Poverty, women and age

Today, I watched a few videos on YouTube about women in poverty, many of whom are homeless or illegally living in a caravan, particularly if they are pensioners. They may get a small pension, but it’s not enough to live on AND rent a place.

They live in the US, Australia, or New Zealand. (I already know quite a bit about the situation in the UK, where one third of the people live in poverty.) They are 48, 57 or 69 years old.

From reading newspapers, I get the impression that poverty is very slowly starting to creep up in the Netherlands too now. That is where I am from, a country where most people still have incomes with lifestyles that now come across as obscene to me, but that I used to see as normal.

There is not necessarily anything wrong with it – apart from the resource consumption that can be linked to it – but I call it obscene because of the giant contrast with the lives I see around me.

To give a comparison that they may be able to understand, their lives are like having gold taps and gold handles throughout the house and expensive champagne with smoked salmon and caviare at breakfast every day.

What strikes me particularly about the stories of the women in the videos is that they never expected to live in poverty and are totally gobsmacked by the fact that they are.

But here is the thing. It’s not them. They didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. It’s mostly the result of sheer coincidence.

Several of them mentioned the 2008 financial crisis. (Thank you, banks.) Others mentioned a divorce, hence suddenly being without a home.

They grew up in a time when life was still good. For most of them, it was a reasonable expectation that they would not be poor a few decades later.

It’s made me remember that in 2006 or thereabouts, various articles more or less predicted this rise in poverty, this sharpening division in the haves and have-nots. There was a lot of talk about corn, and the price of it. The articles said that we were heading for a time of food insecurity and a lot of poverty. It worried me. It sounded alarming. It made me look into emigrating to countries with much lower living expenses and the kind of climate in which I thrive.

If you thrive, physically, you can do more work. If you live in pleasant surroundings and don’t struggle with paying the bills, you maintain better health, too. All of these factors help.

I seem to recall that those articles also said that knowledge workers would increasingly get into difficulties, but that the opportunities for creatives would likely become much better. Back then, I had no idea what that meant in practice. (Maybe the people who wrote those articles did not know either.) It is starting to dawn on me now.

Once you’re in real poverty, it’s almost impossible to get out of, it seems, unless you have an extraordinary stroke of luck, for most people.

There have to be ways to solve this, stop this from progressing. Yo, creatives, can you come up with some bright ideas?

The focus of the world is shifting. The articles predicted that too. It’s true. The United States no longer run the world.

Some of the women in the YouTube videos solved their homelessness by taking up house-sitting, although that also sometimes meant that they were no longer eligible for social housing. One of the women has MS, the relapsing-remitting version, and no health insurance.

Something else struck me, too. These women were too nice about it all, too accepting, taking their worries and bouts of depression in stride.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches.”

True, but rolling with the punches means that the punches barely touch you and don’t hurt you. When the punches hurt and you never asked for them, never started the fight yourself, you’re entitled to a bit of anger. There are power and energy in certain kinds of anger – but women are still not supposed to get angry.

At least two narcissists run big countries?

Donald Trump appears to be a so-called grandiose or malignant or overt narcissist, and I am starting to suspect that Theresa May is a narcissist as well.

Her behaviour caught my attention off and on over the years, but I thought she was merely being fairly typically British, certainly for a politician. Now I wonder…

She is heartless/without an apparent capacity for empathy, when she does dish out “sweetness” it is almost always faked for effect, she is calculating and obstinate, lies constantly and does not even flinch when she is caught red-handed, as if she thinks it merely shows how smart she is, she occasionally acts all personally injured, it is impossible to have a genuine conversation with her and not replying at all to clear questions is one of her favourite tactics.

The way she smiles in this video, it’s… kinda nuts, but it seems to fit with how a narcissist might respond. She appears to love how powerless and frustrated – exasperated – her blunt refusal to answer makes Jeremy Corbyn.

And this refusal to reply is not about who ate the cookies.

That makes it even stranger.

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It is more or less how Donald Trump would respond too, right? Or am I seeing ghosts?

There has been research into how it would be perceived if a woman said the things that Donald Trump says. It turned out that the public finds it far more acceptable when it comes from a woman. I find that interesting!

Make no mistake, nobody chooses to have a narcissistic personality disorder. It is a brain-based condition and the exasperation that the condition can cause in others is not that different, perhaps, from the exasperation people can feel toward people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, another, albeit different brain-based condition.

Why the NHS does not get enough funding

Because of all the money that goes into bad administration. Bad government.

“The UK has allocated £2bn ($2.5bn) in funding to government departments” to deal with a Brexit worst-case scenario.

“3,500 troops will be put on standby to maintain essential services”

Imagine what the NHS could have done with those TWO BILLION pounds!

The British motto of “never admit defeat” is starting to look pretty ridiculous, fighting an imaginary war that, in reality, is a war against itself.

 

 

Also quintessentially British is this?

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A few years ago, I read a story about a man who was constantly being hassled by British police wherever he went. Turns out that he had once attended some kind of relatively innocent demonstration and that got him into a police data base that got his car or his face flagged wherever he went.

19 December 2018
Here is more: https://rightsinfo.org/mass-surveillance-in-londons-west-end/ (Mass Surveillance In London’s West End As Unmarked Police Vans Scan 18,000 People Per Minute)

Quintessentially British?

This, too: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/kicked-punched-knocked-unconscious-tipped-out-of-wheelchairs-campaigners-describe-repeated-police-targeting-of-disabled-anti-fracking-protesters/

It’s happened before, a few years ago, when people in wheelchairs and pensioners (off the top of my head) protested against their ability to travel being severely cut short. Police hit back hard.

Here is a link:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10922230/Video-shows-pensioner-protesting-against-cuts-to-free-travel-being-restrained-by-police.html

In both situations, people were knocked unconscious by police.

Rights that protect against socioeconomic disadvantage are long overdue – the UK is already paying the price

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Swingeing changes are overdue.
Peter Gudella/Shutterstock

Peter Roderick, Newcastle University and Allyson Pollock, Newcastle University

In 2018, two anniversaries and a crucial decision loom large in the UK. We saw in the 70th anniversary of the NHS in July, while December 10 marks the 70th birthday of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. On December 11, the UK parliament will also vote on the prime minister’s EU withdrawal deal. The coming together of health, human rights and Brexit, raises questions of huge practical and constitutional significance.

The recent UK visit of Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, highlighted the effects of government policies on austerity and universal credit. Life expectancy rises have stalled, infant and neonatal mortality rates have risen, and 4.5m children are living in poverty.




Read more:
Reality of poverty in Newcastle, England: UN examines effect of austerity


Human rights are constitutionally important in constraining what politicians and public bodies can do, and they can necessitate action. Government must not, for example, interfere with enjoyment of rights and must even prevent third parties, such as private companies, from doing so. In the UK’s system of parliamentary supremacy, human rights can always be taken away. But incorporating human rights into UK law – as the Human Rights Act (HRA) does with the rights to life, a fair trial, and the prohibition of torture, from the European Convention on Human Rights – makes this politically more difficult and controversial.

The HRA itself is not affected by Brexit because the law stems from the Council of Europe, a separate organisation to the EU.

However, Brexit will directly affect other rights. The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes many rights relevant to health and the social determinants of health, and the special emphasis in EU law on the rights of persons with disabilities, will no longer apply. Brexit would also allow parliament to downgrade, for example, the 24 EU-derived employment rights identified by the UK Court of Appeal.

Social rights

Legal recognition of children’s rights has certainly increased but, like general economic and social rights – such as the rights to health, to an adequate standard of living, including food and housing, to social security and to just and favourable working conditions – they have never been guaranteed in UK law as human rights. This is despite the UK having accepted UN treaties recognising these rights in 1976 and 1991, respectively.

Many of these rights were also accepted by the UK as long ago as 1962 in the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter. However, Colm O’Cinneide, former vice-president of the charter’s monitoring body, recently wrote that there were “substantial defects in how the fundamental social rights set out in the charter are implemented within [UK] national law and policy”, with “serious failings … which in some circumstances have persisted for decades”.

In England, a public sector duty to reduce inequalities that result from socioeconomic disadvantage – enacted in the final days of the Gordon Brown Labour government – has still not been brought into effect. Theresa May, when minister for women and equalities, described it in 2010 as “ridiculous”.

Scotland has a slightly better story to tell. The duty was brought into effect there from April 2018. The human right to social security was at least recognised as a principle in June 2018, and recommendations of the Scottish first minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights, due on December 10, are expected to suggest how social rights could be put into domestic law in the country.

The dismantling of the postwar welfare state, and outsourcing of health, social care, water and other public services to private companies has been an incremental process over several decades.

NHS: much valued by the public.
John Gomez/Shutterstock

Policies such as the private finance initiative have brought into sharp focus the transfer of wealth, degrading work conditions and the creation of a two-tier workforce. If economic and social rights had been put into UK law as human rights, then eroding the legal basis for ensuring the social determinants of health would have been much more difficult.

Entrenching these rights would be no panacea – and ultimately parliamentary supremacy would remain in place – but they would be both a check on how politicians and public bodies exercise their power, and would compel politicians to act. As Alston said, legislative recognition of social rights should be “a central part” of reimagining what the UK represents and how it protects its people post-Brexit. Seventy years is too long to have waited to deliver on the promises of the Universal Declaration. In a divided, alienated, backward-looking “austerity” Britain, the time has come to make good on social rights.The Conversation

Peter Roderick, Principal Research Associate, Newcastle University and Allyson Pollock, Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

When irrational fears on the side of police officers cause deaths, people sometimes get angry…

This concerns my home town of St. Petersburg in the US. I’d just left…

Tyron Lewis was an unarmed teenager. Of course he was black. Hence automatically considered dangerous. And shot. Killed.

I watched the news about it on TV from Amsterdam but for most people around me, it was just another Rodney King story that happened on the other side of the world. It did not concern them.

Particularly for young people (?), the internet – still in its infancy back then, with most people not even using e-mail – enabling like-minded strangers from all over the world to connect has changed this.

(Or has it?)

I knew from my own experiences in St. Petersburg that there were officers in St. Pete who were scared. For their own lives. Expecting the worst. (I once had to ask for police assistance when I came home and found my front door locked from the inside. Seemed a bit peculiar, best to take no risks and let the professionals deal with it. To my astonishment, the officers were much more scared and nervous than I was.)

This video has great sound. One of the reasons why I am posting it.

An afterthought… Britain has its white oppressed and their numbers are growing. There have been deaths, though not from police brutality but through government cruelty.

The government denies almost of all of it. Is that wise?

Why Portsmouth should diminish traffic

I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn. If you’re interested, you can find it, and you don’t need me to post the link here. Southampton can’t do anything as drastic as this. Bournemouth can’t. Chichester can’t. London can’t. But Portsmouth can.

And Portsmouth can turn this into a giant plus and use it to boost the economy, but it won’t. Because it is drowning in crap such as bullying and corruption, also at city council level, and likes seeing itself as the powerless whining underdog a little bit too much. There is very little true vision left in this town, where too much of the focus is on traditional capitalism and on the past. The industries of the past are GONE, folks. Quit waffling about that and move forward.

Here are a few links to supporting studies:

All I hear is stupid excuses.

  • The impact of cars on our space

    No space for trams. Sure there is!

  • The people with more than 2 cars will protest and shout very loudly. Wear ear plugs! (What about the 80 or 90% or 95% of the rest of your population? 70% have no car or only 1 car. Many of Portsmouth’s inhabitants hardly ever get out of Portsmouth.)
  • Shop owners will complain. Show them that most of their customers are actually coming from within a small radius and give them decent business support! Most are probably delusional in thinking that their customers come from miles away and may blame traffic measures for their own failures (a certain pet supplies shop owner comes to mind).
  • A certain lawyer will whine. Tell her to shut up. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. (If she makes you feel stupid and ignorant, that’s because she is talking complete rubbish!)

Continue reading

Trouble finding a home to rent in Britain?

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The illegality of British government actions

Time to reblog this.

Angelina Souren: "We need to talk about this"

A pattern is starting to emerge. The British government does not display a lot of respect for the law.

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England still stands outside Europe

That’s what British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote at the end of the First World War, one hundred years ago (in The Economic Consequences of the Peace).

“England still stands outside Europe. Europe’s voiceless tremors do not reach her. Europe is apart and England is not of her flesh and body. But Europe is solid with herself. France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Holland, Russia and Roumania and Poland throb together, and their structure and civilisation are essentially one.”

Now, one hundred years later, Britain’s inequality is staggering, so bad that it pulls down the measure for equality for the entire EU, yet Brits have been told that the EU is to blame for their misery, along with lots of other lies.

One hundred years ago, Keynes wrote about how odd it was for him, an Englishman based in Paris for a while, to go back to London for quick visits and find it so distant.

“But it is under the influence of Paris, not London, that this book has been written by one who, though an Englishman, feels himself a European also, and, because of too vivid recent experience, cannot disinterest himself – as opposed to the people in Britain at the time, AS – from the further unfolding of the great historic drama of these days which will destroy great institutions, but may also create a new world.”

Is England, one hundred years later, still as aloof, and still as deaf and blind to what is going on in the world?

And does the EU, in order to flourish, really need a Britain that loves to be proud of how it isolates itself from the rest of the world and how it milks its poor to balance its books?

I worry more about the negative influence that this may have on other countries than that I “worry” about the boost foreigners provide to the British economy year after year after year and what they do for people’s outlook on life.

When you hear Brits in southern England say, angrily, “What’s he got to be smiling about?” – and perhaps even with suspicion – about a young Polish man with a positive outlook on life, meaning that he won’t let the rain in his life bring him down, and when you literally hear Brits curse all day long you realise that Britain’s problem isn’t the EU.

Britain is the fifth richest nation in the world. This means that it could do so much better for its own people, but its government refuses to, and fights its own people, the EU and UN on these points, spending quite a bit of money on it, too:

https://angelinasouren.com/2018/01/31/the-illegality-of-british-government-actions/

Yes, I too feel that some European regulations are getting out of hand. It seems ridiculous that you literally can’t serve coffee or tea with cookies without needing to go on a course first. But if I then think of the two recent deaths that occurred in Britain because two young women with severe allergies were served food (in a commercial setting) that was supposed to be free from allergens but wasn’t, I see the point.

Takes herself to night school to understand the law

 

Why did they all lay down? To sleeheep?

 

 

The other America
You can find her Sunday
Sitting by a stream
On her own
All alone
The other America
Might show up on Tuesday
At your kitchen door
She will ask politely
“Is anybody home?
Or did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
The other America
Takes herself to night school
To understand the law
She may bring you questions
When she finds the flaw
“Why did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
We could be opening a doorway
Globally but that’s okay
Once upon a time you had faith
You would not be swayed
By fools untouched by clairvoyance
And you swore that we’d be brave
Well, not today
No, not today
Because we all lay down
To sleep through the now
And if we all lay down
She’ll be waiting for us
Where the rivers cross
Once we wake from our rest
“All the best,” the Other America

 

Where is the other Britain?

RISE!

Something you may want to watch

It may also shatter your illusions, however, if you still believe that police are the good ones, the ones (that you pay for through your council tax, in Britain) to help keep you safe and secure and protect your basic rights.

This morning, this caught my eye:

(Scottish) Police Pause Rollout Of Device That Hacks Into Phones After Fears ‘It Is Unlawful’

I suspect that police in England and Wales already are using these “kiosks” that hack into people’s phones and laptops, overriding passwords.

I am sure it can be great fun for some officers to play with these “kiosks”. You can almost hear them talk. “I knew it! She’s a lesbian!” and “Does he really think he stands a chance with that woman?” and “Oh my god! Trying to lose weight? Fat chance!”

Yep, very useful.</end of sarcasm>

We need an alternative to police. Because going to or contacting the police has become one of the worst things to do in almost any situation. (Unless your insurance company wants a copy of a report after a burglary or theft, but leave it at that and do not ask police to do anything else other than give you a copy of the report.) How it got to this point? It’s immaterial. It’s what we have in the here and the now.

As Michael Doherty (a former aircraft engineer who made the mistake of reporting something to police and expecting police to follow up on it) says in the video below, you do have the right to investigate on your own, to try to detect and stop crime on your own. If your investigation is successful, you can also prosecute on your own. (I am talking about England and Wales.)

But before you choose this path, as I have stated several times before, look into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 because police and others can use this against you, assuming that you are unaware of 1(3)(a), which most people probably are. That means that, before you know it, you can already have confessed to a crime that you didn’t actually commit. To prevent this, you need to know what the law says.

I repeat and highlight:

(3) Subsection (1) [F4 or (1A)] does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—

(a) that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,

(b) that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or

(c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

(Whether it says “and” or “or” makes a difference. It means that each of these conditions on its own applies, that they do not have to apply all at once.)

The video below dates back to 2015, is rather academic and particularly in the beginning lacks a logical thread, in my opinion, but does contain useful information.

You may want to read this as well:
The Human Rights Act Can Transform Lives Without Going To Court

(Also, if you want to protect yourself from police with a camera, you need to have one that does not have wifi or bluetooth.)

It is possible to resolve many situations or at least make them somewhat liveable without going to police, and much more successfully and/or peacefully. If you try this after you’ve been to police, however, police officers are likely to hold it against you. (This is mean because most people who contacted the police in the past decade will have been told that police wouldn’t investigate and would do nothing with what they told the police owing to a lack of resources and/or will have been referred to their GP and the local civic offices.)

Unfortunately, most of us learn these things the hard way – and you can’t undo having contacted the police.

Punitive, mean-spirited and often callous

That is what the United Nations have called the British government’s treatment of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.

You can read more on the site of The Independent and on the site of the BBC.

You can also read this pdf: 1 Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights London, 16 November 2018

I discussed that in my book too (and I believe that it is linked to a British-designed approach to life called utilitarianism):

 

What’s being said in the BBC article about the, well, delusional focus of the ministers is excellently depicted by this photo I took on 29 October. The text in this government poster at a local bus stop contains not a promise but a threat, as wages in Britain aren’t particularly high (to put in an understatement). Universal credit is the new benefits system, by the way.

I found the tone of this poster mean-spirited. That’s why I took the photo.

Avoiding food-bank dependency

By giving people what they need.

By definition, you make people dependent if you don’t always give them what they need (because you don’t want them to become dependent on you). If they can count on you, they don’t become dependent on you and their whole life not longer has to revolve on how to get food, the way most wildlife lives.

Instead, they can start to focus on on how to get out of poverty.

Give people the experience of abundance and prosperity. Teach them that prosperity and abundance exist and also possible for them.

The need for food is part of biology. People do not decide to become “dependent on food”. We all are dependent on food.

So either give them enough food or give them enough income.

My otherness

Living in an economically deprived English neighbourhood sometimes goes like this.

You quickly walk to a local supermarket (for two packets of oat cookies) and on the way, a guy seems to want to stop you to ask for directions. But what he says is “You walk like a young lady.”

He adds “You’ve got youth in your step!”

It emphasises my otherness.

What I have is purpose. What I have is two immediate deadlines on my desk, an online course to make, someone else’s grant proposal about to turn up, and also a research paper in the pipeline. He doesn’t.

In central Oxford, by contrast, most people have my fast pace, many actually walking much faster.

Most of county Hampshire is relatively sleepy to start with. Here where I live, many people have relatively little to do and saving whales is not on their mind when they’re out and about.

I didn’t know what to say back to him, so I simply laughed, taken by surprise.

Because what I also have is the absence of the British notion that people who are over 35 are no longer young. He was trying to make me feel young, but what he did was make me realize that he saw me as someone with one foot in the grave.

I LOL. It doesn’t matter.

Normally, when something like this happens, I’ll say something along the lines of “thank you” but today, feeling flabbergasted dominated too much for that.

Sorry dude. I know you meant well.

This is probably pretty hilarious (read: embarrassing) considering that I just wrote an article on LinkedIn about how we all share more than makes us different but that there is a lot more diversity among human beings than we’ve thought for a long time.

It enriches our lives.

I am sorry that I didn’t thank the guy. It was his awareness of his own mortality that made him say what he said and he saw that as a similarity. He was right.

Thich Nhat Hanh might have said that I didn’t give the guy my presence and that I had not been walking in awareness. He would have been right too.

 

Council tax and care leavers

This morning, I received an e-mail from Jacq who is part of the Campaigns team at The Children’s Society. As a result, I contacted my local council. (Council = local government.) Apparently, roughly half of Britain’s council’s are helping so-called “care leavers” with their council tax bills, whether Labour-led, Lib-Dem-led, Green-led or Conservative-led.

My council does not do that yet. It means that the roughly 230 care leavers in Portsmouth are worse off than care leavers in, for example North-Somerset, which has the same number of care leavers.

See: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaign-for-change/a-fairer-start-for-care-leavers

When young people who have been in a care home or in foster care are thrust into society on the basis of their age, they have had almost no financial education, apparently, and little or no preparation for what it means to live on your own.

Particularly council tax bills tend to get them into trouble. I think that makes sense. These so-called care leavers may never have heard of council tax, and they’re not seeing anything tangible in return for paying these bills. It makes sense for young people to ignore them. You pay water bills for water, electricity bills in return for electricity, council tax bills because you use… eh, what?

Since my move to Britain, I have tried to explain council tax to educated adults in other countries a few times and they too are flabbergasted by the idea of “council tax”. In response, I was even told once that I was paying someone else’s taxes, was paying bills I should not have to pay – by someone who’s probably never paid a bill late even once throughout his entire life.

If the concept of council tax is that incomprehensible to educated adults in other countries, it probably makes even less sense to young care leavers.

Unless councils step in to support these care leavers, council tax ruins these young people’s lives before they’ve even had a chance at a life.

(Of course, the real issue includes the lack of support they’ve obviously had while in care. Fixing that is more complicated and more expensive, however.)