Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

I have been gone for a while; offline life decided to gang up on me a bit with heaping on ALL the academic pressures as well as continuing to give me health crap. I shouldn’t be doing this now because I have an important deadline on Monday, but I made the fatal mistake of reading the paper. My wrath was aroused.

I am fed up to the back teeth of the go-to means of getting more money is ‘cut benefits.’ (been reading about this in the Times as well.) Yep, that’s a great idea. I mean, where else to turn for more money but the people who are struggling to get by as it is? /sarcasm. Because here’s the thing. These top politicians, with their expenses claims and their wealth and their privileged backgrounds, may not realise it, but some people actually rely on their benefits to survive. And yes, that does matter. And no, we can’t use the demon-in-the-lower-galleries* spectre of ‘benefit fraud’ to justify it, which is something I’m also fed up of. Same with the ‘but people on benefits spend more,’ which was what someone quoted in the Times said. (as an aside, isn’t ‘people spending more’ a key thing for the revival of the economy? Yeah, great logic there, folks /sarcasm. And I’ve never taken economics or found myself in a position to run an economy.)

About the fuel increases – I think it’s more complicated than ‘rich people in their Chelsea tractors;’ transport is vital for a lot of people in this age of living areas being mostly separated from workplaces. Fuel costs do put a hole in a lot of vulnerable people’s budgets, and it’s not really feasible to wave that away with saying, ‘just drive less;’ while that’s a good aim and often possible, sometimes it just isn’t. But politicians really like presenting us with these dichotomies, and they know – especially in this case – that their demon-in-the-lower-galleries fallacy is going to reduce sympathy for people on benefits, while fuel costs is something that even people who could afford to pay the increase comfortably will oppose.

It’s not fair that people are suffering pay freezes as prices rise either. Let’s face it, it’s not fucking right that people on the low end of the income scale are the ones feeling the squeeze. It’s not right that as a result of that, the marginalised are becoming more marginalised. It’s not right that the rich politicians who seem to be about the only flavour of politicians there is at the moment are both out of touch and contemptuous of our plight. It’s not right that our rich make money off the exploitation of the poor elsewhere in the world while making everyone else dependent upon a system of exploitation and abuse. The world’s not right.

* Demon-in-the-lower-galleries fallacy – term is from a work of fiction, and a hundred points to anyone who knows which one. Basically, it refers to a created threat, fostered by the powerful in the marginalised and used to exploit them.

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Soft

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Bloody Tories, Capitalism, Finance, Kyriarchy, Lib Dems, Politics
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The system is far too soft? The system is far too soft, David? What the hell country are you living in, because it certainly isn’t the same one as me. (and yes I realise he said this in Australia. Unfortunately I don’t think we can blame this one on the bite of some poisonous animal or another…)

The crucial fact being completely missed by these rich politicians is that a lot of non-rich criminals commit crime out of necessity. I suppose when one moves among such exhaulted circles, one forgets that there are other motives than greed for criminal activity. In the current capitalist system, measures like this are entirely likely to create spirals of criminality and are generally pretty self-defeating. Actively support the capitalist system, deprive people of money and then deprive them of yet more if they commit crime to pick up the shortfall. THAT MAKES SENSE /sarcasm.

Sigh. Another example of the powerful attempting to divide everyone else by creating scapegoats among the marginalised. The kyriarchy ensures that those on benefits do not represent a cross section of the population, with marginalised groups disproportionately affected, which in turn makes the privileged feel easier about demonising them.

I’m not doing much posting at the moment (just stating the obvious there). I think there’s a couple of things I can post, but posting will probably be slow. I’m – well, I’m tired/weary in so many ways and there’s a lot going on offline at the moment and I’m struggling to find the words for anything. Apologies.

Newsbag.

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Bodies, Capitalism, Education, Finance, Health, Science, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Okay, I’m going to attempt to be back now even though I’m still having trouble using a computer comfortably.

Really, Government, really? Possible proposals to cut the benefits of terminally ill folks? This is obscene. We always knew that this government was incredibly ableist, but here’s another rock-solid indication. It honestly scares me that the people in charge of the country are so very contemptuous of anyone who doesn’t fit the conventional notion of ‘ability’, and that they are actually enacting this stuff (as with other benefit changes that have gone through).

If the data bears it out, which I think is likely, this is exactly as expected. EMA has proved important for many people, and scrapping it is always going to have an effect.

Aaand from a sciencey point of view, the information that deep-sea squid mate with no regards to sex is fairly interesting.

I’m sorry this is a shite post. I’m still trying to think of a way to make a post out of my recent health issue and how that has been complicated by my lack of gender, which is definitely interesting. I realise, however, that I’m probably saying nothing that other people haven’t said before so… Still need to think some more about that one.

The riots are spreading fast, and all the mainstream media can find for it is condemnation and demonisation of the riots as thoughtless thuggery, the breaking tide of feral youth upon the shore of respectable society heralded with fire, a force to be met with force. They’re being taken out of context, out of time, judged as an island of humanity when the contexts and explanations lie elsewhere upon the landmass.

Violence, especially violence of this type, is not something I can condone. It is – as so much else – hitting the less privileged more as their houses and lives burn around them while the more privileged sit in their white towers and play dice with the lives of the rest of us, demonising us as they go.

But I can understand. The shooting of Mark Duggan was a match in a flourmill, where the flourdust of alienation, poverty and hopelessness had long clogged the air, anger unexpressed, rage battened down. We should not have been surprised. Of course there is anger – people have been pushed into the margins, further and further, clinging to the edges. The rich have taken as theirs everything their sweet-tongued lies and economic tyranny can exact from everyone else. The sovereignty of the police has gone unchecked even as hundreds die in custody and our children are kettled in the streets. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and the tunnel grows narrower every day until the daylight is cut off from a glimmer. Racial divisions fester in the heat of an economic meltdown, with young POC seeing themselves burned in effigy as demons in the mainstream discourse.

Of course there was anger! And when that was expressed peacefully, in marches and petitions, it was ignored. It is always ignored. Sometimes I think that if the whole country came to London and camped in Parliament Square, we would be ignored until someone threw a stone. It seems that our ‘leaders’ believe that the only time they need to pay attention to the existence of the non-rich populace is around election time, when they can throw us a bone and our starvation will bring us to heel.

So anger turned to violence. And violence is, as I have said, not good.

But there are other forms of violence. There is the violence of what our leaders are doing to our futures, there is the violence of contempt for our anger, there is the violence in ignoring our needs. There is violence in every dram of money-blood being taken from us to pay the debts we did not incur, and there is violence in entrenching the inequalities that divide our society like lightning in the stark midnight sky.

Besides that, we must look to the sweet poison capitalism has dripped into our ears from the cradle to the grave. Is it any wonder that looting is going on, when we have been raised from birth to believe that status is in capital? And is it any wonder we have been raised like this, when all the power is in the hands of the few who sit on thrones of banknotes, elevated above the rest of us with the power to match?

I hate that destruction stalks our streets, since the kyriarchy feeds upon destruction and the only way I can see to fight it is to build. I hate that some of this is communities lashing out against themselves. But these events cannot be looked at outside of the grim context they were born in, and in that context it is hard to argue things could have turned out otherwise once that match was dropped. I stand against violence, whether the violence of the powerful state upon the populace or the violence of therelatively powerless people – but I also understand the explosive power of bottled-up anger.

*    *    *

I’m pretty privileged in this issue, being lower-middle class, relatively economically secure, provincial and white, and while I can’t be certain I doubt the rioting will spread to where I live. But I’m fed up of seeing all the one-sided mainstream reportage, and I don’t think it’s all that difficult to hold the dual thoughts of ‘this is violence, and violence is bad,’ and ‘I understand why this happened,’ in one’s head. Basically I wanted to put in my two pence. And yeah, I’m aware I waxed poetic. I do that sometimes.

To read the papers at the moment is to get a most unsettling feeling of being in an uncontrollable vehicle hurtling towards something bad. Now, I have been and will almost certainly remain rather quiet about this because I am not an economist and my understanding of this boils down to the words, ‘Not good…’ It’s possible that in a year or two, when we’ve found out a bit more about how screwed we are, I’ll fully understand and be able to dissect the issues with a fishknife.

At the moment though, I’m wondering how this is all going to affect normal people. If there is another massive problem, will it be us who will be called upon to clean up after capitalism’s worst excesses again? If we are – is that possible? Or will the rich and the powerful’s attempts to use us to pay their debts drain us dry – and if so, what will happen then?

I’m too good at predictions of doom. But right now, we’re seeing capitalist systems again careering too close to the edge. And that, combined with the frankly frightening trend towards regarding people as more expendable than capital, could be disastrous.

They’re saying that Britain is a ‘safe haven’ because we’ve kept our AAA credit rating – but are the British people safe? Is that safety only for British finance, while British people find themselves paying for it? And anyway, in a globalised world we can hardly be said to be safe; our involvement in other countries’ finance is already affecting us, and many people are predicting a greater effect for it. It can be said that virtually all countries are intricately, inescapably linked to each others’ financial fates, since the global market has tied us all together so effectively in a complicated web of borrowing, lending, imports and exports. At the same time, we still think of ourselves as separate and think that problems can be contained in a single place. The excesses of capitalism in this globalised economy are fast waking us up to the fact that they cannot.

Uh-oh. The group of overprivileged capitalists who are supposed to be running this country wants to relax the rules on redundancy, thus making it easier for employers to fire workers. They are also concerned about discrimination compensation, because apparently the ‘high levels’ of it mean that people are filing speculative or ‘vexation’ cases in the hopes of a big payout.

Juust when I thought they couldn’t get much worse. Notice that all the concerns are coming from the employers? At least we know who they care about. But so it has always been, with them.

This is an all-out assault on those who work for others, for money, and it’s directly related to profit. If you can hire and fire workers easily, you can say, ‘Don’t like the wages/conditions/other? You’re fired!’ and get in someone else who will settle for those wages/conditions/other. That’s exploitation. This kind of idea culminates in job insecurity and oppression as workers find themselves unable to speak out against this. And it’s especially awful in the current economic climate, where many people are unemployed and benefits are being cut, making people more and more desperate. In a capitalist economy – which this is, and getting more so with every piece of legislation introduced by this Government – money confers the ability to live. Which means that people will be forced to cling onto any way they can of getting money, even if that is an insecure, badly-paid job in bad conditions with no long-term prospects, and thus employers’ power over them is increased.

That is wrong. Every bit of power to exploit awarded to the capitalist employers is an erosion of the rights of the worker. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights talks of the right to ‘work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and renumeration, equal pay for equal work.’ Free choice of employment? Can we call it that when benefits are being cut below a livable level and people find themselves having to take any job/s they can to survive? Just and favourable conditions of work and renumberation? Can we say we have that, when people are being fired and then brought back, but forced onto a lower wage, and when our Government plans to make that even easier?

And what does this Government know of discrimination? Predominantly white, rich, male, cis, straight, conventionally able, educated, etc – who are they to decide that the people who bear the brunt of the kyriarchy’s wrongs under capitalism are being over-zealous in their claims? They are closing their minds to the fact that discrimination happens, that it is widespread, and that it has a major effect on the already-marginalised. They are closing their minds to the fact that we marginalised are human too, that we have the right to be free of discrimination, that we have the right to live.

We are seeing this culture of oppression-shaming step up its assault, and the opening shots across our bow have already been fired. Benefits claimants are being accused of being too lazy to work while there are no jobs for them to work, and those who are not conventionally able are having their abilities redefined for them so that they too can be demonised as lazy. Women are told that their struggle for equality is holding back equality, and people suffering from discrimination based on race, sexuality or any other factor are told that their struggle for compensation is an attempt to get rich quick. This is the typical view of the capitalist class, who reduce every action to monetary greed rather than monetary need, projecting their own values upon those who do not share them and erasing all problems they themselves do not face.

We are looking into the face of terrifying, blank contempt for us and our lives, our happiness, our health. They coat it in woolly statements about a ‘happiness index’ while they snatch our warmth and security from our desperate, clutching hands. They pretend to know our pain when they fly cheaply, when the very idea of flying is beyond more and more of our pockets. They claim that we are all in it together, when in fact they are the vampire with their teeth clamped to the people’s neck, draining us dry while they shed not a drop.

This is not a trivial matter.

…since I can’t get together a coherent post about evo psych and how much I hate it, hate being taught it, hate its kyriarchist apologism and hate being erased by it, I’ll talk about the news. News. That should make me feel better. Oh wait…

Forcibly retired West Midlands police have been invited back to work… for free. Yeah because that’s not exploitation at all. Discharge them as a cost-cutting measure then get them to work for free. Okay, some people might be financially secure enough to do that – but it’s not a given, and it’s still not a good policy. Some may want to and that’s fine – but it is not good to try to exploit them all like that.

TW: discussion of self-harm in this paragraph. The 2011 Children and Young People’s Wellbeing Monitor for Wales has come out, and reveals, among other things, that hospital admissions for self-harm were in 2006-8 approximately 138% of the levels for 2003-5, that chlamydia levels have risen but that this is thought to be due to increased awareness, that sexual health appears to be improving, that the numbers of 15 year olds drinking and smoking have dropped and that approximately one third of children in Wales are now living in poverty. A mixed bag, really.

It has also been pointed out that there is scope for the abolishing of EMA to be discriminatory. Now, in theory the individual schools might be able to target resources better – but in practice this is not going to work because of a little thing called KYRIARCHY, which is in teachers’ heads just like everyone else’s and will influence their decisions. It’s also problematic because seriously? Schools and colleges do not know as much about their pupils as this seems to assume they do.

Ooh! This seems somewhat better news! Leaked documents suggest that the Government is having second thoughts about outsourcing public services. Now, I can see what the supporters of outsourcing say, but 1. I don’t trust the private sector because of its capitalist values and lack of accountability and 2. just ask the MOD how outsourcing worked for them. With extensive outsourcing to private companies – not talking about cooperatives or other models, mainly private companies here – could come a massive opportunity for worker exploitation, irregularities in key services and ‘cost cutting’ measures that could easily lead to degradation of services. So I’d rather the Government kept services under their wing, even when the Government is less than ideal.

There’s a lot more that I could comment on, but… I’m still feeling terrible after being taught that bit of evo psych (luckily we don’t do much). Sexism, cissexism, binarism, heterosexism… urgh. Urgh. And scientific wooliness, to say the least.