Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the month “July, 2008”

Music, ISP’s & the Surveillance Society

Brokered by the Government six of the biggest ISP providers have agreed to monitor music uploading and downloading. Anyone caught sharing music on-line will be written to and maybe have their connection slowed or even terminated.

I’m not going into whether file sharing should be legal or not, what concerns me is that this is yet another example of loss of privacy and additional surveillance. Already mobile ‘phone conversations and emails are kept for two years and the police are able to ask for them on demand. Plans are afoot for the police to have copies automatically sent to their central computer so that they don’t even have to give a reason for wanting them. Total control of our citizenry marches ever closer. We must fight back before its too late, but how?

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New Benefits Plan

The Government is to bring in new rules and systems for people on unemployment or disability benefits. The Tories have already offered their support which is not surprising as it is the kind of plan that the Tories would come up with rather than what we should expect from a Labour Government.

As with all these types of plan it seems reasonable on the face of it. If after a reasonable amount of time you won’t or can’t find work then you will be made to do community work in order to continue receiving the benefit. The work will be such things as cleaning graffiti off walls, litter picking etc. This will of course go towards decreasing the availability ‘real’ jobs and I can’t see for example, an unemployed I.T. consultant or ex company director doing this work, it will be the ‘ordinary’ people. The clever ones will work their way onto the proposed higher level of benefit for those not expected to be able to find work for one reason or another.

Some people of course do get into a rut of not working and they need encouragement. The trouble is, as usual, the problem is looked at from the wrong perspective. It is not that benefits are too high but that the incentive to work is too low. The minimum wage is not sufficient for the average person to have a decent lifestyle by today’s standard and couple this with the obscene salaries and bonuses paid to those at the higher end of the pay scale it’s not hard to see where the problem lies. The shift of wealth from those who have little, to those who already have much has increased exponentially for decades and even more so under the present government.

Oh by the way, this whole idea, endorsed by the Government, comes from David Freud, an investment banker!

The other part of this proposed plan is to force drug addicts onto rehabilitation programmes or they too will have their benefits stopped. Ask any psychologist or anyone with knowledge of the mind and they will confirm that you can’t force people into rahab. they must want it or it just doesn’t work. Given that the majority of crimes are committed to pay for drugs then stopping benefits will obviously increase crime. Politicians never seem to think anything through.

It is easy of course to make a show of clamping down on those unorganised, voiceless and powerless members of our society who need help rather than to tackle the inequalities, the wealthy tax cheats, those who send their money to tax havens and who can afford accountants to ensure that they contribute as little as possible to the common good. Margaret Thatcher stills rules, simply changed her name to Gordon Brown.

Military Compensation

Make no mistake, freethinkeruk has the highest respect for our armed forces but not for the uses, in general, they are used, Iraq and Afghanistan for example. Presumably in an attempt to stem the numbers of personnel leaving the forces the government has announced a doubling of compensation for injuries received while on active service, up to £570,000 PLUS an income for life.

If one volunteers to join the military then surely it must be obvious that it’s not all skiing, mountaineering and sailing? There is the possibility of injury and even death and the risks go with the job as with say, a coal miner or a building worker and many other forms of employment. In the event of injury or disablement received in action (or not) then the State will provide health care through the NHS and will if needed, provide care for life as with any citizen.

Compensation is not paid to anyone else for just doing the job for which they are paid. If you sign up for military life you sign up knowing and accepting the risks, if you don’t like the risk don’t sign on the dotted line. Yes, if compensation was removed rather than increased it would almost certainly mean less people joining the forces and would that be such a bad thing? Perhaps we would then have a defensive force and not one fighting wars for capitalism in other peoples lands.

Council Workers Strike

Local Authority workers are out on strike and HM Coastguard are working to rule until the 18th July and who can blame them? The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken them so long to do it.

Consistently paid at low rates they have seen their earnings fall ever further behind private sector employees. Now faced with ever increasing costs of living notably of course, food and fuel not mention that they also pay Council Tax like the rest of us, which rise inexorably as central government expects more to be done for less. They also must see CEOs on salaries equal to that of the Prime Minister together with a car and fuel allowance.

The Coast Guard is particularly dear to my heart and do a fantastic, professional job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, always on hand to save lives at sea and around the coastline. Their salary is around £14000 and therefore not much different I would think, to unemployment benefit.

All these people work for us, the public, we are their employers and as such we have a responsibility to treat them fairly. The very least we can do is support them in anyway that we can and let our MPs know how we feel.

Heathrow Runway

What really gets freethinkeruk’s goat is that this Government and previous ones, treat us as idiots. Business secretary John Hutton, said that the government might take “difficult decisions on airport expansion”. Meaning, of course, a third runway for Heathrow.

No surprise that the new Planning Bill is soon to come into force doing away with proper Public Enquiries and decisions made by an unelected QUANGO. Freethinkeruk takes no credit for spotting this intention, it was staring everyone in the face, I merely stated the obvious on 24th June along with many others and what difference did it make? None! The Government continues to act as though we’re all fools and can’t see their step by step manipulation of Parliament and rides rough shod over hard won rights and democracy.

Justice? I Think So.

I had one of those e petitions today asking me to sign to prevent the killers of Jamie Bulger, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson being released with new identities and possibly eventually into a new life in Australia. Now I’m a great one for petitions but I thought about this one long and hard and in the end  I decided that I couldn’t sign it.

What they did was of course, almost unbelievable, all the more so for being just ten years of age at the time but what do we know about their family background and the environment in which they lived. They have spent many years locked up and undergoing intensive therapies, re-programming if you like.

If punishment is required then losing the rest of their childhood and teenage years may not be sufficient for some but is an enormous price to pay and how long is punishment to continue. For ever? Along with punishment should go rehabilitation and those who are in a better position to know than us are convinced that this has been achieved. For justice to be true to itself there is or should be the element of mercy. Now that the killers are young men, no amount of continued punishment will ever remove from their memories the horror of what they did; their self punishment will be life long. It’s time for them and us to move on.

See also this group

A Green Charlie

I’ve just read in a Cornish newspaper that the Duke of Cornwall a.k.a. Prince Charles is doing his bit for the environment. He’s had his 38 year old Aston Martin converted to run on ………… wait for it……. ‘Surplus Wine!’

Now I don’t know about you but I’d be happy to have a bottle or two of wine sitting on the shelf never mind running my car on the stuff.

Cold War…… Again

The USA signs deals with Poland and the Czech Republic for placing anti missile defences on their land and the UK of course is happy to have missile listening posts at Fylingdales all to protect America from a possible attack. Attack from who is unknown in reality. Iran is suggested but they are many years away from developing any possibility of reaching the US and have no reason to do so UNLESS the US forces them into it. Russia also, will feel increasingly isolated and surrounded and will undoubtedly respond by increasing it’s nuclear capability. The Cold War all over again.

The Soviet Union was defeated eventually by the vast wealth of the US paying for ever increasing arms build up and so the need for the Soviets to respond in kind but this time around the US is all but bankrupt so the risks involved in this repeated strategy are greater.

While trying to force nations such as Iran away from even nuclear power the US props up Israel and has just done a deal with India supplying it with nuclear fuel and considers (for the time being at least) Pakistan an ally. All three countries are non signatories to the nuclear non proliferation treaty and breaches of UN resolutions abound. What hypocrites!

Update: Iran test missiles and is condemed by the US and Israel for being ‘provoctative’! The US threatens Iran and Israel carries out a rehersal for an attack on Iran and nothing is said. Double hipocracy! freethinkeruk is not an apologist for Iran but let’s have just a pinch of reality and natural justice please.

BBC Rip-off

If you work for the BBC then you’re probably wondering how safe your job really is, how will restructuring affect you even if you do keep your job and will the pension scheme continue to give you the retirement you expected.

Not so if you are a director of this publicly funded corporation apparently. The Director General, Mark Thompson, ‘earned’ £816,000 (2007/08) who, to his credit, turned down his bonus but then who needs a bonus when you’re getting that kind of money. Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, had her pay package rise by more than £100,000. Worried about your pension? Not if you are Jenny Abramsky, director of audio and music, who will draw a pension of around £190,000 a year – more than the prime minister gets.

A director of any company or corporation is paid to manage and steer that company on an agreed course, bonuses for doing what they are paid to do should not come into it. When the rest of the nation’s workers are being urged to keep their pay claims around 2% (of a much lower base) how on earth can a rise of £100,000 be justified?

These obscene payments are symbolic of what has gone wrong over the past couple of decades, with more and more wealth being transfered from the poor to the already rich. It is even more obscene when it happens in a publicly funded body.

Cynical Manipulation

I must confess that I feel just a tinge of sympathy for Prince Harry, not a lot mind you, just a tinge. He’s been unfortunate enough to be born into that family, you know the one I mean.

Into the Army he goes probably believing that he will just be ‘one of the boys’ convinced by those behind the scenes who really pull the strings. While we’re at it they say, ‘let’s set up a charity in his name, something that the people out there will make a connection with his mother, Diana.’ ‘Now that one was a real success, one of our best, the public fell for that whole fairy tale Princess line.’

Sorry, I digress, back to Harry and his charity Sentebale which appears to do some good things in Lesotho, although Oxfam given the cash would probably do it more cheaply. Off he went with 35 others from his Army Unit with presumably his personal protection security man and enjoyed wheeling a barrow for the benefit of the assembled photographers. If one ponders for a moment on the cost of all these people travelling to Lesotho it would have been far better to send the money and let local people do the work themselves and have the benefit of this added income. That though wouldn’t get another story of the Royals in the news now would it?

Cynical manipulation of Harry, the people of Lesotho and the British public.

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