Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Benefits – Wrong Cuts

The Bishops .in particular, in the House of Lords are speaking out against the proposed Welfare benefit cuts and putting aside the fact that Bishops are un-elected and should have no place in our law making process, they are right to do so.

Yes there is a problem with too much being paid out but this is not the fault of the claimants at whom the government likes to point the finger of blame. As usual governments and particularly Tory ones, wear blinkers and always react by hitting the weakest hardest rather than looking more deeply into a problem. Stopping just short of naming them as ‘scroungers’ ministers speak of them as ‘getting’ £25000, £35000 + per year but let’s just pause and think for a moment. Who is actually ‘getting’ this largesse? A not uncommon rent in London and other large cities could be £300 per week which equates to nearly £16,000 in a year and this goes to Landlords who are generally investment companies and rich individuals taking advantage of a cronic housing shortage and the, so far, willingness of the welfare system to keep paying. It is the Landlords who are ‘getting’ the payouts not the claimants.

Tackle the greed of landlords, tackle the housing shortage and there will be no need to uproot people, to risk family breakdown and impose intolerable stress on individuals. These proposals should be fought  with as much vigor as was the Poll Tax but I doubt it will happen. The Poll Tax affected everyone, these proposals affect only a weak and demonised minority.

Sleeze Alive and Well

Interesting start to the day; I was just doing a little research into David Cameron and came across a nice aerial view of his home in Oxfordshire  valued at around £800,000 and then his London home  at around £1.5million bought with a tax payer funded mortgage of £375,000. In addition he owns a £2.7million pound house in Notting Hill that he rents out for £6000 per month. I was reminded that he is also a slightly distant cousin to the Queen and his father was a wealthy stockbroker.

I linked this sarcastically on my Face Book Wall to “We’re all in this together”! This initiated a selection of humorous remarks such as ‘poor man, he’s not even got a tennis court or swimming pool’. Within minutes The Daily Mail published an item showing that a Tory donor and boss of one of the largest lobbying company’s in the UK, Lord Chadlington, had purchased property and land adjacent to Cameron’s and had sold some of this land to enhance Cameron’s. The Prime Minister did not register this transaction in the MP’s Register of interests claiming that as he paid more than the market rate for the land there was no profit involved. Maybe not at the present moment but as Cameron extends his estate it certainly will in the not so distant future. Nest feathering continues apace.

The sleeze and cronyism goes on while the masses can only write humour on Facebook.

Choices

Let’s face it this country is in a mess! It’s like a ship in a raging storm heading towards rocks and the captain shouts “Hold this course!” His Lieutenant who hopes one day to become captain shouts “Hold this course but slow down a bit.” The little cabin boy can see the rocks but feeling helpless crawls into  his hammock and puts his hands over his eyes and cotton wool in his ears, holding on to a blind trust in the madness of the officers because to do otherwise would require him to DO something.

The UK, along with other Western nations, owes money, a lot of money and so it was rightly decided to reduce this debt and this is where our witless leadership went wrong. They had no one with vision or moral integrity and so they set about taking money from those who had little, those without, they believe, power, attacking the sick, the pensioners, students, the lower paid workers who actually produce the wealth that makes us the 6th richest nation on Earth. They chose not to rein in the bankers and financial directors, they chose not to go after those who avoid paying their proper share of taxation amounting to tens of billions each year because they themselves belong to, or aspire to belong, to that elite band. They chose not to save up to £200billion by cancelling the Trident nuclear weapon system which will never be used and deters no one simply because this would deprive them of a seat at the top table of the United Nations. Instead of strutting they may have to walk like the rest of humankind.

They chose not to invest in a massive social housing programme that is desperately needed for millions of our citizens and would create and safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs. In it’s wake this would generate spending power for the workers thus creating more employment and in addition, tax revenues. A bi product would also be a likely reduction in ever increasing housing rental costs which (some) greedy landlords are reaping in such places as London where tenants are now to be evicted because of government cuts to housing benefit. Instead they chose borrowing even more to fund rapidly increasing unemployment which is a tried and tested method of keeping wage increases to a minimum. Not such a surprising choice either when many of those currently in power like Chris Grayling, are indeed wealthy property owners.

We too though have choices. Even in this poor democracy of ours we do not have to be like the cabin boy; the power ‘they’ hold is in reality, our power that we lend to them. They stick together but they are only a few, we are millions and if only we can stick together and demand a new way, a new vision, then we can take back our power and steer our ship away from the rocks, into calmer waters of fairness, justice, democracy, co-operation and peace.

But have we the guts?

Very Strange

A huge row has erupted today over a YouTube video that appears to show four US Marines urinating on the bodies of several dead Afghanis or Taliban. An investigation has been instigated and threats of prosecutions and even imprisonment if this video is genuine and leads to the identification of those involved.

Now, any decent person would find this act utterly appalling and disgusting but that said it is hardly surprising and in some respects understandable. In order to fight effectively soldiers must be trained and encouraged to ‘de-humanise’ their enemy, to think of them as less than animals, so with such a mindset pissing on their dead bodies wouldn’t seem, to the soldiers, as the abhorrent act that it would and does to us.

What is strange though to my mind is, that it is ordered, approved and applauded for the military to riddle the enemy with bullets, to throw grenades at him and blow his body into little pieces or to drop bombs on a village killing or maiming the innocent as well as the enemy and ultimately to drop a nuclear device over a city and kill millions.

Let’s stop the killing first and then there’ll be no bodies to urinate on.

Hypocrisy is Alive and Well

Checking first that Libya and Saudi Arabia will make up the shortfall the EU is expected to increase the sanctions on Iran which is reasonably suspected of developing nuclear weapons, by putting an embargo on Iran’s oil exports.

What bloody hypocrisy! The Nuclear non Proliferation Pact, of which Iran is a signatory, agreed that the nuclear weapon holding countries would not use them against non nuclear countries and would, over time, reduce and eventually eliminate these horrors of mass destruction. Well they have reduced the numbers but vastly increased the power and accuracy of nuclear weapons. In addition, Israel, with their friend the USA turning a blind eye have acquired NW’s and defy over 150 UN resolutions without any sanction at all. Israel has attacked Iran in the past albeit with conventional targeted weapons.

Is it any wonder that Iran now seems Hell bent on acquiring NWs as defence against such a belligerent near neighbour and it’s friend across the Atlantic backing Israel openly and covertly.

Today the ‘Nuclear Clock’ went forward one minute. See http://www.thebulletin.org/content/media-center/announcements/2012/01/10/doomsday-clock-moves-1-minute-closer-to-midnight

The Right to Die

The Commission on Assisted Dying says “the current law is “inadequate and incoherent” and should not continue.” How right they are, the right to a peaceful death at a time and place of our own choosing should be enshrined in the UN Charter of Human Rights. My life is by definition mine and your life by definition is yours, it does not belong to anyone else least of all to the State.

This particular report only goes as far as saying that someone diagnosed with a life expectancy of under 12 months should be able to call upon medical assistance to die peacefully and suggest, quite rightly, many safeguards. This is obviously a tentative step in the direction of legalising what already happens to a fortunate few who have the resources to go to Dignitas in Switzerland which presupposes that you have the financial and physical ability to get there. It also means that perhaps some people are actually going abroad to die earlier than they would wish simply because if they delay they may not be able to travel.

I can understand some doctors not willing to participate either from an ethical value or religious belief and that’s fine they can exclude themselves from helping but no politician or law should prevent me or anyone else ending MY life if I choose to do so in order to save myself a prolonged suffering that will eventually end in death anyway.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/assisted-dying-review-selects-those-who-could-end-their-life-6285115.html

Compensation Culture & the NHS

Unfortunately the UK is well down the road to becoming a litigious society suing whenever the opportunity arises in order to achieve cash compensation for what in most cases is a genuine accident or an unintentional error on someone’s part. Probably the worst example must the NHS where something like £800million is paid out each year from a now cash strapped yet still brilliant service.

Apart from the rare as hen’s teeth rogue nurse or doctor, I think we can agree that no one in the health service actually wants to do any harm to a patient and indeed, positively wants a good outcome. In any organisation, particularly one as big as the NHS, from time to time things will go wrong, mistakes will happen and only a fool would believe that perfection is possible, although, of course, that is what should be the aim as that way lies continuing improvement.

What to do when things do go wrong? Obviously the patient must have the best possible treatment to put right, wherever possible, any damage. Where serious injury has been caused requiring long term care or even adaptations to the home or mobility needs then these are already covered by our health and social security systems at no cost to the individual. In parallel an investigation into the cause(s) of the error should be carried out with no threat of financial penalties to the establishment concerned followed by full and public disclosure of the report including what measures have been taken to improve the system.

No amount of money will take away pain or discomfort or, in extremis, loss of a limb and as stated, the State will provide all that is necessary to cope with the future. Therefore Government should pass a law making it impossible to sue the NHS for monetary reward and thereby freeing up some £800million each year to improve the health service including accident prevention.

On a final note it may seem that the NHS must be absolutely appalling if it pays out that much compensation annually. In reality it pays out in many cases ‘without admitting liability’ rather than face huge costs and time fighting in the courts defending actions brought hoards of unscrupulous lawyers only too happy to scrounge off society.

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