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03 January 2011

Things that make me crazy

I was watching a comedy (show or film, don't remember, probably British rather than American) where a comedy bigoted character said about immigrants (paraphrase) : they are lazy, they don't want to work and they come over here and take our jobs. He said this all in one sentence, oblivious to the irony (or something) of what he was saying, and even when a more level-headed character pointed out that they were either lazy OR job-stealing, but obviously not both, he didn't get it. So this was comedy, right?

A few days later, today, I was watching a supposedly serious show about "benefit fraud" on a supposedly serious BBC channel. They featured a story about a woman who came from Ghana to the UK, illegally forged a new identity based on a stolen British passport with her photo substituted and a faked birth certificate and faked educational credentials. she then got a job with the NHS which she had for several years (I am guessing from the earnings cited below seven to ten years.) Most of the fraud involved here was pretty ham-fisted; her birth certificate said Lutterworth, which is in Leicestershire, but then said County of Surrey (hundreds of miles away.) (For Americans, this is sort of like saying Sacramento, Illinois, only even more impossible.) Also, some documents implied she had never left the UK after being born here, but her fake diplomas were from Ghana. And implausibly had a photo on them. The same photo as on her stolen passport. So, look here, I am not saying she is a hero, or not a fraudster, or not a criminal. I am not defending her. But this is how the BBC summed up the story. This woman was said to have earned £230,000 plus a £40,000 "bursary" (not sure what that is, but I am guessing some kind of grant for either work or education.) So they claimed her fraud had COST British taxpayers (which includes me) £270,000, or "over a quarter of a million". But wait a minute, this woman was also a British taxpayer. And she didn't COST the country £230K of that, since presumably they got at least nearly that much value from her in service to the NHS. Oh, but here's the real kicker, just as ignorant in its way as that "lazy and steal our jobs" line: the woman is now in prison for many years! So she is "paying back that debt to society." No, she is now costing the British taxpayers (including me) probably about 10 times as much per annum to support in a prison, doing nothing of worth, as she was paying in taxes while committing her crime. Is it just me, or is this FREAKING INSANE?

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