Myths about child poverty

The child poverty industry is at it again. This is a preview of an exhibition of 30 “haunting” images of childrens’ bedrooms in 21st century Britain.

Sadly I won’t be able to attend the exhibition at the Foundling Museum and produced by a charity called Childhood Trust in London in February so all I can comment on is this article.

We are told, of course, how these images show the grim reality of life at the bottom. The head of the charity tells us that we can donate or get involved in a local grassroots action. (Charities these days are rarely so stupid that they fail to disguise their primary concern – getting donations – by not also encouraging people to “get involved”).

There isn’t that much to go on. But a few comments:

i. You can get cheap toys for a few pounds. Even people on a reduced level of benefit could afford one or two toys. Already they can probably afford more toys than many people had 150 years ago. Of course; poverty is relative. It hurts when you have blatantly much less than other people. But this level of poverty is not destitution. Charities present their demands for redistribution as demands to overcome destitution. But this is misleading.

ii. We are told that conditions in local authority hostels for the homeless are bare. Indeed they are. But – people are being housed. Many of these people are costing the taxpayer a great deal – free housing, money to live off, free schooling, free medical care. Conditions in hostels are bare because local authorities are trying to manage their costs somehow. Some of them at least are in these situations because of choices they have made. (This author had some friends who stayed in a hostel with their child for a while. They deliberately made themselves homeless and allowed themselves to be housed in a hostel so they could get into a Housing Association property and escape from private renting. This is probably not unusual). The charities who are up in arms about this rarely actually challenge the underlying social and political environment – capitalism, the free-market, the legality of private renting etc. They just complain about the consequences of all this and demand ever greater sums of public money be spent to ameliorate the worst aspects. This is though a bottomless drain. If you accept on the one hand a system which embeds inequality and then claim that those at the bottom end are impoverished and unfairly treated simply because they are at the bottom end your position is contradictory. – The explanation for the contradiction lies in the self-interest of all the self-appointed guardians of the poor – every pound spent on improving childrens’ bedrooms helps maintain a nice comfortable job for a charity executive. Ultimately these people support the system they claim to be concerned about.

iii. One of the sob-stories concerns someone who came to the UK as a “domestic slave”. She is here illegally and cannot work and therefore cannot afford clothes for her growing children. This is one of those Guardian stories about which we would love to know the actual details and facts. If she cannot work and cannot buy clothes how can she afford anything at all? E.g. food, rent? We are urged to feel sorry (and donate money) or outraged (and write to our MP asking that the government donate money) on the basis of what sounds like a very fishy story. The idea is to overwhelm our reason with the emotional impact of the story. – But, we can ask – if she is here illegally would it not be best for her to approach the authorities and try to legalise her position? (If she really does have children that might well help her case).

There is a lot wrong with the world today but small bedrooms is probably quite far down on the list of real concerns. And if the relative difference in incomes (which lies behind this) really troubles you – then do something about it. – Something other than blackmail and begging bowls.

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Heart of a Dog – Bulgakov. [REVIEW]

I’ve just read the Random House (Vintage Classics) translation of this work.

Bulgakov wrote Heart of a Dog in 1925. It was seized by the secret police and not published until long after his death – in the period of Glasnost. This book, according to the introduction, marked the start of Bulgakov’s harsh treatment by the Bolsheviks. All his life Bulgakov struggled to get any works produced. Many of his plays were banned. His major work, The Master and Margarita, was also not published until after his death, (though in this case in 1966 – after the Khrushchev ‘thaw’). It is a miracle that he wasn’t sent to the Gulag. (This is said to have been down to Stalin’s personal support for him).

Continue reading “Heart of a Dog – Bulgakov. [REVIEW]”

Weaponizing Human Rights

This is one of these dreamy, naive to the point of absurdity, articles we come across so often in the Western press these days. Of course, like your bank’s “errors” always seem to be in their favour so the naivety always seems to coincide with the interests of the imperialists. Still, in many cases, it probably is simply extreme naivety. These children who went to school, enjoyed their “circle time” (a programming system used in schools to infantilize and control young students by getting them to “share their feelings”), believed every last word the teachers said and then went on to “Uni” (probably on their horsey) where their parents accompanied them to the interview and their lecturers were careful to avoid “trigger words” in lectures. Maybe they go on to take a Masters in “War Studies” at King’s College, London. Then they came out and got a job as a “journalist” writing down every word that the US State Department and MI6 tells them to.

Continue reading “Weaponizing Human Rights”

A recipe for war

In 2014 the EU and the US supported a ‘revolution’ in Ukraine. They produced a fanciful narrative about Ukrainians yearning to join the EU. The US was a bit off-tune with the “fuck the EU” comment [1] – they wanted to fix Ukraine themselves – but everyone agreed that the violent overthrow of the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych was a blow for freedom and democracy.

Continue reading “A recipe for war”

Fraud and ‘failed project’ – a key difference

The government has cheerily announced a new IT project – to put patient records online. (Only a matter of time before a massive data leak one imagines). That aside; the Minister is cheerily announcing that the new IT system which will be “the very best it can be” – and so on.

The fact that this was done just a few years ago and £11 billion (yes £11 billion) of public money was largely written off is barely getting a mention. That cash went to many people – none of whom I believe were asked to give it back. The shareholders of BT and CSC (a US consulting company) soaked up a good part of that £11 billion. The project was beset with cost overruns.

Meanwhile people are regularly jailed by the courts for benefit fraud. That is usually they claim a bit over and above what they are actually entitled to.

If you wear a suit, call yourself a consultant, and steal billions of public money all is fine. If you are working class and steal a few thousand you are looking at jail time.

 

 

Propaganda Watch update

Christmas and the propaganda never stops.

I very rarely watch the BBC news. (Only if I am staying with someone who does watch it).

Last night’s 24 hours bulletin was the usual fare of shoddy reporting and propaganda for political class [1] ideologies. As usual (at least when I watch it) the majority of the presenters are women and/or black and/or obviously gay. Last night out of several presenters/reporters only one was not a black woman. The token man was not an attractive specimen – huge and overweight with a bland sagging face. I couldn’t help wondering if he hadn’t been chosen deliberately – to mock the genre. He certainly didn’t know how to report, referring to the 20 ‘other charges’ against actor Kevin Spacey for historical sexual assault. In fact he meant allegations. There is only one charge. The media often take advantage of someone under pressure on sex abuse/assault charges and drop the normal standards by which allegations should be reported as allegations and charges as charges. (Presumably the media has a good sense of when someone is under too much pressure to be able to respond to each and every piece of false reporting). The ‘reporter’ was introduced by a third-rate presenter who in effect giggled as she read the piece – as if to say out loud “hysterically funny but he denies these charges which we all know are true”. And, of course, they are “true” – given that, these days, sexual assault verdicts are reached against (almost entirely white men) in public media trials, not by the courts and the doctrine that “allegations must be believed” means in fact that all allegations are treated as true anyway. News reporting in the Western media is no longer anything to do with facts – it is all about creating media narratives. In this case one in which white men are always the villain.

Meanwhile over in today’s Guardian there is a report on the case of the two Americans who have been arrested in China. This is widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese businesswoman in Canada following a request for extradition by the US. The US wants to try Meng Wanzhou for breaking US sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. [2] Wanzhou was snatched as she was transferring through Vancouver. The attempt to extend US law all over the world is rightly described by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, as “revolting”. The Guardian ends its report with “She [Wanzhou] is living under electronic surveillance in a luxury home in Vancouver, welcoming visitors daily and updating her social media page. Kovrig and Spavor [the 2 US Citizens held in China] have been held under more difficult conditions and denied access to lawyers.”. This is interesting because it mixes up political and legal matters. Wanzhou has been released under a large bond and under stringent bail conditions by a court following Canadian law and a court hearing.  Kovrig and Spavor are also being treated in accordance with the law – Chinese law. [3] This comment invalidates China’s right to have a different legal system to that of the US and indeed shows a failure to even understand that there is such a thing as a legal process. This report is credited to AFP – a media organisation owned by the French state. Such blatant imperialism is precisely the mindset of the new media class in the West.

A campaign at home to undermine all the former bastions of authority – the law, white men, the family (all this presented as the height of progressive thinking) – and a crude and retrograde colonialism abroad. Such is the ideology of the new media and political classes in the West.

Notes

1. The Triumph of the Political Class. Peter Oborne. Simon & Schuster 2007

2. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/2177013/huawei-executive-sabrina-meng-wanzhou-fraudulently-represented-company

3. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2179049/china-denies-detained-canadian-ex-diplomat-michael-kovrig