Wednesday, 27 April 2016

English graduate debt and moral bankruptcy

While I prepare to take a break from online activity over the Bank Holiday weekend, I leave you with two headline links. One is that English graduate debt is only surpassed by that of American Ivy League universities, and the other is about the lengths to which supposedly intelligent minds in the Department for Work & Pensions have proposed that vulnerable people should shoulder even more of the burden of 'saving the taxpayer money'.

http://www.suttontrust.com/newsarchive/english-students-face-highest-graduate-debts-exceeding-ivy-league-average/
and
http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/revealed-dwps-secret-financially-devastating-proposals-for-benefits-appeals/

The late American educational psychologist Dr Haim G Ginott asked the authors Faber & Mazlish who wrote 'Liberated Parents; Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family' and others who attended his parenting workshops. He asked them what parents have accomplished if the children they raise to be top of the class use their 'brilliance' to manipulate and bully others?


Monday, 25 April 2016

Brent Council Scrutiny Committee to hear on Tues 26 April re impact of Overall Benefit Cap reduction

Wembley Matters blogger Martin Francis reports:

How the reduced Overall Benefit Cap will impact on Brent residents

A report going to Brent Council Scrutiny Committee tomorrow (Tuesday 26 April) demonstrates how the lowering of the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) to £23,000 will impact on residents, with a particularly severe impact on single parents and single people.

Go to Wembley Matters blog for more info.
http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/how-reduced-overall-benefit-cap-will.html

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Civil disobedience led by Dr Gail Bradbrook, Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett

From Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty

Civil disobedience led by Dr Gail Bradbrook Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett join the www.compassionate-revolution.net

THE COMPASSIONATE REVOLUTION - LETTER IN THE GUARIDAN THIS MORNING
I have signed this letter published in The Guardian this morning and will continue to refuse to pay my council tax, and with my appeal to the Appeal Court, on the grounds that it has been irrational since April 2013 for councils to tax the incomes provided by central government for survival and shelter, in a housing market creating ever more unaffordable rents, and then enforce the tax by adding the councils costs to the inevitable arrears of their poorest residents.
Solidarity – Paul Nicolson
o   Link to the video to post on social media, e.g. I’m joining the Golden Rule Tax Disobedience #taxdisobey because I want real democracy in the UK – join me! –https://goo.gl/U5RrbQ
o   Pledge address – it’s essential for as many folk as possible to pledge on the CR website, because we now have to get to 5,000 people! – this is where to pledge: https://www.compassionate-revolution.net/

THIS LETTER WAS PUBLISHED IN THE GUARDIAN THIS MORNING 

from the Reverend Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
No citizen without an affordable home and an 
adequate income in work or unemployment. 

93 Campbell Road, Tottenham, London N17 0BF, 0208 3765455, 07961 177889, 
www.z2k.orgwww.prohousingalliance.com

Dude Swheatie of Kwug adds:  Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett co-wrote 'The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger'. Those who advocate compulsory 'treatment' or loss of benefits for  people with mental health probllems should note this extract from the linked review:


"Wilkinson and Pickett's description of unequal societies as' dysfunctional' suggests implicit criticism of the approach taken by Britain's 'happiness tsar' Richard Layard, who recommended that the poor mental health of many Britons be 'fixed' or improved by making cognitive behavioural therapy more easily available. Consumerism, isolation, alienation, social estrangement and anxiety all follow from inequality, they argue, and so cannot rightly be made a matter of individual management."

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Freudian slips, pauper funerals and 'fit for work' tests

On 23 November 2012, the Telegraph reported:
The Tory peer [Lord Freud], a former banker and descendent of Sigmund Freud, who is helping to push through a radical overhaul of the welfare state, insisted he understood the reality of living on benefits, arguing "you don't have to be the corpse to go to a funeral."(1)
At that time, there had already been several deaths of disability benefit claimants who had been found 'fit for work', including Nygell Firminger of South Kilburn who had committed suicide in the week that the Welfare Reform Bill 2012 was passed by Parliament.(2) In July 2013, the North London Coroner ruled that Nygell's suicide had been brought on by the stress induced by homelessness;(3) and since then suicides related to the 'fit for work tests' that the Freud Report of 2008 brought in have mushroomed, as has the campaign against such corporate homicides.(4)

Is it not time that someone challenged Baron Freud to eat his words, including his 2008 incorrect assertion that Incapacity Benefit tests were conducted by the claimant's own GP? Regarding that 'basic error', Kate Green, the then CEO of Child Poverty Action Group remarked: 
"Ministers will surely be alarmed that the man charged with major reform of the welfare system and family security rights gets basic facts wrong about benefits that he could find out in a second with a Google."His suitability must be under question for the task Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell has set him."Claimants were assessed by independent doctors - rather than their own GP - after 28 weeks, she added.(5)
Maybe someone should remind the Welfare Reform Minister of his unfortunate metaphor, that might be called a Freudian slip? Atos has been replaced by Maximus as testing company for Employment and Support Allowance claims, and at greater expense to the Government and thereby the taxpayer, yet someone might challenge Lord Freud with some of the last words of 'fit for work' test victim Larry Newman:
His widow, Sylvia Newman, recalls that one of the last things he said to her, as doctors put him on a ventilator, was: "It's a good job I'm fit for work." He was trying to make her laugh, she says, but it was also a reflection of how upset he had been by the conclusion of the medical test.
"He was so hurt by it. It made him so upset that they thought he was lying, and he wasn't," she says. "I think it added to him just giving up."(6)
It could be argued perhaps, that investment banker David Freud only believes in rewarding the risks taken regarding the reputations of already notorious global corporations in becoming even more 'toxic' as brands.

Notes
(5) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7223687.stm Two million 'wrongly get benefit'

Monday, 11 April 2016

Revd Paul Nicolson on Appeal to Appeal Court, EU referrendum, housing crisis, caps, cuts and council tax, and Mail columnist's change of heart

David Cameron's father and the Panama tax haven scandal

It strikes me that the news coverage of the fallout from the Panorama Panama tax havens disclosures
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b076vwwy
is descending into, "You show me yours, and I'll show you mine" on tax returns.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36010902

This Government is cutting disability benefits and sanctioning people. Even without that State terrorism,27 per cent of single parents have a disability, compared with 21 per cent of couple parents

Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty has already written regarding lack of adequate nutrition for pregnant parents in Tottenham, etc.

By contrast, whatever the legalities, David Cameron's father had enough to live on to stash money away offshore and was a 'huge inspirational' 'glass half full,' inspirational figure, role model for the current Prime Minister.

Some people have much larger glasses than others, and yet still insist on depriving others of already inadequate incomes. Evidence-gathering for 'welfare to work' 'welfare reform', meanwhile, is policy-driven.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Kilburn Ward By-Election on London elections day

Kilburn ward (LB Brent) Cllr Tayo Oladapo who at least attended a public meeting called by KUWG in 2012 died in March after a long illness.(1)

Thus there will be a Kilburn Ward by-election on 5 May, alongside London's City Hall elections.(2)


Notes
(1) http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/kilburn-councillor-tayo-oladapo-has.html
(2) http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/six-candidates-will-fight-kilburn-by.html

Friday, 8 April 2016

Paula Peters of DPAC at KUWG

Paula Peters from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) came to speak to KUWG this week. She talked about their actions against benefit cuts, ATOS and Maximus over the past 5 years. DPAC have got results. ATOS no longer does WCA (Work Capability Assessments) assessments. Ester McVey is no longer an MP.

DPAC have reported the UK to the UN on the grounds that benefits cuts especially axing the Independent Living Fund breach the human rights of disabled people.


Paula also looked towards the future. All the signs are that Stephen Crabb will try to make cuts to PIP (Personal Independence Payments) after all. He is due to make a speech on 12th, which we will watch with interest.

DPAC's website is at http://dpac.uk.net

Monday, 4 April 2016

Knife and gun crime as consequences of deprivation

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

I seem to have heard a lot lately about youth knife and gun crime in London. (E.g., New Cross murder probe after teen stabbed to death.1)

Against that backdrop, I believe it relevent that I share these paragraphs from an August 2009 blog piece by Jennifer Harvey in Community Care magazine:

....

Paid holidays have been a basic right of the employed for many years.It’s widely accepted that people perform better for them. But the people least likely to take a holiday are among the most vulnerable.They are also the people who may already have health problems which will only be made worse by not having a holiday – or a night on the town, a day out, or a walk in the country. These are all deemed to be not as worthy of funding as a supported supermarket shop or employment project. It seems the old protestant work ethic still exists and extends to people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and autism and anyone who needs support.

Although the vulnerable may receive funding for a roof over their heads and food on their table, going on holiday is too often seen as an unnecessary luxury. Wrong. We all need bread and roses, green space and clean air.

Concrete and the built environment contribute to problems with mental and physical health, and can lead to aggressive behaviour. I wonder how many of the young people in our cities who are caught up in knife and gun crime enjoy an annual holiday.
....

Notes
1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35956857
2. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/social-care-experts-blog/2009/08/a-holiday-in-the-rain-lucky-yo/

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Imbalance of bargaining power in DWP benefit agreements and software licensing agreements

I believe an excellent analogy for the lack of bargaining power that benefit claimants have in what they/we get signed up to is in computer software licensing agreements. If we do not agree to the latter, we cannot get the benefit; and if we do not click to say, "I have read and agree to the terms of the [software in question's] License Agreement..." we cannot install it to our computers.

Faced with loads of gobbledygook such as the labyrinth of languages beyond the labyrinth of irrelevant-to-the-current-upgrade other software licenses that, say, Adobe Flash Player presents the reader/user with beyond the 'Read the license here' presents one with, I would not be surpised if most users resign themselves to signing without reading what they are supposedly agreeing to. 

Pressed for time as a person with a learning difficulty — resulting in extremely slow reading speed — anyway I have mostly not bothered to read the damned corporate legalese. Yet today I decided to have a go at the challenge presented by the 'Read the license agreement here' clickable link, with the aid of using the 'find' key combination at the eventual multilingual 54 page pdf document for Adobe Flash Player http://wwwimages.adobe.com/content/dam/acom/en/legal/licenses-terms/pdf/Flash_Player_21_0.pdf

And there I found this item:
7.3 Local Storage. Flash Player and Adobe AIR may allow third parties to store certain information on your Computer in a local data file known as a local shared object. The type and amount of information that the third party application requests to be stored in a local shared object can vary by application and such requests are controlled by the third party. To find more information on local shared objects and learn how to limit or control the storage of local shared objects on your Computer, please visit http://www.adobe.com/go/flashplayer_security.

What would those 'third parties' stand to gain from such data collection? What safeguards would operate to ensure that the user is not abused through such agreed snooping? Why should anyone be obliged to sign up to such a contract clause? Maybe it's time for me to uninstall Adobe Flash Player and thus rule myself out of receiving online video content?

The title of a 1990's book by David C Korten comes to my mind: 'When corporations rule the world'.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Porn magnate shelves 'adult tv' to focus on promoting other kinds of abuse

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Part of my political education in the late 1970's while I was in my mid-20's was an anecdote regarding Lord Beaverbrook's purchase of Express Newspapers or the Daily Express decades before. Someone challenged the newspaper magnate as to why he spent a lot of money on buying such a 'tatty little rag'. Beaverbrook responded saying that rather than buying a 'tatty little rag', he had "bought a million minds."

In the 21st Century the Daily Express is now owned by Richard Desmond and is one of the main proponents of propaganda that has led to increased hate crime against sick and disabled people and benefit claimants in general, as well as asylum seekers.

So now it comes as no surprise to me that he has little spare energy to devote to 'adult tv' channels. Under the current UK Government, disability hate crime has greater 'respectability' than 'soft adult porn'.