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Guest davetherave

Thatcher Dead

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Reforming the system so that it works better for those who want to get on in life, and who don't want to rely on the state,

 

How exactly do you do this when there are far fewer jobs than there are unemployed people? And when the economy feels like it's been flatlining for the past few years?

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Not at all. Reforming the system so that it works better for those who want to get on in life, and who don't want to rely on the state, which includes the great majority of students, can only be beneficial. As it stands right now, the amount of actual physical cash in hand that the government subsidises students with these days via student loans makes very little difference to student behaviour. Aggressive reform and savings made in other areas may actually put more cash in their hands.

What areas would you personally skim down on to help Tarquin 'get on in life' with his philosophy degree? Force a fiercely anti-social dole queue lifer to work in Asda, making his life - and in turn his colleagues lives - miserable?

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As a popular midweek DJ in a city with a large student population, doesn't your business kind of rely on a lot of people being... not exactly frugal with the cash that the government subsidises them with?  Would you be concerned that your own work could be put in jeopardy if aggressive reforms were made?

not to mention lots of musicians who have been helped by the welfare state and public money. 

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Musicians (and DJs) pay taxes too.

indeed they do, but many of them have periods on welfare or are assisted by public funds (arts council in England, Creative Scotland up here).  Many of those affected by the cuts in welfare also pay taxes or have spent large parts of their lives paying taxes. 

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I'm quite sure Tarquin will be fine on his own, if he was studying engineering, joinery, plumbing, chemistry, or any of the areas we've got a skills shortage in the state should be able to help him, and we have to find the money to do it. If that means breaking the cycle of welfare dependency and making life miserable for spongers, so be it. If they make others' lives miserable in the process there will have to be ways to deal with them, which would include greater powers on the part of employers to deal with disruptive and unproductive employees and less restrictions on the state when it comes to withholding benefits and imposing sanctions on uncooperative individuals.

way to be sinister Dave. 

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I'm quite sure Tarquin will be fine on his own, if he was studying engineering, joinery, plumbing, chemistry, or any of the areas we've got a skills shortage in the state should be able to help him, and we have to find the money to do it. If that means breaking the cycle of welfare dependency and making life miserable for spongers, so be it. If they make others' lives miserable in the process there will have to be ways to deal with them, which would include greater powers on the part of employers to deal with disruptive and unproductive employees and less restrictions on the state when it comes to withholding benefits and imposing sanctions on uncooperative individuals.

 

What powers for the employers would those be?  Some way of forcing the employee to behave themselves?  Some people just won't work.  In countries where a good welfare system is not available, this essentially leads to heaps of beggars and crime.

 

I think I've said it before also, but you've certainly got a lot more faith than I do in any government if you reckon they're going to stick any money saved from such a hypothetical harsh regime of welfare reform straight into your pocket.

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For a lot of us, the knowledge that we have to work in order to pay for ourselves and our families is enough. Some people haven't made that connection, due to years of over-indulgent benefit payments. If it was made very clear to them that work was the only option, and that there would be no more money from the government if they screwed up, that would help to focus some minds. If some of them are determined to be disruptive and choose a life of crime over a life of positive contribution, then we should have a criminal justice system that's ready to deal with them appropriately.

This exemplifies what I have a problem with. One of Thatcher's most heinous and divisive legacies was pushing this idea that if you're not rich and successful, it's purely because you haven't worked hard enough. Your own fault. The country has always had 'haves' and 'have-nots', but what she did was develop the idea of blame.

"No money? Your own fault. Get a job" "Not working? Your own fault. Get on your bike."

Or conversely,

"Been to a fee paying school? Gone straight through the revolving door into a job in the City? Well done! Your 'wad' of cash is entirely justified. Have a bonus!"

 

The truth is of course that being wealthy and successful, or otherwise, is not necessarily a matter of having worked hard enough or not. But this is the attitude which was pushed so aggressively then, and which has been picked up so enthusiastically by the current coalition. 

Yes, the truth is that some people don't work, and don't want to work. But that's not because they've got the life of riley on benefits. If that was true, then everyone would be doing it. And I just don't believe that this underclass of idle freeloaders is in any way as big an issue as the Government would have us believe. (I'd like to see figures, if they exist) Whoever they are, they're not the ones responsible for state of the economy. But it's convenient to propagate the myth to justify spending less and less on state benefits, across the board.

The truth is that in current society (if I can use that word), a lot of people work incredibly hard, and still end up struggling. Taking away vital help from everyone who needs it, because "it's just being wasted on people who don't deserve it". Destroying any idea of 'society' and making us believe it's our own fault. That is one of Thatcher's greatest (read: worst) legacies.

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First of all you fill the hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies (around 495,000 at the last count, according to the Office For National Statistics). That's nearly half a million people off the government's hands and paying taxes. The government can then use the money saved/accrued to give short-term incentives to business to grow and create even more jobs, and to provide the remaining rump of unemployed people the opportunity to learn new skills in a working environment. However, this can't happen unless welfare is reformed, and that involves making life uncomfortable for those who believe that the state should provide all they need, or rather, want.

 

Which is all very well and good when you have a government in power that is actually trying to encourage growth. We appear to have the opposite right now. So in reality people's benefits are being cut/removed while the number of full-time vacancies declines and unemployment increases. The end result being that you have more people fighting over an increasingly smaller number of vacancies (also apparent in the ONS stats linked to above). So what are people supposed to do if they can't get a job?

 

Any savings the government will make through reducing the amount spent on welfare will be far outweighed by the reduction in income from tax through fewer people working. They don't appear to understand this (even though everyone else can - just listen to what the rating agencies and the IMF have been saying recently, for example).

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I love the idea people should only get help when they are 'blameless' for their current personal circumstances. Imagine an A&E working on that premise. 

  • Upvote 3

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Predictably for Pilger, full of conjecture and hyperbole talking up his own I-was-there-maaaaannn subjects, while relegating valid points (e.g. Saudi  arms deal) to a secondary sentence or two.

 

Those claims regards the Khmer Rouge are vain guff bordering on lies. He describes the "coalition" with scare quotes and calls it "dominated by the Khmer Rouge", basically implying it was nothing but the Khmer Rouge. It's true the coalition was a farcical marriage of convenience between three actors who had at various times been fighting each other (but had also all at various times  been allies; welcome to Cambodia) and that the Khmer Rouge were arguably the most powerful faction. It is not true that the "coalition" was nothing but the Khmer Rouge. There were two other factions: the remnants of the Lon Nol US client state and Sihanouk's forces. The latter of these was significant enough to later form a political party and win an election landside; hardly true of the "dominant" Khmer Rouge. It was these two other factions that received SAS-training. Pilger pretty much says that Major eventually came clean on training his Khmer Rouge "coalition"; in fact, the government admitted to training the two non-communist factions, and not the Khmer Rouge. And attached to this is one anecdote from a Khmer Rouge supposedly proving his whole thesis. There are limited eyewitness accounts (from the unreliable Khmer Rouge, though who else could be expected to attest) of the SAS training KR fighters but also a large vacuum of anecdotal evidence (i.e journalists asking and not finding any). The KR was infamously reticitent but more damning information has been wrought out of former members, and if the KR was really the ubiqituous faction, evidence should be widespread. That, together with the fact the KR did not seem terribly adept at urban warfare when it was wiped out in Phnmaom Penh in 1997, suggests to me a lack of systemic SAS training; certainly it's not been proven.

 

Ditto the anecdote regarding Saigon in 1979, although it does give new meaning to the term "milk snatcher". That Vietnamese government very definitely took a side in the Cold War, fought and politicked its way into being a Soviet client state, and wrecked its own economy. But yeah, the problems of malnutrition happened because its enemies wouldn't sell it milk.

Edited by scottyboy

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