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Monday Musings, Oh My!

A debate on 5Live has just wound me up - again. I don't really know why I listen to Nicky Campbell's half arsed breakfast 'discussion' since it is conducive to neither. Most of the time (ie, all the time) it is a series of meaningless unhelpful anecdotes contributed by professional curtain twitchers. The sort of people the government wants to encourage as the Big Society to rat on their neighbours out of a sense of envy (rather than actual evidence of benefit fraud or terrorism).
Yet again Peter Hitchens, one of the regular cabal of contributors wheeled in to foster 'robust' debate by talking shit, declares he knows best. The discussion is about whether or not there is poverty in Britain. As if there's a question of this with people dependent on increasingly dwindling welfare payments and food parcels as well as facing mass eviction resulting from housing benefit caps. But of course Hitchens knows best by comparing the lot of modern Britons, with our technological advancements, to that of people living here a hundred years ago, or people in the developing world right now. Spurious comparisons to say the least; a smartphone is no comfort when you can't pay the bills, but it's easy to point at someone using one as evidence of Britain's lack of poverty.
I get so angry at these stupid discussions. I've shouted at the radio (and the TV on Sunday mornings, though partly because Susanna Reid's legs are in direct proportion to her sheer banality as a presenter) more times than I care to admit. I've even complained to the BBC about Kelvin Mackenzie (after his rabid call for kids to be shot by riot police). But what good does it do? They don't care; winding up people is their stock in trade. It's classic bullying really; sheer provocation for its own sake.
Despite Hitchens' ignorance and continual blaming all the woes of the world on the 'liberal left' (he thinks crime was invented in the 50's by such people), things are getting worse. A semantic debate on whether the word poverty is the right word to describe the circumstances of some in the western world serves no purpose. It's just pushing the meat around the plate without chewing the fat. Things are going to get a lot worse; as one caller pointed out, it's a time bomb with housing benefit and mass evictions looming. The economy, as far as I can tell (i'm no expert), is certainly not going to recover and welfare reforms are continuing, even though most of them seem to be Tories taking credit for Labour schemes (what else is the Work Programme but a rebranding of the New Deal? Same people, same schemes, same results).
Now we have Grant Shapps, a feeble right wing faceman, as housing minister using the old house swap scheme of social housing to reinvigorate the spirit of Norman Tebbit. IDS has already tried to encourage people to 'get on their bikes' again, about a year ago. Now there's to be a house swap scheme for people in deprived areas to access jobs elsewhere in the country. How the hell does this work? What's in it for the people in the desired locations to swap? What do they get out of it - move to a deprived area? As usual, it's ill considered and on the hoof.
But there's something about this kind of politics that makes me think there's some kind of intelligence at work (ie malevolence). By throwing out these ideas, no matter how half baked or whether they actually exist as processes and schemes, they can further distract people from the reality: that they aren't in control and have no idea. Anyone that criticises these schemes is just a naysayer at best, and at worst a lazy scrounger. That's the tenor of debate these days.
I recieved a hefty form from the DWP in the post over the weekend. The accompanying letter wants me to fill it in so they can confirm they are paying me the correct amount of benefit (they are). The form is the basic JSA application form in it's entirety which needs to be returned on time or my benefit will be stopped, er!
I applied for the Asda position forced on me when I signed on Friday; a 16 hour a week job on the chilled counter (no Brian Eno, I fear). What a dead end job. Now look, I'm not against earning a living or being economically active, but I have NO interest in Asda, supermarkets, or serving people cold food. It's a part time job as well that's at best a foot in the door for people that do want these jobs. So why am I being forced to compete with those people? Anyway the job involved an online application that failed at the point their software demanded I own and thus input a mobile phone number. I don't have a mobile phone, I can't apply. Oh dear, lazy me.
There was also a position advertised on the DWP website for ATOS. Now I wouldn't want to work for those crooks for all the tea in China (though I did get £25 compensation for them mucking up my benefit claim last year). Interestingly though advertised as a job locally (Bristol), the link provided was for a job in Sheffield that no longer existed.
In all seriousness what is the point of having everyone that's unemployed competing for the same, increasingly fewer jobs. I'm sure I've said this before, but this is a fool's errand. It might seem reasonable to the right wing to have individual claimants applying for as many jobs as they can (which of course in their eyes will never be enough), but all this does is force the unemployed into increasing levels of direct competition so that someone that does want to work for Asda (and there must be someone) with people that don't. The employer wont' necessarily take on the former, either! Why are we not properly focusing efforts individually and helping people properly without fear of funding the 'lifestyle' of 'scroungers'. Support people properly, I say. Jumping through endless hoops to appease the right wing ringmasters in the daily mail circus is not the way to go.

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