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Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

Some workers want this amount of money whilst others want more. But our needs are the same and government support is favoring some over others when we should all be getting exactly the same – not just in money but also support

April 12, 2020 1 comment

If you dare to look at the headlines or glance across the editorial of any of the national newspapers that might be worth reading, you will see today that there is talk within Government of there being Ministers who are doves and others that are hawks.

The growing argument between them is the subject of when the COVID-19 Lockdown should end. The so-called Hawks want the Lockdown to begin to end at the beginning of May, whilst the so-called doves want to wait until the Whitsun Bank Holiday at the end of May before even a loosening of the current restrictions can be allowed to begin.

When you have been writing about the massive holes and inadequacy of the financial support that the Government is providing since the Lockdown began like I have, as well as questioning the cost of the Lockdown vs. the benefit too, you might think it would be natural for me to be happy that at least some of our MPs are looking at all of this in the same way too.

I’m not. And the problem is that they are not even in the same room.

Whilst certain Ministers are clearly aware of some of the issues already being caused by the Lockdown – as they are being flagged by Civil Servants within their Ministries, they are not aware of others whilst many MPs are clearly unaware at any meaningful level of the real crisis that has been started by the Lockdown.

A personal and costly disaster is now starting to unfold in front of more and more of the people just like you and I and it is going to slowly but surely soon come into full view.

We have been conditioned to think and view certain behaviours as acceptable by the world around us. The behaviour of self-serving politicians, an Establishment that cares not for anyone other than its own, and a media that is so obsessed with the sound of its own voice have all contributed significantly to the selfish approach to life that we have which we don’t recognise as being wholly self serving – because right now its just the ways that life tells us things should be done.

As we look at the Locked-down COVID-19 UK, our thoughts will inevitably be about how the Lockdown is effecting us personally and the people around us, whether it is our jobs, source of income, the business we own and operate or any one of the large number of ways that each and every one of us has had our life affected or compromised in some way since life as we knew it changed in March and the Lockdown got under way.

No, it isn’t wrong to think about any of this chapter of our lives in this way. But as we fall over ourselves to shout about treating gig-economy workers the same as employees or to sign petitions to specifically tell the Government that we want directors of small limited companies to receive the same money as if they were an employee, we are collectively falling into the trap of thinking that different help and support for different people based purely on how differently they are employed will equate to the same thing. It won’t.

What we are overlooking is that all people share something very distinctive in common that makes us all the same. We all have regular bills that we need our incomes to pay and  the amount we pay is relative to what we normally earn.

It doesn’t matter what they are or how much those bills are for. Whether you are young, a Millennial, middle aged, retired or very old, there will be bills that you have to pay or have paid on your behalf.

Beyond the fact that we are human beings who live and die, what we all have in common is our shared reality that we always have to pay a bill each month and in some cases many of them. That’s how we are all the same.

If we were to genuinely be treated the same by the Government and a situation were to never to exist where any individual, social group of business sector were to fall through the gaps, the Government would by necessity be targeting the help they can give at us all in a way that was proportional to what we earn or the situation that we are in – but in a way that would actually treat us all fairly because it would support and help us in the very same way.

The very same rules apply for businesses and business owners whether they are limited companies or sole traders too.

For us all, the flow of money into and out of our bank accounts is what makes life turnover. And for business – who in this sense are exactly the same as people, cash flow is king – unless of course you are the bank or finance house which creates all the money and to where all the money we pay out in the form of each and every bill we pay will ultimately flow to and end up.

We pay our bills to a service provider or company that has provided us with goods or the finance to do it. It might be a mortgage, rent, for a car, our phone, TV, electricity and gas or many other things that we might either want or need.

The company, person or business to whom we pay that bill and the money we use to do it will be in exactly the same position as you and I are. What we pay them is their income, just like our job or business is ours. From all the combined income they receive, they too have to pay their bills.

In many cases, this payment of different bills and transfer of money happens over and over again at different levels in what might be a very long chain, until the flow of the money ends up in the same place: the banks and finance houses.

If the Government really desires to treat us ALL exactly the same as it should – that’s equitably and in a way that is completely fair – it would temporarily stop the need and requirement for that money to continue to flow where the chain is no longer complete or simply has no start, so that none of us have to earn anything at any level or any stage of that chain to keep paying bills to the people, businesses or companies that are in the next link of the chain above us.

With the need removed to pay our bills for items that we wouldn’t order or commit ourselves to having during a time that we couldn’t afford to or would be willing pay for because they are a luxury and not a necessity, the only problem for the Government would then be a question of how people pay for food and essential items that we simply need to meet our real everyday needs – not our ‘wants’.

If the Government did this, it would create a genuine level playing field in a time of National Crisis that would benefit us all.

Stopping the need for monetary flow would significantly reduce the chances that businesses will not reopen and that more and more people will lose their jobs and income permanently once the Lockdown actually comes to its end.

Be under no illusion. This action would prevent misery for many and save a significant number of lives.

Without a universal financial support solution of this depth and breadth in place to counter the effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown, the problems and very challenging life experiences that many people would not have been suffering before it began, are going to get much worse. The impact of what the Government hasn’t done will affect more and more of us as the length of the Lockdown rolls on.

The Government should End the Lockdown right now. But if it refuses to do so, it must at the very least change direction with the financial support that it is giving all of us and do it right away.

  • Job losses
  • Suicides
  • Hunger
  • Business Closures
  • Evictions from homes
  • Administrations
  • Domestic Violence
  • Abuse and safeguarding issues
  • Debt
  • Insolvencies
  • Repossessions
  • Loss of custom and business
  • Debt and borrowing
  • Bankruptcies
  • Mental Health issues
  • Depression

And the issues that are the cause of any or all of these horrific life experiences are already on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown.

No considerate and caring person would ever wish any of these experiences upon another human being. But the Government’s decision to implement the Lockdown, then failing to treat us all in the same way will ensure that a rise in these real-life horror stories is exactly what the UK is going to get.

No matter what the Media messages tell you or how unpopular TV presenters and Journalists may insist that the alternative to what the Government is doing will be, the Government MUST change direction and handle COVID-19 differently by bringing the Lockdown to a decisive end as soon as it possibly can.

If the Lockdown continues for any further time at all or not, the current system of financial support that the Government has issued doesn’t work as it should. It is creating many problems for individuals that not only include those mentioned or referred to above, but will in time be known to have caused many more whilst creating a national financial crisis and the accompanying personal hardship that none of us alive today will consciously remember having ever seen.

These wholly inadequate measures MUST be removed and replaced with a system that ends the requirement to pay bills for anything that has not been ordered or committed to during the Lockdown – with the exception of things like car insurance if you are continuing to use your car.

Despite the complication of doing so, the system should also be backdated to the start of the Lockdown (at least 23rd March 2020) and those who have been paid some or all of the £2500 per month average wage equivalent excluded from any weekly essential goods and food payment scheme until the equivalent of what they have already been paid through the current payments system from the start has been reached.

A £100 per week payment per person is enough for food and essential items for those who have lost all their income, have been furloughed or are not being paid during or as a direct result of the Lockdown.

Everyone who has been able to continue to work is doing a great thing to keep the Country moving when everyone else cannot. For them, having their bills stopped would be a payment holiday nonetheless. It would therefore be a financial bonus for doing their bit that would be fair and acceptable both to them and to all.

The damage that the Lockdown has already done to lives and businesses is already on target to be very severe indeed. But the cost of the Government failing to treat us all equally and in the same way will be catastrophic for us all.

Beyond a financial depression that is likely to be worse than the Great Depression of nearly a Century ago, the patience upon which civil order sits is already painfully thin, and the moves by the Police and even Supermarkets to behave like we have already become a police state does not bode well for the future of the UK if the Lockdown continues or continues without meaningful change to the system of financial support that is currently in place.

The lack of care and consideration for the impact of this Lockdown that has been driven by the advice of medical specialists, and measures to counter the impact that have simply not been thought through tell us that there is already a vacuum or absence of leadership at the top of the Government. This absence will help even less if that wafer thin patience is broken and the leadership void could easily be filled by alternative leaders who would happily expand and assert that police state deliberately.

Please don’t allow this to happen whilst we still have influence and a choice.

Let’s join together and tell the Government that the measures they have been taking aren’t helping us all in the same way that they would if they were fair.

Let’s also join together and tell the Government that its time to End the Lockdown now and treat everyone like we have the same value, whether or not we get talked about a lot on TV!

 

 

 

 

Nobody else will ever compensate the loss of a good or viable business in circumstances out of the owner’s control. A Government that champions itself as the party of business should know better

March 29, 2020 2 comments

img_5431Watching events as they are unfolding is painful, especially when you know they are avoidable and that our decision makers have alternative choices. It has prompted me to write passionately over recent days about how our politicians should be mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown.

The ‘help’ that the Government is giving people is not only piecemeal – leaving holes for many that it is supposed to be helping, but for EVERYONE and specifically the people who need help that the response to the shutdown doesn’t reach, what the Government is doing doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

Everyone has something to say about all of this – especially those who have a platform on social media, in the press or on TV.

But the problem with the ‘profiled’ speakers who have been allowed to become too influential (Sadly there are too many to mention), and with it too fond of their own voices, is that the words they are giving us are usually little more than subjective opinion. What they pump out to every ear that will hear them is not based on experience or even getting out there and talking to real people, but how they look at the world and how they think things should be. It is based purely on the scope of the very narrow lens through which they see their own life.

Whatever our experiences of life up until we found ourselves at this point, we are all afraid. But we are afraid for different reasons.

My fear is not about catching Coronavirus and what it could do to me – as I’ve done the life-threatening illness thing before. It’s how the response to the Crisis is creating many more problems than it is going to solve, and that if we are together going to be able to make the best of the opportunities and positives that we have ahead of us once the critical stage of this Crisis is over, we do not have the right people leading us to make that either a practical or tangible option for us all.

The people I am most afraid for as I am writing this today, are the self-employed and the owners of small businesses who are likely to be sat somewhere right now on the verge of crying. Many are facing up to the stark reality that on one hand they have been stopped from trading for what in principle if nothing else is a good reason, but on the other they have had their ability to service bills, pay back debt and survive taken away from them without any bad decision on their part. This isn’t the result of something they have done, or could have planned for and there has been no opportunity for choice on their part.

What they are now experiencing is not happening in isolation. Many people will be affected by a chain of events that will start with them and cascade throughout our economy reaching every sector and every level of the supply chain.

People who work for them will lose their jobs. Suppliers and Service Providers will not have their bills paid. Customers will lose shops, their local tradesman and local services of all kinds that are not supplied by big business – because big business cannot offer the level of service and make the margins that their shareholders demand by offering customer experiences of this kind – whereas all these committed small business owners and self-employed people before Coronavirus did so willingly and by choice to build relationships with their customers and differentiate from the profit-led Corporate behemoths.

For those who have already lost or now stand to lose what was only weeks ago a good and viable business, no form of compensation will make up for the consequences of that loss, which will hit them very hard – especially when the responsibility for the loss sits squarely with our Government and the choices it has made.

From late 2010 I experienced what it was like to be in a very similar situation when the successful business I had set up and run for nearly 7 years had a key contract pulled from under me, simply because of changes to my customer’s marketplace. It was in no way related to the quality and value of the service I delivered.

Even though I had anticipated changes might come to the industry and I had negotiated clauses within our contract to make sure everyone would get paid and I would be left with enough to start again, I never anticipated that when it came down to it, a high profile customer like mine would refuse to pay a £six-figure final bill, simply because the legal system is such that it knew it could and would get away with it.

I was dropped completely, well and truly in the shit. Not because it was the conscious aim of the managers and lawyers responsible to get up and screw me, the people who worked for me and the people who supplied me that day. They did it, because the world we live in tells us we don’t have to think about the impact of what appears a sound business decision and has no downside or consequences for anyone else.

This is the kind of limited, self-serving and blinkered thinking that the Government is employing right now.

After months of fighting, I put my Company into Administration, not because I wanted to or felt it an easy way out. I did so because I simply didn’t have any other choice.

It’s because I’ve been in that situation that I can say openly that for many, that’s where the real problems begin.

Self-employment or owning and running a business is different for everyone and for different reasons we all find ourselves with the ability to contribute different things to what we do.

For some of those who are facing down the reality that the money the Chancellor has allocated won’t go far enough or won’t arrive soon enough, they will at least not have tied themselves into loans, leases or contractual arrangements of any kind to support their business.

The lucky ones -may have their day-to-day needs met fully.

But it’s more likely they will be met only in part by the money that the Chancellor has allocated to the self-employed.

All of the domestic bills like the rent, mortgage, phone and everything else still have to be paid.

But the people most likely to be able to manage on being given what is pretty much the average wage are the ones who are most likely walk away with a skill or trade still behind them that is always in demand by others. Put simply, if they’ve worked for themselves and had problems, it simply won’t be thought about.

However, as you scale up and away from the domestic bills that you may already be feeling left high and dry with when it comes to paying, for the self-employed who are directors, partners and company owners, there are further levels of commitment to meet and the reality they are facing is simply not the same.

Vehicles, Premises, Licenses, Fuel, Tools, Insurances, Loans, Vehicle Tax, Mortgages, Professional Fees, Bank Fees and plenty of other things need to be paid for – even if a business is standing still. So giving anyone what is the maximum of the average monthly wage who own and runs a business – if they qualify – is far from being a good start if the aim is to stop business falling over when you have told them to stop trading.

The people who own, run and set up small businesses without third party investor funding form the backbone of our business-based economy. They are the entrepreneurs and the people taking the real risks and there is a lot more to it than the tax status of being ‘self-employed’.

They are people who have really done something on their own who shouldn’t be treated like social pariahs or like they don’t exist when their business ‘fails’.

Beyond the financial hardship and turmoil that the Government is condemning them to face, there is a very harsh reality of how people in this Country judge what they inevitably assume to be failure, and in particular where the incorrectly but nonetheless interchangeable terms bankruptcy and administration are concerned.

Instead of looking further and more closely at the reality of why people may have found themselves dealing with the horrific process of managing their own bankruptcy or putting a company they own into administration, there is an immediate default assumption of wrongdoing on the part of those looking on, rather than even the merest hint of appreciation for the value of the experience and the lessons that will inevitably been learned.

Some businesses fold in ‘normal times’ because of stupidity or more likely because the person driving it is out of their depth and in a field they don’t understand. But for just as many if not many more, the reasons that have brought them to that place are simply out of their control.

These are people who would actually be an asset to any business because of their experience of dealing with these problems. Instead business all too often views them as being a risk and if there isn’t change in the way society looks upon the realities of business closure and what caused them, many brilliant people of exceptional understanding and talent will quickly join the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

It is not too late right now for the Chancellor and the Government to take a leap backwards, for them to review and restart the package of measures they are putting in place and this time get it all right from the start. I for one would certainly think it big of them if they do.

But as the days of this shutdown become weeks and the weeks then become months, good businesses and employers that were viable only days ago will be forced to close with companies going into administration and the owners declaring themselves bankrupt. Not voluntarily or because they didn’t know how to run their business. But because a Conservative Government didn’t understand the realities and consequences of the decisions it made in a crisis and wouldn’t consider the alternative choice.

Nobody in the supply chain of business, industry, services, property or anything else will lose out during a standstill, IF the flow of money throughout that chain is held up at every stage. Not just at the start.

Politics, political leanings and tribalism don’t count here. It’s simply about doing what is right.

The only way that EVERYONE who has lost their income as a result of the Shutdown can be treated fairly, whilst not being condemned to suffer or lose their livelihood too, is for the Government to stop ALL bill payments to ALL creditors, ALL interest payments and the accumulation of debt for EVERYONE – until such time as the Shutdown is over and EVERYONE has been able to return to work.

To not do so when it is a clear option shows an absurd level of inability on the part of Politicians to step out of their own shoes to taste and feel the reality of how the decisions they are making are going to manifest in our lives.

If businesses of the type, size and number that will be left to fail because the Government hasn’t taken steps to treat EVERYONE fairly, and above all THE SAME, the British economy is going to fall over a cliff in a way that will never allow business to operate in the same ways again.

What would be good to see right now is the politicians that we have elected doing the right thing and making the right choice. We are now in very different times, and if they do not do so, people will suffer the impacts of the choices that they have made for a long time to come.

When this Government falls or we have new Elections, the Electorate will not be forgiving.

The majority of the victims from the Coronavirus will not be the people who have died or have been personally touched by grief as a result of the illness it causes. Most will be created by the missed opportunities, poor decisions and the failure to act equitably on the part of politicians driving an avoidable tragedy for us all that would not have been necessary if the Government had thought differently and made an alternative choice.

To those reading this blog who may be staring down the barrel of the business closure gun, I sincerely hope that the Chancellor will have a lucid moment, grow a pair and reconsider his choice.

Please hang in there as long as you feel that you can do so, because we have to hope that this episode will be shorter than we all quietly suspect that it will be, and that the shortness of time will therefore make closure something you can avoid.

If it doesn’t, please be assured that there are many of us out here who care. Closing down your business will be tough for many reasons that days ago you would never have even dreamed of. But it will be easier for you to deal with and recover from if you are honest with yourself about what you can and should do, and take all the steps you can to see the process through in the right way.

I believe that the experience that we are all now commonly sharing is going to change the way that most of us view the World. The communities we live in, the businesses we work in, the people we interact with and how we interact with them are all going to change as a result.

I am hopeful that when we come out of the other side of this, we will all consider the impact of the way we think about other people and the way that we then treat them and we will all be open to an appreciation of the different circumstances people find themselves in, that they may not be responsible for and were never there by choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Politics for the better Pt 3: Money

September 6, 2019 Leave a comment

The role of money is now seen and accepted as being a key to every part of life.

For many of us, monetary wealth is a benchmark or reference point for happiness.
Money has been elevated to the status of a god. And we interpret our reality based on what we believe.
Because it has become such an emotionally powerful tool, the role of Money has become imbedded in the psyches of decision makers and is automatically considered to be the key or default factor when all decisions are made.
As such, Politicians make decisions based on the premise that spending more money or simply lowering costs will be the best way to solve any problem – no matter what the non-monetary costs, knock-on effects or consequences for us all are involved.
When it comes to the creation of money and the economy itself, very few Politicians have a genuine understanding of the processes and real responsibilities that are involved.
It is a fact that successive Governments have simply abdicated responsibility for the one area of policy that is guaranteed to have an impact on us all.
They look upon the banking system peripherally and listen to economists who give them the messages that they want to hear.
Often, they interpret and perceive information only in the short or electoral term and are only too happy to allow problems with debt and overspending stack up for later generations. It’s only ever the quick-hit to gain our buy-in and support for them about which we are told.
Beyond the ineptitude of the Politicians, the finance industry has become a law unto itself in these circumstances and whilst capitalism itself is pretty much an intrinsic personal state, untamed and allowed to flourish on the basis of exploiting others and taking value from supply chains without adding any or putting anything meaningful back in, is itself having an incalculably negative impact upon the basic cost of living, and why we are in a situation where going into debt is for many the only way that People can keep going and have ‘normal’ lives where these unseen influences have made basic life too expensive to afford.
We cannot continue allowing anyone with the power to do so, to keep pushing up prices directly of indirectly beyond what it is reasonable for an average salary and typical commitments to afford.
Monetary responsibility must be returned to the hands of Government and not entrusted to the whims of so-called specialists and experts who have no understanding or no desire to understand the impact and consequences of what they do on anyone else, so long as there is a juicy profit involved.
A good Government could begin addressing the difficulties being created in our lives through the miss-use, miss-creation and miss-management of money by:
  • Removing the ability of banks to ‘create’ money through any type of leverage process.
  •  Abolish the practice of spread-betting, hedging or any financial activity which involved speculation or making profits from activities which are at arms length from the businesses or bodies with which the shares they are handling are affiliated with, and so are not in any way actively involved .
  • Create a Law to stop unreasonable Profiteering from any financial or business activity that removes agents and middle men who take value from supply chains simply by assuming temporary ownership and adding fees and margins without adding value to whatever it is that’s involved.
  •  Work with the City to create a new and hopefully temporary set of Regulations to restore ethics to all financial practices and above all refocus the way that publically owned businesses are run to prioritise service and value, rather than returning guaranteed levels of profit to shareholders.
  •  Incentivise banks to speculate on the creation an development of small businesses, placing the emphasis on there being risks involved for bankers too, rather than allowing them to walk away from opportunities that would benefit us all if realised.
  • Create a new People’s Bank which will provide cash-free services to all People who are receiving benefits from the Government of any kind, and will fill the gap in supporting new businesses and projects for growth that the time it takes the banks to transform to responsible capitalism leave behind.
  • Considering a reset of our currency in whatever form that might take, to ultimately bring values back in line with where they should be, so that those with much cannot continue to leave those with very little behind.
  • Introduce a Flat Tax system.
  •  Tax all retail business at the geographical point of sale
  • Remove the ability of commercial organisations or bodies that they have control of to oversee credit ratings and the influence they can have on businesses or individuals of any kind.

The overreach of Libertarianism may deliver a dystopian future that even those who lead us greatly fear

August 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Pendulum of LibertyMany have suspected that TV, Films and Games can influence real-life behaviors and there are certainly studies that have been carried out which suggest a link. As we watch programming like Coronation Street, Eastenders and now the ‘reality TV’ gems like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea and of course ‘Love Island’, the entertainment for some defiantly comes from the anticipation that anything deemed now acceptable on TV will soon find its way into ‘real life’.

As a rule, TV today has become prescient in a way which is surprisingly quick in its delivery and the mediums of social media running shotgun alongside, have only served to increase the speed with which ‘artistic license’ has become manifest as a reality from which none of us can hide.

Seldom however, does a programme like The Handmaid’s Tale come along, which has all the hallmarks of being exactly the same as a programme which creates real life out of thin air, but feels all the more possible, because it identifies the destination of a process in which our otherwise increasing ‘freedoms’ have been religiously denied.

That the story alludes to and carefully anchors itself in a picture and to experiences of life with which we can all already identify makes the whole possibility more terrifying as we realise within the surety of our own thoughts, how easily a way of life for us all which has been created from nothing more than fear and its bedfellow hate could eclipse the ‘never had it so good’ world that the establishment complacently equates with our own.

But how did we get here, and how could we really jump from a world so apparently full of freedoms into another where freedom could mean nothing at all?

Perhaps most surprisingly, it is the relationship between these ‘freedoms’ and rights that we now have; the way they have come into being, and the impact that they are quietly having on everyone, rather than just the few for whom they were genuinely, but nonetheless idealistically intended, where the real genesis of the problem may lie.

Uncomfortable to read as it may seem, this argument is not about attacking any form of equality, as equality should be the natural approach we intrinsically employ as individuals towards everyone else, one and all.

Regrettably, such levels of selflessness in our consideration have never been the default or conditioned form of all people, whether as individuals or as groups at any point in the history of the World.

This is the very reason that legislation and forms of positive discrimination have been employed in the coercive attempt to put this right and avoid the future wrongs that can and sadly sill continue to be committed.

What is being seriously overlooked and in many cases ignored, is that discrimination comes about not because of colour, gender, race, sexuality, disability, culture or indeed anything else which has now become the focus of rights.  Discrimination is present in almost every interaction in some way and at some level, because the self-interest and nucleus of fear which ultimately feeds it within every individual is and will continue to be present universally because it is delivered culturally and in conditioned form. It therefore becomes a default setting which can never be completely coerced into being under the control of others, unless it is given voluntarily, consciously and willingly so by each and every individual concerned.

Whilst the eradication of any form of prejudice is a laudable goal, human nature dictates that with the realities of what we call free will, freedom of thought will always prevail beyond the objectives of setting models of behaviour and can all too easily be manipulated by being overtly adhered to whilst the true intentions of those concerned are cleverly hidden, usually in plain sight.

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it is the reality of this statement which has driven the culture of transparency to a level where even Conservative Home Secretaries are now insisting on unworkable levels of bureaucracy for the Police to ensure that no rule or freedom for suspects, the convicted or prisoners has been denied. The imposition of rights, which in the minds of their architects should have precipitated an instant result simply did not do so. And so the culture of monitoring was created and continues to be unrealistically and impractically refined.

This whole process has played itself out in so many ways and in so many different directions, but the result has ultimately become the same.

The views of some individuals, their feelings, their opportunities, their ‘rights’ have now and are being openly paraded as being more important than those of the communities in which they live, work and in some cases even themselves would otherwise closely identify.

Somewhere in this process, a definitive line was crossed. A line where a genuine balance could have been established and set to evolve, where people really don’t see difference as a threat. A line where a genuine respect for every other individual and their place within the wider community could have thrived.

The obsession with rights has seen the point where balance could have been achieved, not only crossed, but to a point where the rights of minorities have been flipped and now supersede those of the majority, who have themselves by default and the process of positive discrimination, become those inadvertently discriminated against. Discrimination, however it is applied, always affects others with the opposite consequence.

Some would suggest that such a response or feeling of fear on the part of the majority, when any number of minorities have been repressed for such a long time would itself be fair. But this is certainly not so and whilst an understandable emotion on the part of those who have been victims of prejudice to the point that they might see things this way, to mirror an injustice in any way is to pick up and continue with the very same form of attack – just going in a different way.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Particularly not when prejudice against others is typically born out of the fear of difference between people and aspects of others that they simply don’t understand, or has come about simply because certain actions and views are understood as the way that we are culturally expected to do so. Indeed, the dehumanization of relationships which is steadily evolving on a minute by minute basis by the impact and assimilation of internet, smart phones and by response-at-the-push-of-a-button technology, is almost certain to make things much worse.

Rights have for a long time been costing Government and the Economy a lot of money. Nobody should delude themselves into thinking that there isn’t a price to be paid by us all – financially or otherwise – when business and the public sector becomes less productive as a direct result of rights being enhanced or government officers effectively refusing to take and execute their full responsibilities – passing them on to others such as highly paid consultants – simply because they are living in fear of what will happen if they should be accused of wrongdoing on behalf of someone who as a result of this whole corrupting process believes that their rights have in some way been denied.

The inaction and professional ineptitude which is now common throughout the public sector has far more to do with the insidious nature of the rights culture than it does either because of lack of skilled people or lack of money through the Government’s Policy of Austerity, which has become a very useful and much less risky scapegoat for political activism on all sides.

What has been achieved by this giant overstep and attempt to achieve coercive control is the emergence of two populations within one. The majority which falls increasingly silent as it witnesses attempts by others to even have its thought processes denied. The other, a hybrid minority of over-empowered victims who aggressively and successfully interpret the actions of others within what we used to know as normal life, as being insulting, inconsiderate and unquestionably set against their own ‘human rights’.

Some suggest the fear that this insidious culture has created as Britain having become a Nation without an identity. It isn’t that. The majority of people are just too afraid to openly identify with our National Identity for fear of what injustice towards others they might then be ridiculously accused.

The real harm to our democracy, is the unspoken and dangerously complacent conclusion on the part of those who Govern to conclude that silence itself is equal to acquiescence.

People are much savvier than their actions might otherwise deny, and whilst Westminster continues to misunderstand and misread the electoral actions of the public, it is little wonder that the European Referendum result came as such a surprise because such little account if any is being made for the fact that within the confines of a voting booth, there is a distinct level of anonymity and unhindered choice which even within friendships and families can otherwise be at the very least emotionally denied.

What also appears to be complacently overlooked by the establishment and in particular the liberal elites, is that Government, law, order and social cohesion is on every level dependent fully on the voluntary consent and support of the British People, who continue to respect the idea of democracy and the voluntary surrender of decision making responsibility for affairs affecting us all communally to our so-called elected representatives of the people.

The real problem with the ascendency of the ‘self’ culture and the empowerment of this hybrid mentality where minorities now look upon the majority who they are led to believe have intentionally scorned them, in a way that suggests they can now impose their own values and morality unequivocally upon us all.

For example criminals and prisoners alike are now able to deflect attention away from whatever they have done, simply by complaining that their own rights have been infringed. They do so knowing that they have blithely and wantonly done exactly the same to innocent others. Innocents who more often than not remain out of the spotlight for fear of what reprisal they will experience as a result of the application of law now being toothless, simply because the rights of the individual are placed before the best interests of the community and therefore openly denied.

People will not go on indefinitely allowing an unjust system to exist. The civil order which is voluntarily maintained on the part of the wider community is as fragile as that of those and their supporters who feel themselves to be justified in taking to the streets and rioting because they now feel it safe to assume that when an opportunity for blame arises, it will always be the party which represents authority which has committed the true crime.

However, whilst we have cause to be genuinely concerned that the good will of the majority of the British People could and does have the potential to snap, we are culturally a very patient People, even beyond that which fear would deny.

As such, the break down of civil order and rioting on the streets simply over the issue of overstretched rights, may in isolation thankfully remain a long way off.

But that isn’t to say that the resentment and true feeling against rights culture and the belief that the silent majority are obliged to play-court to the emperors new clothes which liberalism has made could not itself be the straw that breaks the camels back, should any one of a number of other pressing issues such as a financial meltdown or a consistent run of terrorist attacks increase the feeling that the genuine will of the people is being denied in such a way which precipitates people taking to the streets.

Revolution is a word which means many things to different people and the misguided romanticism with this idea of instantaneous change leaves the true meaning and impact of this type of societal transition completely denied.

Yet the feelings of mistrust and resentment against what is now widely considered to be an entitled political class and the interests of big business which rightly or wrongly are generally perceived to be behind it, could easily lead to circumstances where social behaviour lead those in power to believe that its genesis is progressively and proactively implied.

Fear leads even the leaders of people to do silly things. In such circumstances, with anarchy considered likely, or even if it is by then present on the streets, it is the immediate denial of the rights which will have previously been seen to promote any idea of complete freedom that would be quickly denied.

Whilst a model of governance like that of the Sons of Jacob may not appear to be on the cards, the power vacuum created as any voluntary form of democracy falls would indeed create an opportunity for any group which can organise itself where its own ideals for living can be implemented and then refined.

The building blocks are already in place for a fully functioning dystopian order and the predictive connotations of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four are playing themselves out daily within the technology that we are inviting into our homes, supported by the attempts of Government to remove anything which could be considered a safety net for our individual independence by paying lip service the idea that in this one instance, they will be protecting the greater interests of society as they do.

We haven’t got there yet. We must all hope that we do not.

But if we do, it will be clear that the price to be paid for the results of a liberalised society  which delivers equality for one by taking it away from many others will have proven to have been inhumanly high.

Education is currently failing the UK because the system we have in place today is based on the flawed idea that Equality is about sameness. True Equality comes with acceptance of the real differences that exist between us and in giving each and every one of us the best shot possible…

December 17, 2013 1 comment

images (2)Equality is one of the greatest aims for any Country to have, whilst perhaps one of the most misinterpreted and therefore destructive concepts that that the UK has embraced.

Negative forms of discrimination have made many thinkers believe that the solution comes in the form of their positive counterparts. Yet the point has been severely missed that prejudicial forms of discrimination always relate to a form of favouritism or bias as a flipside on the other, and that this inevitable partnership necessarily follows wherever a form of positive discrimination may be used.

Just as racism and colour prejudice, sexism, discrimination against the elderly or disabled have and arguably in some cases continue to been a problem for many, giving special treatment or creating favourable circumstances for specific or what some prefer to call ‘underrepresented groups’ can be equally destructive and in some cases will actually affect many more, through little more than a legitimised form of disadvantage which many are simply too afraid to even talk about.

Social engineering is nothing new. But the silent subjugation which hides beneath the velvet glove of political correctness and an often misguided war for equalities is something entirely different. It now risks the identity of culture which has been at the heart of British life for many generations and which arguably kept us at the forefront of world industry, science and learning well in to the 20th Century.

Of all the parts of life where we should be getting the fight for the equality of opportunity ‘right’, Education is probably the most essential, because of the key role that it plays for individuals, communities, industries and therefore the evolution of our entire culture – en-masse.

But at some point, somebody somewhere confused practicality with idealism. They exchanged the reality that being fair to everyone by giving them the educational opportunities that most fit individual need will give us all the best start in life, with the idealist view that putting everyone in the same environment and using the same forms of education, would somehow lead to everyone turning out the same.

It doesn’t. And the reason it doesn’t is because the only difference that should matter when it comes to education is that whatever the circumstances or how we are physically perceived by others, we are all different and we all learn differently.

So no matter what background we come from; whether we are rich or poor; black or white; male or female; able bodied or disabled, we all accumulate knowledge in different ways and will only achieve the very best that we as individuals can, if diversity within educational opportunities matches the diversity that exists with learning ability and indeed counters the factors which are external to learning but upon which learning and the ability to learn have been for too long so foolishly placed.

Whilst ‘dumbing-down’ or developing an educational standard based upon little more than ‘the lowest common denominator’ fills those who abhor anything even perceptively elitist in nature with complete joy, lowering academic standards for the more-academically-inclined simply reduces the numbers of those who would otherwise excel and therefore contribute differently and arguably more greatly to our society as a whole.

However, the real tragedy in all this is based upon all those who are not academically attuned at school age. Many who are unequipped to rise to such theoretical standard, perhaps because of nothing more than circumstances in their lives. Many, who just need their learning to be more practically and vocationally inclined – perhaps only at that time.

We all lose from the approach that has been adopted, as what is in effect manifest ignorance of those whose ability lies not with their heads but with their hands, is or has created a lost generation which unwittingly and in most cases unwillingly lend themselves to many of the welfare, benefits and crime statistics that so many of us know to be so wrong, but have to accept as being just the way that it is.

The lack of foresight and basic understanding of our fellow man that has led these socialist agendas which have pursued this ideology of everyone being the same, are not only destroying the lives and future chances of individuals who could make a considerable contribution to our society – were they given the fullest opportunity to do so; they are contributing to the creation an entire sub-culture of socially disadvantaged, socially inept and socially immobile people who are blighted by the media propagated caricatures that have been landed upon them by the same libertarian and quixotic idealists who inadvertently put those same people there.

Glorification of celebrity, fame, sensationalism and money have led many of us to forget that the very basic forms of all occupations are about us; about life; about putting food on the table; about being healthy; about being happy; about getting us where we need to go. Our values have somehow gone wrong and we have forgotten that every job or occupation is important and that we should all value them as such for the contribution that they make in our lives and the value that they bring to our society.

The ironies of this saga do not stop there. If we continue to flat-line the contribution that we make to the opportunities we give to the up-and-coming generations in the form of free education, the best opportunities really will be left as the preserve of the financially rich who can arguably afford a tailored level of education for their children which simply becomes unavailable anywhere else. If you are of those who think that Politics is skewed in favour of a privately educated elite right now, look what could soon begin to follow in the not too distant future.

Both socialism and liberalism as they exist are flawed. They are little more than idealistic philosophies that make no allowance for the realities of cause and effect, and if we don’t address this failure to address the need for balance in every aspect of life and policy that Government touches soon, the results simply do not bear thinking about.

The role that education plays in all our lives and how it reaches and extends into all parts of our culture, make it probably the very best place to start in addressing what could easily be called the regressive steps that the drive for ill-considered forms of equality have so far engineered.

Every part of the education system needs reform, which will only be controversial for those who continue to put their own ideas first, above the needs and requirements of others. Perhaps we could:

Reintroduce Grammar Schools in every District: The pathway of education for children to which so many parents aspire, Grammar Schools offer a benchmark in education and discipline that it has become unfashionable to appreciate vocally. This social anathema should be dispelled for the foolishness that it is and the opportunity should exist for all academically able children to gain a place at a Grammar School if they can attain the examination standards required and do not have alternative means to access a like-for-like education.

Reintroduce the 11+: With Numeracy and Literacy Skills at a low point, we simply must return to an acceptable level of basic education at this key age so that children are equipped to engage fully during adolescence in our increasingly information-based age, and employers can be sure that young people can not only understand, but also be understood. (Please follow this link for an insight on the 11+.)

Reintroduce real and vocationally based Apprenticeships at 14: Probably the most vital step that needs to be taken is to recognise that not all children are academically inclined and that the system today is failing too many young people because it has not nurtured them in a way which fits their learning processes. In simple terms, children are usually ‘head or hands’ and therefore more theoretically or practically able in their learning processes. In isolation, neither of these qualities is a sign of intelligence, yet children who simply aren’t academically able to make the best of the school environment are all too often considered disruptive and can of course be an unnecessary distraction for those who are suited to school learning. As we grow older, we can all appreciate how little we knew but how much we thought we knew when we were in our teens and providing a stewarded environment from 14 for young people who are better suited to life outside the academic environment would give them the opportunity to take guided steps into the adult world, whilst earning an appropriate level of pay and giving a staffing option to commerce and industry that could make a significant difference to business. Either subsidising roles or supporting complimentary training courses at Tertiary Colleges could still deliver a saving in real terms, whilst providing an investment in the individual, taking them off the streets, whilst supporting British industry with a potentially parallel vocational route to age 21 that would more than adequately make up in time-served experience and the hands-on accumulation of skills for life what academically biased young people gain via a complete route of full-time education.

Reintroduce National Service: With a break or shorter form of Apprenticeship, those young people taking the vocational route could perhaps choose to finish their training in the Armed Services from 18-21, with the option being there as a requirement to attend for all young people not being in education or Apprenticed vocational training between those ages. Those ‘finishing’ training could bring skills from industry that the armed services need at a time that a pool of such experience could be highly beneficial. Either way and however those young people came to join, there is no question that a military grounding would provide a sense of value and self-worth for people who might otherwise never receive it. Such a pathway could open the door either to an extended military career or to the motivation and direction to move forward and make the best of the other opportunities that are on offer to those who value themselves and what they will inevitably gain to do it.

Return to more challenging forms of Exams at 16 and 18: The earlier part of this Coalition Government saw a series of attempts by Education Secretary Michael Gove to reform exams and return to the former O’ Level and A ‘Level or Baccalaureate standards. It’s a desperate shame that he was prevented from doing so as the realities of the flaws in our Education system would quickly become evident and would perhaps highlight just how severely our children are being failed by a system which is currently geared to treating everyone as if they were exactly the same; a system that is benchmarked for its quality not by aspiration, but by the rule of the lowest common denominator. Life is by its very nature challenging and the exams that we take at 16 and 18 should genuinely represent the milestones that they are, rather than just being something that we do. If degrees are to again have the meaning to industry that they once had, it necessarily follows that these checkpoints of the educational pathway should be high on expectation too.

Restructure the way that Higher Education is funded: The Government cannot afford to fund the number of places within Higher Education that the drive to give everyone a degree has required. The fallout from this has of course been the creation of Tuition Fees which in themselves are creating lifetimes of debt for students who may have been a great deal happier taking other routes to learning. The fragility of funding streams has driven many Higher Education establishments to behave more and more like businesses as their focus moves from providing the best education for students to ensuring the survival of the organisations – and the jobs that they provide. This does not contribute to society on a wider level and the focus needs to return to providing the best Degrees possible and not necessarily the ones that generate the best fees from providing them. Bringing the return of value to pre-University level and parallel vocational forms of education would counter much of this, but as with areas such as the NHS and Local Government, there has to be a recognition of the need for overall change as part of a new bigger and reforming picture. This could realistically mean the loss of University Status or even closure for some institutions. But what was really wrong with polytechnics anyway.

Refocus on exam-based scholarship entry opportunities to all private schools for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford them: Whilst some would happily see the demise of private schools in much the same way as Grammars have all but disappeared, Private Schools should always have their place, if nothing more than to allow those who can afford to pay the choice to do so. However, such institutions should also be available to children who would thrive with the support of such an environment and the schools themselves should be required to make a certain number of places available through exam-based scholarships each year for children who have the academic ability to meet the standards of each specific school, but would otherwise be held back by lack of financial resources.

Stop bringing the blame-claim-culture into schools and let teachers get on with educating: Parents do have a role to play too and I will not be alone in remembering the absolute horror which our parents would experience upon learning that we had been in trouble or had been reprimanded for being disruptive in school. The balance has changed and there is now an unwritten expectation that all children are perfect and that they can never be at fault. The complaints culture and accompanying insinuation that a complaint is just a step away from a claim is paralysing disciplinary standards with the creation of fear on the part of Teachers to act against unruly children who only 30 years ago would have had a string of detentions or worse from the school, along with a right good rollocking from their parents just as soon as they returned home.

Introduce standard educational apps on all electronic devices which will be used by children: Technology and the influence that it has upon us all is marching ahead at a hellish pace. Children are already using tablet computers before they can do many other things. We are currently missing the opportunity to work with manufacturers and potential sponsors to utilise these devices which immediately make fascinated children a captive audience.  The development of standard apps which can be used to develop reading, language and other skills for the benefit of children and that of the education system which will very soon follow could be immeasurable. There is no doubt that Government should be working closely with manufacturers and Companies such as Google, to develop acclimatised software which is included within the operating platform of the machines at the point of sale and makes the very best of the learning opportunity which is literally presented for them there at hand.

Education by its very nature is supposed to assist the evolution of people, rather than becoming a tool which does little more than help a society to regress. Great ideas will not help all people if they are not developed with the needs of every single person in mind and education is currently failing in the UK because the system we have in place today is based on the flawed idea that Equality is about sameness.

It’s time that we stopped trying to force people to change in ways that they simply cannot be changed; accept the good that exists in the real differences between us, and start giving each and every one of our children and young people their very best shot.

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