Friday, 5 April 2013

Πολύτεκνος (The multi-childer)

The recent case in the UK of the Philpotts - state benefit recipients who ended up killing their children, after botching up a plot to start a fire in their house and put it out so that can be named media heroes - has raised issues of political correctness that Brits don't often voice. Generally speaking, if Greeks were pitted against Brits, we would be regarded as the most un-PC nation of Europe. Instead of listening to all that PC crap on the UK media about Mr Philpott being a good father and having well-cared for children, we would have been quick to slander his lifestyle, branding it as abnormal: he had 17 children with various women, his wife was 24 years younger than him, he even had his girlfriend living in the same house as his wife; don't tell me there is no such thing as abnormal - yes, there is.

Few Greeks would have stuck up for this despicable sample of human. And if we received benefits like those handed out in the UK just for copulating so often without taking any precautions, we'd be furious that we'd be working to support this scum's lifestyle. We wouldn't be saying 'It's not my business'; quite the opposite - we KNOW it's our business. In fact, it's one of the reasons why, for instance, my son won't be going to the local high school located 1km away from my house (unless we oil someone - I'm still looking for the person who will appreciate the dip). Even though we live so close to the school (and the next high school is 3-4km away), we are not top priority - this has gone to a woman with 9 children ("She drives them to school in a truck, madam!" we were told by the principal) who doesn't live in the area, but because she once did and her first child went to this high school, she insists on bringing the rest of her brood to the same high school - in a tax-free vehicle provided by the state, with petrol provided by her state benefit. I have to work to fill up the car with petrol, but I have lost out to her. Her family is known in Greece as πολύτεκνοι- they have more than 3 kids; in Greece we even have a SPECIAL NAME for this group of people.

To have more than 3 kids, you need to be able to afford it. In my young mother days, I always believed that I wanted and could afford three kids. When people heard me saying this, they'd always - without fail - reply: "But if you have 3 kids, then you should have 4 kids. Why miss out on the πολύτεκνο benefits?" Don't tell me people just roll out the kids because they love kids - in places like Greece and the UK where contraception is readily available, and people are educated well enough to make informed decisions about family planning, they KNOW about state benefits.

Dad and daughter in London: daughter is teaching her dad how to use her new gadgets

Nine kids is a bloody exception in this mad world that we live in. If you want to enjoy state benefits in Greece, it's far more 'normal' to have 'just' 4 kids (the national average is something like 1-point-something kids). If you have 4 kids, you can (or used to, before the crisis) get a πολύτεκνο benefit for life. If you are a public servant, you can take up to a year off to look after each child, ON FULL PAY for crying out loud, including another 6 or so months for (fake) bedrest if you need it (but even if you don't, you just pretend you needed it). And if you are a public servant with 4 kids (THEY were the ones mainly having πολύτεκνο families, and πολύτεκνοι would even be GIVEN JOBS in the public service because they were considered the 'weaker' members of society), and you didn't really feel like going back to work after taking 18 months off to have a baby (you would have planned your pregnancies to take place every two years, to receive the maximum time off), you could do a pseudo-Master's degree which allowed you to take up to two years off your job - and of course, you always did this AFTER you had the four kids which gave you the right to a state benefit for life. (As for the Master's degree, it often remained unfinished, or was a worthless piece of subsidised crap; I have a cousin my age who was away from her job - a four-hours-a-day teaching job as a kindergarten teacher - for close to 10 years because she was having babies: she is now hoping to get early retirement.)

Just a couple of years before the crisis, the state legalised similar benefits for having 3 kids. The 4-kids families put up a fight, saying that having 4 kids was MUCH MUCH harder work, and thereofre more benefit-worthy,  than having 3 kids. Seriously, you bludgers? Having just 1 kid is more than enough for many of us, but benefit scroungers are too blind to see this. They were looking at the issue purely from a monetary point of view.
The Association of Three-Children Families - they even set up a bloody union for it

Of course there are public servants who put a great amount of effort and take pride in their work, and of course, they do not all have four kids. Of course there are people who really want to have a large family and they would have done it even if they did not have state benefits. But if you really don't have much money, and you are both working parents, and you acknowledge that life is difficult economically, then you know that it is not a good idea to have a lot of kids, not just because they are difficult to maintain, but because it really isn't feasible these days, in a world with more than 7 billion people, many of whom are not in a good position to provide food and the basic necessities for their children. The problem isn't that there aren't enough people in the world to populate your country or make your house more merry - the problem is that you mustn't expect others to look after your kids just because you bloody well had them.

So I have to second George Osborne's claim that "It's right to ask questions as a government, a society and as taxpayers, why we are subsidising lifestyles like these. It does need to be handled."

As I said before, it's none of my bloody business how another country spends their taxpayers' money, but the crisis has made us wonder just where the hell our money is going. If we don't want the next generation to become state wards (in the way that benefit recipients in the UK and public servants in Greece are branded), we need to ask ourselves how this can be avoided.

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