Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Objectifying the Unemployed

This BBC report about tough new sanctions issued by Jobcentres causing real problems for Jobseekers made me raise an eyebrow.

When I lived in Bicester an on Jobseekers, they closed the Bicester Job Centre and I had a choice of which Jobcentre I wanted to report at. Now if you look at Bicester, you'll notice its a town totally unattached to any other town. The nearest Job Centre is Oxford, probably 15 miles away, the next nearest is Banbury 17 miles away and then you have Aylesbury 18 miles away..

Getting to the job centre was a chore in itself because bus fares are not cheap. At the time to get from Bicester to Oxford and back was around £5: note you don't get paid travelling expenses towards reporting at the Job Centre to sign on. If you take that out of Jobseekers allowance you're already around 20% worse off than Job Seekers elsewhere that can walk to their Job Centre.

Now if the Job Centre is putting pressure on Jobseekers to continually attend meetings there, it inevitably eats into the allowance you get. Not only that if you miss these meetings because you can't afford to spend half your allowance on bus fares, you now get penalised and your benefit is removed. So how exactly are you going to pay for food? Food banks have seen a huge rise in demand and I'm not surprised.

I just wonder how long it takes for the first person to snap and start a killing spree in a Job Centre they see as oppressive and denying them basic survival?

I mean, so what if you end up in prison on a life sentence, at least you're going to be fed and kept warm.

The lesser of two evils: except along the way  Job Centre Workers will lose their lives. Just you watch.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

HS2 - Too ambitious for England?

I'm watching the current debate on HS2 with a little laughter. The thing is, the time for huge capital projects such as HS2 has long since passed in this country. Sure we can build an Olympic Park, but a railway line from London to the North? Really?

The thing is the planning process in this country ties projects like this up in knots for years which means costs spiral out of control, far beyond even the wildest current estimates which are already fantastical. The truth is that HS2 will not provide the billions in benefits that its supporters say it will. It will be, as with other European high speed lines, a vehicle for the upper middle class to enjoy, far from the reach of the majority.

Of course despite the cost, despite the lack of benefits, the high speed white elephant will be built, because it has to be built.

Its an elitist project, decreed by the home of the undemocratic elite, the EU. They demand that all EU states build interconnected high speed elitist rail links to all the major cities of the EU. There is no benefit to the masses, there is no sense in spending the billions in compensation ploughing a furrow through the London suburbs and the mainly middle-class Chilterns beyond. Politics demands it be built, against all common sense.

You can tell its a political project decreed by the EU because of all the political posturing in Westminster. All sides know the thing is out of their control: they are being told to build it. The previous Labour government started the ball rolling and if it were just a Labour project, the coalition would have canned it and gained huge support in their middle-class heartland. Instead they press on, because they have to. Labour are now distancing themselves from the project so they can take pot-shots at the government despite knowing full well that if they win the next election they would have to do exactly the same as the coalition are doing right now.

The various future governments are tied into pissing billions away on a project nobody (but the elite) needs, that nobody (in England) wants and that no-one (in England) will benefit from nor can afford. If ever there was the definition of a political project, this is it.