Dear Social Security

Pen y Fan 7

Dear Social Security,

I need money.
Kids are starving; they need food.
I need money.
And my wife is in a mood.

I need money.
For my children need more clothes.
I need money.
I’m not sure where it goes.

I need money.
See, I have to pay the bills.
I need money.
’Cause my kids are getting chills.

I need money.
To prioritise my life.
I need money.
I can’t work with all this strife.

I need money.
Can’t you see I need a fix.
I need money.
So that I can get my kicks.

I need money.
Life has left me with no hope.
I need money.
So that I can get some dope.

I need money.
For I have to pay the shrink.
I need money.
’Cause I need another drink.

I need money.
Or they’re cutting off my phone.
I need money.
I’ll be left here, all alone.

I need money.
Got to get some cigarettes.
I need money.
So that I can feed my pets.

I need money.
Or the bookie, he will call.
I need money.
Now my back’s against the wall.

I need money.
Or I’m losing my TV.
I need money.
Cable’s all I ever see.

I need money.
So’s to get on with my life.
I need money.
So’s to pay my other wife.

I need money.
Did I mention I have kids?
I need money.
’Cause I’m really on the skids.

I need money.
I don’t know where it all goes.
I need money.
Can’t you see I’ve suffered blows.

I need money.
Or my future’s looking bleak.
I need money.
I’ll be up before the beak.*

I need money.
I can’t cope without my drugs.
I need money.
Or my kids will get no hugs.

I need money.
Once I’ve paid for all my vice.
I need money.
For to buy my kids some rice.

I need money.
Life is really so perverse.
I need money.
Want to put the first things first.

I need money.
Now my phone is out of date.
I need money.
So that I can soon upgrade.

I need money.
Can’t you see I have a fight?
I need money.
So my life can be put right.

I need money.
Life is really looking grim.
I need money.
Time I think to sink or swim.

I need money.
And if there is any left.
I need money.
I won’t leave my kids bereft.

Yours faithfully,

Professional Benefit Claimant


* Beak – Old English slang for judge.


(WARNING: This is not a political statement. It is a statement of reality. Argue all you want for fiscal regeneration, quantitative easing, re-starting the economy, banning long-term benefit claims. But keep those arguments off my blog. I don’t approve of them and they will be deleted.)

My point, here, is that people don’t have their priorities right. Take a look at the mountain in the photo. That may not be the highest mountain in the world, but being safe on any mountain requires prioritising. In the same way, all of us have personal situations that may loom, mountain-like, in front of us. But some people simply look at the mountain and give up in favour of personal comfort.

How many people do you know who have the latest technology – 42 inch plasma TV’s, or bigger, a new cell phone, every six months, the most up to date digital equipment? Yet their children are neglected.

How many people do you know who cannot afford to buy food for their children because they spent all their money on alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes?

How many people do you know who pamper their pets while their children have holes in their shoes, if they have shoes?

How many people do you know who would rather give their money to the bookie, or the casino, or the barman, rather than buy clothes for their children, or put a roof over their heads?

And how many of them could work if they tried, but they have conditioned themselves to think that it is impossible? Believe me, these people could get a job filling out forms. They do it so well for themselves, why can’t they get paid to help other people to do it?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many genuine people out there who simply cannot get work, no matter how hard they look; or people who are too ill to work. You can pick them out very easily. They are the ones who are calm when discussing their circumstances with Social Security. They are the ones who keep looking for opportunities to do something, even if it is “only” voluntary work. They are the ones who put their children first.

I see so many people blogging about their long-term, often serious illnesses and, although they genuinely cannot work, they do a lot of good by sharing their experiences with others. Some of them have even tried selling their experiences, making a living out of a seemingly impossible situation.

They do not spend their Social Security cheque on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other vice. They spend their money on their children, often at great cost to themselves. These are people who will go without to make sure that their children have food, clothing, and a safe place to live.

A Lesson For Us All

Yet there is a lesson for all of us, in this. We all need to get our priorities right. It doesn’t matter whether we have no work, suffer chronic ill health, or have the highest paid job in the world. I only chose the above scenario for this poem as an illustration of the need to prioritize. I could, equally, have chosen the super-rich, some of whom also neglect their children.

How many people do you know who spend all their waking time at work, “to give the children what they want,” but who are never at home to give the children what they really need – their time and attention? How many people live in mansions, but are never there to enjoy them? How many people do you know who will farm their children out to boarding schools because they cannot be bothered to raise them at home?

Harsh? Possibly. And it is not the story for everyone. But for many this is the reality.

We all need to prioritize. Life is full of choices. And the addicts referred to in the poem, and the neglectful parents referred to in the prose, have made bad choices. Yes. Choices. They choose to be addicted to bad habits just as surely as non-addicts choose good habits. These bad habits make people prefer to neglect their children in favour of themselves. Then they beg for more resources to feed their habits while their children hide under the bed for fear of another beating.

Yes, we all need to prioritize. We all need to think about what is most important in our lives; and what should be most important. And before the do-gooders take exception to the word, “should,” let me say that its inclusion is deliberate. There are things that we should do. There are things that we need to do. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to get it right.

What Does It Take To Get It Right?

In simple words, mindfulness; or, if you prefer, cognitive behaviour, awareness, or any of the other buzz words used by professionals to describe prioritising. We need to be aware of the needs of the moment. That means being present in this moment. It means being aware of the consequences. It means thinking about how our actions, or non-actions, will affect, not only ourselves, but also those around us, both now and in the future.

Whilst remaining “in the moment,” we need to figure out how the succeeding moments will be affected. We need to be responsible for our actions. We need to consider the outcome before we act.

What does it take to get it right? It takes skill. It takes good judgement. It takes commitment. It takes good choices.

If we do all of this, then, maybe, we have a chance.

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6 thoughts on “Dear Social Security

    • There are, indeed, Francina. And I tried to make it clear that I have every respect for them because they deal with their situation with such dignity. I hope that came through clearly. Sadly, though, I see so many people complaining that they cannot feed their children but they can feed their addictions. Then they blame the children for wanting to eat and blame those who are trying to protect the children, but they don’t see that the fault lies in the bad choices they made and, in many cases, are still making.

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