Marchers Against Trump

Of course it is early days but can the movement set up to oppose Donald Trump, the new President of the United States be successful. Or is it all much ado about nothing? The turnout for the marches was very impressive. The question is whether it can be maintained. According to the NY times there was a four (4) hour meeting directly afterward in New York by the organisers to think of ways to keep and build on the momentum. The danger is that it will frizzle out like so many other spontaneous movements.

An article in the NY Times by Farah Stockman makes disturbing reading as it points out that the issue of race was raised almost immediately by black activists.  A comment by one such activist from Brooklyn wrote on the Facebook page encouraging participation, “…white allies. Listen more and talk less.”

On reading the above quote a wedding planner, Jennifer Willis from South Carolina was put off attending the rally. She had planned to do so with her daughters but felt that the message did not make her feel welcome.

While we may understand to a degree the activist’s attitude as black people are on the bottom rung in American society. Nonetheless, her belligerence put Jennifer Willis off. This was not an isolated incident as Stockman pointed out that the issue of race “erupted every day, exhilarating some and alienating others”. Tension was also visible in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Another damning point raised by Stockman was that Trump campaigned against ‘political correctness’ and won with half of white female voters supporting him. I’m sure that Trump had more than one issue on which he campaigned. However, the article highlights the divisions in American society which make it almost impossible to build a cohesive movement against his brand of politics.

A further divisive illustration comes from the Portland NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The body refused to become a part of, “…a white – women kumbaya march”. The main grievance was that the organising committee was not diverse enough and no speaker was arranged on the question of race. www.wweek.com/2017/01/11

Nonetheless, the march did go ahead and 100,000 turned out in the pouring rain to show their opinion. It is unclear whether the NAACP found a solution and participated.

Division was also evident in the choice of partner organisations. It appears that pro-life groups were not welcomed as found by the New Wave Feminists whose stance includes: anti-abortion, anti-war and against the death penalty. The complaint of the group was that they had been accepted onto the rooster but later ‘kicked off’, as were similar groups; ‘Students for Life of America’ and ‘And Then There Were None’. They joined the march anyway. www.catholichearld.co.uk

One group Planned Parenthood, who had carried out 324,000 abortions (2014 Annual Report), was accepted as a partner organisation. Therefore from the outset a political agenda was formed. Thus it is no longer a women’s movement but a political one. It may appear as a decisive step but if it leads to alienation then it is non inclusive. This is a sizable weakness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

The problem surrounding the abortion debate is the entrenchment on both sides. They are the ‘Bubble People’ they see only their point of view ergo there is no room for a cosy chat over a mug of coffee to find common ground.

The NY times also reported that minority women feared that any success for the movement would only benefit the white working class. While this would not be true it is illustrative of the hurdles that must be gone over.

The article in the Times also mentioned that, “Now a wide range of groups”, are trying to keep the movement going. At first glance such a coming together can appear as a sign of strength; rather, it’s a weakness. It is a weakness that can unravel the movement at any given time. Each group may come to a meeting not to find a common objective but to promote their own agenda.

Individual groups may argue that their programme for change is one that promotes all women. One could condemn any such group as wearing blinkers or of being politically naïve. Any bid to promote a singular issue is wrong on several levels:

  • I have highlighted two contentious standpoints that of race and pro-life. Both of these areas have multiple bodies claiming to represent the whole and within their field there will be factions that want a more confrontational approach, while others will abhor any hint of violence.
  • A place at the top table and how it will be manufactured can be a very divisive block. The question of representation can be critical as noted above. Will it be by quota, e.g. said amount of black people – Asian – Hispanics – Latino – white? What of partner organisations, will their size determine their quota or seat at the top table? How will this reflect on the political stance of the movement? Many questions, there resolution will be critical.
  • Any attempt to list their priorities can also be fraught with problems. A danger rests in trying to accommodate all the partner organisations and thus the demands become too numerous to gain political traction. Some groups may feel that their particular issue has not been given sufficient prominence.
  • In future demonstrations will the organisers insist on ‘passive resistance’ (Mahatma Ghandi & Martin Luther King) or allow each group to form their own policy. Another problem is keeping anarchists and others from trying to usurp the demos. Therefore who will police any future protests?
  • It will be assumed that the organisation will be democratic; the problem will come in unrolling equal participation. How will they prevent any one group becoming dominant? Therefore causing others to walk away.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/after-success-of-womens-march-a-question-remains-whats-next.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-2&action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/womens-march-on-washington-opens-contentious-dialogues-about-race.html?_r=1

 

There are so many hurdles, so many pitfalls that it will be incredibly difficult to maintain a united stance. Some inspiration may be found in the Shriver Report of 2014 written by Sonia Pressman Fuentes of NOW (National Organisation for Women). The report highlights eighteen (18) issues that women should fight to implement.

www.shriverreport.org/top-18-issues-challenging-women-today

  1. Poverty: I was surprised to read that in 2014 some 70million women and their children live in poverty in the U.S. That America has the largest number of homeless women and children of any industrialised country. Who could not lift their banner of protest against such a picture of despair?
  2. Wages: It is a universal truth that women are disproportionately found in low-paying jobs. But according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if employers showed more flexibility on hours and location the pay gap could be greatly reduced. This would help women everywhere.
  3. Violence: I was staggered by the numbers -270,000 rapes or sexual assaults annually in USA. That 1 in 3 females murdered is killed by a partner. Of course this is a world issue so perhaps the ‘movement’ in the U.S. could link up with Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) who have held large demonstrations in Argentina in a struggle against a culture of machismo. The fight in Argentina has been followed by groups in Uruguay and Chile.
  4. Abortion Rights
  5. Maternal Mortality Rates
  6. Sick pay and parental leave
  7. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – needs to be enforced.
  8. Affordable Child Care: This like some others is a world problem. Johnathan Cohn cited in the report, states, “The lack of quality, affordable day care is arguably the most significant barrier to full equality for women in the workplace.”
  9. Women in prison and their horrid treatment.
  10. Human Trafficking: where nightmares are 24/7.
  11. Female representation in many aspects of society. A world problem.
  12. Discrimination in academia.
  13. Under representation in the Justice system.
  14. Under representation in large companies.
  15. Under representation and unequal pay in entertainment industry.
  16. Keeping women in high tech jobs.
  17. Lack of health insurance, affects 30m women and girls in U.S.
  18. CEDAW Treaty – an international bill of rights for women. USA only major country that has not ratified it.

They are all good causes though some are U.S. specific. I have chosen five (5) issues which I believe are uncontentious but significantly are world issues that could help galvanize women everywhere.

Poverty: Nobody can deny that poverty affects millions all over the world and if women didn’t cope our global society would fall apart. By embracing the cause of poverty and, the numbers in America are significant, a message of hope is sent wherever the internet reaches.

Wages: An issue that women in the Western World can readily agree with. It is in the West that the cudgel can be thrown down. If women in the West are not to be trifled with a message of hope flies around the world faster than a jet.

Violence: Where in the world have women not been acquainted with violence? The fight back in South America can only be uplifting for women everywhere. The culture of machismo is world-wide. Men are conditioned towards violence and especially when they feel inadequate. It needs a massive input into education.

Child care: Governments keep talking about getting more women into the workplace but do little to encourage or enforce businesses to cater for those with children. The quote by Johnathan Cohn above tells us just how big an issue it is.

Human Trafficking: The powerlessness of these women and children surely has a resonance with all women to some extent. A global business generating some $32 billion annually: what price misery. What cost men’s libido? It’s a tsunami of barbarity, women and children used worse than pigs in a pen. There is no bright star in their sky. Unless….

Equality of Burden

By accepting the premise that all women, no matter their status, are treated as second class citizens in some aspect of their life then you have equality of burden. There is no race, no religious or class issues; these are barriers to unity. If women can see beyond their present status and they can on many issues, then they can organise/vote for change as a singular body.

America has pole position in the chase for change. However, much will depend on their ability to overcome their biases. It’s a huge problem as bias can debilitate any organisation. As noted earlier tensions arose immediately concerning race, while some minority groups feared that it may become a programme for the white working class.

However, any change in working conditions would by necessity of law include all who work in that environment. What has emerged is just how divided American society is and how perceptions can be skewed. It is a massive task for the women’s movement but a unique opportunity to transform society.

A further testing case for the organisers of the women’s movement will be their attitude to the 53% of white females who voted but voted for Trump. (NY times & Newsweek) Two points can be raised immediately e.g. will they be welcomed to participate in subsequent action or simply dismissed as beyond exorcizing.

Unfortunately, some will dismiss them as right-wing fascists and want nothing to do with them. Others will recognise that if you nick them they will bleed. Surely there are issues on which the vast majority of women can agree? It would be a failure of magnitude not to invite the Trump supporters to participate. The opposition would correctly admonish the women’s campaign as not representative of all women.

Not to welcome, not to embrace the white women who voted Trump would be akin to railroading yourself into a cul-de-sac. It must also be remembered that around 30% of Hispanics voted Trump. If women are to make a credible difference, a long lasting difference, then they need the overwhelming majority on their ticket. This necessitates that some, perhaps more than some, will have to burst their bubble and walk out into the sun to welcome the warmth that camaraderie brings.

And thus it has to be noted that abortion is an extremely contentious issue and organisers must be cognizant of the millions of Catholic women and other religious groups that cannot accept abortion on demand. It is in recognising differences that we gain strength. As a fillip to the abortionist lobby I would recommend, the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

We Will Vote IF…

That is why non-contentious issues are vital. One such is violence. State the case by issuing an ultimatum: we will vote if your party will sanction stiffer penalties for violence against women and a fully paid programme in schools to educate about such violence.  If not fully implemented we will vote against you or abstain in the mid-term elections. Therefore you pick the battles you want to fight.

We will vote, IF… the government puts forward a programme to smash poverty by introducing legislation to build homeless shelters in every state. Produce a remit to subsidize specific charities to provide food and clothing to the most needy. No child should go hungry in America! No child should go without an equal chance in America! The same applies for the whole of the western world. A minimum wage can be a crucial element.

The issue of a minimum wage can be a winner as evidence shows it already has support from both Democrat and Republican women. At present the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25. A proposition in 2014 to increase it to $10.10 over a two year period was defeated in the Senate by the Republicans.

However, the Republican states of: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all elected to increase their minimum wage.  This is a clear illustration that certain issues can bridge the gulf between the classes and race to gain cross political support. The measure would have affected 16.5 m workers and lifted 900,000 out of the poverty trap. A study of Claudia Goldin’s research might reveal a second route forward.

Furthermore, to have someone’s living standard dependant on the size of a tip is monstrous. It means that tipping becomes an expectation and a must, and, is thus an unfair burden on both the waiter and the diner. Surely the amount of a tip should be based on the quality of the meal and the standard of service and not as an obligation to help the worker survive.

It’s unbelievable that the worker gets around $2.13 an hour and has to make the rest up by tips. Does the owner of the establishment then take a cut if the tips go beyond the national minimum wage? The owner must be sitting in the back of the premises counting up his profit. Scrooge lives!

Further up the ladder would require legislative change to enforce employers to act accordingly with severe penalties if they do not. Example: Any employer found to be breaking the law should be made to pay full compensation to the employee- X – by the number of year’s service and face a fine of the equivalent of one year’s income for each employee affected, plus the cost of bringing the action.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States

child care

A simple must!

Child care is the one issue that affects every family though some much more than others. I was drawn to a TV news programme the 51% on France24.com. 31/01/17 The programme which focusses on women’s issues worldwide highlighted a growing dilemma for nations in Europe. Apparently women are having fewer children and a growing number are having none. This can be construed as a matter of choice but it has long term consequences.

The obvious downside is fewer young people which equates with less taxes = less to pay for pensions + less workers = less people available in care industry etc. The main solution was to greatly increase provision of affordable child care allowing more women to have a career and a family. It gives considerable credence to the view expressed by Johnathan Cohn cited earlier.

Discrimination against pregnant workers and new mothers is an ongoing problem. It should be a matter of law, an obligation of society, taken for granted that such provision is given. After all, were would we be without pregnant women? Again it requires government to get tough but it will only do so with your vote or threat of abstention.

Child care generally is patchy, haphazard and chaotic in places but its importance cannot be underestimated, “High quality early childhood programs are viewed by many educators as a critical way to help overcome the learning deficit many low-income kids face when they start kindergarten – an obstacle many never overcome”.

While 1.6 million families use federal subsidies the facilities and teaching are not always up to scratch. Overall there is $5 billion spent on subsidies but few reports on inspection or on background checks of the workers. www.cbsnews.com/news/review-finds-lax-child-care-rules-across-us

This investigation took place in 2013 and since then Obama has instituted a programme, Preschool for All with an estimated cost of $75bn over ten years, paid for by a tax increase on cigarettes. At the time over one (1) million were not receiving any preschool. The take up figures for those living below the poverty line was less than 50%. U.S. is one of the worse industrialised countries for preschool education and especially if your poor.

Moreover, Obama’s scheme has come under serious criticism from an educational specialist, Grover J. Whitehurst who argues that a study in Tennessee has more of, “…a positive effect on children’s social/emotional development”. He argues that Obama’s plan is lacklustre at best. Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Program (TN – VPK) is aimed at 4 year olds from low-income families.

https://thinkprogress.org/update-obama-budget-includes-75-billion-to-fund-preschool-for-all-initiative-83a77a17d8d8#.pe1z6ghdx

https://www.brookings.edu/research/new-evidence-raises-doubts-on-obamas-preschool-for-all/

Exploitation

There is a road so dark that only evil walks there, it’s the route of the people traffickers. It has to be the most despicable of all trades and this should be reflected in the punishment. A minimum of 30yrs in prison and all assets seized. Every nation should have special units that cooperate worldwide.

Any politician found to be involved must immediately stand down and all their assets seized even if it leaves their family without a home. Tough, but then they are the perpetrators of unimaginable misery.

This is a long term proposal over a ten (10) year period but action must be seen to be taken. It is also a critical issue because it mainly affects women and girls. If you can’t send out that message of hope – then go home.

The NOW organisation was founded in 1966 by 49 members of whom two were male. Only nine of the stalwarts are still active but seem to have their finger on the pulse.

Moreover, the folks at NOW might have a lot more to contribute to today’s organisers. What has inspired them to keep going all these years? What have they learned and what can they impart. There must be many stories about achievements and disappointments. There will also be lots of contacts; not forgetting the stored ability of those still standing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Organization_for_Women

http://now.org/

 

If the road was clear, with no traffic, then the women’s movement could march straight ahead gaining momentum as they pass each village and town. (Ghandi’s Salt March) Unfortunately, there are many actors who are cocksure of their direction and are adamant that their voice should rise above all others. They are a hindrance because they cannot hear the others sing. They are the soloist who feels superior to the choir.

It is these soloists that will hold back and eventually break a movement that holds a mountain of promise. They must be told to leave their baggage at the door. If they cannot burst their own bubble it must be broken for them.

There is abundant evidence that at grassroots there is massive support to push forward women’s issues. It is the collective noun that is the vital ingredient to the mix. There is an overwhelming wealth of talent out there, it would be a catastrophic failure to restrict it or allow it to fritter away. There is also solid evidence that a victory can be won by promoting a National Minimum Wage.

This is a win – win issue that can galvanize the whole movement and give heart to those on both sides of the track that all can contribute. It can be a significant stepping stone. Be careful Donald, there’s an army on your doorstep!

Vote or Abstain:  the power lies with you!

 

Dark – Darker – Darkness

human_evolution_article_big3[1]How far are we humans along the road of evolution? Some will point to our technological advances to suggest we are well north of phenomenal. They will point to developments in science generally and to medicine, travel and communication in particular and pronounce that the world is growing smaller and more beneficial for all.

A minority report may argue vociferously that the world has grown worse. This report would point to trafficking of people, drugs, and weapons, in effect anything illegal that generates cash. Money is the oil which keeps the wheels of the economic system working. This ‘black economy’ is perhaps the real economy.

Power and its offshoots – privilege –prestige – influence (there are more) are the motivators. It’s a truism that money speaks and money buys, whether you are a CEO of a major company or a head-honcho of a major drug cartel. If you are truly ambitious and have enough dosh personally and in support you can become the President of the USA, numero uno of the world’s politicians.thKGW4YVRM

“It is now painfully clear that elections depend substantially on money, and elected officials have to spend too much time raising money and respond disproportionately to the preferences of donors.” US Supreme Court cited Reuters 2015/01/19

www.blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/01/19/

In my previous post: Morality: Did it Ever Exist I mentioned that slavery is now more prevalent than ever and sad to say but the same is true of child abuse. The statistics are a tale of human depravity.

Figures such as, forty million kids below the age of 15 are subjected to abuse, WHO 2001. Most suffer from physical abuse. Emotional abuse can devastate for a lifetime. thBHNITY72Sexual abuse is estimated to affect 36% of girls and 29% of boys. In 2005 UNICEF suggested that an astonishing 100 – 140 million girls are subjected to genital mutilation. The ILO (2006) say that around 250 million kids between the ages of five (5) and fourteen (14) are used as forced labour. Also that one million kids have been trafficked for the sex trade.

Check the dates, they are from years ago but nothing has improved. Up to date statistics can be found at:

My attention was redrawn to this heinous crime by the events in Kasur Pakistan. Here child abuse was run like a family business.

Around 270 kids from the age of 12 were forced into sexual acts which were videoed. The child and family would then be blackmailed or the video sold. The depravity has been going on for years. We may never know the true number of kids abused in this way. Telegraph 2015/08/10 + uk.reuters.com

Another attention grabber was in Bedford England where a man was jailed for 16 months for having 20,000 images of child abuse on his computer. Some 3,300 were Category A – the most obscene. Personally, I would lock the cell door and toss the key! www.bedfordtoday.co.uk

The picture in the UK generally is not good, the NSPCC report that 62,000 children phoned Childline in 2014 of these over 18,000 referred to sexual abuse. Of 23,000 sexual offences against kids some 5,500 were under the age of eleven (11). The number of cases continues to rise.

Meanwhile across Europe 250,000 kids go missing. Almost half are runaways – from what? Of the rest; will we ever know? There is a European hotline 116000 but the funds to operate it run out at the end of the year. Do many know of its existence?          Euronews.

I was bemused to read that in western countries preventing abuse was “a high priority”, among politicians.  Read the coverage at this site.      www.en.m.wikipedia.org/childabuse

The situation in America is dire. The website childhelp.org suggests that 3 million child abuse cases are reported annually which is categorized as the worse of the industrial nations. In addition five (5) kids a day die from abuse and neglect.

Furthermore, compassion.com suggests that 20% of women and between 5 -10% of men say they were sexually abused as kids. That worldwide nearly two (2) million children are exploited in the commercial sex trade and, that sexual abuse is the second largest criminal industry and growing.

There is a slither of good news Google (developer) Facebook and Twitter are to block “hash lists” of child abuse. This is good news indeed by these companies but hiding it will not prevent it. Our politicians must do more.

What of the “high priority” pledge by politicians. Is it a pretence that something is happening when in fact it is not. We should demand a ten or twenty point plan with a timeline agreed to at a G20 summit.

At the 2014 UN General Assembly meeting – the 69th session –  seven (7) summits were organised for the week: indigenous people, climate change, counter-terrorism, Ebola, education and a Global compact – businessmen meeting. www.ipnews.net

Have you noticed any significant change in these areas? Ebola, but that in reality was a marketing exercise by the West. (Call me cynical) It was an easy fix in global terms. More people die in Africa from poor water supply and malaria. Let’s eradicate them!!

Another UN meeting in August 2015 the Sustainable Development Agenda was accepted with the aim to end poverty by 2030. The cost will be in the region of $3 – 5 trillion per year. Can you see it happening? Cynical!! One interesting point came from the discussions:

“Women and girls everywhere have much to gain from the SDGs. But to make it a reality we have to keep pressure on governments to follow through in their commitments”. Shannon Kowalski

Note the ‘But’! That’s a big ‘if’ factor as success depends on national politicians. Note also that everything is geared to sustained business development as the only hope of achieving the goals. However, centuries of capitalism has not ameliorated poverty, slavery or child abuse.

Capitalism is not the best-fit option for humanity. It stimulates our base instincts like greed and pride. When stress enters our lives some go dark, the greater the stress the darker they go. In times of great upheaval we enter the darkness, ethnic cleansing etc.

The world cannot grow until men learn how to!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

War: Shit Street!

 

 

  • Refugee camp

Is there shelter from the storm? Most people know that war is hell; others have been desensitized by movies and war games. However, there is no fiction in reality. Those who have witnessed it know it is no fantasy. In recent years war has come to affect people in every country in one way or another.

An article in the www.nyt.com/2015/20/06 taking its information from the UN (UNHCR) tells us that there are around 60 million refugees in the world. The Economist uses the same figure but gives it a concrete context by linking it to the population of Italy; that’s a lot of people. Side Bar:

  • The new term for refugees is ‘displaced persons’. Displaced is a nice word but does not give sufficient gravity to the situation. Running from hell is not exactly being displaced; it’s fleeing for your life. We are not talking of a set of keys that you know will turn up.

There is no shortage of war zones. Middle East: Syria, Yemen and Iraq with the spread of Islamic revolution by ISIS. Sub-Sahara Africa with: Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, with another Islamic group Boko Haram. The surprise area for some will be Columbia in South America.

Why is there such a fire burning around the globe? A main reason is political power as in Syria where the dictatorial Assad regime is in conflict with groups seeking more democratic rights. The consequences are that nearly 50% of the population has been forced to flee their homes. Many have simply fled within the country but some 4 million have scattered abroad.

Neighbours, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and war torn Iraq have taken many Syrians in. The NYT suggest Egypt has 138,000; the Economist says Turkey has 1.7 million. It’s important to get the numbers right as aid being sent to the accommodating nations requires solid numbers to meet the need.

  • ISIS has driven an approximate 2.6 million Iraqis from their homes.

The civil war in Syria has affected 5 / 6 of its neighbours directly. However, the ramifications go much further. Thousands have made a dash for Europe or America. For Europe they have travelled to Libya, which itself is in turmoil, to find passage across the Mediterranean Sea. There is not a warm welcome in Europe because in their travels they meet up with other refugees from various parts of the world who are also escaping hell.

It is understandable that they want to flee the hell of their home nations to find the perceived stability elsewhere. The problem is that America is trying on a daily basis to stem the flood of migrants from South America. Europe, in a period of austerity, and a history over the last 20 years of conflict in the Balkans and presently in Ukraine, is panicked by the flow.

The influx of migrants has caused a political storm in Europe, which has seen a rise in radical parties. Politicians can’t ignore this trend. Hungary, is debating whether to construct a 100 mile fence to stop migrants crossing over from Serbia as numbers have increased from 30,000 to 100,000 in the past year. There is a huge cost in both political and financial terms in trying to cope with increasing numbers.

There are many poor people in the UK; some estimates suggest upward of 2.7 million families are affected. A large influx of economic migrants can have a direct impact on the poor by forcing wages down, putting pressure on housing and waiting lists for doctors, dentists etc. Thus little surprise that most poor people will not welcome migrants.

th67LNBAFYIn sub-Sahara Africa an estimated 15 million refugees have been forced from their homes. Ethiopia, houses an approximate 665,000 mainly from Somalia and South Sudan. An interesting point made by the NYT report was that most African refugees stay in Africa. Another point raised by the Economist is that 85% of refugees have sought shelter in developing countries.

It may appear cruel on those fleeing hell but developing nations often don’t have the resources to cope with an influx of refugees. Ethiopia is such a case. This country is still a recipient of foreign aid of over £200 million just to sustain their own population.

Unfortunately, those fleeing horror face further danger of exploitation. Even if they manage to reach the UK or USA they are used as cheap labour or forced into the sex trade. When it comes to humans there is no depth to their barbarity. The continued struggle in Columbia has caused the uprooting of around 6 million, 136,000 in 2014 alone. A further 360,000 have fled abroad to adjoining nations or perhaps trying to reach the USA.

If only there was an easy solution but being tied to politics, fear and cost there is no straightforward option. It is at a time like this that we witness the selfish gene come to the fore and this gene can be very erratic, and cruel.

Immigration: Boom or Bust (1)

Is this right?

Is this right?

Advocates of immigration see no problem with the volume of migrants entering the country. On the contrary, the majority of the people, (based on opinion polls and on support for Ukip) take a very different view. The two main strands that are in open discussion are the view of business and the Metropolitan elite that immigration is a positive for the nation. The wider populace have concerns as to the scale of numbers coming into the country and the overall effect on: welfare, health, education, housing, and roads: cars, pollution etc., on

Or is this right?

Or is this right?

culture and the values that make up the fabric of a cohesive society.

However, there is another side, a much darker hidden side and one of deep despair. We do not talk of this consequence of immigration because it would showcase just what a sick society we truly are.

As far as business are concerned, it’s a simple equation; the more the merrier. Some aspects of their logic make good sense. There are vacancies that need to be filled and if that specific skill set is not available locally then allow someone from abroad to fill the role. Otherwise the company could lose the contract which could have an adverse effect on those already employed.

There is good support for the argument of business. Tom Papworth, www.centreforum.org  suggests that there is compelling evidence that immigration is good for the country. In the same article, Peri & Davis are equally positive, “The economic question is not whether a domestic worker is capable of doing the job, but whether it is more efficient to allocate the job to a domestic or a foreign worker”. The LSE note, that there is little evidence of a negative impact of immigration. The London Chamber of Commerce likewise add a positive voice.

Business leaders and many politicians point out that the local population are not as well educated nor share the same work ethic as their foreign counterparts. While this might hold a grain of truth it also leaves open the question of why that should be so. Who is to be held responsible for the characteristics and culture identified? A mirror is a very handy tool to check out how one looks!

Why did the UK get rid of apprenticeships only to, more recently, have a sudden frenzy to re-introduce them? The former was a decision proposed by business and carried out by politicians! Now business wants to be paid for taking-on apprentices. Getting rid of apprenticeships caused a severe shortage of skilled tradesmen which lead to a mass influx of Eastern European workers who were better qualified and crucially cheaper. Many may view business ethics as akin to those of a louse. A louse does not much care on whose hair or head it lays its nits as long as it gets fed.

As for the Metropolitan elite they hide behind the mantra of multiculturalism. It is their contention that many cultures can co-exist in harmony. History would tend to dispute that assumption: Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Check Republic, and Slovenia and presently the tension in Ukraine. Thus multiculturalism has no intellectual basis but is borne of political expediency. To run without the knowledge and experience of history is to always run with blinkers on.

Even our limited experience of multiculturalism in the UK has been one of ethnic enclaves, of segregation by choice or circumstance. Behind some of these closed environments we are left to assume that all is well. However, some groups have brought cultural attitudes which are contrary to human rights legislation. Multiculturalism by its very sense envisages that the people retain their culture, their belief systems, and their definitive outlook on life. There is no room here for change either as a community or on an individual basis. That is why multiculturalism is a dodo!

The advocates of multiculturalism may point to the long established Chinese community to support their political belief. Contrary to that outlook the Chinese community can readily be described as a closed one. A community that may hide gross violations of human rights but which we are prepared to ignore because it does not directly affect us. The hypocrisy of our toleration is exposed in our other guise as living in a Liberal democracy. We may pretend that by visiting China town and having a meal we are somehow having a cultural exchange, it’s simply that, pretence.

th0HFP8Z3GImmigration and the fear it evokes is not new. The 1948 Nationality Act allowed anyone from the Commonwealth to come to the UK, some 800 million. (Wikipedia) Of course that was not practical but many did come, many on request, but such were the numbers that in 1962 the Commonwealth Immigration Act was passed. Another law was enacted in 1968 and again in 1972 and a further immigration law in 1981. In 1997, the ‘primary purpose rule’ was abolished. It is important to note that tension regarding immigration has not dissipated; on the contrary some would argue it has become more entrenched. Over the past decade there have been 83 changes to immigration legislation.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) net immigration has risen each year between 2000 & 2008. In 2006 over 154,000 were granted citizenship and a further 134,400 were granted settlement. In 2009 net migration was 196,000. The coldness of the figures on immigration disguises an enormous problem.  A new town every year! Tension increased to such an extent that in 2003 the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair promised to slash asylum seekers by 50% in just seven (7) months. In 2008 the government introduced a fine of £10,000 for each illegal immigrant found working in a business. Obviously problems had been identified.

The decision by the Labour Government to open the borders and create open access was a deliberate policy between 2000 & 2008. Andrew Neather. The European statistical body, Eurostat claimed that in 2010 the UK population was 62 million of which some seven (7) million were foreign born.

 

There has been 50 years of tension concerning immigration, thus it’s generational, a point many would like to remain hidden. The tension is high because the numbers remain high. The BBC (28 Nov: 2013) reported that close on 0.5 million immigrants arrived in the UK in 2012. Official figures for net migration in that year were 176,000 a sizable increase on the 2011 figure of 153,000. The most recent numbers for 2013 are 212,000 up 37% on the previous year. (Reuters)

The question is one of sustainability, for how long can the country manage the scale of numbers? This point is given added credence when the 2011 Census revealed 464,800 more people in the country than the ONS had calculated. WOW! The politicians’ response – stop having a census! Bury the truth: the first stage in Stalinist rule! No politician has of yet come forward to explain the cost of sustainability or to allay the fears of the people in any sensible way.

Is it all about economic efficiency? After all we do live in a capitalist world; therefore should we not logically serve the one God? Perhaps we are hoodwinking ourselves by promoting the notion of community, of social cohesion, of society. Capitalism is a dominant force in our lives and maybe we should accept this and bow to the inevitable: let the dogs out and fend for ourselves.

What I find enigmatic about the whole thing is the political shallowness and shadow-boxing of the proponents. In support of mass immigration we have the ‘Left’ in UK politics, the Liberal party and the business community. In the opposite corner we have strong elements of the ‘right’ in UK politics and the working class. Note that it is the working class who suffer most from mass immigration and their erstwhile political leaders of the Left who are the main advocates. Intriguing! 1960s again!

Europe: The Great Big Money Pit. (2)

Europe 2

I would have thought that, if confident in their appraisal of the EU, then our politicalmap-eu-member-countries-14142535[1] leaders would be falling over each other to demand a ‘cost benefit analysis’ (CBA). But all is quiet on the CBA front. I wonder why? A CBA finds all the positive factors of a situation and then gathers all the negative points. The negative is then deducted from the positive. P-N = CBA. The difference gives a picture of whether the proposal is a good one or not. I can’t hear a Liberal Party voice above the silent mode. I’m pondering!

Our leaders are forever telling us of the economic benefits of being a member and warn of the catastrophic consequences of pulling out. Well, do a CBA! Would industry really shut down? No! It’s a big lie! Norway, Iceland and Croatia all have an agreement with the EU. They are part of the European Economic Area (EEA). Norway has 70% of its trade with the EU and all financial services are covered by the EEA agreement. All EEA countries have “equal access to the internal market”. Also the EEA allows members to live, work and study anywhere in the EU. So what is the entire hullabaloo about?

Once again our leaders feed us the tale of the need for influence. Since we joined in 1973 have we had a great deal of influence? Or are we constantly bemoaning the fact that the EU continuously impose their rules on us? What is really at stake is: jobs for the boys, MEP’s, commissioners, the gravy train, the junkets and the seat at the big table. The latter is the key, ‘the seat at the big table’; they want to sit with the big boys. Just like a kid at school. Most in the UK just want to govern themselves and to maintain our way of life, our culture. Why should we pay vast sums of money just to let our leaders feel important? Powerful without power!

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is another sink hole into which vast sums of our tax revenues are poured without empirical data to support the spend. According to Wikipedia, agriculture and regional spending remain, “materially affected by error”, which is an euphemism for unaccounted for.  A quick reminder of the costs of CAP to the consumer comes from, Delia Grybauskaite, EU Budget Commissioner who says, people pay, “… two or three times more for food than we would pay without the policy”. Telegraph Nov: 2013

Two straightforward quotes that demand some very serious answers and not the usual piffle that characterizes our political leaders. Where has all the money gone? Whose pockets are laden with our tax revenues? Organised crime, local politicians, someone is making a handsome living but it’s not the ordinary consumer. It is essential that the cost of living is cut by a complete overhaul of CAP. Sorry, but I can’t hear Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader. Did he say anything? Raise even an utterance?

Check out my distaste for the imperious Human Rights Act (HR) on this site. HR should be peripheral but it has come to dominate the political landscape as though it was a panacea for all that is unjust in human society. It is certainly not a panacea as it threatens to usurp democracy as the decision maker. In number, the cabal of Judges is less than the Politburo of the old Soviet Union. However, they will wield considerable power if left unchallenged. That is anathema to the democratic principle. Democracy is by no means perfect, but a Politburo is too draconian to contemplate. Such dictatorial power is what the HR was set up to prevent.

An equal bastardization of the original HR is the ‘living instrument’ (LI) which transcends all logic. It permits the Judges to decide the political philosophy that the millions that constitute Europe should follow. The LI must be scrapped. Anyone who actually believes in democracy must view the demise of LI as a prerequisite. What is of real concern is that none of our political leaders have mentioned it. Transparency breeds trust not hidden agendas.

HR has spread through every aspect of our lives. It has left the majority of the populace bemused by the decisions taken. It has also left that majority feeling isolated and powerless. The majority are treated like an ignorant mob; the lumpen-proletariat of society. The only recourse open to them is revolution!

There has been a hue and cry about the cost of the EU with many arguing that it must engage in a severe cost-cutting exercise. Getting rid of one site would be a worthwhile initial step. We don’t need Brussels and Strasbourg. However, Philip Whyte researcher at the Centre for European Reform suggests, “They are right that the structure is crazy. There is a huge appetite for reform of that, but cutting the budget will not help”. (Channel 4 news) He may be right as the EU has a built in financial agreement that its budget increase by inflation year on year. Nonetheless, any Government body must have room for restructuring; it comes with the territory as they over employ in good times.

A huge bureaucracy is a dampening thing; it masks itself behind a mirror of worthwhile work on behalf of the people. It generates its own purpose for survival and becomes an old boy’s network where decisions are shuffled around in a maze, borne of incompetence. Where, lacklustre personalities clamber to the top of the greasy pole by means of sycophantic homage. Where back-covering and back-stabbing is the daily routine. A bureaucracy has a deadening effect on initiative, but mounts a revolutionary barrier to examination or change.

We must stop politicians from treating the people as the lumpen-proletariat. The more power they sequester in their Tower of Babel the greater the danger of despotism for the generations of the future. Make democracy work!

 

Europe: The Great Big Money Pit! (1)

map-eu-member-countries-14142535[1]The Leaders of the three main political parties in the UK are in favour of remaining in the EU. They have yet to entertain us with credible reasons for doing so. Their play ‘The Benefits of the EU Rock’ is a mishmash of characters spouting dialogue in a meaningless fashion. It involves lots of finger pointing and shouting at each other that has left the audience puzzled as to the plot. Is there a plot?  This little piece of theatre is bound to be a flop. Rating: *

“The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his are the same”. Stendhal.

Obviously there are strong biases on either side of the debate and a considerable amount of emotion is exerted. However, it is incumbent on our politicians, who are our leaders, to ensure that we have the arguments presented in a clear and unequivocal manner. Transparency breeds trust: that should be the mantra of our leaders; unless their bias cannot be controlled.

What the electorate must demand is answers to pertinent queries:

•             Why has there been no secure audit?

•             Why has there has not been a ‘cost benefit analysis’?

•             Why has the Common Agriculture Policy not been overhauled?

•             Why is the Human Rights Law allowed to override democracy?

•             Why is there no cost cutting exercise being undertaken?

Given straightforward, honest, credible and verifiable answers the electorate may be willing to give politicians the benefit of leadership.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has been scathing in its criticism of the EU budgets. As recently as Nov: 2012 the ECA chairman Victor Calderia wrote, “EU financial management is not yet up to standard”. There has been eighteen (18) years of critical reports on poor spending by the EU and yet it’s allowed to continue. Take my breath away! In the same report it was highlighted that the auditors did not give a clean bill of health to €89bn of spending because it was, “affected by material error”. For ‘material error’ read unaccounted for, lost, fraud or add your own interpretation.  Telegraph Nov: 2012.

Looking back to 1999 and the Jacques Santer Commission set up because a serving official made allegations of fraud. The Commission accepted that there had been ‘irregularities’. In patois, this means we ain’t got a clue mate! A few steps forward to a BBC report of 2006, “auditors have found some EU spending has violated regulation and/or contractual conditions”. Fraud!

Moving forward to June 2013 and the New York Times (NYT) report that a sum of €600m or $800m of direct aid from the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) “could not be properly traced because of the lack of an adequate audit trail, according to the European Court of Auditors”. The report also stated that a budget of €5bn in aid which had been agreed in Nov: 2012 was under scrutiny. That Catherine Ashton, EU Foreign Policy Chief and Stefan Fule, Commissioner for the ENP were severely criticised for a failure to keep a grip on the spending even when ‘irregularities’ were known about. No one sacked-surprise, surprise!

In December 2013, abcnews.go.com/international quoting from the European Court of Auditors that €1bn had been agreed to support 61,000 civil servants and security personnel in Gaza since Hamas had taken power. The civil servants are kept on ‘gardening leave’ on full pay so that they are not tempted to work for Hamas. The ECA has argued that the payment should cease but Peter Stano of the EU executive wants the payments to continue otherwise those affected may have to go without.

The story is developed further in an article in the www.dailystar.com.lb   a Lebanon daily newspaper who quote Hans Gustaf Wessburg of the ECA, “The payment of civil servants who do not work does not meet one of [EU’s] main objectives to provide public services to the Palestinian people”. The paper quotes further from Wessburg, “Auditors could not establish what happened to €90m that was meant to pay fuel taxes and keep Gaza’s only power plant running”. In consequence, half the people have no electric power supply.

A further dagger in the torso of the EU is that over the past twenty (20) years the EU has poured nearly €6bn into the Palestinian territories. This is a vast sum of money and, apparently a gross amount of waste. It is not a question of aid per se as I recognise that aid has a powerful political underpinning. It’s the sheer volume of the waste. Who is getting the money? What of the ordinary folk of this desolate landscape? “I will show you fear in a handful of dust”. T.S. Eliot The Waste Land.

It is also recognised that a €1bn package to help Egypt has been mismanaged between 2007/2013. What a sorry mess! If they can so readily and easily screw up aid money, what control do they have over all other spend?

Human Rights: A View from the Stalls

 

It would appear that the politically correct have fully utilized the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to realise their political ambitions. Marx and Engels could not have conceived such a scenario; the use of a law to dictate policy to the nations that make up the European Union (EU). It goes without saying that in the world in which we live that human rights is an absolute must. However, how it is used should be a concern to all.

The Second World War had recently ended and society had witnessed atrocities that it never wanted to see again. It was the holocaust in particular and the massive dislocation throughout Europe and beyond. It was the fear of a Stalinist regime bludgeoning out from the East. It was the knowledge of the Gestapo, of the Russian Secret Police, the NKVD (later KGB). It was to prevent the horror of the 1930s ever being re-established. It was the imprisonment, without trial, of hundreds of thousands of people in both Germany and Russia. It was the spectacle of the Russian ‘show trials’. It was a desire to strengthen democracy. It was a plan to give more power to the citizenry so that dictatorship would not darken the sky over Europe again. It was an attempt to give future generations light in the lives.

It was a spectacular emotional outburst borne of the heinous crimes of World War 2. That was the background to the introduction of the ECHR. Without doubt an attempt to prevent genocide from crossing the doorstep of civilisation again. The aim was to halt the spread of Stalin’s corrupted version of communism and to block communism altogether. Dictatorship had brought only death and destruction; an agony of horror. The authors of the ECHR were trying to devise a way forward and their solution was to strengthen democracy. How might they cry to see how it is being used today?

Did they envisage human rights for convicted murderers and rapists? Did they anticipate a complete liberalisation of sexual orientation as an essential element to freedom? Are these what our forefathers had in mind having witnessed Hitler and Stalin? That democracy would be the preserve of minority politics?

Isn’t it ironic…

I am all in favour of the State being held in check, no logical person wants the State to be overpowering. Our hope for a free society rests on the shoulders of democracy and a free press. As long as these two principals can be seen to be transparent then we have a fair shot at retaining, free speech, the right to life, the right to liberty and security. Do we really need an all-embracing law fashioned by powerful emotion in the post war period to govern us? Make no mistake; the Convention on Human Rights is the new method of imposing a political philosophy upon us. You may find the founders have puked in their coffins!

Human rights law supersedes all other legislation. Parliament which you voted for cannot override HR law and European judges have the power to disregard ‘secondary legislation’ and deem Acts of Parliament as ‘incompatible’. Thus your elected chamber, the Houses of Parliament is subservient to the rulings of a cabal of European Judges and must uphold what the Judges’ decree. The government when submitting legislation to parliament have to ensure that the proposed ‘Bill’ does not conflict with the ECHR. The ‘Bill’ must fit within the remit of the ECHR or the courts will reject it as incompatible.

Q. Who rules the UK?                    Not you, OK!

Scenario: (hypothetical)

The government pass a law on Social Security, this is the main law. However, the ‘Bill’ may hold several sections these are the ‘secondary legislation’. So even though Parliament passes all sections of the legislation into law the Judges’ can dismiss the ‘secondary’ pieces out of hand and deem the whole of the legislation as incompatible. Wherefore art thou democracy?

Q. Is this how the original authors intended human rights law to work?

Surely the intention of the ECHR was to forestall dictatorship; hence article after article begins with the pronoun ‘everyone’. Article 2. ‘Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law.’ Article 8. ‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life.’ Thus one principal aim was to empower the people as a battlement against the foes of democracy; creating a barricade of millions to thwart the dictatorial ambitions of the few.

Is democracy secure? Has the ECHR been the panacea envisaged? Or are we lumbered with a vision contorted by political expediency? I would have to put my money, all of it, on the latter point because I firmly believe that the vision of those who introduced the ECHR has been waylaid and subverted by the political agenda of an elitist minority.

Moreover, the ECHR is designated as a ‘living instrument’ which means that as society and attitudes change, the ECHR will adapt and adopt in the way it interprets the views expressed within society. However, as with all legal status ‘precedent’ will hold sway. Precedent is an interpretation of the law from years earlier. Therefore, if ‘precedent’ holds sway what is the point of ‘living instrument’?

Several points of clarification are needed; who interprets the change in societal attitude? Are the electorate consulted via a plebiscite/referendum? Are the parliaments of each nation state asked to consult their electorate? No! Non! Nein! No!

Any decision that has to be taken will be done by a cabal of Judges at the court of human rights. These Judges are political appointees and while some are conversant with general law, many are not well versed in the complexity of human rights law. A number of questions need explanation:

  • Who has appointed them and from what political perspective?
  • What do they in return expect from their appointees?

Do you smell something here? Does it begin with a capital C? You complete the word!

As for ‘precedent’ that is a judgement passed previously, perhaps 40 years ago. Now many may consider that attitudes were quite different when granddads roamed the earth, but for many the answer may be not so different. The problem comes with the term ‘living instrument’; is there not a contradiction here? We have a living instrument but precedent holds it tied to the chair. Hmmm

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, either as a living instrument or by precedent, we don’t get a say; it all comes down to the interpretation of the Convention on Human Rights. Judges’ rule ok! Have we uncovered the PC’s hidden bible? Every political philosophy has its bible.

Furthermore, I have a problem with the term ‘interpret’ / ‘interpretation’. Interpretation holds within its definition that an equal and valid alternative view can be had. Therefore, interpretation is open to interpretation. Which means the Judges’ might have got it all wrong. Perhaps we need to re-examine all precedents to determine if they have been interpreted correctly. Oh, my, Judges examining their own navels; can’t wait.

Big decisions are being taken, laws are being enforced but crucially the citizenry have not had a say in any of it. Democracy, the powerhouse of our freedoms is being made redundant by a law conceived over 50 years ago. The irony is that it is about human rights.Your great grandfathers laid down the law that you must now abide by and the interpretation of that law is not open to debate. The ‘living instrument’ will be determined by the Judges at the behest of their political masters. Living instrument, more like modern yoke! The politicians who impose an illusion of equality in an inherently divided society are playing a farce much greater than the creationist theory itself. I can hear our forefathers puking in their coffins.

Article 9 reads: You should not be indoctrinated by the State.

Unfortunately where there is no democracy there is only indoctrination!