Saturday, 11 January 2014

Thin lines

I do occasionally post about what some regard as being more serious matters although though ordinarily they bore the frigging pants off of me if there is something I do find concerning and today's one of those days.
Posturing is one that we see in everyday life not least in politics and I'm convinced this has something to do with declining election turnouts that do pose significant dangers to our democratic society.
Here's a couple of  examples from British politics.
Seasoned observers will be aware a large concern shared by many is the large budget deficit, how to reduce and avoid adding to it.
This week the Tories, part of the current Coalition Government, raised the idea that State Pensions funded via Social Security should maintain their values no matter what, continuing to be payable regardless of other incomes.
Personally I've no axe to grind against pensioners, however some 43% of the welfare budget currently goes on this and with an increasing aging population it's likely to climb to around 50% or possibly more.
Contrast with proposals to reduce working age welfare benefits such as assistance to the disabled, help with housing costs for 18 thru 24 year olds and so on.
If it's accepted that such costs need to be reduced, logically the whole welfare budget should be examined especially where costs are spiralling. Some pensioners themselves have suggested as much.
Ones suspicions  are this announcement has more to do with currying favour with older voters who tend to both turn out in greater numbers and are more 'conservative' with a small 'c at Election time. Also it would make the other parties look bad to even look at pensions.
You might think the alternative to making £25 Billion savings might be looking at gathering more income and strangely enough it is reckoned around 23 Billion is avoided by business  though overseas tax deals so on the face of it, if this was tackled only limited cuts might be needed. The silence on this topic is deafening nor is it unique to the UK as many governments are finding Multi-national corporations are effectively doing national governments out of lot of otherwise eligible tax revenue. Could it be those interests are being look after by that group of politicians? The same group who stigmitize the unemployed, foreign migrants and so on for cheating?

Connected with this is the Immigration Debate where as an EU member state as that organization expands potentially all its citizens are able to look for work and settle in each country care of the Freedom of Labour principals that have been there for a very long time.
There is strong feeling in the UK toward further restrictions for a number of reasons such as high 'native' unemployment, concern over population growth as the UK is a densely populated country and also that a high proportion of immigrants especially from different cultures dilutes or substantively  changes the dominant culture in ways the host society feels ill at ease with (this last point is fiercely controversial).
To counter the support potentially of the minority UK Independence Party who do favour further restrictions, Conservatives floated ideas like restricting payments for those with children only to those from the UK, further blocks on EU migration from recent members such as Bulgaria and Romania and so on.
One problem ignored in this attempt to separate Conservatives from their Liberal and Labour opponents is that it ignores that to do so does go against EU wide regulations, something the Polish Government strongly reminded them of.
The honest answer to this is, if you do wish to be be completely able set your own immigration policy unless, as would be unlikely the EU does relax the regulations, then you need to leave the EU because it prevents you from doing this. However as I've said before, the main parties don't wish to have a big debate never mind any kind of meaningful nay almost binding referendum on the UK's membership which remains unpopular with the public because for the big two parties they are split on it so don't want to risk further division in their parties and the Liberals are in favour, end of .
There is some merit in having a skills based immigration quota who you accept those who have skills that are needed but because of the current EU regulations is only applied to those immigrants coming from outside the EU, such as the (British) Commonwealth of Nations where there is less concern.

And so on with hosts of issues that do matter.
The failure of the Political system to address such concerns by  fully examining the issues, exploring and debating all the options with the electorate followed by putting them to a Commons vote only fuels the apathy and disconnect between the Democratic system of government and it's citizens.

1 comment:

mittfh said...

Just as the politicians are apathetic to any kind of real debate on immigration, the media are also just as apathetic with both immigration and welfare - with the media repeating the allegations that immigrants come here in their thousands to claim benefits / take British jobs / oversaturate the housing market / fail to integrate with the rest of the local population; while a few outlets go the other way with pointing out the amount they contribute to taxation and they're doing jobs no Brits either can do or want to do. There's never any examination of both sides of the coin, a recognition it's a shade of grey rather than pure black or white.

With welfare, you hear a lot in the media about "scroungers" (in reality the overpayment rate is about 2% - approximately equal parts deliberate fraud, failing to notify changes in circumstances that could affect the claim and DWP error) but not much about those who aren't playing the system and struggling to cope. There are ever increasing numbers of people using food banks - the government claims this is merely because more food banks have opened and nothing whatsoever to do with their policies (which they claim are lifting more people out of poverty).

Meanwhile tax avoidance and evasion by big companies is quietly swept under the proverbial carpet whenever possible - possibly because these companies also contribute lots of money to party funds, and the politicians feel donations would dry up if they 'forced' the companies to pay their fare share of tax (which, after all, smaller companies can't wriggle out of!).

Public apathy towards politics and politicians is also influenced by all three increasingly chasing after the same demographic of 'floating voter' in marginal constituencies, so unsurprisingly issue very similar policy statements to try and woo the extensively profiled stereotype their advisors have told them is crucial to winning the next election.