No beginning, no end

There is no end to the liberal thinking these days. In certain aspects we have strict laws.

When it comes to class A, B, C drugs; they have an obvious and immediate addictive detrimental health effect and so they are banned.

Alcohol has a slowly deteriorating effect and it is allowed to be sold widely, though certain by-laws now restrict the anti-social effects of it.

Eating is widely discussed and how over-eating causes a slow deterioration of a person’s health in that obesity sets in.

The overall tendency is to be tolerant and legalize as much as possible as it is thought that tolerance and freedom to choose is the sign of a free society.

It is interesting to see whether we are healthier in a tolerant society or in a restricted one. the answer is easy, as there is no comparison to older societies, which did not have the vast amount of vaccines that we have today. And even in current, more primitive societies with stricter moral codes, use of modern medicines seems to be restricted.

These days we try to solve all problems by vaccinating away the diseases that our modern lifestyles cause.

All negative transgressions of nature that cause us to have any type of noticeable illness; doctors want to find a vaccine against it. Prolonging life is the most important cause society has whilst at the same time lifestyles help people to shorten their lifespans prematurely, just for many to cry out for new solutions to their problems.

I just wonder whether there is any point in having an opinion because politicians are running away with the agenda and make law after law that dictate what we can and cannot do. In the end we just have to ensure that individuals have the right to make a free choice and are not forced into lifestyles because economic circumstances force them to.

 

 

I won my appeal against DWP

I am always better on paper than in person. I thought previously the judges were put off by me. But on this occasion HM Courts and Tribunal Service found in my favour because the DWP wanted to stop my Jobseekers Allowance because they said I did not actively seek work in the 2 weeks when I organised the Queen’s Jubilee Party.

Victory of Common Sense for all volunteers on Jobseekers Allowance.

Added later. The judge ruled: “The appeal is allowed.The decision made on 18.06.12 is set aside. Having considered all of the evidence the tribunal determined that Ms Kaschke was actively seeking employment from 30.05.12 to 12.06.12. Accordingly she is entitled to Jobseekers Allowance over the period……..”Also the judge remarked that “The Tribunal reached a different conclusion on substantially the same facts”.

That is also a factor in so many appeals being won in cases involving disability. There at least 40% of appeals are won and of those 40% 1/3 present no new evidence.Margaret Hodge says that the fault lies firmly within the DWP. My sentiment entirely, as I previously mentioned about Iain Duncan Smith.

I am not disabled but find that there is some tuning necessary between policy and facts in Jobseekers procedures. Job Advisors are very trigger happy and routinely threaten claimants with legal action against them, just in case and to be intimidating.

But also look at the amount of time that has elapsed between the wrong decision being made and the appeal being allowed by the tribunal; that makes 7 months of stress and is also a waste of time and tax payer’s money; though at least a good judge got a job.

The amount you need to live on

Currently it says on benefit letters for Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance ‘The amount the law says you need to live on’. That amount has been calculated on the basis that means tested benefits assume that recipients of such benefits do not pay rent or council tax.

From April of this year, benefits change. We will see universal benefits caps and those stop benefits at a ceiling regardless how many children you have. But that does not assume that single claimants or small families that would fall under the benefits cap would have an amount to live on that the law says they need.

Also the universal benefit will not be paid to old claimants straightaway. Normal benefits will still be paid the old-fashioned way to people.

If Haringey council wins their bid to charge benefit recipients 20% of the council tax then that means that the law will assume that these people need that amount less to live on; yet not all councils charge that minimum payment of 20% of the council tax to all.

As I understand from this article severely disabled residents will be exempt from the council tax. overall though disabled residents get far more benefits than Jobseekers or income support pays.

Nowadays people on Jobseekers or Income Support are pretty much on the bread line already,  so how much does the government say we can be squeezed. Irwin Mitchell lawyers have taken the brave step to represent the disadvantaged before the courts to sort out the dilemma.

There would be no limit as to what a minimum living standard should be if councils can charge council tax to the already destitute. Living standards will fall well below the poverty line even further as they have fallen already.

Considering the government also wants to get rid of tax credits, that will also severely affect the workers on low wages because their standard of living will also erode considerably because the law will no longer assume a minimum standard as a safety net.

But it is probably of significance that the council that gave us Baby P, also are the first to introduce 20% council tax for the destitute to pay.

The problem with old school buildings, reasons to reduce hours of education

In the days when many smaller primary schools were built, they were built for one class per year with kitchens, a playground and hall. In those days, kids were kept in line with either caning or other barbaric disciplinary methods so that one room per class was enough to keep them sitting down all day; with PE, meal and play breaks of course.

Today, we have new laws that forbid the smacking or physical punishment and often also certain forms of verbal or mental punishment, a measure I wholly support. But that means that schools have to deal with many kids of various behavioural or learning requirements still in those 1 class per building schools and that simply doesn’t work out.

There are now much better methods with greater variants, which have discovered a variety of learning disabilities like autism, dyslexia, HTAD and of course also gifted and talented pupils.

The hours of schooling get longer and longer with increasing attempts to send all mums to work all day long too. There are after-school clubs, morning breakfast clubs.

All these requirements need to be housed but the old buildings do not just expand, they are not like balloons that can be blown to expand.

Yet the government imposes the school league tables on all schools the same without giving them equal facilities to deliver the education services. Some Conservatives started to shout bring back caning and seriously held public meetings for that purpose.

I think the type of whole day education that the government is used to delivering is no longer deliverable in the facilities available and the nation cannot afford to extend all small school buildings 2 storeys higher or make buildings wider to accommodate the space needed to deliver all those extra education requirements. Instead they dismiss governing bodies, replace them with Ofsted selected boards or offer the ability to build Free schools with government funding.

New rules for free schools will mean they can open in offices,shops and places like hotels from this summer. This will make monitoring education for statutory quality much more difficult indeed.

How expensive excellent education can be is shown with the example of the Westminster School, an independent secondary school, that charges pupils from 5 – 10 1/2 K per term and uses splendid buildings and facilities.

City of London School for Girls charges around 5 k per term within splendid grounds. It is very concerning that education can now be delivered in back-street establishments and that the statutory monitoring of such schools is obviously more difficult and that facilities in shops or offices do not have the necessary facilities to deliver an overall excellent education that includes play time and sport.

The policy to deliver education in all sorts of cramped places obviously is couched around the primary concern that wants to see women go to work and not have to divert their way to work for bringing children to a local school near the place that they live.

I would say the easiest solution to the current dilemma would be to extend and build onto existing schools but since this government was so busy to sell off playing fields, an educational infrastructure is systematically being demolished.

It still seems like a downgrading of education to allow it to happen in all sorts of building crevices rather than well thought out school buildings that without any doubts include better social value.

Without a doubt it causes continuity of educational services to be more disruptive if education takes place in shops and offices as those sort of buildings quite often change owners, they become unaffordable if the rent goes up or workers using the building vacate to another location.  I think this concept greatly endangers children safety, I am very concerned.

One most obvious solution would be to follow the German model and reduce education to 4 hours per day and give more home work, that would be better manageable in existing buildings. Furthermore it would be much more sensible to reduce then the hours required to work by adults with child care responsibility too.

Death by hand gun the statistics

People killed in 2011 by use of handguns legally or illegally are:

  1. Great Britain = 8 (Pop 62.500.000)
  2. Sweden = 21 (Pop 9.540.065
  3. Switzerland = 34 (Pop  8.000.000)
  4. Germany=  42 (Pop 82.000.000)
  5. Japan = 48 (Pop 127.500.00)
  6. Canada = 52 (Pop 35.000.000)
  7. Israel = 58 (Pop 7.950.000)
  8. United States 10,728 (Pop 315.000.000)

It must be said that the ratio of death per 1000’s of population ratio is particularly  high both for Switzerland and Israel. It would be interesting to compare other statistics alongside, e.g. deaths by traffic accident or various health conditions for example. Statistics of substance and alcohol abuse are also important.

Showing is the fact that prohibition of ownership does not stop use as Britain is an example of this but having easy access makes it an ‘easy’ solution for many to solve problems with.  The US has roughly over 200 times more gun killings than Canada and Japan but US has 10 times more people than Canada and only 3 times more than Japan when Japan is a tiny country compared to the US, it doesn’t make sense to say that close living causes the stress that makes people kill.

gun-control-stats-2013

I do not know about the law in those countries about gun ownership. However I came across another set of interesting statistics about the causes of death and the article says that death by Baseball bat is the biggest culprit. See the picture.

Good News for children around the world

Now even Australia follows suit and starts a child abuse investigation. I am greatly in favour of stopping institutionalised child abuse, which most often starts with big institutions and has to some extent always children in care involved. Care is the ideal breeding ground for child abuse as there is no emotionally attached adult able to stop the abuse to a child. That is how families work, in a family the caring parent always helps the child because they love it. Love is something that is always missing in care environments, the right kind of love, the kind of love that loves a child without sexually abusing it. What it means to love a child is to help it to become an adult without getting anything in return.

Now I come to think that actually Gordon Brown was the big ambassador for unconditional love because all the children in the western world can thank him for initiating that process that helped free children from global abuse. Gordon Brown, the most vilified premier in British history, dared to outlaw child physical punishment in schools and by parents, which is the most important fact in the process that helped to stop child abuse generally.Incidentally was the most hounded premier by the British press.  That makes me think again. Maybe he was the most hounded and ridiculed prime minister because he put a stop to the processes that helped abuse children.

Seeing that senior Conservatives were at some time in the picture, an accusation hastily withdrawn and apologised for, too hastily for my taste, I wonder why it is that the Conservative Party has hardly gotten any of the old guard in the limelight now. That the whole Conservative leadership has renewed itself and previously unknown figures appear to lead the party, that normally would not have come out of the woodwork that quickly. Maybe the Conservative leadership knew how rotten it was and decided it was better to de-thrown the old guard, as they knew some of them were unsavoury characters.

Considering that Jimmy Savile threatened in his lifetime to take others down with him, if he gets prosecuted, it makes me very bitter to see that actually nothing ever happened during his lifetime, which makes the whole society seem even more corrupt than ever. It is very significant that only after his death things came to light, because now he cannot name and shame the powerful figures any longer, that he threatened to disclose during his lifetime.

Facts are that Savile was big in the Catholic Church, he was very well connected to all types of powerful figures too. 2 murdered prostitutes were found near his flat and somebody who was already condemned to lifelong imprisonment took the blame for that. The Yorkshire Ripper, then became best friends with Savile who visited him often. Makes me sick really.

The big drama at the BBC now, has drawn away attention from the child abuse element by putting Entwitles pay and resignation into the limelight, just anything is good enough to divert attention from the real  issues. Apparently the current Conservative government wants to reinstate more care for children again, when previously it was thought that children are safer with natural parents or other family members. And of course Barnardos is very much in favour of that.

Clarity lacking in DWP workforce schemes

Cait Reilly has lost her case in the High Court before Lord Justice Foskett. But there was a ruling on the clarity of regulations, which is quite important but I understand from the report in the Guardian newspaper that the DWP even sought to appeal that ruling. I reported on the original case some time ago.

Lord Justice Foskett pointed out that, I quote from the newspaper:

“The judge said both Reilly and Wilson were each entitled to a declaration that there had been breaches of the 2011 jobseeker’s allowance regulations in their cases.

Mistakes had been made in notifying Reilly about the requirements of the Work Academy Scheme so that she did not appreciate the scheme was not mandatory. Wilson had been given inadequate notice about the Community Action Programme.”

Indeed to date the DWP website declares that one can volunteer as long as one wants in any chosen field, as long as one doesn’t breach any DWP regulations, whatever that means.  I personally cannot see much evidence of it changing that the DWP tells people that the volunteer scheme is not mandatory and indeed the DWP intended to appeal against that part of the ruling.

I further quote from the article:

“The law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), who acted for Reilly and Wilson, said the issuing of flawed warning letters meant that “tens of thousands of people stripped of their benefits must now be entitled to reimbursement by the DWP”.

The PIL spokeswoman Tessa Gregory said: “As of January 2012, over 22,000 people had been stripped of their benefits for failing to participate in the Work Programme alone.”

Indeed many single parents, mostly mothers have been cut off their benefits simply by having to change over from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance when their child reaches a certain age, which drives many to food banks, which are mostly organised by churches. If the single women have no family they rely on asking for a crisis loan or food banks but those not very versatile might just end up in prostitution, which is a very unpleasant side product of that regulation and not recommended at all.

It was always the holy rule of benefits distribution, especially to mothers that no gap should exist in benefits distribution as not to risk the care children get in their homes. That ethos no longer exists now, it is very concerning indeed.

On the other hand and I quote the DWP says:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the comparison with slave labour was “ridiculous”.

“Thousands of young people across the country are taking part in our schemes and gaining the vital skills and experience needed to help them enter the world of work – it is making a real difference to people’s lives.

“Those who oppose this process are actually opposed to hard work and they are harming the life chances of unemployed young people who are trying to get on,” a DWP spokesperson said.”

I can detect strong references to the age of claimants. Yet I am 60 now and I have been forced onto these work force schemes and still have a case ongoing before a work tribunal now whereby the DWP has refused to pay me 2 weeks jobseekers allowance because I volunteered for a Queen’s Jubilee party and the DWP allege I did not do enough to find paid work in that time. Definitely it was very hard work to organise that party, yet no work finding scheme earned any money on that but the government saved themselves a lot of money by giving grants to people who organised those parties on a voluntary basis. Quite a lot of organisations gave out grants at the time and were desperate for volunteers to organise those Queen’s Jubilee parties, I doubt that anybody in full-time work would have found the time to do it.

Austerity and privatisation don’t match

It is more than stupid from this modern Conservative government to introduce more privatisation whilst at the same time driving us further into austerity. Only a well developing economy can support more and more privatisation but privatisation can never prosper under austerity because private firms rely on profits and if they do not make profits, they cannot deliver service.

The latest attempts to further dismantle pensions are a clear proof of this. Care for disabled and elderly people has clearly deteriorated in private homes. The alternative suggested by Duncan Smith and his pals is to dismantle pensions as we know them as well and have the very old looked after by the elderly. I feel sorry for the very old already.

Just imagine what type of patchy care a very old and frail person would receive if looked after by an elderly person who themselves have greater health-care needs.

It has been established for around 200 years in the western world, and we were promised by the governments, that if we pay our 1st class, 2nd class or so contributions then we get a pension from age 60 – 65. That was then slowly dismantled by starting to close the age gap between men and women and now there is a suggestion to get rid of pensions altogether by making old people volunteer for their pensions.

Has Great Britain become a rip-off society? Clearly it is a simple breach of contract to promise people a pension if they pay insurance contributions or stamps as they are also known by, in exchange for a pension when they then don’t get a pension.

I think pensioners would have a case asking for their money back if they get their pension cut off despite having paid their contributions over their lifetime and then get their pensions reduced or cut off for any reason other than not having paid enough contributions.

Unfortunately Iain Duncan Smith is the driving force behind that move, he is currently in charge of Works and Pensions and one of the few ministers that escapes a change in the recent cabinet re-shuffle.

Of course we see also that complaints about health services have soared since health care has been partly privatised, since the NHS has been slowly dismantled and we have seen whole health care trusts going deep into the red. What is the cause of our care problems is not only increasing old age, it is the privatisation of services, lets just be clear about that.

The naked prince of Las Vegas

Obviously the person who took those pictures must be familiar to Prince Harry, as I do not suppose that this nakedness happened in a crowded room full of people but it rather looks like an intimate little party to me. The pictures have been carefully selected to cover up the lady but show the prince in a relatively modest pose. I am sure there are much more naughty snaps.

Is public nakedness now in fashion? The judge dealing with the naked rambler doesn’t think so and kept him behind bars, under lock and key pending a psychiatric assessment. Stephen Gough now has an argument in that it has become acceptable to show yourself of naked in public in one form or another whether on the street like he does or in pictorial form like Prince Harry does.

Of course the Sun is desperate to sell papers, in the light of plenty of free reading material laying around like Metro and Evening Standard.

The fight for the reader’s money bring papers to more risk taking and we are confronted with increasing nakedness and private stuff. Thanks for sparing us toilet pictures and the like.

I do not want to compare Prince Harry with Stephen Gough, I want to compare our society with Stephen Gough. We want to see naked bodies, Stephen shows it and we can’t wait to see more.

Of course good old Mary Whitehouse knew that this would happen and she was booed on many occasions for trying to prevent the obvious. Ever since nuns threw away their veils society has become more hungry for the flesh.

The probably ensuing legal case between the Palace and News International might help to define the meaning of privacy or what we really need to see as the public these days. But then the old Greeks had no problem with the naked torso; ;look at the beautiful statues.

The fantasy that ensues the onlookers mind is their problem isn’t it? Obviously not every person gets the same emotional reactions when they look at naked flesh surely it is very much an individual’s thing.

Swimming is hard to do in the UK

Just watched with fascination how Rebecka Addlington had to swim faster to win her bronze medal than she swam for her Gold previously. Some 17 year old swimmers train 4 hours per day to reach their career goals.

But here  in the UK it is really difficult for a child to get into swimming. Having grown up in Germany, my home town Wuerzburg has a huge open air lido with 50 meter pool and it was affordable to spend all day there and swim as long as one wanted.

Here in the UK, London to be specific, pools are hard to get by. Our local pool York Hall was threatened with closure some years ago and that has only got a 25 meter lane. My child’s favourite sport is swimming and she does it since age 4.

Yet her local school does not even go swimming with the children until the kids reach class 4, when kids are age 9-10; they do not take children swimming at all in year 6. I suppose that is down to the fact that such a small pool can only accommodate so many classes per week.

I put her into a local swimming club, the Bethnal Green Sharks who do their best to help the local kids to achieve in the cramped 25 meter pool. The lack of pools makes swimming very expensive. A year’s membership in the swimming club gives a person 1 hours swimming per week for £200. Then to do swimming in the pool privately costs £1 per session.

It is very expensive to learn competitive swimming here in the UK and especially London where pools are scarce and schools are not very keen to teach children to swim.

Artistic activities are much more sponsored, they do not need special facilities but that reflected in the Olympic opening ceremony that the UK is traditional hooked on arts and not so much on sport.

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