Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Politics

It seems that people have this impression that I'm some kind of rabid socialist who would rather find a way of blaming society than blame convicted killer Mick Philpott for burning his house down and slaughtering loads of innocent kids. But that isn't the case; people like Philpott (there are approx 190 in a similar situation to him sans arson interests) are not the product of the welfare state, so you shouldn't blame it, they're just nasty pieces of work. I know pinko lefties who will blame society, Thatcher, historical abuse, aspartame, you  name it we'll blame it, as the causes of horrible people and their actions, but the truth is humans have always been horrible whether its through our actions or fashion statements; we are at times un-fucking-forgiveable.

I have always believed that people should be given a number of chances and that number depends on who you're dealing with and in what way they've screwed up any previous chances or opportunities. However, this all depends on the willingness of the person it is offered to. If you're a sullen, non-interacting, violent Neanderthal and your idea of a career is sitting at home tattooing yourself, beating up your girlfriend, teaching your unfortunate offspring all of your bad habits and smoking industrial strength weed, then my sympathy levels for you go sub-level - your number of chance will equal the number of finger I hold up. You did read that right.

If, however, you're an incompetent fuckwit who fucks up through a mixture of bad luck and a lack of common sense, but you do want to make a fist of something, then you deserve some form of sliding scale approach to sorting your life out and I do believe that society, as a human kind of thing, is obligated to give you that. But, like I said, if you don't want to be part of humanity and pour scorn on its existence, then there are times when Theresa May's desire to abolish the human rights act seems almost reasonable (but must never ever be allowed to happen).

I have always believed that everyone should be considered equal (we all fart, do dodgy poohs and have all done things we'd rather forget about and that includes the Queen), and therefore I suppose that kind of makes me a communist; but does it? I mean, I think we're all equal, but I don't believe we are in reality - some people are more equal than others. So I do have communist ideologies and they've polarised as I've gotten older and yet I watched 75% of my friends go the polar opposite and become more conservative and more likely to vote Conservative. A lot of this is because I've spent the last 12 years working with young people and through them I've seen all walks of life - good, bad and downright evil - and I suppose it's here where I've wanted to tell any politician that if they want to serve their country the best they can then they need to go to these sinkholes of society and spend some time there. Go incognito if necessary, become anthropologists and learn about the people that are so callously forgotten when a politician goes to serve the country. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, even if they're standing in Knightsbridge or Alderley Edge.

When I was 12, I was riding my bike down a steep hill. I hit a stone, went flying, cut and grazed the skin off of all kinds of places. I was bawling my eyes out; bleeding everywhere and on a council estate in Northampton. Within 30 seconds of it happening there were at least three mothers, fathers and others all rushing to help me, without any hesitation. One of them took me into their house, cleaned me up and phoned my dad up for me. There was no sense of debt or obligation for repayment of kind. There was a sense of community that extended to people who didn't even live directly in that community.

About 6 years ago now, me and the wife were in Sainsburys and a man had a seizure - I talked about this in the blog years ago - and I was the only person in a crowded supermarket that made any effort to help him. In fact, I wasn't going to, but seeing as no one else even bothered to help made me utter the words, "Oh, for fuck's sake," and I went and did my bit for a fellow human being. What I saw that day was that we don't care about others any more. We care about our own, but, you know, others, maybe not so much or at all, really ...

Having worked with what we call the 'disenfranchised' for a long time you become so angry at the stubborn ignorance of our elected officials. The Tories especially because in their eyes every one is deliberately unemployed, disabled or disadvantaged and that includes people with genuine reasons for their predicaments.

My politics is that this should never happen at the expense of something frivolous or undeserving (and I'm not referencing events of this week there at all). I've struggled to understand now for months why we still give Brazil 'overseas aid'; their economy is now bigger than ours. Yet apparently we give them millions of quid to ensure they educate their children properly... I'm sorry, but am I the only person in the world who thinks they should ensure their own children are educated properly, especially now that they can afford it more than us?

There is a need to have welfare because in a society as big as ours there is going to genuinely be people who need it. Yet I can't understand why the current administration seems to want to change the benefits system in a way that may drive people back to work, but the changes they are implementing will remain and stigmatise those who have to remain on benefits.

Is it really a good advert for Britain when at some point in the future, if this new benefits system works, only our genuinely needy people will have to suffer the indignity of food and energy stamps and having a payment method that makes everyone who serves them aware that they are poor. We are sending a message to the disabled and those with things such as chronic illnesses that they are regarded as 2nd class citizens because of their defects. I know, it isn't saying that at all, but, you know, it kind of is.

Why couldn't they just create a department - therefore creating jobs - that would means test every long term benefactor of benefits. Employ our own nurses or doctors to be able to assess the health of the long term ill and employ employment experts to try and persuade people to get jobs or arrange training, but more importantly to at least have some jobs that these people can go and get that will be better paid than staying on benefits. You can drive people off of benefits, but they'll end up having them live considerably worse off than they were if you don't pay them a living wage and surely that isn't fair either?

If the Tories don't want welfare then at least they should try and change it so that it works for the people who have to use it. The problem is most politicians have no idea how it works, they just, like many of us, read about something in the Daily Mail and suddenly its fact.

The Tories don't really like centralised government and bureaucracy; they want us to run everything - the Big Society, if you will. Couple this with allowing the private sector to make the markets move by creating jobs which create more disposable income and because those new markets are free markets and the whole world revolves around the commerce of it, then every one gets rich and we become a classless and prosperous society - or at least that's my understanding of Thatcherism.

However, there are some things governments can't (or at least shouldn't) make money from; there are some things - services and obligatory provisions - that we have to pay for and if public spending cuts mean we no longer have these things (which we should all be morally obligated to pay for and not begrudge it) then where is all our money going?

Do you understand how our debts work? If you listen to what any of the last five chancellors have said, especially about the country's borrowing and spending, you don't need to be an idiot to see that we have for years overstretched ourselves; we have more going out than we have coming in - that's a simplistic view but accurate. If we're still borrowing, even now, and its more than we're making, then why?  And if subsequent governments have failed to deal with this and are more directly responsible for this problem in the first place, then why are we still paying for it? This is like one of those Payday loans offering you easy terms and a 2755% APR, but bigger and without the obvious henchmen. The problem is, if governments are shit and can't do their jobs right, repeatedly, how do you change them if you only ever have what's always on offer and/or a bunch of radical loonies who want to stand for the Christian Democratic Crunchy Frog Party.

New politics is usually treated with scorn, fear, contempt and ignorance for half a century and then, if the party is still extant, will get a token MP, if they're lucky. If you vote for one of the major political parties, unless you're one of the select few, you will have no say in who gets nominated to stand as a parliamentary candidate and less input into what issues affect you. You can of course have more input in how things are run, but that involves joining the 'party' and devoting time, you probably haven't really got, for a cause that you might only agree 50% with. We live in a time when we all have combinations of political party beliefs.

So, I suppose I just want a fair society with things, buffers, built in to ensure it is as fair for everyone as possible. I am an altruist and I make no apologies for it. I am also very naive. Don't you wish the rest of the country was the same if it meant everybody was generally happy rather than a few being ecstatic and a lot being miserable?

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