Little_Mavis' rants and musings

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Things I Don’t Understand #3

How do the Current Government get away with behaving the way they do?

In general, I am stupidly optimistic about life. I try not to be, as optimists are often disappointed. One alternative is to be a pessimist with no surprises except pleasant ones but existing in a perpetual state of misery. The sensible approach is a sort of positive realism. Knowing what things are likely to actually be right but looking on the bright side as much as possible. This avoids the general misery but gives you the impetus that comes from being positive.

This is all increasingly difficult to do just now. Every time I think things must surely start to look up, they don’t. I’m sure you will realise that the cause of my constant disappointment is the current Government. I still manage to be regularly amazed by their arrogance, hypocrisy and lack of empathy. Below are just a few illustrations.

We have Mark Hoban telling us that the £500/week benefit cap will encourage people back into work and in the following sentence justifying it by saying that working people have to manage on less than that.

We have Iain Duncan Smith telling people he could survive on £53/week after apparently previously attempting to claim £39 on expenses for a breakfast

We have Michael Gove insisting that his new curriculum is designed to enable poor children to progress and improve their lot while ignoring the obstacles that the current wave of welfare reforms are strewing in their path like modern day caltrops. Laura McInerney wrote eloquently about it here

The implication is that if you go to school, work hard (leaving aside the additional effort and dedication required to do that if you come from a deprived background) you will be able to go to a “good” university (don’t worry about the enormous debt you will build up to cover the fees and assuming your accent and/or lack of smart clothes and social capital don’t reduce your chances of a place too much) Of course, even if  you do get a place at a top university, you still  have to follow this up by actually getting a job. These days it really does seem that you need to know the right people to get into some of the high flying positions that Michael Gove wants all our children to aspire to.

Gove talks a lot about the value of Cultural Capital. I’ve been reading up on this since it has been talked about so much and I understand and agree that it is important. I come from a working class background and went to an old fashioned Grammar School and then a “good” university. I acquired cultural capital along the way (although there is a lot I still don’t know about the Arts). However, what I also read about was Social Capital and that is where I start to get really cross.

Recently posts were written about this statement and focused on what an unpleasant man IDS was and how he had arranged for his wife to be paid a salary for apparently doing very little. However, what struck me most about it was some of the incidental information. For example

Mr Duncan Smith had chosen to move his previous Private Secretary, Miss Annabelle Eyre, the daughter of Lady Monica Eyre, a long standing family friend of Mrs Duncan Smith, to become Head of Planning and Tours.”


“Mrs Watson was given responsibility for finding a replacement private secretary for Mr Duncan Smith’s constituency office and Miss Cara Walker, a graduate who had left university that summer (2002) and is a friend of Mrs Watson’s daughter who is of a similar age, was immediately appointed.”

Well, that’s all very cosy isn’t it? I have no basis on which to judge their competence at the job or their qualifications for it but I doubt that someone brought up on a council estate in Basildon would have connections they could use in this way. Social Capital not cultural. And no amount of fiddling around with the curriculum will fix that!

So. What is my point? To be honest I’m not sure I can put it into one sentence. The current politicians seem to be blinkered and unable to see anything outside of their tiny, over-privileged world. They have no embarrassment about wanting everyone to tighten their belts while claiming still ridiculous amounts of expenses, and they think this is acceptable! Does anyone think this is OK?


Things I don’t understand #1

I’m beginning to think I must be far more intellectually limited than I previously realised. There is so much I  just don’t understand.

The first issue that puzzles me at the moment is the “economic crisis”. I realise that there are more people around than (say) 10 years ago, although we have coped quite successfully with population increase in the past. I also realise (unlike many) that natural resources are ultimately diminishing, but again, that doesn’t seem to be where the problem lies. So let me work through this.

We still have the same amount of money (slightly more since we seem to have printed more) We have a few more people, but suddenly the country can’t afford stuff, and as a consequence lots of us can’t afford stuff.

I know why I can’t. I left a reasonably well-paid job and have taken a far less stressful but worse paid one. I know why other people who are in poorly paid jobs can’t. They have had reductions in the benefits which they used to top up income from even more poorly paid jobs. There are also the people who have been made redundant, either through public sector job cuts or through reduction in profits of private companies because all the rest of us can’t afford to buy things now.

What I really want to know is WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE? It was there before; it doesn’t seem to have been destroyed. Where is it?

I don’t believe it’s all being drunk, smoked and gambled by the poor. Admittedly, I have some (diminishing) savings that were put away for my old age, and although it now looks as if I may need that more than ever, there may not actually be much left by then but that’s not enough to explain the current crisis. So people WHO HAS IT? And why can’t we get it back?

I know I’m over-simplifying, it’s one of my vices but the question is still out there.