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It Does Not Take A Community

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Last weekend, I was sitting in the local cafe after my run, nursing an americano, when a public interest segment on the radio news reported that Easter was a stressful time for couples who often fought over child care duties. “Ah,” I thought, as I crossed my arms behind my head and smirked like the Cheshire Cat. “No such problems here!”

But, alas, there will always be those — plenty of those — out there who act as if having a child is a universal commandment, one that every person everywhere must obey. Case in point: a few days later, supping my usual black coffee, I listened to a London talk show musing about single parenthood (re: single motherhood). Then they had some woman from some single parenthood association on the air who was arguing for more government benefits and a “community” where we all look after each other’s children.

I nearly spit my coffee out when she said that. Clearly this was someone who took Hillary Clinton’s It Takes A Village way too much to heart. “And by what law will I be forced to take even the slightest interest in somebody else’s brat?” I thought. “I’ll move to the northernmost reaches of Greenland before I’ll be commanded to help bring up others’ offspring.”

She rambled on about how, in the current economic climate, it was wrong to make mothers work and how the child welfare money they currently receive is inadequate. “Think of it as an investment,” Ms. Single Motherhood Personified urged. “We are investing in each other’s children and that will help to bring them up. Why would we spend so much on defense — on killing people — when we could invest in communities that would look out for each other and their children?”

Pass the tissues please. Doesn’t that just getcha right there? (Points to rear end.) Actually, pass the toilet paper. I’m about to demonstrate just what I think of that idea …

The talk show hosts meanwhile, bless their hearts, were being polite and acting as if single motherhood is a viable, healthy lifestyle choice, but they did challenge her. By what right, they asked, did other hardworking people have to pay for others’ children? Ms. SMP had no better reply than her previous one. “It’s an investment,” she stammered.

The monumental point she’s missing is that it’s not money that will bring children up properly, nor a hippie community. It’s the balance that a two-parent family provides that will see children through to adulthood. Of course, given the way parents are these days, with fathers calling their sons “little buddy” while letting them run riot while the mother sits on the sofa in a state of near-total oblivion, that’s no guarantee at all of an enriching upbringing. But it’s still the natural state of things.

Furthermore, if you want kids, make sure you can afford them. If I had my way, all this nonsense of paying women to breed would stop straightaway. You bring up your own children on your own time and money. It’s your investment, yours and yours alone. It’s no-one else’s concern that you brought yet another human being into the world, nor should it be. That’s your affair.

Lastly, the proper upbringing of a child is not a matter of lack of disposable household income. “When I was growing up,” the female talk show host asserted to Ms. SMP, “we were poor. I had nothing. I didn’t have the fancy trainers [sneakers], mobile phones, X-Boxes and everything else that other kids have today, no matter how poor they claim to be and no matter what their living conditions are. What happened to a parent putting their foot down and saying ‘No, we cannot afford it, and that’s all there is to it’? That’s exactly what my mother and father alike would have said to me.”

Amen. Mine as well. I worried about hurting my mother. I worried about my father hurting me. I was brought up properly. But it seems there’s no more of that filial respect inspiring the little angels out there anymore.

Here in Britain, three-quarters of teachers report that increasing numbers of students have been acting rude, disrespectful and aggressive. Physical assaults, such as punching, shoving or biting, on teachers are more the rule than the exception, and 1.5 percent of teachers say they have dealt with acutal or possible incidents of students stabbing each other.

Worse yet, teachers face even more abuse from these aggressive, clueless parents who threaten them as a result of their “little angels” being disciplined or given bad grades. Ms. SMP needs to take her cue from this and put two and two together. Will she, though? I highly doubt it. Ten years from now, she’ll still be wondering where her ideal community of child-care experts is and begging for more government hand-outs while she squirts out her eighteenth brat from her eighteenth man.

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About Nightdragon

  • Amen is right.

    I’ve done my job with my own. If you’re going to be a parent, that’s YOUR responsibility, not your mother’s, your sister’s, your grandmother’s, the government, or the world at large.

    Sheesh. What some people think…

  • Actually, “It takes a village …” has a long-standing tradition. It was Plato’s idea that children should be taken away from parents and left with Guardians – for proper education as future citizens.

  • Cindy

    People have forgotten how to live in communities.

  • Clavos

    It was Plato’s idea that children should be taken away from parents and left with Guardians – for proper education as future citizens.

    Well there’s one instance where Plato was full of Σκατά.

  • Well, he was the first socialist, in a manner of speaking.

  • Wow. A Greek script.

    That’s a Wiki video on the subject.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Considering I don’t have kids, if I have to help raise another families children then:

    A.) Besides this “Future Investment”, what do I get in return? Is it like a job with a company,i.e; Pay Raise,Paid Vacation?(No 401 thanks!)
    B.) When do I have the time & resources for my own(if & when I have them).
    C.) Is it like musical chairs? Will someone get stuck raising their own children?

  • The Guardians were state officials – analogous to our teachers, and therefore paid.

  • Or think of the Jesuits, for that matter.

    “Give us a boy, and by the time he reaches five he’ll be a man.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Mark –

    I think you’re simplifying the argument – but on the other hand, I think it’s hard for anyone to not simplify the argument.

    You seem to admonish those who have children out of wedlock as being irresponsible…but I do not see you addressing WHY these children are being held out of wedlock. Should you really condemn the actions of a significant segment of the population without addressing WHY those actions were taken?

    For instance, here in America over FORTY PERCENT of all children are now born out of wedlock…and if the trend holds, in time half (or more) of our population will be bastards.

    And REGARDLESS of where you want to lay the blame – liberals, the breakdown of society, the lack of religion, the economic meltdown – one-parent households may very well soon be the RULE rather than the exception! Society has changed greatly from the time of our youth, and neither you nor I nor any political group is going to bring things back to what they once were. “You can’t go home again” – there’s hard-won wisdom in that statement.

    So here’s your choice – you can either fix the blame, or fix the problem. The ‘Ms. SMP’ to which you refer is at least trying to FIX the problem, to alleviate matters somewhat, to make things BETTER by ADAPTING to the reality of today.

    I’ll close by giving this piece of advice – please make a habit of, when you make a complaint, be ready to present a solution at the same time.

  • Glen, whether children are born in or out of wedlock is a red herring. Regardless of marital status, the primary responsibility for children belongs with their parents. It is when lots of parents fail or refuse to take responsibility for their creations that the problems arise in great number.

    Society, at least in the United States, becomes quite irate when people allow their pets to breed indiscriminately, as though people should be more attentive to the reproductive consequences of their pets’ actions than of their own.

    Contraceptive devices are readily available, and little “mistakes” should be far more rare than is now the case. People who want to have, and care for, children should be all means have them. Those who don’t, shouldn’t. For them to do so is unfair to their offspring and to the society upon which they become dependent.

    I can think of no way to cause people to behave responsibly, in this or in most other areas; but to give irresponsible conduct a free pass on the theory that it happens and that society must therefore deal with it makes a solution, should there be one, even more difficult to achieve.


  • But what if they were being a responsible parent but, their employer doesn’t allow that there is enough ‘valued added’ to both pay the CEO a 6 millon dollar bonus (for sinking the company stock) and pay a single parent wages that could support one adult and a child or two?

    I know that capitalism says something like, your pay should somehow reflect the ‘value added’, but, who knew it would be so much more valuable to sink stocks than to make products?

    (Mark: I think I’m getting the ‘value added’ thing.)

  • Oh wait! I guess poor people should just admit, from the start, that they are irresponsible and should stop breeding at once. How very indiscriminate of them to want children.

    They should have probably have planned on being born into a wealthy family. How do they expect to care for children if they can’t plan ahead.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, the implication of your comments seems to be that people should do whatever they want without thought of responsibility. Obviously that’s an unfair reading on my part, but for the life of me I can’t figure out another way to read your comments.

  • Doug Hunter

    “but for the life of me I can’t figure out another way to read your comments.”

    The way to read her comments are not as logical opinions in themselves but vehicles to express her hatred and animosity and spread class warfare propaganda. She’s not looking to form a cogent opinion on raising children she’s looking to bash the rich and spread ignorant propganda (ie, the implication above that for one to have wealth or to not be poor one must be born rich).

    Class warfare is the real message, the tie in to children and the article is just window dressing enabling her post her rant on this thread. See if that helps.

  • Bar,

    Well, you’ll need to consider my political stance. Merely because there is as system in place, It doesn’t make that system automatically acceptable. Nor do I agree with it. That would be like saying if slavery were legal I would have to subscribe to it. I can’t morally subscribe to slavery or Capitalism.

    I’ve discussed a variety of reasons, in the past why I hold that Capitalism is an unjust system that requires wage slavery. Owners can decide to pay themselves millions of dollars and even use employee retirement funds to subsidize their income. This is on its face an extremely unfair, unjust, and inequitable system. Even if you claim that you hold capital at a higher level than a human being’s time, there are the following considerations. Capitalism redistributes income to the wealthiest. Capitalism creates continual crises that impact the entire world.

    Capitalism is widely disliked. The people who tend to approve of it are those who are doing well by it–a minority.

    Now, if this wasn’t evident to people prior to the economic crisis, I am shocked to think that with the middle class sliding into an abyss, that it is that fault of the poor that they cannot get ahead–cannot meet their basic needs.

    Don’t the working poor have any rights at all to live a decent life and to raise children? Don’t they count?

    I’m shocked really at anyone who can’t see this. What kind of community has no love for their fellow members?

  • Sorry Bar,

    Terrible, I should have edited.


    Now, if this wasn’t evident to people prior to the economic crisis, I am shocked to think that with the middle class sliding into an abyss, that [people still believe] it is that the fault of the poor that they cannot get ahead–cannot meet their basic needs.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    I think you and I are operating with different paradigms. It seems to me that your viewpoint (and that of the author of this thread) is concerned mainly with the responsibility borne by individual parents whether married or not, and your viewpoint does is of course valid and grounded in good moral sense.

    My viewpoint, however, deals more with what I see as a sea change in society as a whole. One could say that the two of you are IMO faulting each individual tree but not seeing what is happening to the forest as a whole, what is causing so many of those trees to become as they are.

    Again, as I pointed out above, the trend makes it all but certain that in the not-so-very-far future, most children in America will be born out of wedlock. Can the main cause of such a great demographic shift truly be the lack of individual responsibility? I think not.

    Instead, I think it is a combination of factors, from (1) the decline of religion; (2) the rise of the overall standard of living; (3) the elevation of women in the workplace; (4) the decreasing dependence women have upon men; (5) the increasing awareness of domestic and gender-related violence (rape, etc.) and the comprehensive set of protective resources now available to the victims (or would-be victims); (6) the removal of so much of the negative stigma against divorce; and (7) the simple fact that society is beginning to realize that women are generally better-read and -educated, more dependable and reliable and trustworthy than men (proof of which can be found in the statistics and coverage rates of any insurance agency).

    These are not things a guy likes to admit…but they are generally true, and IMO these are the real reasons for the decline of the nuclear family in America. Like it or not, Dan, society is changing, and we must all adapt to the facts…and adaptation to changing times is always the key. Either ride the wave or be swamped by it.

  • Doug Hunter

    That is an interesting post Glenn. I noticed decline of the family and decline of religion in there. I think that is real and purposeful. The growth of government responsiblility in a variety of areas has eliminated the need for these older organizations. A single mother doesn’t need a man to support her child she has a social worker, she doesn’t need to move in with her parents she has a housing voucher, she doesn’t need the church to open their food pantry, she has food stamps. Communities no longer rely on themselves they rely on the government, we don’t need people anymore we need programs.

    The irony is that as we grind ever closer to a form of socialism from a government standpoint, individually we’re moving more towards a sort of selfish antisocial-ism.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I wasn’t asking about capitalism. I’m asking about this statement:

    “How very indiscriminate of them to want children.”

    Unless you were being facetious, you’re saying that the mere desire for children is enough to justify having them. People should be free from any obligation to care for their own children. In that scenario, you don’t really “have” children, you generate them for community consumption. Like I said, I don’t believe you’d take that position, but it seems to be an inescapable conclusion.

    Of course, by disagreeing with you, I’m not saying that there is no community obligation. I think Mark’s off-base too. But the family has to play the primary role in raising children. Except for maybe Sparta, it always has.

  • These are harsh words, Doug (your #15) with respect to someone whose beliefs you disagree with. Me and Cindy, too, don’t see eye to eye on a whole bunch of things, but I’ve never had any reason to question the sincerity of her beliefs. So yes, perhaps she is going overboard somewhat in faulting an impersonal system while defending the poor and the indigent (and without sufficient assignation of individual responsibility)? But we know that the system is impersonal and can appear to be cruel at times – so at face value, at least, you should understand where she is coming from and give her some slack.

    To tell the truth, some of the opinions I hear from the opposite side, especially the most radical one, it makes me wonder how some people can defend the merits of a system – no matter what – without giving the least of consideration to the human cost. So if Cindy is to be faulted for the content of her beliefs, at least she errs on the right side, having people and humanity in mind, rather than having to defend an impersonal system, as many others here do, may the devil take the rest.

    Peace, brother.

  • leighann

    I do not want my community raising my children. I love my community but I can just imagine that this is how many children end up being hurt or abused by people in the community or family members. I am not saying that it is the parents’ fault. I am just saying that people should be very careful who they trust their children with. Very, very careful.

    No one is going to love your children like you will, there are people who would teach your children things that you would not agree with either by their words or their actions. There are people who prey on children, they hurt them. It is usually someone the parent never thought would do something like this.

    There are very few people I trust with my children. Do not let your communtity raise your children, raise them yourself. It is your responsibility to them as well as to your community.

  • Doug Hunter


    I don’t question her sincerity at all, I question her methods and do believe she holds hatred for capitalist and it’s perceived defenders. That is all. I think if you’ll read what I wrote you’ll find it to be true. Her comment was more focused on capitalism/inciting class warfare than it was about children. Even Baronius (20) was left clarifyig that he was asking about children, not capitalism.

    I also claimed she was spreading ignorant propaganda (with her statement about planning to be born rich). Implicit in that statement is the idea that the only way to be wealthy is to be born that way. That is not supported by income and wealth mobility statistics (ignorance) and is only a useful statement to lower people’s resistance to the idea of class warfare. If you believe you might live the American Dream and one day become wealthy then it’s much more difficult for you to hate the wealthy. For class warfare to stick the American dream must die, hope must die, and this type of propaganda is part and parcel of that.

    If causing people to give up hope, causing people to lose a sense of responsibility, and causing people to be dependent on the government for their care is your idea of ‘erring on the side of humanity’ then so be it. I have other ideas of what that phrase means.

  • Bar,

    How very indiscriminate of them to want children.

    I was being ironic. I’ll say it in a serious way.

    I’m saying that all people of a community have a right to be able to bring up a family. If no one on the bottom can comfortably do that, then there is something wrong, not with the people on the bottom–but with the community.

    I am saying it’s not their lack of discrimination, so much as that the deck is rigged against them at the moment. (Maybe it was easier in 1920 to get somewhere, that’s over.)

    Rich single parents don’t suffer the same consequences. To me it’s not about single parenthood. An adult who works should be able to afford a family. It’s about money.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    I think you’ll find that most single mothers never deal with a social worker, never uses a housing voucher, and if they do use food stamps, it’s not for long.

    So it was for my mother while she was raising me, and so it was for the current president…so please stop making off-the-cuff assumptions.

  • Doug Hunter

    Glenn, first off drop the little moral power play, I get it it you’re overly defensive about a perceived victim group (golf clap). If you’d like I can produce statistics showing that indeed single mothers are more likely to use those services than other groups but that’s not the point.

    The point is government has replaced part of the safety net a family used to provide. This makes women more comfortable getting out of a marriage and more confident in their ability to raise a child on their own knowing that those protections are there. You left this off your list, but I think it has at least a moderate role in the trend.

  • Doug, #23,

    I realize the implication of her position; and I’m aware, too, that you did not really question the sincerity of her beliefs; It was just a convenient way to hook in to the thread in the quickest possible way.

    Still, you do seemed to be suggesting she’s manipulating elements of her argument; and this I definitely do not believe.

    I just want to say that none of our present positions are final; hopefully not yours, not mine and not Cindy’s – or otherwise we’re just wasting our time because we could be talking to a recorder and then hear ourselves speak. So that’s one point.

    And the other is: you were not really engaged with Cindy in a direct dialogue (her retort was to Baronius); and then you just jumped in and characterized her position, all along speaking in the third person. So perhaps that’s I found somewhat objectionable (because it’s easier to discount a person indirectly) and less fair, rather than in a one-on-one.

    I know I myself probably have done it more than once; and this example showed it to me what a poor form it is – so in a way I do thank you.

    So please understand where I was coming from and that I didn’t mean any offense.


  • Doug, Baronius, Roger,

    In my own defense, here’s what I think:

    From what I see, the standard position (the conventional wisdom) in a system usually serves to keep that system in place. Those with power in a system are taught to buy into the beliefs that justify that system and maintain it. In this case, the standard view will be to criticize those at the lower economic levels. If it’s their fault–then we have an explanation and don’t have to look any further or change anything.

    Here is a distilled version of what I see: In England mid-18th century, the commons was being fenced and the people who lived there were prevented from using the land. This left them without a means of self-support. They were forced to go to places like London to work for other people. The attitude of the people in power toward these people (if you read the actual things said about them), was similar to the attitude I am hearing here in this forum.

    Fast forward, to the time of the big immigration into the US, when people in NYC lived in tenements and sweatshops abounded. The attitudes of the people in power (those benefiting from the system), again were similar to what I am hearing here.

    Now, closely examining the situation of the people without power, I find that this attitude by those with power was unjustified and served only the interests of the ‘culture, in charge’ and those who actually have power in it. Also, it doesn’t explain how the people (who a minute ago, weren’t lazy and horrid), suddenly got that way when put under the thumb of others.

    I have looked and it seems no matter how hard these people worked, no matter what they were willing to do to survive, the people who had power always had the same attitude toward them.

    I think it’s time to stop making the same mistake over and over and look at other things and other changes that might be needed. I think it’s in the interest of everyone (even if they are rich) to live in a society that reflects human dignity, real needs, and the rest.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I think it’s in the interest of everyone (even if they are rich) to live in a society that reflects human dignity, real needs, and the rest.”

    At least something we can agree on. I believe food, clothing, shelter, and medical care should be provided for everyone regardless of their contribution to society or lack thereof.

    As for views of the poor, my life experience has taught me exactly the opposite. I was born blessed with a positive outlook on life and a generally happy demeanor which has stood by me till this day. I understand that being satisfied with the way things are doesn’t lead to improvement, we need those pessimistic critical perfectionists out there slaving away to improve things. I’m not cut out for that.

    To me life has always seemed easy (and not becuase I planned to be born rich, I wasn’t). When I worked for someone else it seemed all I had to do was show up on time, not be drugged out or drunk, and pretend I half ass cared about the company almost as much as I did my paycheck and raises/promotions came easy. I always have had issues with authority so that period didn’t last long. Next I was self employed doing semiskilled labor work at construction sites. Again, I found it easy to make money by simply showing up on time, not defrauding people, and keeping my word.

    In my spare time in the early 00’s I started an internet business which took off and eventually made me an internet millionaire (although I’m pissed I missed out on the billion$$$ ideas.. I was right there man) After that sold, I went back to construction and now build custom homes for people when I feel like working (while dabbling with new internet projects and posting on blogcritics of course).

    Everything I’ve ever tried has seemed easy. I could have made it working for someone else, I could have made it doing hard labor, I can make it running a construction company, I can make it running adsense ads for crying out loud. I’ve experienced at least moderate levels of success in all these enterprises and I’m barely 30 with a wife and 2 kids.

    So, I get a bit upset when someone says the American dream is dead. The American dream is still alive and well, you just have to be willing to reach out and grab it. Most people are simply too scared to try.

  • Doug,

    “So, I get a bit upset when someone says the American dream is dead. The American dream is still alive and well, you just have to be willing to reach out and grab it. Most people are simply too scared to try.”

    But why get upset, Doug? Good for some people, less relevant (or even detrimental in some respects)to others.

    “Less relevant,” because there are other values no less important than amassing wealth (and which wealth alone does not guarantee); “detrimental,” because it tends to turn many people into automatons, the idea of success (by hook or by crook, even fraud and dishonesty) becoming everything in one big rat race.

    Aren’t you perhaps motivated somewhat by trying to justify to yourself your own lifestyle and the choices you’ve made (since you’re being “upset”), coupled besides with your saying that “most people are too scared to try.”

    It’s like presuming everyone wants out of life what you’re are after; and to believe that only reinforces you in your thinking that you are right in the choices you’ve made have and the goals you pursued.

    Why not expand the notion of the American Dream beyond wealth to apply more broadly to the freedoms we have – freedoms to pursue and find happiness in a whole wide range of pursuits and endeavors?

    I believe that if you were to expand your understanding of the concept “beyond mere wealth,”
    you might be far less upset with opinions which run contrary to your present understanding of it.

  • Doug Hunter

    “But why get upset, Doug?”

    Not only do I not believe it’s true but I believe telling people they can’t succeed results in learned helplessness. The more people who feel helpless, the more people there are spreading the idea that you can’t succeed, so it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy with bad ramification for this country.

    So I ask you, what is the benefit of telling people they can’t succeed, that the deck is stacked against them, that the dream is dead? (other than scaring them into voting for a savior)

    “Aren’t you perhaps motivated somewhat by trying to justify to yourself”

    A bit. But so is everyone else.

    “Why not expand the notion of the American Dream beyond wealth to apply more broadly to the freedoms we have – freedoms to pursue and find happiness in a whole wide range of pursuits and endeavors?”

    Who is stopping you from doing this now? What law or freedom do I oppose?

  • 1) No argument about the first point.
    2) Justifying ourselves in our own eyes is less important and less credible than truly believing in something outside yourself.
    3) You didn’t oppose anything; only presented the concept as one-dimensional. So expanding the notion would make it possible to better accommodate and deal with counter-arguments.

  • Doug Hunter

    I’m not certain that I’m catching onto this multifaceted dream. Perhaps you’re saying money is not an end to itself, which is something I would wholeheartedly agree with. I despise consumerism although it is part of the engine of our economy. The only reason I set my goal on money was to buy my freedom and that of my family. Others, like Gates and Buffett, have amassed much much more and used it to help the poor and less fortunate. I think that is the model we should be looking towards.

  • Only to say that “success” covers lots of things, although it’s true that it has been most commonly identified with accumulation of wealth.
    I’d say that more properly understood, the American Dream has more to do with the freedoms we have, regardless of the area of pursuit. And that once you re-define it so, lots of naive or crude objections to the concept fall by the wayside.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    It wasn’t a moral ‘power play’ – it was pointing out the flaws in your assumption. Are you able to show that single mothers are more likely to need social workers, food stamps, etc.? Of course you are.

    BUT what you did in your post was, “She doesn’t need A because she has B”…thereby implying that MOST or ALL single mothers avail themselves of these resources.

    NOT ONLY THAT, but you forgot to bear in mind that HALF of all marriages in America end in divorce…and many of these already involve children, which means that millions of these mothers DID try to do things the ‘right’ way to begin with!

    But so many on the right seem all too ready to condemn the mothers….

  • Why would they want the mothers, then, to keep on giving birth to illegitimate children?

    Condemning a mother and elevating the bastard child? In the name of what? Christian charity?

  • Glenn: Ms. SMP wasn’t trying to do something to accommodate the “new reality,” she was just trying to ensure that she can sit on her backside, pop out as many children as she likes, and expect other people to help pay for them.

    You’re right, this is what society’s becoming, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to shrug my shoulders, say it’s OK and accept it. I’d rather fight the wave, as you call it.

    What if the British had just accepted the Nazi advance and decided not to fight “the wave” in 1940? Just accepted German “superiority” as a fait accompli? That’s akin to what you’re suggesting with regard to today’s society.

    Things can be done to change society if we simply clamp down on benefits for single mothers. If women were forced to forge for themselves and theirs, this whole out-of-wedlock lifestyle would be vastly reduced. Also, it helps immensely if you don’t give cohabitating couples the same rights that you’d bestow upon a married couple. It’s no wonder marriage is so rare now when you consider the financial incentives and how marriage is not being encouraged even in the slightest. So don’t tell me that things can’t change — they can. It only takes guts to stand up to the scroungers and those who want to have their cake and eat it too.

  • Glenn Cessor

    Mark –

    So in other words life is supposed to be as YOU believe it should be, never mind that the majority of people think otherwise.