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Showing posts from January, 2012

Who Benefits?

I mentioned before that I was given a job to apply for last time I signed on (last week). Ignoring that it was not advertised correctly (there are two jobs and both are permanent, not temporary), I really do not see how pursuing them benefits me. Of course I was compelled into this, in my opinion, by the adviser. This is one of thebiggest problems with the jobcentre: the pervasive air of disapproval that makes you feel you should agree. That and the threat of sanctions, explicit or otherwise. The adviser was pretty adamant I should apply for this. Of course they cannot articulate this beyond a vague belief that it will somehow do me some good. But will it? Let's explore this.

Firstly the job is 12 hours (the other position is 6 hours, so we'll ignore that straight off). I will financially be about £7-8 better off than on the dole. That's not really much of a difference. There are no expenses incurred through working as the job is within walking distance. But of course if I …

That Shrinking Feeling

Walking back from Tesco, two awkward shaped big bags of quality product in hand, I see a local women's clothing shop with the 'closing down sale' signage in the window. Always sad to see that happen, even as an anti-capitalist progressive liberal scrounger, though to be honest I have to admit that I can't see how such a place could have had much of a future as a boutique in a village. That aside (I'm not an expert on such things) it is sad. I always feel a little tug on the old heartstrings at such sights. They've only been there a few months. You get the impression, with such enterprises, that they are someone's dream venture. That carries with it a certain sense of naive charm (which of course may be completely unfair), so when the shop is seen to be at the end of it's life there's a feeling of sympathy. Besides I take no pleasure in seeing the owner left in debt either, which is always a possibility in such cases.

Returning home I see the headline…

Welfare Reform Makes No Sense To Me

IDS is plaguing my ears as I type; this silly bitter little man is certainly and unfortunately no longer quiet. He's a dog with a bone and his attitude; over the last couple of years he's become ever more short tempered and ideologically driven. Now he's on my radio banging the drum again in light of the welfare reform bill and the benefits cap - and he's making it clear, in my opinion, that this cap (and i would assume the rest of these changes), are being punished. This is because, to use his language, those that are not 'doing the right thing', don't deserve to have as much money. I find this obscene. Welfare, in the mind of this awful creature, is a tool for social engineering. A tool of the most odious Tory ideology.

Surely welfare is a function of capitalism. I happen to think it's moral to pay people, living in our system, to have access to food etc, in lieu of a job. But surely the alternative, if you examine this objectively, is chaos. Two and a…

Signing on 20/1/2012

Just signed on (I'm in the local library). Gave a whole load of blather about the test I've had with The Psychologist and the doctor. I'm sure it means nothing, but it makes me look 'good', I suppose. It's all a game really: one has to be seen to be doing something. Unfortunately, in the process, I found myself agreeing to apply for a job that I'm not remotely interesting that is also both very low hours (I'd be much better off on JSA) and temporary.

Of course the argument is that it's better than nothing, helps get you 'back into work', and all the usual silly cliches. I wish there was a way out of the system. The job advertised 6-12 hours (they can't even be sure which). Splitting the difference at the NMW gives me around £55 a week. The problem comes not from our 'something for nothing, too lazy to work' culture, but from the fact that there are extra benefits from signing on; it's not just financial. I get the cost of glas…


Thursday today (unless time has confused me again!), the day between yesterday's appointment with The Psychologist, and signing on tomorrow. A brief oasis for me to discuss said appointment as it was a test for 'neurodiverse tendencies'. I think that's the best way of putting it; it's all a bit vague really. When I first saw The Psychologist I mentioned that I was in the process of trying to get a diagnosis for Aspergers to which she replied she could do a test that, while not an official diagnosis, could count towards one - or something. Something official anyway, though bizarrely after the test was completed (took a couple of hours) she said she wasn't trained for Aspergers specifically.

The test itself was a kind of Krypton Factor lite (sans exercise course): a mix of recall, pattern recognition, problem solving, and questionnaire. I was asked to arrange coloured blocks into a prescribed pattern, to spot what was missing from a series of pictures, to guess fr…

Dr Maybe

Just returned from an appointment with the GP where I sputtered out my recent issues as well as discussing, with noticeable exasperation, the overall situation. It's a real uphill struggle for reasons I've probably mentioned before. Again the idea that writing sick note (sorry, fit note) is counter productive and tantamount to consigning me to a life on benefits. Frankly I find that a rather bizarre issue to be upset about: we don't complain when people come into life changing money from other means - inheritance, lottery, born into it (like our illustrious leaders). Noone says that such people, without paid work, are dooming themselves to unfulfilled lives. But when it comes those on the dole, that's seen as the worst thing society can do, hence IDS's current ideological crusade. Of course it's pish; i have interests that I could happily pursue without the need for paid work. We can have a discussion about community responsibilities, but that's another thi…

The Supermarket Age

And so begins the golden age of the Supermarket Diploma. A society where this certificate of education is the highest anyone but the well monied ruling elite can aspire to. Don't expect the SD to cover anything beyond basic shop functions - shelf stacking, pricing, bagging, trolley collecting, etc, all that good stuff is surplus to requirements. There wont' be degress in geology for instance, we don't need those in the Supermarket.
Instead we train people to the level of supermarket staff. After all it's good honest work for idle hands.
Then of course the Supermarket expands: because it's staff earn the NMW (which means, to quote Chris Rock, 'if i could pay you less, I would') all they can afford is to shop at the Supermarket. Therefore more jobs become available as it expands like a cancer across the land. Local businesses are consumed, high streets become ghost towns and havens for drugs and alcohol and antisocial behaviour. There will be no en…

Fear is the Mind Killer

...To borrow a phrase from Dune. True though.

Tomorrow I've an appointment with my GP, thanks to a lucky cancellation (god knows when else I would have been able to get an appointment). When I first spoke to a doctor about the fear and anxiety that I'm currently experiencing (and considerably so) as a result of being targeted by idiots (and life in general, it sometimes seems) I was laughed at. The guy just sneered at me - I kid you not. His attitude was awful. Different doctor, to be fair. Same surgery though.

It is just so difficult trying to explain things like anxiety and stress and fear; either you find the doctor understands these issues or they simply reject it. I suspect I won't get anymore tomorrow. I'm fed up trying to explain these issues but the guy just seems to think that getting a job would solve all my problems. Just that. Simplistic and I think naive: 'getting a job would solve it all'. No thought as to what job and whether having a shitty job wo…

versus Radio Bristol

Good god, out I go for a quick run this morning (I'm not in the mood for it today) and to accompany me I usually listen to the radio. Unfortunately this morning, on BBC Middle Englandshire FM there's the most ignorant woman (I won't mention her name... for now) presiding over a 'discussion about welfare, specifically the legal case Cait Reilly (have I mentioned her case before?) is bringing regarding workfare. Prior to Christmas she had to work for a couple of weeks for a pound store, unpaid. Free seasonal work for said shop - the sort of work Hayley Taylor likes to champion (and the sort that her TV show doesn't tell you is season unpaid slavery)!

Of course the discussion is full of the usual curtain twitching suburbanites, mainly retired, that ring up to air their ignorance and in some cases prejudice of the unemployed. But what annoys me the most is that the presenter chose to not reveal the full facts until well into the discussion (such as the fact that the job…

Some Thoughts

I haven't really felt much like looking for work these past few days. Fear is such a dreadful emotion; anxiety blunts one's sensitivity until all that remains is a cold fixation on the source thereof. You become withdrawn. Consequently arguments for looking for work are too far removed. It's like listening to someone trying to be heard behind double glazing; you can't hear them, and you can't relate to what they're saying. The problem is the outside world doesn't understand any of this. You are like a radio tuned to a completely alien channel.
There is a real lack of support in this society. A complete dearth of understanding, even a willingness to understand. For too long all I've heard is that work is the answer. Even The Psychologist says this. What hope is there? That's too easy an answer. It's the same with the Work Programme. The JC is too reliant on using them to be the panacea to any claimant's woes/lack of work. This, again, isn'…

Self Esteem

It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear my self esteem isn't what the government would like it to be. But then I wonder if it ever has. I'm not sure how one defines self esteem: how can I step outside of myself and objectively measure such a quality? I gather though that normally people feel pretty confident about their decisions and that second guessing oneself is not a good quality. Of course it's far too easy to say to another 'pull your socks up lad', or some other trite platitude. I've never found that helpful. To me such attitudes are either sink or swim: you either do as commanded, or you feel that bit more alienated. I've always been the latter.

For the past almost 6 years now I've had to tolerate abuse, furtive innuendo and generally be the unwilling victim of the local yobs. For some reason, and I have yet to understand why or how, I have become not only the local figure of fun (which, while bad enough, wouldn't be as much of an issue a…

New Year, New Appointment

First day back at the office! Fifteen minutes of the usual, including the predictable 'how was Christmas'. I can't tell if they are genuinely interested or concerned so I give a guarded reply, besides who wants to discuss personal issues in an open plan Jobcentre? No, I've found Christmas this season to be rather stressful; it wasn't enjoyable (are you allowed to say this about the festive season without coming off as self pitying? probably not).

Then I'm informed of a job that may or may not exist (I don't think it does) that the advisor has noticed and thinks I would be suitable for because it lists the possibility of working from home. I don't think the job is valid because the last time this exact employer advertised the job didn't exist then either. Anyway I saw the job on their website a few days ago and emailed anyway. That should earn me some brownie points.

Discussing this job brought up a quick check of my CV. I would rather not have given t…

Apropos of ? - Conspiracy Theories

Apropos of nothing (a lovely phrase that makes me seem smarter than I is) I wanted to elucidate further on the way I think. Quite why anyone should care, I know not, but I find conspiracy theories absolutely fascinating. I don't really believe that, for instance, the moon landings were faked, aliens live under New Mexico, shape shifting lizards control the monarchy, or that 9/11 was an inside job/the whole New World Order shebang. Though of course to say there aren't conspiracies would be disingenuous - the plot to fly planes into the twin towers was a terrorist conspiracy after all. Just not the same thing that the 'truthers' believe, who, I've noticed, tend to conflate a lot of ideas: new age and occult themes and symbols (the Tower card from the tarot i've seen used to 'predict' 9/11) for instance the Mayan prophecies concerning this year.

All this fascinates me. There's a channel, on Sky freesat (at least), devoted to all this stuff. Edge Media i…

Byrne Out or Fade Away

So Liam Byrne, shiny headed note writer extraordinaire, has created a shitstorm of ignorance in the Guardian this week. This following on from Ed Milibland's comments in the Mail (hmmmn), it seems that Labour are eager to step into the ring with the coalition and talk tough on welfare. Just sounds like the same old Middle England propaganda to direct focus from where blame lies (the ruling rich) to the poor. Tough on benefits, unfortunately not tough on the causes of benefits; it's an article that seeks to do nothing more than to hide behind the spirit of William Beveridge and do little else. No solutions or suggestions are offered so the implication is as I've stated: scroungers are scumbags, let's get tough!

Byrne implies that he thinks, quoting the B Man (about whom I know admittedly little), that benefits should ultimately be conditional. After a time one should go to a...well it's the Work Programme isn't it. He's just parroting the Tory line, disappoi…

Nom, Nom, Nom!

Tuck in Britain, your friends in Government (friendship not included) have provided the means for you lazy poor shmucks to eat proper like.
Unfortunately that doesn't mean foisgras, duck a l'orange, or truffles. What it does mean is that it's going to publish some healthy recipes for us all to eat on the cheap. To that end, it's going to 'encourage' three supermarket chains (Aldi, Asda and The Coop) to offer discounts. What will be discounted and for how much? Er, well that's down to the supermarkets.
A lean idea for a leaner Britain that Diane Abbot correctly identifies as grotesque. She points out that the government could issue vouchers people could use specifically. Instead it's big business as usual.
Every day I wake and wonder just how the government can trump itself, and every day it does. What's next, bully beef, powdered eggs and ration books? Dig for victory Britain - we might give you a few pence off a spade!

New Day, New Year

Happy new year.
Was 2011 the starting course? Will this coming year be the main feast? I think it will. Change is so desperately needed in our society, deep and fundamental change. We can't go on limping along using the same tired platitudes and values as a sticking plaster. Things have got to be different.
Hopefully the Occupy Britain protests will evolve into something positive and bigger. I don't think muddy camps are going to be enough now. Hopefully we can take the scales from off people's eyes so they can see just how much they are getting shafted every day.
It's time we took the fight to the right wing. Is that divisive? Probably. But we've had months and years of the right wing and it's hopeless empty ad hom insults. That's their stock in trade; they have no argument any more. Everything they believe in has been shown to be a lie. Shown to serve only very narrow self interest.
I'm tired of being made to fight over the same pitiful few scraps thrown …