Maybe I’m going ga-ga in my old age, but some of the news items currently occupying the media are increasingly causing me angst, frustration and irritation.
Take the issue of what can be described as the British happy-clappy, politically-correct, ‘compensation culture’, for example.
This week there have been two classic examples.
The first is the announcement of the decision in the constructive dismissal case of policeman Mike Baillion, whose justification for bringing his claim was that he had become a ‘laughing stock’ amongst his colleagues – this after video footage of him attacking a disabled man’s Range Rover with his truncheon was published on YouTube and became something of a global sensation.
See the episode for yourself here – courtesy of YOUTUBE
In deciding in his favour, a Cardiff employment tribunal awarded PC Ballion more than £400,000 for his pains.
Last night, in reaction to these two stories, I began googling on the internet in order to check something.
I have to confess that I could not find an up-to-date schedule of tariffs for military personnel who suffer ‘wounding’ injuries whilst on active service.
The best I could uncover was a July 2009 one and therefore I must preface the details that follow with the caveats that (1) the figures may have been increased since 2009; and (2) I am not strictly comparing ‘like with like’ because, of course, in signing up for the military, our servicemen and women necessarily accept that their job (vocation?) will, in its ordinary course, probably place them in harm’s way.
Nevertheless, they make for interesting reading. Try these comparisons, for example:
In 2009, examples of the ‘going rate’ compensations, according to the relevant Ministry of Defence schedule, were:
Dislocated jaw: £5,775
Fractured pelvis or high-velocity gunshot wound: £13,750
Loss of both big toes, or both index fingers, or one kidney: £23,100
Loss of a foot, or permanent mental disorder causing severe functional limitations and restriction: £48,875
Loss of both thumbs, or severe facial lacerations: £63,825
Total deafness, or loss of an arm below the elbow, or leg below the knee: £92,000
Loss of both legs below the knee, or both arms below the elbow, or burns affecting 70% of the body: £172,500
Loss of both legs, or both arms: £230,000
Loss of eyes, or both legs and one arm, or both arms and one leg: £402,500
Loss of both legs and both arms, loss of sight and either both legs or both arms, brain injury with persistent vegetative state: £570,000
It kind of puts ‘over £400,000’ for becoming a laughing stock with your mates, or £484,000 for suffering repetitive strain injury whilst typing, in a certain context, don’t it?
Separately, I cannot but help have an instinctively negative and perhaps rather churlish response to some of complaints and outrage expressed by those sadly affected by the extraordinary weather and flooding that has blighted the West Country in recent weeks.
On an almost daily basis since the turn of the year, my television screen has been filled with poignant scenes of floodwaters lapping through peoples’ home, livestock being rescued and moved to higher ground, miles and miles of the Somerset Levels effectively underwater and (of course) ‘live’ reports from reporters great and small demonstrating yet again that – whilst there is nothing actually happening at the moment – in a few hours’ time, some of these picturesque little village communities will either have to be evacuated, or else at least issued with snorkels.
Meanwhile, more and more ‘vox pop’ interviews with residents and sundry rent-a-quote ‘experts’ descend into rants against the government, the environmental agency, the local council … or anyone else you might care to mention … for their neglect and negligent failure to do anything to prevent the flooding over the past – well, what is it? – three weeks, three months, or … er … three hundred years.
Maybe I’m an insensitive plonker but, yesterday, when I saw some lady farmer being filmed and interviewed, resignedly packing her livestock off into lorries to be transported elsewhere and then sobbing about how her livelihood and life has been destroyed through the failure of all and sundry – especially ‘the authorities’ – to address the problem … but, whatever else, certainly no fault of her own … I found myself shouting at my television screen “But then why did you go and live in middle of the Somerset Levels, you daft mare?!?!?”
The trouble with Britain these days is that fewer and fewer people bother take responsibility for their own lives and outcomes.
Whether by accident, design, or perhaps just government policy, a widespread sense of entitlement has become engrained in our culture, coupled with a sense of frustration that – if you don’t have the wherewithal to enjoy a comfortable, untroubled existence – it is somebody else’s fault and ‘they’ (whomever that might be) ought to do something about it.
To be honest, I haven’t got the time anyway.
I’ve always felt materially disadvantaged and psychologically damaged by the fact I’ve never been able to afford to buy a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squara Corse and so I’m sending off a letter today to my local MP [the Lib-Dem Business Minister Vince Cable, as it happens], asking to where I should address my claim for compensation.
Presumably, the earlier I do this, the earlier our ‘super hero’ prime minister, David Cameron, will take charge, chair a specially-convened meeting of the COBRA committee, and allocate the minimum £2 million that it will take to ‘sort’ my little problem.