? You need to be extra yearning for change that you can break through your comfort zone and ignorance. You have to realize you are ignorant.

    Same thing with prefering unemployment over 'just getting a job'. If you are on unemployment benefits (at lest in Finland) it is almost impossible to win the fear of losing everything. Let me explain. You get your money on a specific day of the month. No matter how small it is, it is at least regular. If you get a job (it is a very big if , most places in Finland there are no jobs just to be picked) you lose your regular 'income' before you get getting another, but your bills keep coming as usual. This is extreme true with part-time jobs. People have ended up in distraint. Lazy? I don't think so. If you need to choose from a bad choice or a worse choice, what would you do?

    This is a little bit off topic, but as Sanne you have mentioned several times, men nowadays are aware of the fact that they are supporting other men's children in the form of taxes. Back in the 90's (and earlier) when I got my children, taxes were lowered regarding the number of children the person had. But then, I think it was around 1995, the system was discontinued because singles were complaining it's unequal and they don't want to support other's children... I am sure, the singles didn't rally against better social benefits... What I am trying to say it really is a society thing - everything is connected. As Sanne you have been writing about, why on earth are we not searching solutions on today's problems from the time when such problems didn't exist?

    Oh, and I wanted to share a Finnish organization which was founded back in 1899. It's called Martat, which means 'The Marthas' :-) At least there has been information available in Finland! But if you don't know you need information... :-)

  4. Miriam,
    you make some great points. I agree that mothers nowadays are hardly teaching their daughters anything about housekeeping/cooking/childcare, though great trouble is taken to give them an expensive education, often in the field where the jobs are scarce.

    I know something about it since my mother went back to work when I was still young and she always used to tell me that one day I'd get married and figure it out for myself. It was rough in the beginning, but I did! Nowadays especially, there are such great resources available and everybody has internet, there is really no excuse to live in filth. I'm not sure whether you watched the whole episode, but even the single mom did a much better job keeping house even though she had spent her childhood with a drug addicted father.

    Also, the guy used to be unemployed even before he married, and he is still young and healthy. Here at least, we have programs to encourage such people to work, they are even pushing the handicapped to get some employment. He didn't do anything around the house, either, so he is just bone lazy.

    What you are saying about taxes, is interesting. Here you still get tax cuts when you have kids.

  5. Oh, and thanks for the link! Did you know that the original home economics education was started with an objective to teach poor people to take better care of their homes and eat better. The idea was to raise them up to the middle class standard. I have the feeling that our elites nowadays are busy with the project to do exactly the opposite, to encourage even middle class to live in the gutter, morally and physically.

  6. Good conversation, ladies.

    I must say that I don't think ignorance is an excuse. If one does not how to cook and clean, well homekeeping manuals have been available about 200 years and so have public libraries!

    And if you don't know you don't know: Well, observant person might have noticed that oh, the Vicarage is always so nice place to visit, vicar and his wife smell good and are healthy, I wonder what they do and if they would teach me? People do not live in barrels and never did. There is and always has been opportunities to observe other people and learn.

    But did poor peole think like that? Some did, and they prospered. Most didn't because they were mentally lazy and didn't think they could make their lives better. It can be seen everywhere nowadays: people cannot see that they are the makers of their lives. If things are bad, they call themselves "bad luck persons" and are unable to see how they created the situation themselves. Even quite intelligent people are like that.

    This is why I like the Prudent Homemaker -blog. Her life has not been that easy, but does she sit in a mud and whine? No. She has made her life the best possible. Brandy is such an inspirational woman to me.

    Not everybody can make lots of money. But everybody can make their lives good with very little money. If they are willing to search information and learn -and change.

  7. Housewife, yes, when I say "class" I don't necessarily mean people with lots of money. It's obvious we can't all be wealthy. Class is also a way of life. That's what many people don't understand nowadays, they think if they take a huge amount of debt this automatically will make them upper class. Their houses fall into disrepair, they get health problems from poor nutrition, their children are raised by the minimum wage day care workers, but at least, they go on vacation 3 times a year...

    The only one laughing is the bank.

  8. ...Trashy women wasting money on boobjobs, fake lashes and hair extension and looking obviously cheap as f***. With the same money they could have purchade nice classy wardrobe and with good nutrition they could actually have naturally pretty hair.

    So you are right, class is not about how much money you have but how you use it. That is actually common storyline in old novels, think about Jane Eyre. Well, Blance wasn't "trashy" counterpart but mad Mrs. Rochester used to be.

    Or think about Jane Austen: Elizabeth and Jane Bennet versus their sister Kitty. Or in "Emma" Emma versus Mrs. Elton.

  9. In the times past, downward mobility used to be the norm, so that it was a constant stride to stay on top. You had to have a combination of brains, ambition and drive (and for women, health and beauty). In after-war Europe, economic circumstances and government programs created upward mobility, yet this prosperity is unusual in historical terms. So may be, the people like those featured in the show are just reverting to the natural mean? Truth is, some categories of people need tough love, not modern libertarian approach, but nobody wants to admit it, because it flies into the face of equality theory.

  10. That is to say, I think we are now discussing two different issues. Number one is the existence of trashy underclass, and how stupid people come into debt/end up on the dole.

    Number two, is the vulgar "new rich", like Mrs. Elton:)