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Welfare

The Cost of Living Crisis

Labour Party politicians at national and local level are going around talking about a ‘cost of living crisis’. Presumably their spin-doctors have told them that this could be a vote-winner. They could be right as it’s true that over the past few years the cost of living has being rising faster than wages and welfare benefits (except the state pension). But what can Labour do about this? Basically, nothing. They are not even promising to do much. It’s just a ploy to give the impression that they care about people’s concerns.

Care, or Couldn’t Care Less?

Care is a fairly unambiguous word: to look after, to feel affection, and concern for somebody or something. A recent inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into care begins with the opening statement: ‘One test of the morality of a society is how it treats its elderly’. How do you determine morality in a society that has seen ruling class consent to brutal dictatorships and the mass slaughter and starvation of millions upon millions of our fellow human beings?

Ours is a long history. In ancient societies the elderly were the chief sources of knowledge: Where was the best hunting to be found? What plants cured what sickness? How to make the tools to enable the tribe’s survival. This led to various forms of Ancestor Worship. In China the practice of veneration for the wisdom of the elders dates back long before 1000 BC. And in Polynesian societies, the outlook is one of reverence for the elderly and the expectation of help and guidance; although it doesn’t involve worship.

Homelessness For Sale

The extent of homelessness is often used as a gauge for the state of the economy as a whole. In an economic downturn, people are less able to hold down jobs, keep up with payments on rent or other bills, or have savings they can fall back on. Often, a combination of factors like these will push people towards losing their homes. Figures released in early March show 12,830 new cases of homelessness being accepted by local councils between October and December 2011 – a rise of 18% since the same time the previous year. In London, there was an average 36% increase over the same period, with the biggest rise in Hounslow at 245% (1). Predictably, sleeping rough has also increased. According to government figures, the number of people rough sleeping rose 23% between Autumn 2010 and Autumn 2011 (2). Undoubtedly it’s no coincidence that the increase in homelessness is one consequence of the economic crisis.

Book Reviews: "Deadly Waters", "Lenin", "So You Think You Know about Britain?", & 'Gerrard Winstanley'

Unfair Shares
 
'Deadly Waters: Inside the Hidden World of Somalia’s Pirates'.  By Jay Bahadur. (Profile £12.99.)
 
Somalia is often referred to as a ‘failed state’, one with no effective central authority. Instead there are a number of autonomous enclaves, owing little if any allegiance to the official capital, Mogadishu.

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