beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have spent the night thinking on villainy, and heroism, and how absolutely necessary it is to be kind.

For some reason this seemed timely.

I've been reading a lot of hero/villain slash recently.

... partly because a truly unreasonable proportion of characters my age or older seem to be villains now. I'd say WTF but politically and demographically I can see why the more powerful opposing forces are frequently older. I'm just getting a bit weary of how outnumbered the good guy versions are, even though that's always the way on TV because you keep the heroes but need new villains with every story arc. There are always more villains.

But I always get hung up on that kind of pairing. It's nice when two heroes work everything out and head off to happily ever after, but all they generally need to work out is that they fancy each other, and maybe some self confidence issues. Two characters from across some great divide, two people whose basic approaches to life are somehow antithetical... work those two out and you've solved some corner of the grand scale puzzle. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Get two opponents into bed together and you have, in some small way, figured out how humanity can get along.

Possibly very briefly, but if the sex is just the first attraction and you have to really work on their happily ever after... well...

How do you work with someone you've been fighting? How do you get along with people who've been blocking your every plan? How can you find common ground with someone who simply doesn't believe humans work the way you think they do?

A story gets to decide how humans work. Do we need a Vandal Savage to make humanity great again? Is the only way to win to destroy all opposition and lead the chosen few up from the ashes? Can a hero learn from villains and yet still be a hero? All worked out in an hour or two, maybe a season or five, when it starts as words on a page.

But it's a bit higher stakes than that when you take it beyond the theoretical.

Buffy staked vampires and her enemies disappeared in a handful of dust. Yet there were always more enemies, because unrestrained hunger is kind of a perennial problem. So you end up wondering, what if you don't stake this one? What if you chain him up and feed him until he plays better with others? What does he really need out of life anyway? And it turns out he needs pretty much what anyone does, regular eats, work he can get his teeth into, and someone to care about. Love the enemy instead, and you end up with an ally powerful enough to save the world. Even after everything he's done. That just means he understands better those still in the darkness.

And what if it's always that way?

Make it a fight, and both sides get ground down by grief and losses, until whoever is left standing gets to be king of dust and ashes.

Keep reaching out though... yeah there'll be pain and grief and no small amount of backstabbing, but there's a chance instead to grow stronger together.

It might be very satisfying to punch your enemies until they stay down and then put them in little boxes underground, but there's always more where they came from, and all they need is one good day.

Better instead to go recruiting, even if at first it's a mixed alignment crew. The basic business of staying alive is what you're all here for. Even if they see you as a score, or a happy meal on legs, you've still got that much of a start.

And it's hard, reaching out even knowing you'll get slapped down. There's no single big boss fight to be won, that way. It's every day, and it's grinding, and there is no finish line.

But there can still be some visceral satisfactions. See also why I read slash.

And more drama should end in weddings.

So. There are villains. And as long as hate and greed and ignorance are around, there will always be villains. But. How to handle that has many possibilities.

And some of them are much more fun than others.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Aside from 'December' which is probably a complete reason. Ugh.

It is one of those woke up exhausted days, and yet it may be the one day a month that talking to other humans might happen if I can drag myself to Norwich. But then again it may not because the Monday reminder text didn't happen and it's December and it's definitely no the science fiction group so maybe it's not the other group? I can't remember. And my typo rate is ridiculous. Logically I could text the group organiser and find out, but mostly I want to go back to sleep, even though that is how I spent the whole morning.

Ugh.



Dreamt a bunch of stuff, including being the leader of a political party that most people consider the lunatic fringe but we were doing really well on council elections and expected to get an MP real soon now. We were also getting the most votes for our money, like our campaign finances looked like we could barely scrape up cash to run, but many votes happened. So people grudgingly invited us to planning meetings so they could find out how we were doing it.

Also Idris Elba was going to replace teh Queen. I don't know, that part seemed reasonable at the time. I only objected because really, do we need a boss? A big shiny boss person of splendour and all our cash? Really? But hey, okay, replace the whole royal family with Idris Elba, why not, that would probably save a few quid.

Then there was a bit where I accidentally swallowed a microphone and Lindsey McDonald had to choke me to get it out again. Fun.



Dream party's policies though made the most sense out of the whole dream. Like, our basic proposal was in three parts: Citizens Basic Income for everyone, Voting reform (so more small parties get their say), and community engagement on a new model that isn't charity.
See then you get everyone having enough money to live on so they can get involved with politics if they want to, you have actual representation of people's views all up and down the system, and the idea that people should help people isn't confined to chucking small money at charity shops a couple times a year and wondering why things don't work better. I mean volunteers are awesome, don't get me wrong, but there's more work than volunteers to do it, and the skills don't match, and really, the government sitting back and thinking people will help other people in the absence of capitalism's incentives is just a way of leaving the help to not happen and feeling like it's someone else's fault. Community engagement should mean everyone expects to be helpful to other people sometimes and it isn't all clumped up out of sight. That would be nifty.

Asleep dreams don't have to worry how to do culture shift, they just do it.



Social group tonight has gone wobbly. The group organiser just texted to say they won't be there, but we can have a group without her if we want? That sounds reasonable and yet I could stay here and sleep some more.

If I go I have to start at three for a group that starts at five and only lasts an hour, and then I get the bus back in the dark. At least four hours outside for one hour of conversation. Where I attempt to be interested in humans and sound interesting even though nothing ever happens.

Ugh.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I looked at the budget yesterday and I just... I keep looking at it to see if maybe it's less bad than I first thought, and no, I notice something else that is also bad.

The reports aren't paying as much attention to the bits I follow, but there's a lot in them.

The thing reported earlier about ESA is true, the WRAG is having payments cut a lot, flattened to match JSA. The BBC is reporting that as a £30 cut, but for people under 25 it's actually a £50 cut, per week. ESA is being cut by either 30% or 50% depending on age.
Most reports can't follow all those acronyms and refer to the WRAG as if it's primarily about work, preparing for. The BBC calls it 'the working element of ESA'. And if that's so, why not make it just like JSA? And that's exactly what I saw coming when they changed the names.
ESA is not just like jobseekers. The WRAG is for people who might, conceivably, become able to work in a couple of years. It's for people who right now cannot work. Wasn't JSA set with a mind to incentivising people to work? How do they think being poor is going to incentivise people to be less sick?
ESA was set at a level people needed.
Sick and disabled people have to pay some towards their care, as well as having higher expenses because of stuff like being stuck at home all day using electric and having trouble regulating their own temperature and needing food to be easy and a bazillion things like that.
The money to do that comes out of benefits.
Except now the benefits have been cut, so it can't come from there.
And this isn't the first cut, or indeed the half dozenth. Cuts all over.
Disabled people are being screwed over so very thoroughly.

Benefits for families are being limited to the first two children, starting with children born after this policy starts. Sound fair? In the land of not ever changing! The government rhetoric is all about how people on benefits should face the same choices about affordability that people in work face, that people on benefits should know they can't afford more than two children.
What, so this policy is only aimed at the lifelong workless? FFS. Anyone, at any income level, can get sick and suddenly be unable to work. If they happen to have previously calculated that three kids is perfectly affordable, oh look, now they're on benefits and can only afford to feed two of them! Now they'll have to make a different choice!
How the hell are they supposed to make a different choice then?
Kids exist. They persistently exist, at least in any civilised society.
If the government is only going to feed the first two what exactly do they think will happen to the third and subsequent?

This is a policy that on current numbers would affect 870,000 families, according to the BBC.
That's at least 870,000 children the government has decided don't need to be fed.



And housing benefit is now for over 21s.

Apparently they're wrapping it in fiddly deals or conditions or something. We know how that goes. As soon as there are conditions there are targets set to catch people out breaking said conditions, and then there's homelessness.



The benefits freeze applies to ESA, yet the BBC confidently reports that disability benefits are excluded. This is what successive governments have bought with their rebranding, the main benefit for disabled people doesn't ping reporters as a disability benefit. A benefits freeze of course means a real terms cut, year on year, for the rest of this government.

I would once again point out that ESA was set at a level people needed to live, but this government doesn't care. They talk about 'fair'. Fair is measured relative to averages, regardless of need.

Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in their promise of a 'living wage', which is now going to 'plot a course to bring the new rate up to 60% of median wages'.
They've rebranded the minimum wage, called it the living wage, yet set it rather below the current living wage. Remember living wage equals money required to live? They've set theirs lower than that.
"The London living wage, based on the cost of living in the capital, is already £9.15 an hour – roughly the level Osborne expects his new minimum to reach in five years’ time." £9.65 in London and £7.85 elsewhere, but this rebranding is only up to £7.20. And that living wage is calculated taking into account benefits that are being cut, so the real living wage is immediately going to be higher.
With the cuts in other areas the exact people this new minimum will apply to will still be worse off.
What they've done is specified an amount they expect people to live on, regardless of reality.
But hey, increased minimum! Yaay! (no, proper yaay, minimum should be living wage, progress would help)
Except it now only applies to those over 25.

People under 25 are screwed. Multiply screwed.



Massive cuts to disability benefits, framed in ways that don't involve putting a % label on them, named in ways that multiple sources are confidently declaring disability benefits safe cause it's only ESA WRAG that's being cut.

A whole stack of moves that leave people under 25 up the creek and paddleless.

And benefits cuts that decide there's such a thing as too many children, and once there's more than two the government just don't have to care.



Welcome to the next five years.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
the BBC article starts out saying

"Proposals to give more rights to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions are to be unveiled by the government."

But their little video says it's about a parent, and further down it says "families felt their concerns are ignored"



I'm pretty sure they don't even see any contradiction there.

People with autism is not the same as families of people with autism. Listening to our parents is not the same as listening to us. Giving our parents new rights would be very greatly different to giving us new rights.



The actual proposals listed seem to be about giving people more right not to be put in hospital against their will, which seems nice.

But all the rhetoric around it is about families, and listening to families.

Which creeps me out because there's an unspoken assumption about how much there is to listen to from the actual disabled people.


It also seems likely that when they say 'community support' they mean 'relatives who are either unpaid or getting paid a pittance'. Which is a whole separate level of problem that really needs sorted.

(Did you know that Carers Allowance is less than Jobseekers Allowance? Carer's Allowance is £61.35 a week, Jobseekers is up to £72.40, though people under 25 get paid less. By definition Carers do 35 hours a week of work for an amount of money the government deems in other contexts insufficient to live on. And the situation with stacking benefits is complex.)



I just get so angry, there's so much Need and so little being done to meet it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I get cranky about stuff lately and it's pissing me off. Which obviously leads to a crankiness spiral. Which is unhelpful.

It's things where I can see systemic inequality and oppression in real life in the present day here and now, but everyone around me seems to be attributing things to individual causes and coincidence, or implying that it's not really bad because over there in the distant past or far off places, that's the real bad things.

So a novel that turns out to be about sci fi slavery kind of pisses me off because you don't need to literally reprogram and meat puppet people when you can keep them scrabbling for scraps while heavily in debt and trying to live on zero hour contracts somewhere the minimum wage isn't enough to get by on.

And novels about oppressed monotheists in a polytheist society would only not piss me off it they had kinda muslim trappings, but no, it's always secretly oppressed xtians.

And yesterday I got in a pub discussion about systemic inequalities in education and (though I didn't fully articulate this) how capitalism and economic pressures leads to the convergence of media companies into monopolies which control every level of production and distribution, all adding together to mislead voters even before you factor in how money is deliberately going back into the political process to systematically campaign on false premises. I stopped because we were there to talk about science fiction, but I started because someone made a joke about stupid Americans and then wouldn't let it drop. Apparent stupidity and ignorance has a whole lot to do with systems. You can't just call an individual stupid and make out like it's their individual problem with an individual solution. All the solutions cost money, resources, and time, and systems collude to make sure most people don't have those.

Access to information is a hugely political topic. People not knowing stuff is not just about the choices of that individual person.

Nothing is just about the choices of that individual person! People exist within systems and their actions contribute to those systems, whether they consciously will it or not!

And yeah, I go to media texts looking for things to be annoyed at. Eleven years of further and higher education have kind of got me in the habit. Because once you open your eyes to it, sexism, racism, and all the other ugly isms are sodding everywhere.

Someone yesterday was arguing the 'it's just the best person for that role' angle about Dead Bro Walking trope. Yeah all the black guys die but it's just because individually they were the best actor for the role of screaming dying person. How can anyone actually believe that and not see how it adds up?

Also, I feel it is derailing and irrelevant to start picking apart my pub level accuracy on quoting media creators, when I was trying to list dead lesbians in TV shows. The problem here isn't precisely what is said about dead lesbians, it is that all the fictional lesbians are in fact dead. I feel it reasonable to be annoyed about that. And again they argued the 'best character for the role' angle, that just coincidentally the TV show went and brought in these characters to kill them off and it has nothing to do with them being lesbians. Even if that's now 100% of the lesbians dead, that's just luck.

And I'm not arguing that content creators sit there all *evil laugh* and pick a minority to kill off this week. That's what's always being defended against, as if that's an invisible accusation, and it's entirely irrelevant. What they thought they were doing isn't the point. The point is there's a whole lot of dead bros and dead lesbians, and that is a problem. They're a bunch of individual choices of best for that five minutes that somehow coincidentally adds up to meaning black guys and lesbians are all killed off. Which is creepy and bad.

Also, if the problem is dead lesbians, pointing out how many strong women there are on a show is also irrelevant. Unless they're dating each other, they are not the current point.

And I am so wound up and frustrated about this stuff.

And it feels like it's all of a piece, like people are trained into thinking things one at a time, attributing things to individual one off choices, and not looking at the systems and aggregates and big picture.

And I know that sitting there telling them elsewise four at a time is very nearly no help at all but
I'm
just
so
cranky.



I can see so many problems, I know there's more problems I don't see, and I can't see how to get other people to see it let alone solve it.



And this is without getting into the sort of real world problems with a real world body count. Those are just horrifying and terrifying and leave me somewhere between really angry and awful hollow.


Especially the science based stuff. It's really quite a large problem when science can spend my whole adult life pointing at something and saying with some authority 'unless we do the thing we are going to die' and yet we don't do the thing. Humans are actually killing the whole planet. We could well render it uninhabitable. We're causing a mass extinction event and the Earth, as a whole, may not survive it. This is a problem.

And my individual choices for doing anything about said problem are... limited.



I mean I'm sitting here somewhere all western educated industrialised rich developed, with all those years of degree behind me, in a position of in some respects massive privilege, in one of the countries eating the world. But I don't see how to stop just by changing my individual consumer choices. They're not enough of the problem to make much of the solution. I don't know how to get at the levers. So I'm benefiting from systems of power and oppression, but feel pretty powerless to stop them or get out of the train, so to speak.

... this is why I daydream about space colonies. new place, new systems. also, my author brain knows that the point of the story will turn out to be that even in a new place humans are still human so we'll have to deal with our shit or live with it longer, and the suddenly concentrated nature of society would highlight everything.




Plus of course I feel powerless to do anything because I'm disabled and have had no support for a year and a half and it is in fact bloody difficult to do anything. Including shopping. Or the house viewings that are part of the plan to get me somewhere I can cope with better.

And then I feel weird about what I am getting that other people don't, like I should be guilty about having plus stuff, except I'm kind of stuck with the bits i'm not getting, and then it's all problem and no solution.



Everything all problem no solution.

Massive collective action is only way to make changes.

Except I've seen massive actions, protests, all sorts, and it don't seem to do any good.




So then I hide under a blanket and play Sims a lot.

Politics

Oct. 1st, 2013 10:14 am
beccaelizabeth: Lady Frankenstein plugs her brain in (net access)
You know, every time I think the *rudeword* conservatives have reached their natural level, they find further to go. This week's idiocy is the suggestion that, in order to get unemployment benefits, people will have to sit in the unemployment office for 35 hours a week.

That's not about giving them skills or training or support. That's making them sit in detention for the terrible sin of having no job.

Think about it. 35 hours a week, in an office, with other people in the same situation, and maybe some dude employed by the government to make sure you turn up and stay there. That's the best use of anyone's time?

That's this government saying hey, no, actually you do not get to have your own life, being poor means obeying our every whim. Dance, puppets, dance!

FFS, we pay taxes, we pay National Insurance, and that means we're entitled to support when we need it. Even if we need it a really long time! And, okay, some of us have to look around the family tree quite a bit to find a tax payer, but the basic principle is society pays in so society can get it back out when we need it. This is our money.

But no, the rich sods in charge think there is some fundamental difference that applies to divide the workers and the... I'm not going to repeat their words for it, they've been using rude words for it lately, lets go with unemployed. And if someone becomes unemployed, that means it is secretly not their money any more, because it is secretly not their country. They just live here.

Can we vote these bastards away soon? Please? Nobody voted for this.



Oh, and while I'm ranting, did you see the thing about making people in the ESA WRAG group take any work offered to them? "Forcing sick and disabled people to take up offers of work". Can you guess why that won't work? They've taken the keywords out of the names, but this is the replacement for Incapacity benefit. The benefit is for people who cannot work. This group is for people who, in a couple of years, may become well enough to work. Forcing them to take up offers of work they cannot do, even by the government's own ridiculously stringent tests... how is that supposed to be remotely helpful? It's not, of course. It's just another hoop. But then it would be catch-22: if you're on the benefit that says you're too ill to work, you have to take up work, or they will take you off the benefit, which will mean you're no longer on the benefit that says you're too ill to work, which, hey, means you have to take up work. At no point in this cycle does the person in question become well. And the government keep expressing surprise that people remain on ESA for a long time. Yes, they do, because they remain fucking disabled.


/rant for the day.

god knows they'll say something else rant inducing soon enough.

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
As I may have mentioned a time or two, I have been trying to move for a really long time now. But because I'm disabled and all my income is benefits my options are very limited. I'm grateful that I have a roof and all, but I'm frustrated I can't move closer to, you know, food I can actually eat, etc.

The government will tell you that their policies mean housing benefit can pay for the lowest 1/3 of the market.
This ignores the thing where most landlords simply won't take housing benefit in the first place.
But it's also just plain wrong.

I go looking for flats that are within budget, I just don't find them.
Norwich Local Housing Allowance for a single person (over 35 I think, old enough to live alone by benefit rules) is £91.15 per week.
... ignore that they list it per week when rent is per month, that's just helpful, but if you times it by 52 and divide by 12 you get 394.98 per month.

A quick check of Rightmove... well, you have to tell it £400 per calendar month, which is a teensy more than is actually covered, and then it will give you back house shares at that price, or studio flats where studio means a bed in the kitchen, but there's 110 of them. If you want an actual bed room in your own place, which is what the money is meant to cover, there's maybe 45, probably less if you read the descriptions. In the whole of Norwich. Which is quite big. But Norwich has 321 non-commercial properties to rent right now, 292 that don't say they're flat shares in the categories, so that looks like 1/3.

But the BBC have a 'Where can I afford to live' page. Type in the precise rent, choose the lowest 25% of rents - which is even cheaper than the government's 1/3, so should totally work - and see that Norwich... is in fact not affordable. Their lowest 1/4 is £400, half way price £465, so 1/3 will be in between somewhere. That local housing allowance does not in fact cover it. According to the BBC.

Somebody's numbers do not add up.

As far as I can find, most of Norfolk and Norwich have the same LHA. Since the lowest quarter of one bed rents goes as low as £395 (basically that £394.98 a month) in several of the districts of Norfolk, maybe, if Norfolk calculated it once for everywhere, it makes some sense... but probably not, and even if so, not terribly helpful for people trying to live in the city, even if they can afford the coast. Yarmouth is £375, but their LHA only covers £368 of that, so that's not massively helpful. Especially since these are 1/4 figures, not 1/3.

So I go back to the articles again and I find the exact quote is "housing benefit provides a safety net which ensures that up to a third of private properties in most areas are affordable".
Up to? Well that weasels out of that one. Anything can be 'up to' as long as there's even one place where that works.

*glares daggers*

Poke the numbers how you want, the housing benefit just doesn't pay for a decent place to live, or even a crappy place to live in a great many places.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
There's some very upsetting stuff about healthcare and learning disability
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jul/12/no-review-board-deaths-learning-difficulties

Ministers have refused to create a national body to investigate the 1,200 premature deaths a year of patients with learning disabilities in the NHS
[...]
Instead the government has said it will give "greater voice" to people with learning disabilities and support the spread of personal budgets so patients could purchase better care.


NHS healthcare is called care. Community based social care is called care. Personal budgets are entirely the latter, and nothing at all to do with the former. What is being criticised is "delays in diagnosis, delays in treatment, lack of basic care and poor communication by doctors and nurses." Deaths are about 16 years early and about a third of the deaths of people with learning disabilities are because they aren't getting the right NHS treatment. To address this the government will... ignore it, because health care and social care are both care, right, so giving people the budget to pay for someone to cook for them will totally fix their doctor related needs.

Also the spread of personal budgets has been criticised because some people, especially the hard of thinking, aren't going to be able to do the paperwork, and most people won't know how to access the variety of services available, because only specialists with a wide view of the possibilities will have the training to think of everything.

In other words, their response is to make things harder.

Sometimes it's hard to attribute this kind of thing to mere ignorance instead of active evil.

But then Buddhism says ignorance is the root of all the other bad stuff anyway.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm reading a fic - Stargate, post reveal, though it could apply to any SF first contact story:

"Wars over stupid things like land or oil or religion had to stop before someone or something came along and picked us off while we were squabbling amongst ourselves."

And that sounds shiny, sort of, but it misses a lot of the point of why wars happen. Maybe boss people go to war far away for an extra slice of pie, but for most of history there's also wars that are just about survival. Land equals survival, on account of needing food and buildings and all sorts. Oil is kind of essential these days. And religion, to the true believer, is absolutely about survival, not just in terms of the eternal fate of their souls, but in the day to day saving of the righteous here on Earth.

After first contact, I don't believe the whole Earth will do anything all at once. There's seven billion of us, we're going to have seven billion reactions. Some of the people will understand the new data in terms of the old, and for some of them that means the war in heaven and the very real and physical presence of demons, or other intelligent life with an inherent moral standing. A LOT of people will hear there are whole new worlds out there, while they and theirs are starving down here, and they'll decide their only chance of continued life is to get out there. If they believe America's control of the gate is absolute, then America gains a lot of control on Earth, but that's not how a lot of people respond to American power in the here now. Even if governments all agree to America's terms - and shyeah, right - there will be smaller groups who think the system is corrupt and the only way to achieve freedom is to attack the system. Hence 'freedom fighters', or terrorists. All of which ignores that some people will want something to come along and pick us off, for reasons many and various. In Stargate especially this entire galaxy was controlled via myths and the old gods, with Goa'uld and Asgard both playing. Why would that suddenly break? Science? Science can only prove how god is doing it, not that god isn't doing it: see Intelligent Design. The assorted monotheisms would have a large something to say about a resurgence in the kind of polytheisms exploited in the Stargate 'verse, but how would they respond to Ori? It wouldn't be monolithic, and where there are disputes there are conflicts and there can be wars. Plus there's people who think humans have screwed things up enough someone else should have a go. Or people who reckon they can profit from it. All sorts of reasons.

Humanity is not going to respond in one unified way, and there's nothing in the near future that leads to universal peace. Even if there's some tech development to get us to a Star Trek like post scarcity future, ideological differences have fuelled wars enough and can fuel plenty more.

It's depressing.

But it's the main thing I never could buy about Star Trek without imagining frankly scary intervention of technology, that humanity all held the same opinions now, and were happy to.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was trying to understand (again) how some people seem to believe that becoming employed is just a question of trying. It is puzzling because there are more people needing jobs than there are jobs available, and some of the jobs available go to people who already have a job, so there's a lot of people chasing any given job. It seems pretty obvious that trying is not sufficient when there are no jobs.

But the people with the positive thinking keep trying attitude, they have experienced getting a job or seen a person get a job, and it was simples, someone tried until they got a job. That's a lot more vivid than numbers. So to them that is the real thing, because experience.

It just doesn't work when you multiply it up.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Universal benefits are cheap to administer
and everybody needs to eat
so why not pay EVERYONE enough to live on and let them get on with it?

Read more... )


I know I've said a lot of this before, but I don't understand the priorities. How about we just, collectively, say "Okay, everyone's allowed to live and eat and all that necessary stuff, now let's see what else we do."

xposted from Dreamwidth here. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there
beccaelizabeth: Eight pointed Chaos star with eight red question marks (Chaos star questions)
Universal benefits are cheap to administer
and everybody needs to eat
so why not pay EVERYONE enough to live on and let them get on with it?

Read more... )


I know I've said a lot of this before, but I don't understand the priorities. How about we just, collectively, say "Okay, everyone's allowed to live and eat and all that necessary stuff, now let's see what else we do."
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
IDS keeps saying it is ridiculous people get lifetime awards of Disability Living Allowance.
This could only be true if it were ridiculous that people are allowed to be living with disability for a lifetime.
Seeing as a great many disabilities are indeed life long conditions, it is in fact IDS who is being ridiculous.



I loathe the name changes that keep going through. Incapacity Benefit had what it was for right there in the name; Employment and Support Allowance hides that it's for people too ill for work, and changes the relation of power. Time limiting Incapacity Benefit was clearly ridiculous when people were still incapable of work, but how many people kick up a fuss about ESA being time limited now? I've seen the BBC report on ESA without mentioning it's for sick people. The name is meant to look like Jobseekers Allowance, JSA. The initials match, but the conditions do not. The government keeps trying to sell it as an improvement, because of course people with disabilities are capable of work! Well yes, if you can find work that fits someone's ability to twitch one finger, that person is capable of doing it, but in the real world, not so much. So putting employment in the name? Is a great big fat lie. Like the Work Related Activity Group - it's meant for people who might be capable of work two years in the future. They might, by then, have recovered enough to do work. But the time limited version of ESA will have run out after one year anyway. And if they're not capable of work now, what the hell is the point of Work Related Activity? It's just asking them to do things they can't do while they wait to get well. Treat the illness, help people to get well, but don't expect it to just magically happen for everyone. Some things don't wear off.

So now there's Personal Independence Payments, to replace Disability Living Allowance. DLA existed because it costs disabled people more to live. Does what it says on the tin. PIP gets rid of that pesky Disability word, so once again they can shuffle the concept out of the discourse. Of course they'll help the most severely disabled! They'll help them to be independent! But no bugger has written down a definition of what independence means, so what are they helping them towards? DLA was to help people wipe their arse, take a bath, cook a meal, leave the house, communicate with people, or make up for their inability to do any or all of the above. PIP measures a lot of things, but it's meant to make people 'independent' doing those things. I've been written down as being independent with transport just because I can take one bus during daylight hours, the one that drops me off direct at my house. I can't see the difference between that and getting a taxi door to door, I usually had to share a car doing that as well, but apparently it's independent. Independence is an imaginary moving goal post that doesn't mean any bloody thing. Meanwhile, disabled people still have to spend more to live.




All these changes are exhausting. And they're only just starting. When things start to bite, it's going to get very hard for very many people.


And as has been noted by multiple sources about multiple changes, they don't make any bloody financial sense. Give people more help when they haven't gone splat yet and they don't need the intensive expensive interventions that are required if you wait until everything crashes down. Like the difference between serious and critical care needs, if you don't take care of the serious they end up critical and it costs more. More misery and more money to just keep people alive through it. There are so many of these 'cuts' that are going to cost more. It doesn't make any sense.


Ridiculous: IDS is.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Politics:
I am really fed up of politics.

Today it's Labour saying people in work should get priority for social housing.
The thing it would really help for them to notice is those of us who do not work, indeed cannot work, still have to live, somewhere.
If people with no work, no possibility of work, and no housing, are not a priority, then the major political parties are saying they don't care who sleeps rough or indeed dies on their doorstep.

Cameron's contention that it is crazy someone on benefits can get more money than someone in work I would have to agree with, but my conclusion is rather opposite to his.
Since benefits were calculated on the basis of need and are therefore meant to be precisely what you need to live on, it is crazy that you can have a job and still not have a living wage.
Further it is bloody annoying that he continues to ignore that most (non pension) benefits go to people IN work anyway.

They can continue to argue about fairness and the contributory principle all they like, but need remains.
You cannot eradicate need.
People need to eat, they need somewhere to sleep, they need the basics of life.

Yelling at people in need will not stop them from being in need.
Cutting off their benefits will not stop them from being in need.
Need remains.

Somehow the people in charge seem to have forgotten this.
Hell, by the results of multiple opinion polls, somehow an actual majority of people seem to have forgotten this.
I think it may be a side effect of being lied to continuously for years: when people are under the impression fraud is a major problem, rather than around 0.7% and lower for some benefits, either the general population pulled the idea from the ether or the whole thing where the government lies about fraud-and-error has had an adverse impact.

I really wish people could agree on the facts. It's bloody hard to have an argument when people maintain there are different facts. Especially if you can show them the one and only available set of numbers and they still make up different facts.

(Like there are no targets for booting people off benefits for error or not trying hard enough. Guardian and sources keep finding targets. Lots and lots of places with lots of targets. But no, there are no targets, lalala, comparative indicators are not targets even if someone gets adverse job consequences for being lower than average even though half of everything is below average because that's what average means FFS, treating the average like a target drives up the average, then people are trying to survive without their benefits because some jobsworth is trying to meet a target, and oh yes, many of those people are disabled people with learning disabilities because they're the least able to meet any bloody standard or fight back when told they've missed it. But there are no targets! That would be wrong!)

(Bastards.)

... I went off on one about how there's not enough jobs, there's never going to be enough jobs, technology changes everything and the way to a Star Trek future requires a social and economic paradigm shift, but until that happens everyone who doesn't have any work to do is going to get ground up in the gears. But this is not my area of expertise and I really have other things to be doing, so I deleted it.

World is a big mess. Finance fell down and banks got caught by the government so they wouldn't go splat. Yelling at poor people won't fix global capitalism.

People need certain very basic things to live. Deciding they don't need basic benefits is deciding they don't need to live.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
problems persist

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/28/benefit-cuts-monday-defines-government

the cuts stack up. I mostly use my https://delicious.com/beccaelizabeth to collect links. It scares me how much is happening that people I know will be affected by it aren't aware of. bad is already happening, and worse is just next week, and considerable more bad than that is all lined up awaiting.

It scares me also I don't know how to vote for people that won't do this. Read more... )

Government works for us. Even disabled us. If they won't listen, democracy is busted.

none of it makes sense and I don't see anything to do about it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today did not involve going anywhere. Or doing any college work.
But I did do all the laundry and dishwasher and bath jobs, so that's progress.
Haven't hung up the laundry to dry yet, need to do that before I sleep.

I keep reading the news. I think this is a mistake in terms of mood and ability to come out from under blanket, but it's important things to know, and people are not being fully informed by useful channels like letters that tell you things directly. Also the government are flat out lying about things, which they aren't allowed to do and they get told off by lots of places like their offices that are meant to keep track of how they use numbers but they just ignore that and lie some more. I don't mean small differences in interpretation, I mean flat out saying the opposite of the truth.
It's quite difficult to know what to do about a government that does that.
Some people are taking them to court about some things, but so many things keep being changed so quickly.
Including legal aid for taking them to court about things.

There's stuff about this 'spare bedroom tax'. I keep reading up on it even though I only have one bedroom. This is because they keep changing the rules. They keep making rules about how old you have to be and still share accommodation or they won't pay for you to have your own flat. I am over 35 now so I don't have to keep up with that until they move the line again, but there's a rule. I couldn't share a flat, I'd never sleep, I've tried it with hotel sharing and even with nice people I share interests with I can't sleep because there's people around and it sucks. Actually come to think I can't sleep when my mum is around when we go places. But when mum is there I wake up and she's staring at me and saying how I haven't changed since I was a new baby and she stared at me then, and really mum? This is not helping my insomnia. Or paranoia. Yeesh.

BUT. The point is: The government keep changing the rules to say people have to share a flat. Because housing may be necessary but housing of your own is a luxury? I don't know.

The thing with 'spare' bedrooms is the same thing: the rule is not what you think it is. They don't mean 'spare' just as in a room that is empty and has no person in it. They don't even mean 'bedroom' in the sense of a room you could reasonably put a person in. There's a lack of definition of 'bedroom' and it can mean rooms you couldn't fit a full size bed in, let alone a double. But the big problem with 'spare' is that for the purposes of counting to see if you have a 'spare' room, all children must share a room. All. Gender matters after the age of 10, but up until then mixed genders is a okay. After that only matching genders have to share a room. But if your kids have one room each, then one of those rooms is 'spare'. Read more... ) This government is making too many changes all at once and even devoting time to following the news every day I can't bloody keep up. They all stack up and they'll all hit together and they'll all hit the same people together.

They'll hit the young people, women, single mothers, and disabled people. Especially disabled people. Every which way all these changes they hit disabled people.

Read more... )

Housing

Jan. 18th, 2013 08:49 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/jan/16/welfare-reform-bedroom-tax-policy-that-has-no-logic

If you have spare spoons and any interest in British people trying to keep a roof over their heads please to read that one.
There's a new rule that if you have more bedrooms than you need housing benefit won't cover it and you have to pay it yourself or move to a smaller place.
There aren't smaller places to move in to.
And most people in social housing don't have any spare money to pay for the extra room.
The government reforms are going to cost more and make people more miserable.

That's kind of a theme actually, that things done in the name of austerity are going to cost more and make people miserable.

The only way the saving money logic works is if they expect people affected to just stop existing.

There was another article today that said 43% of people ATOS judge fit for work are a year later neither in employment nor on benefits any more. With no income, what happens to them?

All these reforms are making it more difficult for disabled people, who get more ill, need more support, and therefore cost more money. If money is the only thing the government care about they're still not bloody making sense. Unless they expect those needs to simply not be met.

I don't want to be paranoid, I really don't, but the available options for interpretation are either official insanity or evil. They either make no sense or the adverse consequences for millions of people are deliberate.




I'm going back to watching Doctor Who.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
BBC News: Neighbours must help elderly more - Norman Lamb
People should do more to help elderly neighbours and ease the pressure on care homes, the care minister has said.

Greater community support would prevent pensioners living a "dismal existence" and going into care unnecessarily, said Norman Lamb.

[...]

"We all have a part to play. In this way, we can make the system sustainable, and it can be a more decent society, a less neglectful society than we sometimes experience where we just expect the state to do everything," he said.


We do not expect the state to do everything, we pay the state to do everything. Not just with payments for whatever care turns up that week, but through National Insurance and taxes. I, personally, have not been able to have a job long enough to pay significant Insurance. But he's talking about the elderly. He's talking about people who have been paying in for decades. When it comes time for Insurance to pay out again, it seems a fairly reasonable expectation that it bloody well should.

Further, has he met neighbours? Some neighbours suck. And what kind of obligation does a neighbour have? None. No connection. So from where does he get 'should'?

And why does he think neighbours can? I happen to know disabled people are in an actual majority in this block. And there are people with mental health problems too, as becomes evident when one of them went knocking round all the neighbours to show off his self harm. Housing policy has been shuffling us together for decades. Same like with elderly, who may well have neighbours just as elder as they are. If you have to go several streets away to find someone with the capacity for a given bit of care work, that's an interesting definition of 'neighbours'.

Also, neighbours don't generally get CRB checked, and people who do care work for vulnerable persons have to.

Last but by no means least, the kind of 'neighbourly connections' he's going on about tend to take time to build up. But government housing policy at the moment logically leads to a lot of getting kicked out and moved around. If place more expensive than lowest third of places, moved out. If place has spare bedroom, moved out. Family homes, the kind of place the kids grew up in and left, being the most likely to get moved along. If he's only talking about elderly that own their own homes he's talking a minority slice already. If neighbours are supposed to be important, other government policy should focus on maintaining neighbourhoods and connections within them. But no. All he bloody means is, don't ask us, ask a stranger you haven't paid in advance.

And nobody goes into care because they need help a neighbour could provide. They get a carer once a week or once a day or three times a day first. Neighbours are no good for care home stuff because that's 24 hour care. You can't get your neighbour in at two in the morning because you need to pee.

What does he even have in mind, that he thinks neighbours can fix it?

When people get personal budgets and can choose how to spend them, do you want to guess what's the most common use? It's hiring just the one person to wipe their arse. Because having carers sent in from an agency, you never know who is going to turn up. You can have three different people in a day, if you happen to get three different visits. And if your care needs include anything like help getting dressed or help with the bathroom, three different strangers a day get to see you naked.

Now think about your neighbours. How many of them make that sound like an awesome idea?

Adult social care is not a job for amateurs doing things at random times out of the kindness of their hearts, it's a job that should pay better to do tricky and potentially embarrassing things that are required every single day of your lives.

Neighbours?
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The Conservatives are choosing the discourse over benefits, the terms of the debate, and Labour are going along with them. 'Fairness'. It's just a comparison with people in work, and not a very honest one at that. Is it 'fair' that benefits are going up faster than wages? No, wages should be going up to meet the cost of living increases too.

But that's not the way the Conservatives mean it. They're asking if it's fair your baby brother should get help to do his shoes up, or if it's fair he still gets pocket money while you have to do your chores, or if it's fair someone else doesn't have to go without some lunch when you can't afford it. Clearly if their core voters aren't getting an increase, nobody else should.

What this argument needs is the restoration of the primacy of Need. Benefits were calculated based on Need.

Read more... )

The Conservatives look around and see some people getting help when others don't, and they fume about it, because how is that fair?

I look around and I see Need. For workers, for the unemployed, for disabled people, it all comes down to: what do they need in order to survive? Giving that to everyone is the only useful definition of Fair.

Food

Jul. 20th, 2012 11:54 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been reading about food banks.
I saw a food bank sign up near my house and it made me think.
There's lots of stuff in the Guardian http://www.delicious.com/redirect?url=http%3A//www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/18/food-banks-on-hand-outs

In theory we have a benefits system that acts as a safety net so people get what they need to survive.
But the practice has always been a bit shakier.
And now it's just had the sticks kicked from under it. No, actually, it's an ongoing process, it has only just begun compared to the plans, the kicking is ongoing. Frankly it scares the hell out of me.

And I don't understand it.
We live among such abundance.
There's a ton of spare food goes in the bins at the end of the day, and there's a lot of hungry people. How does that make sense?

Read more... )


No, I don't have a replacement idea. I can't think of a way to do things that makes everything work. I don't know enough. I don't understand what the problem is. I have no solutions.


So I'm just puzzled and tired and powerless.

It would be nice to be able to vote for someone who knows how to fix it all, but hey, we tried that, and they're great big liars who do this instead.




At this point I'd usually watch superhero movies, but my planned Batman marathon feels a bit off, right now.


News is made of :-(
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It pisses me off that the current discourse focuses on people doing paid work for employers and defines that as 'doing the right thing'. I've seen it repeatedly from Conservatives. They make a dividing line in their speeches between people living off benefits and people 'doing the right thing' and working.

Carers are nowhere in this discourse.
Read more... )

There is this vast and expanding abyss in values revealed here. Somehow, somewhen, the only effort that counts as work is working for money, and the only valuable contribution is monetary value.

Caring is doing the right thing.

If there's enough looking after to go around, even if the money is slim (but can feed you), the world works.
But it doesn't matter how much money you get if you can't get the care you need.



I'd leave it there, that's a strong point and I wish that argument would carry.

But there's one more thing.
Couldn't it also be a right thing to leave more room for other people?
Read more... )

The current arguments about Housing Benefit are in the same pile, where 'doing the right thing' is completely defined by going out to work and saving up money to pay for a house.
(The idea of taking shelter away from everyone who needs benefits under 25... does he not know that's what he's saying? What is wrong with him?)
In this argument, where are the landlords and the banks?
Read more... )

Something went wrong, but it wasn't in the morals or work ethics of your average renter.

Read more... )

Everyone can fit in together, for a long time it seemed like everyone could work together to make sure nobody went completely without, and yet now? Boom, discourse of fairness, discourse where 'do the right thing' means simply and solely go out and earn money for work from some individual (rather than get money for basics from all the country via the government). Discourse where only individual effort matters, and where it somehow makes sense to set private companies the job of getting people jobs, by sending them to compulsory work their employers don't have to pay for, despite the fact that there is no evidence it helps make or get jobs and actual evidence rolling in that it doesn't help. Because at some point they got hung up on making people try, because that's their moral good, that the work is attempted.

I don't know. I don't know how to fix all this. I do know that what gets said in speeches doesn't match my lived experience.
And yet we have such plenty.
Why doesn't it work?

Monarchy

May. 25th, 2012 12:16 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been thinking about the Queen, because there's all pictures everywhere and all my food got swapped for party food. So I have been being grumpy about the Queen. Because it seems like it's all of a piece, things that we need being displaced by big stupid party for someone we never get to vote for.

My mum likes it that there is a Queen and is quite shocked that I'm not keen on the idea.

I like the bit where there is someone who has always been paying attention and can talk to the people in charge all that time. Continuity is a pretty good thing. As one element of a balanced system I can get behind that.

Read more... )

So I guess I'm all for someone with a long memory and enough respect to have a proper talking to when necessary. Possibly even someone who can remind people of their promises and how well certain plans didn't work last time they were tried. But I'm not very keen on people thinking they're the boss.

Elected people work for us. They're not the boss. They're supposed to be doing like we told them.
>:-(

I can see how trying to change big politics is like trying to tinker with an engine that is currently working. No poking it, it could be messy. So, okay, leave well enough alone.

But I'm still not impressed with big parties.
Even if parties is big enough everyone gets a piece of party for their own.
There still seems like more necessary things to be doing.

Voting

Apr. 23rd, 2012 12:00 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
There was a thing in the news today where the prime minister said there won't be a referendum about a thing because all three main political parties agree on it.
There are more than three political parties.
But given that there's pretty much only three with a hope of getting elected, isn't that a reason to have a referendum? I mean, we couldn't have voted for a different opinion. Not and have the vote count for anything. So we couldn't choose someone to represent our opinion if it happened to not agree with those three.
(Which is my persistent problem with politics now certain parties turn out to be lying liars. Nobody left to choose.)
Also, it seems unlikely that the particular issue was top of anyone's mind when they were voting, so perhaps they chose a representative who agreed with them on everything more important to them, but disagreed about this one question.
Referendums only ask the one question, so you find out what people actually think about that one question.
That seems sensible, when we're talking far reaching reforms with big consequences.

Not that I'd much understand said reforms, but I'd like the chance to be puzzled, if I'm going to have to live with the consequences.

On benefits

Feb. 8th, 2012 09:18 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Being political again:
I been reading debates on who deserves help. Not just disability help, all benefits, child benefits and all sorts.
I'm either puzzled or angry about it. I'll decide later.

The way I thought this thing worked, the idea I had in my head about national insurance and social services and what all else, is that everyone pays in if they've got any, and everyone gets stuff out of it.
NHS is for everyone. Schools are for everyone. All these support structures, the safety net and scaffolding of society, are there for everyone.

And it's not just for everyone in the sense that everyone who falls on it needs it. Everyone else needs it too. All the time, government and council and whatever else provide services that make everyone's lives possible.

Read more... )

I don't think it's just about the care of the most vulnerable. I think it goes really wrong when thought of in that way. It's about society.

We all need stuff, things we couldn't individually arrange or keep working.
Some of that stuff the assorted benefits are there to cover.
It might not be the best way for everyone to get the necessary, I don't know, money confuses me, but the needs are there whether or not people 'deserve' stuff, so needs need to be filled.

And it also goes wrong another way, about the way people think. If only rich people pay in and only certain categories of particularly poor people get money out, and that's the way everyone thinks of it, targeting money from the richest towards the most vulnerable, then the whole system becomes either about what gets taken away from you or what you're taking from someone. That pisses people off. Shouty politics time.
Everyone pay in, everyone get out, people have less shouting. ... never going to stop shouting because still people. But then when someone wonders what does all this money do for them, it's obvious, it does this much, tada, all simples.

Read more... )

I guess if I'm puzzled it's because I can't see how people believe any of this all is not to do with them personally. Complex interlocking system, all the parts do stuff to all the people. I do not see that perception reflected in many arguments. Instead there are suggestions that seem to me very greatly like biting one's own tail. So I'm puzzled. And a bit angry.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I am reading more blogging on the welfare reform bill.
They change too many things at once, so is hard to keep up, and then they use all sorts of twisty rules to make it pass. I no like.
I liked when the Lords gave the bill a kicking though. They said plenty good stuff.

I been reading in comments threads that the Lords are undemocratic. Read more... )

I don't know how the Lords works now. I need to do reading. Read more... )

I kind of wish I had done PPE after all. It takes a lot of figuring out, all these rules and the rulemaking. About all the part I grasp is the bit where they're trying to make there be less disabled people by declaring them not disabled, rather than, say, making them more able. I don't see that working at all. I kind of wish I understood the box that keeps churning this stuff out.

Maybe I can have a go at that after I finish this literature degree.

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