Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Thoughts On The End Of The Journey

From todays news :

"UK Border Agency working on plans for priority passport lanes for rich travellers at Heathrow and other British airports"

"Heh heh heh ... I told you those Zil lanes would be useful"

"Ms Miller, who is also the Culture Secretary, argues that extending marriage to same-sex couples will ensure that the institution retains its importance and relevance in modern Britain, and that its introduction is a milestone in Britain’s heritage “of freedom and fairness”."

"The new definition of domestic violence and abuse now states:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
* psychological
* physical
* sexual
* financial
* emotional **"

"George Osborne wants two-year freeze in state benefits"

"Heh heh heh ... you get gay marriage, and we get a "flexible labour market" .. heh heh heh .." 

So the journey continues - there's been for quite a while now an acceleration of the "left" social agenda in tandem with the "right" (read "rich") economic one - and did I mention that the pressing problem of racism in football's still not solved?

John Whittingdale MP, chair of the inquiry, said: "Recent incidents of racist abuse in the UK highlight that there remain significant problems." MPs also said homophobia may now be the most prevalent form of discrimination.

Steve Rotheram MP, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, said a lack of ethnic diversity in management and boardroom positions at many English clubs was holding back the fight against racism.

A couple of points. While the plan may indeed be working, there's no need to invoke a conscious conspiracy. I had a couple of long debates (and a monologue) on this subject a few years back, before the economic poo hit the fan. Capitalists will just take advantage, if the culture lets them. It's what they do. Mass immigration may be a necessary condition for the impoverishment of the UK working class, but not a sufficient one.

While it's not a cheerful thought (especially in finding yourself alongside, for example, George Galloway), I have to surmise that the collapse of Soviet Communism may also have played its part in what we see now. While there was an alternative model, no matter how evil and corrupt (as it was in many respects) it may have been, Western capitalists couldn't take the **** too much. Now anything is possible.

It's true that in a rational economic world, a high-earning working class might be considered a good thing for a nation - and that therefore it's not in our rulers' interest to take us back a hundred years - but that would also have applied for the several hundred years prior to, say, 1860-1960. The post-1945 settlement is not the natural order of things. Before that it was the plebs and the rest* - and the will to power, even constrained by Christianity, was strong. Unconstrained, what limits are there?    

* read a couple of Jane Austens over the last week. Ordinary people just do not feature. Reminds me of "Friends" or "Four Weddings And A Funeral", where making a living is the least of any of the characters concerns and everyone, while always appreciating more, has enough money. Still, Lizzie Bennet's dad is a hoot, although while Lizzie's wonderfully witty and self-assured, I prefer an Ethelberta - or still more, her sister.

** financial abuse can apparently consist of not giving someone enough of the family income - by which measure EVERYONE in my family, myself included, is a self-declared victim. If that's the case, do you think sexual abuse might consist of not giving someone enough sex? I look forward to some brave lawyer arguing that in court...

Monday, September 17, 2012

The End Of The Journey Will Soon Be In Sight...

Mass immigration doesn't "just" depress wages and reduce the power of working people vis a vis employers.

I haven't blogged much over the last year due to long hours, but still sniped over at CiF - and this comment sums my emerging view :

The greatest prize for the very rich would be the total dismantling of the welfare state and the removal of its consequent tax burden (although venture capitalists, on 10% tax - "entrepreneurs relief", do pretty well already).

It's a lot easier to justify a welfare state when the recipients are "people like us" and therefore easier to identify with and to think "there but for the grace of God". Social solidarity among working people, whether it be support for a welfare state or a trades union, will always be stronger in the absence of cultural, religious or racial divisions. Social scientists like Robert Putnam have noted how diversity weakens a sense of community.

So were I an evil capitalist billionaire looking to reduce the power of trades unions and destroy the welfare state, I'd start by funding Left groups supporting mass immigration.

I'd encourage such groups, and left-wing lawyers too, to support the most outrageous abuses of the welfare system, knowing that it would discredit welfare in the eyes of ordinary working people - and I'd chuckle to see Telegraph and Mail readers - and BBC commenters, too - getting angry when benefits rise, as they should do, with inflation.

"The plan is working ... heh heh heh ..."

I'd suggest, with all its faults, that the Welfare State is the most outstanding instance of UK social solidarity - started in Edwardian times by Lloyd George and nailed down in the aftermath of WW2 by a strong people, annealed in the fire of two world wars and quenched in the depression years of the 1930s.

I'd also suggest that the plan is continuing to work :

Despite the tough economic climate, the study by independent social research agency NatCen reveals attitudes towards welfare and welfare claimants have toughened. Only 28% of those asked wanted to see more spending on welfare - down from 35% at the beginning of the recession in 2008, and from 58% in 1991.

Report author and NatCen chief executive, Penny Young, said the study showed the public's view on welfare was "in tune... with the coalition's policies".She said: "The recession doesn't seem to be changing things; attitudes continue to harden. One thing that we've seen is that even where groups are seen as perhaps more deserving - so retired people, disabled people - again for the first time since 2008 we've seen that the number of people who are prepared to see more money go on disability benefits has actually fallen."
 "Heh heh heh ...." - the BBC Today programme this morning couldn't get over it - in the early 90s recession 58% thought we should increase welfare spending, now it's down to 28%. What could possibly have changed since the early 90s? They just couldn't understand such a dramatic shift in attitude.

"You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come,
Knock as you please, there's nobody at home"

In various posts over the last year, I've aired the fancy that in ten, fifteen years, the Guardian will be simultaneously

a) bemoaning the end of the welfare state and the new poverty of the working class
b) celebrating our ever-greater diversity

and I've pointed out that

Western welfare states carry a high tax burden, which makes life uncomfortable for the mega-rich. It would be a lot easier for them if social solidarity was destroyed to the extent that the welfare state no longer existed and their taxes could come down. A good way to do that is to create atomised societies of competing ethnicities.

Mass immigration will IMHO mean the end of the Welfare State, probably in the next thirty years. A pity. It was a good concept - for 1948 Brits and their descendants. And as an ageing boomer, I don't want the NHS to turn into any more of a death factory for the old than it currently is.

But at least we'll all be equal in our barrios, looking up at the gated communities on the hills.

UPDATE - "The government is considering ending the automatic annual increase in benefits in line with inflation, sources have told BBC Newsnight.

The whole point of benefits is that they're meant to be a liveable minimum amount.So if inflation rises, so should that amount. But there'll be little sympathy for that view from those whose expenses are rising but whose wages are static - and that means most of us. 

"Heh heh heh ..."

UPDATE2 - "To promote prudence and responsibility, rather than the dependency and waste of the welfare system, we should return to mutual aid societies

"Heh heh heh ..."