I found this pie chart riveting. It's not the sort of thing that would normally get me excited.
It brought home to me that we are spending almost as much money on keeping people on the couch at home (£173bn) as the combined sum for keeping them healthy (£111bn) and educating them (£83bn) to be fit for work.
Revenue from National Insurance, which was supposed to cover things like health and sickness benefit doesn't even begin to cover the bill.
On Wednesday, Alistair Darling will present a budget to parliament. Nothing would endear him to the public more than a truthful, commonsense, budget. (Some chance. Ed.)
By truthful, I mean stating what will be flipping obvious to all of us - that there are some things that the country simply can't afford at the moment. Like paying perfectly healthy, able individuals, to stay at home and watch the telly.
By commonsense, I mean stating that which any responsible parent would - 'I'm short of money this week, you'll have to do something to earn your pocket money'.
I have just returned from a week in England. It is the first time I have seen the UK for many years. I could not get over:
a) How fat everyone was - have you all put on five stone in the last five years?
b) How much fast food was being consumed, in the street, all the time - foot long sandwiches, hamburgers dripping in ketchup, bags of chips....by young and old alike. Do you not eat at home any longer?
c) How much of that food was wasted - thrown away in the street, squashed underfoot, consumed by rats and pigeons. Along with every kind of rubbish. Does nobody use a litter bin any longer?
d) How the shopping malls were crowded with people during working hours. Does nobody work any longer?
e) How many people seemed to be driving vast four wheel drive cars. Does nobody walk any longer?
f) How aggressive everybody is, jostling and shoving in the street, shouting to each other from a foot away.
Perhaps these changes have crept up on those of you who live in the UK - you don't really notice your own children growing, the aunt who has not seen them for a couple of years does.
So here are some commonsense suggestions for the budget.
a) No more sending the dole in the post. Dole offices to be sited at least five miles from anywhere. Walk to collect your.......
b) Vouchers that can be spent in a selection of shops that only sell fresh food.
c) Never mind banning the sale of knives, ban fast food shops. If you can afford to spend £4.99 on a foot long confection of mechanically recovered meat at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, you are a) not in full time employment, b) doing something in addition to collecting your £60 a week from the tax payer.
d) Stop making community service a punishment, make it a duty. Get a broom out to justify your Dole.
e) Tag everybody collecting the dole - the tag will sound an alarm if you even try to enter a shopping mall during working hours.
f) Ban four wheel drives from all city centres. Walk the kids to school. Walk to the shops. You don't need a utilitarian farmer's vehicle to transport a five year old, they're not dead stock, they can walk too.
g) Practice smiling, it uses muscles, it consumes calories. It will help, truly.
I cannot believe that the few people who still have a job in the UK are compliantly supporting this vast army of over fed, under dressed, wheezing, puffing, swearing, be-thonged, tattooed, sets of gargantuan thighs masticating their way around what used to be an enjoyable University town.
I would have asked them why they do it, but everybody with a job seemed to speak Polish and not much else.
(Just for the record - I may live in France, I may be disenfranchised, but I still pay UK income tax!)