Thursday, 21 May 2015

Short Sighted

It's frightening how brainwashed people are.

I hate to use that word, 'brainwashed', because it makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist. I'm not. Capitalism isn't so much a conspiracy as a system that powerful people endorse out of simple self interest. The tragedy is how that self interest causes misery for everyone else - and people don't care.

But people refuse to believe that this system is as broken as it is - yet the Tories have a majority government with only 24% of the electorate. Yet nobody really complains because nobody likes a sore loser and capitalism promotes the winner/loser mentality in everything it does. This is essential because it's easier to marginalise dissent by branding such voices as belonging to losers - people who have some character flaw of their own making (also important - everyone is the author of their own misfortune).

People have also been conditioned to believe that negative thinking - criticism - is to be denied. No one wants to hear someone who feels sorry for themselves; self pity is for losers and one must pick oneself up by one's bootstraps, no matter how miserable their lot. Of course this is absurd, the misfortune of someone like Donald Trump, who made his 'fortune' off the back of hundreds of millions inherited from his dad, are quite different from someone facing eviction because of the Bedroom Tax. Yet the former will be among the first to advocate the bootstrap mentality to the latter, despite having no clue as to the reality of the latter's struggle. Sickening really.

This feeds into the idea of low wages. If you want the most obvious example of how capitalism is so pernicious and so broken then consider how it uses the state, via welfare, to subsidise wages. The fact that people are seemingly content to put up with this situation is telling, and yet the idea of living wage should be the very heart of all social contracts. If one cannot afford to live a decent standard of living on their income then something has gone, and is, very wrong. Not only this, but by allowing
the state to subsidise employers you are subverting your own winner/loser (aka striver/skiver) mentality.

A society where it is the norm to earn less than it costs to live. That is the ideology of capitalism.

Even worse it feeds into the idea that everyone can be an entrepreneur. This is the age of dragons - capital D. The five predators sat in a gangster's hideout with conspicuous piles of money sat next to them. Now the DWP (capital D) are in on the act, advising people to become self employed without telling them that doing so could jeopardise them financially if they start claiming tax credits without a credible business.

But the capitalists don't care about that. Instead they get to make claims regarding a rise in the number of businesses starting up (they won't of course report how many failed nor the personal consequences of failure). This all looks great for the system and the government who can say Britain is booming. Look at how free people are to chart their own course in these difficult (boo! Labour! Boo) times. But this apparent freedom is deceptive; we don't have a strong economic foundation - why else is Cameron issuing forth another 'emergency' budget in July? That's unprecedented, although one of the reasons is to catch Labour on the hop while they are still rudderless. These are not fertile times, even for experienced business types, and you can hear people in discussions talking about how they can't pay their staff a living wage and about how they are themselves, as directors and owners, having to live on the breadline. 

This affects the whole world; capitalism has allowed the population to increase where reasonable considerations would have prohibited this. I don't want to be telling people they can or can't have kids, that isn't the point. But people, particularly women, are sold the idea that having children is part of the complete human experience, part of being successfully; like buying a house or a car. One must have a family. Capitalism doesn't seem to care how many people are on the planet, and, as with self employment and the love of business, it doesn't care if it's sustainable. This is the fast route to poverty, just look at places like India where squalor seems to surround rich enclaves in cities.

This is a house of cards and sooner or later the wind is going to blow hard.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Shit

What the hell happened?

I woke up Friday morning hoping the exit polls were just speculation. In fact I was up at 5-30 remembering that was the time they announce the results for Wirral. That turned out to be the only real light (along with Farage) in this black night descending. The first voice I hear is the capitulating tones of Ed Miliband as Labour's rescue boat crashed onto the rocks with a great many casualties. 

We are now looking at a Tory majority in the house of about 330 give or take. I suppose that isn't huge, but they have around 90 seats over Labour. As far as I can tell any vote where we need the opposition to win (in other words all of them) we are likely to lose - that is after all the point of having a majority.

This is shit. I have never been so scared in my life. I have spent the last two days in a daze, bereft. It's been a funeral for the soul where the only comfort is that I'm not alone. Yet now we are all more alone than ever before given what is likely at stake that I cannot even bring myself to mention. It's too much to consider what we stand to lose - and with very little political opposition as Labour are now looking to move even further into the Tory shadow. This will be confirmed if their choice for the next leader is someone like pro-capitalist Chuka Umuna.

It is clear that a combination of five years of toxic propaganda, lies and media manipulation has brought us to this point. The average Tory will not admit they voted for a party that supports the persecution of the poorest and the weakest - despite that being exactly what happened from 2010 (and I'm sure will again as Duncan Smith is hardly likely to shift post). They instead will point to how Cameron has led a recovery out of Labour-created doldrums and economic depravity. However there is and has never been any evidence that Labour were profligate, or that they spent all the money - despite Cameron desperately waving that note around. In fact that image says it all: a child waving around a lollipop stick with a funny joke, because that's all that note was. And anyone could have written it, but isntead the faithful saw the image of a piece of paper with some scrawl on it and a Parliamentary header and thought "yes, that's clear proof of Labour's financial incompetence", despite all evidence to the contrary. (hint: Paul Krugman wins nobel prizes for his knowledge of economics, David Cameron, to date, hasn't).

Unfortunately Labour comprehensively failed to get that fact across. Like startled rabbits, caught in the headlights, they found themselves suddenly unsure of where to go and what to say. For five years they floundered under a man who, to all intents and purposes may well have been a reasonable sort, but couldn't and wouldn't defend himself. A man without the charisma and presence and message necessary to counter the Tory onslaught which was backed up by enormous amounts of money (profligate, you might say) and enormous amounts of media. 

Labour, since 1997, had positioned itself further to the right pandering to big business and, through Blair, gaining the approval of the arch-demon, Murdoch, himself. Then that all changed; the banking system fell apart under its own avarice and lack of self control. Everyone turned on Labour who, since then, have been left wondering what the hell happened? Prior to that Osborne had called for lighter touch financial regulation than Brown, and promised even more public spending.Labour has since offered a concessionary version of the Tory austerity, with slightly less pain, yet pain nonetheless. It is bitterly ironic that that was the best alternative in our broken electoral system. A democracy that isn't representative enough and has reinforced the two horse race it always was

The point here isn't to defend the dismal modern iteration of Labour but to recognise that, on their own standards, the Tories fail. Unfortunately they won by spooking the electorate about the SNP - as if the Scottish were somehow terribly alien and dangerous in their values. A week before the election and Labour sought dreadfully to distance themselves from the SNP, and all the media snark, by saying they'd rather a Tory government than ally with the SNP. Well, you got your wish Ed.

In 2010 many people, myself included, were swayed by this newcomer, Nick Clegg, and that he, and amiable Uncle Vince, who seemed economically pure of heart like an avuncular fiscal Merlin, offered a genuine alternative. Sadly that proved to be an illusion as they failed to gain anywhere near the result 'Cleggstasy' conjured as a promise, and they got into bed to prop up a coalition that has wrought havoc on society. This coalition, in reality a Tory government with quisling Libdem legs, has kept the economy in the toilet, stagnated the labour market, rewarded the rich for their failures, turned the NHS from a reasonable prospect (despite the likes of Patricia Hewitt) into a nightmare of waiting times, privatisation, more debt, closures, and an A&E crisis of the like as yet unseen - not to mention the nightmare of catastrophic welfare reforms. Universal Credit ready by 10/13 anyone? Instead we have a regime of willing stormtroopers under Fuhrer Smith's command while he refuses to examine the corpses.

Now the Libdem vote has collapsed. Onlay 7 remain. Perhaps the most telling aspect of all this is that they didn't lose their seats to Labour, but to the Tories! That's the nature of right wing politics: you thought you were all doing the right thing, that you were acting in the national interest? Congratulations, a knife in the dark is your reward. 

So what happened? It seems the Tory vote didn't increase - as you might expect from the surge the results imply. Instead the libdem vote collapsed, as predicted, but with Labour's failing inertia and lack of a leftward message, people remained disillusioned. Consequently the Tories filled this vacuum - but not with an increased share. Instead their numbers, while no different than before, were enough to beat the collapsing opposition result; the bar had lowered.

I won't be sorry to see the back of the likes of Steve Webb, the most Tory of them all who supported the Bedroom Tax as much as his coalition conservative colleagues. But it is a bitter victory indeed when his replacement is another Tory! At least the Witch-in-charge McVey is gone. That's more than schadenfreude, but it's not enough to compensate what I dread is coming.

Now we're on our own. Like the Tories, who now have no excuses and no one to hide behind when their policies continue to fail, it's up to us. True democracy and politics lies within our communities, wherever they may be on or offline. The streets are where things will have to be decided. This country looks set to be more divided than ever; the Tories exist in the rural/small town areas (like here, unfortunately), while Labour is strong in the metropolitan areas that the Tories will simply not care about. This is why many Tory voters do not see the misery their favourites have caused; how many Bedroom Tax cases or benefit sanction victims or WCA veterans reside openly if at all in the wolds and shires? Out of sight out of mind is the mantra as a compliant media simply refuses to report on these stories, furthering the notion that only the loony left believe in these things.

Some have claimed this government's majority is narrow, weak. I'm not so sure; I don't see how, though I'd love to be wrong. 90 odd seats over Labour seems pretty strong to push through all they would want. The coalition managed to use all sorts of Parliamentary necromancy and sorcery to get its way; didn't IDS use such tricks to animate his now-discredited ideas?

Perhaps these 'soft tories', some of whom maybe in Parliament now, will come to see the truth of what they have caused when the effects of what is certain tyo be a vicious government, affect them. A housing and rent bubble (favouring landlords) cannot sustain. Jobs may fall apart as people are forced out due to the iniquities of Universal Credit, foodbanks may finally be overwhelmed, the NHS...and so forth. In fact not two days before the election the Mail ran a front page about the scandal of waiting times for GP appointments. Yet come Friday it was hailing the rejection of 'Red Ed' (a sock puppet image of Miliband created by the press) as the right result. Can this government really survive when it is built on an illusory foundation?

As for Red Ed, I don't know which is worse: that people believe he's a socialist, or that politics has lurched so far to the right that anything to the left is a discredited remnant of an equally disingenuous image of the seventies. 

All I can say for now is that I'm fearful; I'm not even angry, it's more anxiety when I see people around me and I think "are you who I thought you were or seemed to be?". These are people who must be among those, to some degree, that voted Tory. Politically programmed Pod People. This isn't melodrama to say that I feel I've woken up in a different world. It looks, smells, feels, sounds, and even tastes the same, but something has shifted. Beware of Vulcans with goatees, and Tories making promises.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Good Cop Bad Cop?

So i'm walking back from the shop armed with a box of Shreddies (my breakfast of choice currently) and I spy with my little eye the local Tory doing the rounds, accompanied by a couple of goons. Unfortunately for me the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I decide I'd like to try and 'corner' him on the issue of foodbanks and sanctions, albeit briefly because i don't really want to be talking to these people. 

Now I'm worried he'll 'recognise' me, somehow (I've never met him before so why should he) and that, stupidly, I didn't calculate he might come a-knocking later on. I rather hope he doesn't and have put a notice on the door saying, politely, no Tories. 

The problem is that he's all very charming and polite. He tries to explain that, given the Trussell Trust is a relatively recent enterprise, we can't assume that the foodbank crisis (which only a fool would deny) is a product of the current austerity plan and the headbangers in cabinet. He says he is "quietly horrified" by the situation. But he's still a Tory?!? How does he square this with reality? Is it just not on his radar? Is it not an issue locally? I suppose that might be possible, even though Weston super mare has a foodbank and, according to a recent local paper headline, is the debt capital of the country! That can't be good.

You see this is the problem: in Parliament the Tories are headbangers. They are swivel eyed goons who think the right to rule is theirs by blood and that the land is their divine inheritance. Yet I suspect the local Tory, and our sitting MP, is typical of constituency Tories. He says all the right things, is very polite and charming so somewhere there is a disconnect. I asked him about sanctions and he said again it wasn't something people were bringing to him as an issue. Again that may be true - locally. But what about the evidence that's been collected by the likes of the CAB and the Church - and everyone else from the Guardian to even the BBC? There is definitely something happening and sometimes two plus two equals four: a government hell bent on austerity, punitive welfare reforms, and policies as crazy and nasty as the bedroom tax (which I didn't raise) cannot not be prime suspect at least. 

I think these Tories are not part of the inner circle. They may subscribe to the ideals of capitalism and believe that, if the market functioned properly, and if public finances were used responsibly, everything would be fine. But the reality is, despite what they have been led to believe, they are members of a party who's leadership, in government, is deliberately causing untold mayhem. He can be as friendly and as charming as he likes, he is a politician after all, and I've no reason to assume he's a genuinely nasty person (unlike, say, Iain Duncan Smith), but he works for a party that is wrecking people's lives and, presumably, subscribes to an economic system in capitalism that has comprehensively and axiomatically failed. 

The danger is that it is off the backs of people like this that the Tories come to power. The cabinet MP's will be insulated from the problems they cause by their circle of supporters and will have enough votes from among that section of the community they have nothing to worry about. Iain Duncan Smith doesn't even live in his constituency! As an example there is an issue locally with housing developers wanting to build all over the place. It has a lot of people up in arms; the Tory MP is the only politician who has put his face to the campaign. So voters will see in him someone who supports them and listens to local issues - rightly or wrongly. No other party is perceived to be listening. Therein lies the problem: the Tories play good cop on the doorstep, coming across as affable concerned community leaders, but in power it's bad cop all the way.

And no, there's no way in hell I'll be voting Tory. No matter how charming you are. What this society needs you aren't prepared to give.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Graham Nation

The never ending capitalist carousel continues: for some reason I tune into 5 Live every morning. Like a child with a scab I can't help but 'pick' at it, listening to the 'debate' for as long as I can stand. Usually not very long as it's a haven for desperately media brainwashed curtain-twitchers and cliche-spouters regurgitating a series of almost non-sequiturs of connected slogans and soundbites. Ultimately meaningless and completely non-progressive. This morning someone called 'Graham' who apparently runs an agency recruiting for warehouse staff lamented the lack of ambition across the nation in native folk wanting to work in a warehouse for, presumably, as little as possible - after he takes his cut, of course. Across the table from him was Nigel Farage trotting out his greatest hits; I don't think that man has said anything new in the last year.

So that's two wealthy (one assumes - unless that guy is just shit at recruitment, which is entirely possible since i have no idea who he is) opinion peddlers claiming representation of facts and truths. This is how we are to be governed. No one has asked my opinion, at best I'd be entitled to ask a question if I was 'lcuky' enough to be in the audience. A spectator watching two wealthy captains of industry talking and telling us what to think. Is this real? Have we really allowed ourselves to be robbed of the ability to govern our own destiny and determine how we live?

Apparently, according to 'Graham's' wisdom, British people are implicitly lazy; outsiders have to be brought in to work in our warehouse because no one here wants to apply. This 'fact' is of course not challenged; Farage's purpose is to explain why (ie to blame everything on the EU/immigration/open door, etc). How can 'Graham' possibly know this? Has he spoken to every single unemployed person in the neighbourhood, or is it more likely he's assumed this based on his own experiences finding staff for clients - whomever they may be. How do we know these clients are decent employers or that their needs are reasonable. If there was no option to hire Johnny Foreigners then what? You'd presumably have to offer more money? Would that work? Who knows because the one thing these capitalists are sure of is that they really don't like loosening the purse strings.

Immigration ;policy may well have a part to play, but ultimately the choice about whom to employ comes from the employer. 'Graham' is just a parasite: he has seen what capitalists like to call a gap in the market. They think this is clever, that they are providing a need. Except they are taking money that could go directly to workers...just to find workers, something I don't imagine would be difficult for the employer to do. There may be some circumstances where farming out the job to a specialist could be worthwhile, but for menial jobs in a local warehouse? Maybe there just aren't that many people available. We don't know, but is it reasonable to jump to the conclusion that it's because local people are lazy (and also unemployed since that's essential to be considered).

To me all of this is insane: we are the ones being told we are lazy for not wanting to work these jobs. Yet we are not listened to by those making these complaints. This is the future we want to build for ourselves: a world dependent on a paucity of creativity and interest. A society where saying that you want self determination, to be given opportunity to do what YOU want, is selfish and must be sublimated to the needs of rich people in charge. That the only people who can get a decent education that might waft them beyond the reach of the likes of 'Graham' are those that can afford it - or who's parents can? This seems fundamentally wrong. Why am I not allowed a say, why am I not listened to? Why is it assumed that what I want is unreasonable and overly demanding?

Our futures are determined by the needs of wealthy people to become more wealthy. Knowledge for anything else and of anything different is deemed either irrelevant or a privilege. I don't agree that these people should dictate to me my options for how I'm to spend the majority of my life - this isn't about a few hours' chores here and there. It's how you are going to be spending at least half your day at least 5 days a week for your entire life, until you become too feeble to continue (and even that's no up for grabs).

We are entreated to participate in an election through the propaganda that claims if we don't vote we have no voice, when in truth we have no voice either way. George Carlin was closest to the truth when he said that those who do vote bear responsibility for the misery caused by those in power - not those that don't vote. That said I think it's fundamentally important to oust this not-really-a-coalition-but a Tory government, but that's a temporary matter. It doesn't address the future and how we create a society that give everyone a voice and an opportunity. I do not agree that my life should be dictated by /Graham/.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Epilogue?

The strapline for this blog that I'm in danger of ignoring defines this as my record of how I endured the Cameron years. A period I hope history will measure with the requisite degree of justice and objectivity. It has been a period of, in my view, quite unprecedented change. People are now defined by uncertainty with views largely determined by the agendas of a predominantly right wing and unreasonably powerful media; they look to 'common sense' - ie how they feel - to inform their views.

They don't know what is factually correct because the deceitful nature of the political class has soured discourse to such a degree that anyone proposing evidence is treated with suspicion. The only truth is that political correctness, yet again, trounces everything and 'good' people are sacrificed on its altar.

People are placing their faith in trite platitudes (if I hear the phrase 'feel good factor' once more....) and decrying those who dare to speak against the now well-cemented lie that the last government wrecked everything.

We have less than a month to go until the greatest, though not great, and only (more importantly) opportunity to be rid of this awful government. I simply dread to think what will happen if we do not. I am sharpening my democratic (and, for the benefit of the security services, metaphorical) knife for a very very long night.

Last Thursday seven individuals claiming political insight and/or superiority pretended to have a televised debate, conducted in front of an unrepresentative (ie hard-working taxpayers) audience. This farce barely covered anything and didn't cover issues of welfare, disability discrimination, the attacks on the poor and the outrageous exploitation of workers and public services, except, merely, in passing. What hope is there? The same tired political platitudes, essentially scaremongering or preaching to the choir, are reeled out with truth at best a coincidence.

Cameron attempted to invoke sympathy by using his dead son, but didn't bother to mention that he, a millionaire many times over, claimed the same benefit as a relative while his son was alive that his government desperately denies everyone else. People that don't have that kind of wealth (and connections, don't forget - these people are a 'pig' society of their own) are being dashed against the rocks of his economic recovery. A kind that has now, without question, morphed into a 'long term economic plan'. His excuse for heaping the damaging austerity onto society was that it would be the price of balancing the books; something that the Tories, as economic heavyweights, would achieve by this time. No one questions this change of plan. The media dutifully reinforces this propaganda and so the people, they hope, will believe that another five years of this misery is required. More 'sacrifice' is required.

Sacrifice?  Since when did we vote to make a sacrifice? Since when did we even elect a coalition, never mind the Tory government that hides behind that title. The libdems have lied or been lied to - in some cases both: Bristol MP Steven Williams was recently discovered to have supported the Tory plan to sell off the forests (a plan so toxic it backfired almost instantly), while his neighbour, the pensions minister Steve Webb, refused to give way on a discussion about the Bedroom Tax he is intimately connected to. He tried arguing, with consummate arrogance, that people who can't afford the arbitrary theft of their income to satisfy the ruling elite should just 'find more hours' in their jobs. Extraordinary from a man who's mortgage interest is paid by the state.

Selling off the forests; doesn't that just say it all about the ruling class. That they think the very land itself is theirs to do with as they please. That it's just another asset to be stripmined, packaged up and sold off. Once it's gone, it don't come back!

Who are these people to behave like this? We elect them, he says with total naivete, to serve - isn't that the idea? But instead they have placed themselves at the top of the heap, eager to kick the ladder away having climbed it while claiming that all people need to do is work a bit harder, find more hours, and they too can climb tot the top. However with the removal of that ladder, a metaphor for the old school network, everyone else has to make do climbing on top of each other.

That's called ambition. It's what defines a schizoid liar such as Grant Michael Sebastian Fox Green Shapps. The chairman of the Tory party who got to where he is by marketing get rich quick schemes on the Internet. The very peak of human ambition and drive. Perhaps not.

They believe that, once in power, their brief gives them ownership of state services: schools are there to sell to friends and public money is there to be handed, via contentious and largely ineffectual public schemes (such as the Work Programme, an and expensive utter failure).

Cameron only mentioned welfare when referencing cuts: thereby reinforcing in the audience's mind the idea that social security, at best, is a burden. It is an expense that is, inexplicably, dragging the country down. He doesn't of course mention, while claiming wildly that it has ballooned out of control (another lie), half of that budget goes toward pension payments. It is another sacrifice that has to be made because...OUT OF CONTROL! That means don't think about it, Britain, just cut, cut, CUT!

He invoked the hapless spirit of Liam Byrne, the Labour MP who apparently left a piece of paper saying 'there's no money left'. This was a joke. The Tories have taken a joke as actual fact! What on earth does this mean? We truly are through the looking glass when we live in a world like this. But, through desperation (I hope), he waved a piece of paper which could well have had anything or nothing written on it as proof that Labour said this and, more importantly, that it was not a joke but a true statement. If this was true why on earth would the PM call on a scribbled note as evidence thereof when, surely, he could call on the records of the treasury or the Bank of England (Mervyn King has himself said that Labour were not to blame for the banking crisis - which is obvious to anyone with wit) which would have much greater credibility?

We can't really expect much from Cameron and I had zero expectations that anything interesting would come from that debate.

Thirdly, and finally, the NHS. Cameron second attempt at necromancy was to summon the spectre of the Mid Staffordshire hospital debacle. I am no expect in this (there's a long to a blog called Skwawkbox to your right that is) but I do know that, again the odious hand of the media, has its fingerprints all over this story. It is a sorry affair that even led to a heartbreaking radio interview with staff members who were fed up with being bullied and called murderers by the ignorant cattle that thrive on our media. These people did not strike me as callous doctors and managers and nurses. Cameron sought to argue that the ultimate cause of this affair, such as it was, was Labour - that is, the 'target driven' culture that emasculated people of their ability to use 'common sense' and operate sensibly and thoughtfully. There may well be some truth in that, target cultures are everywhere these days and the Tories are no less fond of them. After all look at what is happening in the DWP: a culture obsessed with targets, for which there is no shortage of evidence (just a deficit of honest). Interestingly, Cameron did not go or the jugular on this issue. I mention this because he has a fight on his hands defending his hypocritical treatment of the NHS; you'd think he might have tried tearing into Labour over this as its such an emotive issue. All he could do was timidly refer to 'targets' as the cause, while happy to drive toward certain targets when it suits him (after all isn't that the backbone of the austerity process?).

The Tories have power on the basis of a dark miracle: the largest source of their funding comes from the very place that caused the crash they capitalised on to create doubt enough in the eyes of the electorate to vote Labour out. Which isn't to say Labour are perfect, far from it, but the truth of the matter is they were doing a lot better than the Tories will ever give them credit for.

Truth is capitalism has failed. The Tories have failed - they were always going to because their focus is so narrow and their vision so bereft and short sighted. I've mentioned the Work Programme already, and, once again, it was complete shit. No help of any kind whatsoever - but that didn't stop my adviser accusing me of being the problem, not the programme, the system, or the Salvation Army and its attitude toward the poor.

We need a new system, now more than ever. Instead of quantitative easing we could have bailed out people who would have spent the money in the economy, Exactly where it needs to be. Instead we have a ruling elite bailing itself out at our expense and not oiling the very system they claim to serve.

One could argue that social security payments, benefits, that is, serve this purpose. Helping poor people live (you know, as opposed to die). We live in a system that treats money as some kind of magic force accorded to those we deem are deserving of this reward- and those people aren't always those you might think are most deserving. It's not nurses or teachers, working impossible shifts under heavy political burdens, who reap the most reward; we all know who it is and we all know they wrecked the economy. We all know they will end up doing it again because they speak no other language. It's not the poorest who have the power or the ability to cause that kind of damage, never mind on an international scale; it's the richest. Yet they are rewarded and the poorest are hounded. This cannot be right and must always be challenged. We must expose the lie behind the labels of 'wealth creator' and 'job creator'; that's what we are entreated to call this section of society. Yet it's not these individuals, those who technically own the businesses, that create the wealth. They don't even create the jobs, it's demand for services that does that, which is what makes the fad of self employment as pushed by the JC, so dangerous. But even then what of the quality of these jobs?

Things have to change. I look forward to that day in May when I can look back at this record of the Cameron years and close the book - even if it means the work is only just beginning to build a better society. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lines

It must be nice to have a job working on a TV show you like, okay you may have to put up with the odd racist presenter and a punch in the face, but it's a small price to pay to be in the presence of such genius. No?

Almost a million people (and I use that term quite loosely) have signed a petition petulantly demanding that the BBC reinstate a programme about schoolboy hijinks dressed up as motoring journalism along with its lanky provocative-for-cash presenter. Tha's about four times as many who signed the petition calling for a debate in Parliament on the effects of the government's catastrophic welfare policies. Not only that but Jeremy Clarkson is a friend of the Prime Minister, so a televisual troll and vapid bigot receives the ultimate endorsement while Cameron's own government can't be bothered to even consider the effect of their  on the poorest. We don't have the right to call ourselves civilised.

Let me be clear: Clarkson is a cunt. He may have started out as a journalist, but all that remains is a husk formed from populist outrage. According to the Guardian his most recent Top Gear Magazine article consists of nothing more than tired stereotypes about foreigners and public transport (apparently the former drive taxis universally smelling of vomit while the latter are containers of disease). Outrage isn't really the appropriate response at this point; more a sense of resignation and tiredness. I'm so fucking weary of this cretin. There is no content to his bullshit and no taxi I have ever travelled in has smelt of vomit either.

Clarkson and his tedious insipid cohorts, the sycophantic Hammond and the terminally curmudgeonly-for-cash James May, stand on a line that seems to divide society quite deeply (if that petition is anything to go by). On their side of the line is a world where people can speak their minds, do as they please (drive as they please where they please, specifically). On our side of the fence is, in their view, a stuffy repressive modern world of political correctness inevitably gone too far (the only kind apparently) and where values and cultures are shockingly mashed together with no respect for...something - even though culture is born from the confluence of older existing traditions.

Clarkson is the last bastion of free speech to the repressed fans of Top Gear who delight in his brave license fee funded health and safety checked white skinned antics. He is no more a maverick than John Wayne was a real cowboy. Instead he receives a huge sum of money to comfortably say things that resonate in a vile echo chamber of public opinion warped by a right wing media. His fans are regularly told about Muslims wanting to ban Christmas and how their kids can't play conkers in schools -a very Clarskon activity - without crash helmets, about how their white skinned daughters will be robbed of their innocence by foreigners while they themselves are robbed for their livelihoods - and thus their sense of identity - by, well, other foreigners. It's deeply sad but somewhere along the line these people lost who they were. Capitalism sold them down the river: Thatcher stole the industries they worked in and gave them to outside interests full of people they were told were better and smarter for example. Now all these people have as an ideological refuge is that side of the line, the one Clarkson, Hammond - Britain's worst presenter and a tawdry clone of the man himself (only made more pathetic by his inability to be equally as innately offensive) - and Misery Guts for Money James May.

People revel in the maverick antics of the Top Gear trio as they throw cars that aren't 'cool' out of planes, or drive around America with provocative slogans just to upset the locals. But they aren't really in any danger, not even in Argentina, the BBC and the behind the scenes staff will cop the flak, just as one of them did when Clarkson got a bit tired and felt like throwing his weight around because one of them wasn't on hand to offer him a plate of Roast Bee or something. That poor sod felt the wrath of Clarkson's faithful who variously thought that he should never be allowed to work again (no doubt subsequently complaining if he signed on) and that he had a punchable face. These are the same people that audibly guffawed when, on the televisual kleenex that is the One Show, Clarkson referred his wisdom on the issue of striking public sector workers. He felt they should be shot in front of their families. 

But it's all a joke innit. If you don't find that funny then you are on the wrong side of that line. You are a stuffy do-gooder - worse: you are a repressive force doing the common man down. Of course these people should be shot. In this age of fluid opinion and fact free churnalism of course these people should be shot. Just as when some poor shmuck working for Top Gear (and thus Jeremy Clarkson) doesn't immediately rush to his master's side like an unquestioning faithful puppy. 

I want our society to move forward but it won't as long as people refuse to move past that line. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Twisted System

Last night Dispatches on Channel 4 presented half an hour on the insanity of the mechanism of DWP sanctions. It is next to impossible to try and understand this system without coming away traumatised. Throughout all of this, on the broadcast and beyond, the government refuse to involve themselves in any discussion of the consequences, supported of course by the media and any useful idiots drawn in along the way.

How does poverty help people? 

This is control. That's all it is. This is the worst kind of authoritarianism: selective and exploitative. It just goes to show the utter hypocrisy and ideological bankruptcy of the right who have no compunction abandoning their ideals when it suits them. That is capitalism. This is what is in store at the general election; if one thing is certain it's that capitalism will win - even if that means fashioning some nightmare coalition across the apparent political spectrum in this country. After all the Libdems claimed to be left wing for so many years and they were quick to use the excuse of 'national interest' to grab power, to maintain capital's control over our lives.

This system uses poverty against the people in society. That is what is happening.

One heartbreaking case on the broadcast was a single dad of two schoolkids dependent on food parcels because his ESA was stopped. Non attendance of the Work Programme was the reason, in complete ignorance of his very obvious physical discomfort. A fused hip and a spinal hernia left him in clearly pain. But not only that he was also a victim of the Bedroom Tax to the tune of £28 a week which consumed the risible sum of money that the DWP left him with (I'm not sure of the full breakdown of his benefits, it's not important, nor any of my business really). The priority for the DWP - the government - was not to ensure that this man and his children were able to feed themselves and have shelter, but to make sure that what they deem he owed is paid back above even those considerations. The sense of desperation was palpable, he is now in rent arrears for the paltry sum of a hundred and twenty odd quid.

It is more important that, no doubt with the help of some Mitchell brothers style goons, the government gets its pound of flesh from this man than he and his kids eat. 

What does that tell you about capitalism? That money is more important than people. That a government can create a debt, in the form of the Bedroom Tax, out of thin air and trap a vulnerable man and his dependants for the rest of his life. 

And they will tell you this is the right thing to do; that it is helping people. 

There is not one shred of evidence that a single person, through the mechanism of sanctions, has been helped.

None of this even begins to address the inherent corruption, exposed by the PCS (who, even so, don't seem interested in actually doing anything about it). We all know that there is a rancid culture of setting targets, however it also appears there is a culture of ramping up conditioinality on those who do what is required of them. Such people are to be treated with increased harshness until, presumably, they ineivtably trip up. 



The DWP, under the stewardship of an ideological tyrant, wants people to fail. 

Clearly the government does not want to help people.

In fact I'm not entirely sure what it wants. I suspect there is no ultimate goal here; it is simeply about using social security (welfare is an Americanism) as a political football. The right believes it can exploit the existence of a safety net endlessly to maintain power. However that does imply that the Tories don't want it desotryed completely, which seems incongruous. You might be forgiven for thinking the Tories want to remove benefits entirely. They may well do, but that's because their ideology blinds them and makes them stupid. They don't realise that social security provides...security. If everyone is forced into poverty what's to stop them turning on the rich or turning to mass crime. If that happens the middle classes will turn on the Tories for making them feel unsafe in their little enclaves. So the truth is that the more intelligent (so to speak) element of the party (and I don't necessarily include Duncan Smith and his cohorts within this) want some form of social security to exist. However that element is to be abused to keep them in power, thorugh demonising the poor and making the faithful afraid of the poor. It's a small price to pay, in their minds, for low wages and the commensruate labour market insecurity.

Meanwhile people such as the case above are just collateral damage. Nobody within government will care. He will be trapped by a system that has been brutalised into something dark, that is no longer there to help but to harm.