Forum > News and Current Affairs.

The 'Vimes Boots' Poverty Index

(1/2) > >>

For those of you familiar with the novels of Terry Pratchett you will probably already know the 'Vimes Boots' theory.
For those of you who haven't read his books, here it is:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money,” wrote Pratchett. “Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of okay for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time [/size]and would still have wet feet[/color].”[/font][/color][/size][/color]
[/size]This theory has been used by Jack Munroe to create the 'Vimes Boots' Poverty Index (with permission from the Pratchett Estate). She is trying to highlight just how expensive it is to be poor and how less well off people have to spend more of their income on renewing items because they can't afford to buy better quality things initially. The full article is published in The Guardian.  Link below.

PS. If you haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's books before, perhaps thinking fantasy wasn't your thing, then I would urge you to think again. They are brilliant! And I love Commander Vimes.

Sunny Clouds:
I think it's wonderful the way Jack Monroe's still speaking out on poverty, food etc.  An amazing person.

I've a memory now from student days.  There was a student in my tutor group I used to hang out with.  She came from what I thought of as a 'posh' family.  One day we were talking about clothes and she said "I'm too poor to buy cheap clothes."

It was only years later that I stopped to think how my father always wore bespoke suits for work and outside work wore a linen jacket in summer and a 'sports' jacket in winter, tailored for sleeve length.  He'd won them even when money was tight when I was young.  They lasted years and years and years. 

That being said, as I'm typing this, I think how as a child I had very sturdy shoes, a bit too big when bought with some extra insoles etc. so they'd last size-wise, taken to the cobbler for metal bits, and 're-heeled' when they wore.  I bet kids don't do that now.  The official uniform shoes at so many schools, rigidly prescribed, probably aren't cobblable.

While I'm off on one about that, it makes me angry how so many schools have expensive school uniforms.  The government  introduced a new law last year but I think it's meaningless.

Moneysaving Expert quote "Parents with children in state maintained schools spent on average £337/yr on school uniform for each secondary school child and £315/yr for each primary school child, according to a 2020 survey by charity The Children's Society of 1,000 parents across the UK."

Rather sums it up in terms of poverty, doesn't it?  Parents having to spend a fortune on uniforms with the right logos when what the children probably want is food in their bellies, a bit of money for afterschool clubs, a few more toys, warm bedding etc.

I hope Monroe can shame the government as much as Rashford.  I'm still raging at every opportunity over how  successive governments have managed to persuade the public that the 'two child' rule for benefits is acceptable.  Revolting.

Declaration of self-interest.  Today's children are my carers tomorrow.  Today's children are tomorrow's campaigners.  Today's poor are tomorrow's workers or tomorrow's despairing, starving revolutionaries.  As I tell children I know - as a grown-up, I can be surprisingly selfish in not wanting others to suffer.


--- Quote from: Sunny Clouds on 27 Jan 2022 06:15PM --- As I tell children I know - as a grown-up, I can be surprisingly selfish in not wanting others to suffer.

--- End quote ---

I absolutely love your last sentence and would like to use it if I may. It sums up perfectly just how I feel.

Jack Munroe is one of those people who continually impress me with their passion and ability. I bought one of the Jack's recipe books last year and tried a couple of simple dishes from it. They were very good and easy to make, which is important for my husband and I! I like these recipes as they are nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to make using relatively common ingredients. I intend to do some more experimenting.

Sunny I like your point about the cost of school uniforms. It can be terrifying can't it? Where my younger grandchildren are at primary school, the school has an arrangement with a local shop that prints logos onto sweatshirts and polo shirts and providing children turn up to school in the right colour with the right logo then they don't mind where you buy from. The printers buy clothes in bulk and it seems most parents buy directly from as it saves time, money and hassle plus they are of quite good quality. Trousers and skirts can be bought from anywhere. My older grandchildren need blazers etc and that starts getting ridiculous.
I bet Universal Credit doesn't take into account school uniform costs? Use Child Benefit instead to pay for it? But that's already been spent on food and bedding, and the computer that all children need now to do their homework on. Who pays for school trips? Text books? Educational days out? Or fun days out? All kids need fun and enjoyment in life and it concerns me that a large number of children growing up in poverty will not get to experience a proper, carefree childhood and that's a damning indictment on today's society.

I could go on but I feel myself becoming ranty and incoherent. So I'll stop here.
Inequality of any sort makes me angry.

Sunny Clouds:
I think some local authorities have school uniform grant systems but I haven't read anything to suggest that they are universally adequate or even typically so.

I know someone whose job involves making claims for extra funding for schools for what I think of as extracurricular activities (though I don't think that's what they're called for this fund) where children's parents are on low incomes.  But a certain percentage of the parents have to fall into the relevant category and it's the year before's income figures not their current income, so it's ridiculous.  Sometimes the only way you can do it is to claim for each year group separately then share the money out evenly.

As for toys, as far back as the nineties, we had toy libraries so children had access to enough toys but now there are toybanks for parents to get a toy or two for their children.  In other words, once there were quite a few children that didn't have many toys but could borrow extra from the toy library.  Now there are lots of children that  have no toys or almost no toys unless their parents can get something suitable from the toy bank (which is likely to be co-located with the foodbank and the uniform bank).

It's Dickensian.

As for Jack's recipes - absolute genius.  It's not just the specific recipes, either, it's the concept, the approach.

Most LA's have ended the school uniform allowance scheme as it is optional and austerity arrived. Thankfully my children's primary schools just had a sweatshirt with logo which was reasonable normal price and grey trousers and white polo shirts could be bought from Asda or wherever. School blazers are the nightmare. I think they should be banned!

I've never heard of Jack Munroe I will have to look him up.

I'm not a Pratchett fan as he was very disparaging about Christianity which I think was disrespectful. I feel the same way about Ricky Gervais. Why people can't let people believe what they like faith wise without dissing them is beyond me.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version