Critical Response to a News Event
The article by Fogg in the Guardian addresses the issue of the housing benefits to large families, which have parents that lack employment. In this article, Fogg expresses his personal views, about this issue, and he as well shows his judgement on the whole situation. The main event that led to this article was when recently, a woman identified as Heather Frost, from Britain’s Gloucestershire is offered a ‘mansion’ to live in with her eleven kids, husband, and two grandchildren. Fogg feels this is wrong, as it influences the economy negatively. He also wonders why such insignificant issues are featured in the news, since such families do not add value to the economy of their country (Fogg WEB). Therefore, according to Fogg, the economy suffers when big families with unemployed parents, are given free housing by the government. However, I tend to disagree with Fogg on this. The woman might not be responsible for her situation. She might not have chosen to have a big family and be unemployed. Therefore, I believe it is morally right for big families with unemployed families to receive any kind of benefits and aid from their government. In this essay, I will therefore, give a critical explanation of the author’s argument, and counter that basing on my own convictions about the whole issue.
Fogg is quite judgemental about this situation when Heather Frost is given free housing. He is opposed to this step by the government, and is opposed to the publicity the media gave this issue. According to Fogg, such a family is insignificant to the economy of a country. This is a heavy statement, which bears different meanings. Nonetheless, Fogg thinks the government took a wrong step by providing housing to this woman. This is a free world, where everyone is entitled to their opinion, and Fogg just gave his personal views about this case. Nonetheless, different people will view and judge this scenario differently. While some, like Fogg might be opposed to it, others will find reasons enough to justify this step by the government.
When Fog claims that this woman and her family, and other families like this are insignificant to the economy, he meant different things. The first thing is that this woman and her partner are both unemployed. When a person is not employed, normally, they will not have salaries to be taxed by the government, except for the basic taxes on goods and services. Therefore, these are not as significant to the economy, as those people with employment. Secondly, people who are unemployed have a lower economic status in society. Therefore, this means that their financial capability is low, compared to those who have jobs. These people also have a lower social status in society. Therefore, it is impossible for these to do anything constructive in society. Most projects need finances, therefore, without a financial source; these are not able to engage in any developmental project. Therefore, these lack the power to make any kind of investments. This is why Fogg considers them insignificant and a burden to the economy.
Another reason why Fogg considers Frost and her family as insignificant to the economy is because he thinks they are financially crippled, therefore, cannot afford important aspects of life, which lead to personal development, and the development of the society as a whole. For instance, with eleven children, and no job, it is possible that Frost and her husband could have a challenge raising these children. They could probably lack finances to cater for their education. Education is basic and core to an economy, therefore, lack of an education derails a country’s economy in different ways. Secondly, Frost and her partner could have difficulties feeding this big family, without a source of income. Nutrition and healthy eating relates to the quality of health of a person. Therefore, the eleven children could possibly be lacking an appropriate diet, considering the fact that their parents lack a source of income. Additionally, Frost and her partner could have had challenges in affording quality health care for their family, provided they do not have a source of income. Fogg possibly based on these factors when he considered Frost and other families like hers, as economically insignificant.
Fogg also raises the issue of the number of children a family should have. According to Fogg, it is wrong for anyone to have a large family when they know that they cannot provide for the family, let alone basic needs. The case of Frost and others, who have received out of work benefits from the government, then becomes a burden to the government and economy in general, since the government has to take up the roles of the parents in these families (Fogg WEB). Frost has eleven children and two grandchildren. In the contemporary world, this appears to be a large number, and it is rare for even those who are financially able, to have such a big number of children. Therefore, Frost feels that such cases are unfair to the government and to the economy of a country. According to him, the finances given to such families could have been used by the government on different developmental projects, which add value to the economy of the country.
Fogg criticizes sharply the fact the media paid attention to this case, and even publicized it. Therefore, he prefers that the media does not cover such cases, because these have negative implications in the society. He thinks that some cases like Frost’s case are just fabrications by the media, since most lack a backing by authorities concerned with such cases in the country, such as the Child Poverty Action Group. Therefore, it is evident that he casts a doubt over such coverage by the media, which is probably why he is overly judgmental on Frost’s case. He claims that this kind of reporting is harmful and might turn the poor against the poor, thus leading to strained relationships among them, as some might feel that they too deserve such benefits.
Generally, Fogg has judged the whole situation harshly. From his judgment of the situation, it might appear as though Frost and her family chose the line of poverty deliberately. It is also clear that Fogg is more concerned with the economy of Britain, and shows hate for poverty and unemployment. According to him, people should get employment, have fewer children, be responsible for their themselves and their families, and contribute positively to the economy of their country. This is rather a perfectionist approach in judging and handling issues in society.
Thinking in the line of Philosophy, I believe life is not perfect, and might never be perfect, just like no person is perfect. Therefore, I believe perfection is an ideal. Life is full of imbalances, and these are reflected in the society. Not everyone is going to be rich; there must be the rich and poor in society. Not everyone will live up to the expectations of their country; some might just fail to do that. If this is the force of fate or not, remains unclear. Nonetheless, people are different, and will always be different, in society. Fogg therefore, did not approach this case in the most appropriate manner. He was too judgmental, which is wrong. He failed to look into the circumstances surrounding the situation of Frost and other such families, before making such crude judgment.
I realize that Fogg was selective with what to address as far as Frost’s condition is concerned. For instance, he disregards the fact that Frost is a cancer survivor and only mentions that, without relating the implications of this health condition to Frost’s situation. Most of Fogg’s judgment on Frost’s case is biased. Although he has addressed important issues, he would have chosen a different approach in presenting his argument and judgment on the situation. The approach he has utilized is openly judgmental and critical, which is not appropriate for this kind of an issue, which I believe should be addressed with more considerations.
Unlike Fogg, I believe that the government does right to support poor families in a country. This is right as long as these are genuine cases, and follow the right channels. A government is charged with the responsibility of protecting its people. Therefore, by helping such families, the government is in part fulfilling its obligation. This is an aspect that people need to understand, and view positively, and not critically, as Fogg does. Not all people will be at the same standard in society. The poor too deserve to live comfortably, and it is the moral obligation of the other people, who are better off to support the poor in society. By using public funds to support such families, it is another way of the financially able people to support the poor, and this is acceptable. Although different people might dispute this, I consider it an unwritten rule for humanity to adhere to. Humans have the nature of looking after one another, and so, individualism and hostile economic factors in the contemporary world, are not reasons enough for humans to give their backs to the poor in society. Therefore, Fogg is quite misguided in his judgment, since we as humans are obliged to help other humans in difficult situations, and the government is right when it avails benefits for families such as that of Frost. This is not a waste of public funds, and these families are not economically insignificant, as Fogg puts it. It is not always all about the economy.
In conclusion, Fogg takes an idealist stand when he argues that big families with no source of income should not be entitled to government benefits since they are economically insignificant. However, I believe these should be supported, since these might be victims of circumstances such as the economy, and it is the duty of the government to protect its citizens, including these. In addition, it is human nature to support other humans in difficult situations. Therefore, as long such families are genuine, they should be supported. However, government should conduct this in the most appropriate way to avoid making poverty appear enticing to the people, because of the benefits. Nonetheless, the issue of poverty and human survival is an integral part of humanity, which counts more than the economy. Therefore, no matter the economic turmoil of today and the drift towards individualism, humans should not lose their hearts and their humane side.
Fogg, Ally. “A Mother of 11 Housed in a ‘Mansion’? Spare Us this Modern Morality Tale.” The
Guardian. 19 February 2013. Web. Viewed 26 February 2013 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/19/mother-11-mansion-media-families-benefits>
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