Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the enigmatic political philosopher, was born on this day in 1712. He opened his highly influential 1762 treatise, The Social Contract, his most important work, with the following:

“Man was born free yet he is everywhere in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they.”

Challenging the traditional order of society, he naturally became a champion of the people, whose general will he believed to be more important than the desires of long-established elites. From this came what would be the battle cry of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

And then he was ostracised and went mad.

It got me thinking about John Lennon’s ‘Power To the People’, which brought me back to the impending strikes in the UK, which I’d been trying to resist blogging about all day: public sector workers, most notably teachers, plan industrial action on Thursday in protest against the government’s plans to cut pensions and extend the retirement age. In short, work longer for a lesser reward. For teachers, it will be the first national strike in 25 years. The general reaction to their plan, if you believe what you read, doesn’t seem to be one of sympathy to their cause.

Of course, unpopular austerity cuts are making many people bitter and suspicious, and those in the private sector who already feel hard done by do like to condemn those funded by the public purse, dismissing them as somehow parasitic. You have to hand it to them: when schools close or trains grind to a screeching halt, the knock-on effect reaches everybody. Although we are all supposed to be in this together. I wonder what Rousseau would make of it all.

I’d be equally interested in your random musings, impassioned rants or simple contributions to a setlist for enraged strikers, be you in support of their strike action or in disgust at their selfishness. What more can you do? Make light of, or try to hide from, these tough times through the music of happier days (I suggest The Who and ‘Young Man Blues’, ideally from the Isle of Wight, which nicely expresses my personal sentiments when it comes to pensions and people moaning about theirs), gain a new appreciation for an artist’s insightfulness, or interpret a lyric differently. It’s something to do, anyway.

The first song up for your consideration: ‘The Eton Rifles’ by The Jam. And to answer the second – ‘The Trees’ by Rush – with a sad nod of agreement: isn’t there always unrest in the forest, trouble with the trees? The final line of the song should humble all – man and tree alike. Have a listen.

Ultimately, obviously, what it all boils down to, as David has sung so often, is this:

“Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie”

Sad, isn’t it? We never feel we have enough, someone always has more whether or not they deserve to, and when informed that our portion must be reduced (always by someone with more pie than they could ever need and their fingers in the pies of others of equal if not greater fortune), we complain loudly even though we know that ours, however paltry it may sometimes appear, is still far more generous than that which is guarded fiercely and no doubt appreciated more sincerely by others. It’s no wonder that Rousseau went mad.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

134 thoughts on “Rousseau”

  1. Whilst I don’t live in the UK, there have also been strikes by teachers here in South Australia a year or so ago, and I was also struck by the vitriol spewed at them, saying they were greedy and selfish. These same people ranting and raving seem to have no issue with sports people, or actors, or musicians, making obscene amounts of money (not all of course, but more than a handful). Teachers play a huge role in society, helping to form the next generation of adults, and yet they are paid at a rate which almost guarantees low motivation and dissuades the brightest from even starting in the profession.

    I would say the same thing to people who object to surgeons, doctors etc. making a decent wage… who would you rather was well paid and well motivated, the bloke kicking a ball for your favourite team once a week, or the bloke who slices you open to remove a tumour or to help you after a heart attack?

    (And in the interest of disclosure I am neither a teacher nor a doctor.)

    1. Teachers play a huge role in society, helping to form the next generation of adults, and yet they are paid at a rate which almost guarantees low motivation and dissuades the brightest from even starting in the profession.

      Well they seem pretty well paid to me as they all live in their lovely big houses, wear expensive fashions and drive new cars.

      They also have what you call teaching assistants (who cannot spell) help them with their workload. Back in my day, there was one teacher in my classroom and she would ensure that we spelled our words correctly. Imagine having a teaching assistant “teach” your child and they cannot even spell simple words correctly themselves.

      As you can see I have a big issue about the low standards of modern education. It is true, everything has been “dumbed down”.

      1. They also have what you call teaching assistants (who cannot spell) help them with their workload. Back in my day, there was one teacher in my classroom and she would ensure that we spelled our words correctly. Imagine having a teaching assistant “teach” your child and they cannot even spell simple words correctly themselves.

        I have to agree, Julie. They also get paid a lot less than teachers and are being relied on more and more, so I’m told by teacher friends. Seems unfair on them, too.

    2. Though it’s true that some teachers have assistants and get a lot of time off, the stress level for teachers these days is something the average person cannot comprehend. Today’s kids are literally crazy, a lot of them are vicious and dangerous–beyond being responsive to any kind of kindness and reason–and you can’t touch them, raise your voice at them, you really can’t discipline them much and they know it.

      I taught at the high school and lower levels for a while when I was younger and it was insane. From what I hear it has gotten a lot worse. Teachers need time off for their sanity. Trust me, they deserve their pay. It’s combat pay.

    3. Governments and local authorities have been telling us for 40, that’s f-o-r-t-y, years that I know of that they want to reduce class sizes to less than 30 pupils. This is supposed to ensure that pupils get sufficient teacher time. They keep on saying it but it never happens because all the time they are cutting budgets in REAL terms whilst the population, therefore people in compulsory education also, has increased. Building new schools, improvements, expansions and repairs to existing buildings have all been underfunded or cut over the years and will now be savagely cut again. This is one reason there are teaching assistants in oversized classes.

      It’s also because special schools are being closed to save money. Parents are being told “we want to help integrate disabled kids into society”, so they put a teaching assistant in or rather provide the school with teaching assistant hours. It doesn’t work (and I can explain why, take my word for it, families are being conned by local government).

      Teachers in Britain qualified with a degree education in a specialised subject then study for a further year for a teaching qualification. All must have a criminal record check carried out regularly. They continue training throughout their careers. Qualifications to teach are therefore on a par with other professions such as medicine, law, social work. Compared to these other professions, teachers are NOT well paid.

      Further, all civil servants in this country had a deal with government historically that they would accept smaller salaries and pay increases than their peers in other sectors, the swap off being a good contributory pension scheme and terms and conditions. This has been eroded over the years. If teachers have been driven to strike, it is with good reason and I support them.

      ash

    4. Sorry to comment again, I just have to get it off my chest about the closure of special schools.

      For several years now parents have been told their child has a “right” to be integrated and educated amongst his non-disabled peers. I suspect this attitude was started by government or local authorities so that they could place disabled kids in local community (mainstream) schools thus saving on massive transport costs and of course the funding of a whole school.

      Many parents really, really fell for this and actually fought to have their child educated in the nearest school to home. The result discovered too late by these unfortunate families was that their child did much much worse than they could have done. The reasons being:

      1) The child lost confidence because he was the only one like him, he could never hope to compete never mind keep up (in a special school he did have this opportunity).

      2a) The child missed lessons because he had to leave school to go to the local hospital to get his physiotherapy/hearing aid adjusted/new eye tests/wheelchair upgrade/splints which used to be done on special school premises. What really happens is, they slowly stop getting these things necessary for them to function never mind get educated.

      2b) The child became isolated because no one else could speak his language which happened to be British Sign Language.

      3) The child kept getting carted off to hospital especially at adolescence because his hormonal changes and growth spurts interfered with his epilepsy meds efficacy. No one in the main stream school was trained to deal with his seizures so they rang an ambulance.

      I could go on. The point is, a team of specialist medical staff are employed in special schools along with teachers specialised in teaching blind or deaf or physically disabled or learning disabled children or even children with combinations. The team together taught each other skills which were used in the classroom. Close that school and you lose all that expertise and accumulated knowledge.

      Never mind, we can put these kids in mainstream, the parents won’t feel the “stigma” of “special” school and we’ll keep critics quiet by increasing staff levels with a teaching assistant (who’s funded from the special ed budget).

      ash

    5. A quick search online seems to indicate that the average pay for teachers in the UK is just that, average. I have no idea where you live, but growing up in Ireland and now living in Australia I haven’t seen teachers driving new cars, wearing expensive fashions and living in nice big houses as you suggest. Even though it is anecdotal evidence, I’m interested, how many teachers do you know that fall into that category? I’m sure some do fall into that category, but I would surmise that those who do generally work for private fee-paying schools? I am referring to the state school system.

      And yes, school assistants should also be paid well… if they more and more are being forced to do the job of teachers I am assuming it is due to a lack of teachers and that in turn is due to better pay in other professions. School assistants can be invaluable in a situation where there may be a small number of pupils in a larger class who have special needs, who can then receive help from the assistant.

      You mention that you feel modern education is being dumbed down, that is very possibly true, but do you not think that is because it is a relatively low paid job for the work involved and that there is little incentive for the best and the smartest to remain in the job?

      Do you have similar feelings for entertainers and sports people and their “lovely big houses, […] expensive fashions and [….] new cars”?

      I’m not advocating million $ salaries for teachers, just what I would see as fair.

      1. And yes, school assistants should also be paid well… if they more and more are being forced to do the job of teachers I am assuming it is due to a lack of teachers and that in turn is due to better pay in other professions.

        Or due to lack of money on the school’s part. It’s cheaper to employ an assistant than a teacher. It’s unfair that an assistant, who is not necessarily in possession of any specific subject knowledge, should be expected to ‘teach’. There’s your dumbing down.

    6. Today’s kids are literally crazy, a lot of them are vicious and dangerous–beyond being responsive to any kind of kindness and reason–and you can’t touch them, raise your voice at them, you really can’t discipline them much and they know it.

      Yes, because all the DO GOODERS have ruined this country. They have blurred the lines between discipline and abuse. There is no discipline at school and for some not at home. Because teacher’s are not allowed to discipline a child at school, the child had no respect for them. The teachers talk too softly to children, primary level anyway, with no authoritative tone whatsoever. And if the kid does not fit, then the teacher ridicules them in class in front of their peers. I have seen this and am full of hate about it.

      DO GOODERS suck!!!!!

    7. I haven’t seen teachers driving new cars, wearing expensive fashions and living in nice big houses as you suggest.

      Well, the school which I am referring to is a STATE school and all the teachers were very nice, up to the fashion clothes and have nice car, not necessarily new, but nice. There is also a suburb outside Brum where all the teachers seem to be residing and the bottom price of these houses are £250 to £300k. I know this too because I used to work in an estate agents at the weekends in the posh Barnt Green and teachers always used to make enquires for viewing and buying houses in Cofton Hackett and Barnet Green.

      Yes, I have had lots of jobs.

      As a matter of fact, my daughter’s previous teacher in reception class also lived in this teacher village of Cofton Hackett.

      I am not a dummy just spouting off. I have witness to it.

    8. @JulieD, not for a minute suggesting that you are a dummy, or just spouting off. I have no experience of teachers in the UK, and I have no reason to disbelieve you.

      I guess it comes down to our different experiences, and those different experiences explain our differing opinions on teachers, I guess.

  2. Gosh Fed – what a topic – we could muse over this for years if our sanity remained intact! 8| Social discord is part and parcel of the so-called social order – it will always exist. There will always be the “haves” versus the “have nots”. “The People” can appoint whomever they want to ‘represent’ and ‘enforce’ the “will of the people” and there will always be a flip side. So, what do we do? We write lyrics for- and compose melodies- about it; we paint it; we write poetry and tome upon tome about this view and that; operas are conceived, ‘new’ religions and philosophies are developed; we donate generously to causes we ‘believe’ in; we take a stand and fight for ‘rights’, all vying for our “15 minutes of fame” as Andy Warhol put it … and so it goes.

    A small playlist to contribute …

    Pink Floyd – Us and Them
    Manic Street Preachers – A Design for Life
    Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World
    Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
    Depeche Mode – People are People
    INXS – Calling all Nations
    Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name (amazing song!)
    Moody Blues – Isn’t Life Strange
    Dire Straits – Industrial Disease

    And here’s another opinion …

    All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. George Orwell, “Animal Farm”

    Enough to make Rousseau ‘walk the plank’!

  3. Thanks Fed for Alex, Neil and Geddy. A nice tribute for Canada Day on July 1st.

    What can I say, the government screws up as usual, they feel their pension is not enough and they tax us to death to make their ends meet, while we have to work as serfs to survive.

    Same old, same old! Nuff said!

  4. We’ve become “comfortably numb” in Texas. Teachers are being laid off/fired due to budget issues which were foreshadowed by the previous comptroller. Yet, Rick Perry, our governor, contemplates a run for the White House alleging he has created more jobs than any governor in the U.S. (He doesn’t mention the pillaging of the education system.) His “lips move, but I can’t hear what he’s saying.” He was the steward of a $4 billion shortfall in the education budget. Great job, Rick. But, without education in Texas and in your U.K., we will all become complacent and numb. We must be heard.

    David, you have a grand stage which you have earned through your life’s hard work. I encourage you to use it. I do what I can to influence our political system in Texas and support the teacher’s union financially and lobby others to join.

    Thank you for a lifetime of incredible music memories.

    Randall from Texas, U.S.A.

    1. *shudder*

      8| Rick Perry. :/ For years has taken the odious position of Texas seceding from the United States!! It’s a provocative perennial topic that plays well to all sorts of hateful factions.

      My sympathy to friends and relatives who teach or taught in Texas. 🙁

  5. I only have one thing to say and this probably comes from my childhood memories of the UK. I hate strikes and I hate strikers! No matter what people protest about, it falls on deaf ears, the government does what it wants and that’s it. When are people going to learn that we are living longer and therefore we should work longer? So I am in favour of the raising the pension age. If I had my way, I will work until I die because I have seen too many people go down the pan (in their mind) once they retire. Sorry, I am in that line of work where I look after pensioners.

    I have had many professional jobs and NOT ONE offered me a pension scheme. It is up to me to make the necessary provisions for my old age, not my employer.

    A friend of mine says that he pays into a private pension and is only eligible for 21 days of a year. Just think of all the time off the teacher gets. Besides nowadays, the teacher puts themself first, before the pupil, and I have full experience of that fact. Many a friend has commented on this too. They are too wimpy to discipline correctly too.

    Sorry for ranting, I think I am still angry after being at The Wall concert and the NIA. That concert has provoked so many feelings in me at the moment! So please excuse me.

    The only time I would protest is if it is to prevent any unnecessary suffering to anybody.

    I am sick of this ‘I WANT EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING’ country. Hand outs have been the bane of society.

    I endeth my rant now… 🙂

    1. If I had my way, I will work until I die because I have seen too many people go down the pan (in their mind) once they retire.

      Sorry, Julie, but I don’t think it should be fair to let some people work until they die (or just longer), while there are others (usually, but not always, the youngest) who have no chance to work at all, or have to find another job because they’ve been dismissed.

      Raising the pension age inevitably increases the number of young (and not only young) unemployed, redistributing the money in a wrong way and always for the benefit of the same people.

      I agree that some individuals go down the pan, as you say, when they retire, but a society which can only make people work to make them feel alive, is a wrong society, at least in my opinion.

      I hope my English was clear enough.

    2. I know it appears that teachers get loads of time off because we see (British) schools shut to pupils for 13 weeks of the year. This number of weeks of closure was established not for teachers’ benefit but because the country couldn’t have all of industry shutting down and racing off on holiday when the schools closed for two weeks in the summer.

      Teachers are employed for the equivalent of 37 hours per week for 52 weeks. They actually work many more hours in a term time week than other workers and they also work during school closure periods. It’s impossible to do all the lesson planning, marking, preparation, form filling and teach a full time table during a school open day, i.e. 9am to 3pm. Most teachers start work at 8.30am, work through their lunch break, and work late into the evening. Hardly any regularly leave the premises at 4.30pm. A great many don’t leave until nearer 6 or 7.

      Sorry Julie, I realise you probably hadn’t thought of all this. 🙂

      ash

      1. Oh, this is a good point to throw in an article from the always entertaining Daily Mail

        I don’t know why they don’t include a “damn them” in the headline and be done with it. You know they want to.

        It’s a fair point, though. Off sick on full pay…

    3. Raising the pension age inevitably increases the number of young (and not only young) unemployed, redistributing the money in a wrong way and always for the benefit of the same people

      When I was young, I was unemployed out of choice, because I was too damn lazy to get a job (and immature) and too busy partying. There is always a job around even if it is working as a cleaner. It all depends on what you want. My younger sister proved that to me.

      People are living longer, that is a fact! Musicians and actors actually work all their lives. Take Our Roger for example, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones etc, they will probably work until they die. I went to McDonald’s one day and saw an 80 year old mopping the floor, I wanted to kiss her and tell her good for her to still work. She told me: ‘It keeps me sane’. I believe in work. Even if I have to volunteer in charity shops when I am old, of course, if I am in good health, I will.

      Sorry Julie, I realise you probably hadn’t thought of all this.

      Oh I had! I worked in my daughter’s school last year as a volunteer (STATE school at that) which thankfully she does not attend anymore either. All the teachers did was think about themselves first, I have first hand experience of this. If half the parents saw what went on in schools they would go mad. The teachers believed in publicly humiliating children and now I understand why bullying is bad and a destroyer to young minds. It starts from the top! My uncle is a caretaker at a school and he is of the same opinion as me about teachers and he is a left-winger. I abhor the way the teachers are denying children childhoods and constantly say to them: “Oh! you’re so grown up” but then, I am not surprised after all, children used to “work” in Victorian times. So some things don’t change. I suppose that is why grown ups act they way they do sometimes, they were denied a childhood. Thank God, I had one.

      When I worked as a legal assistant at a solicitors, I worked insane hours, with no benefits, no pension, no bonus, and I worked weekends too, because it was such a responsible job which I loved.

      Please excuse me kind people, I’m really angst ridden lately.

      Peace.

    4. The super rich want you to work your behind off for them until the day you die. In a fair world you wouldn’t have to. You only think you do. The resources and technology exists so that everyone could retire at age 50 or 55 and live at a great standard of living for the rest of their lives. Be able to travel. Afford wonderful libraries. Help teach children/grandchildren. Society–to function–needs a few professions, including farmers, tailors, plumbers, engineers, hydrologists, doctors, teachers, and the like to make it run. But my guess is that that’s something between 5 and 15 % of the population. The rest is all gravy. How you divvy up the gravy, and what people do with that time–it’s all artifice. Most people really don’t have to work for society to function. Not given the technologies that now exist. So we’re in a situation where instead of making utopia, our leaders–the financial sector/super rich/the corporations–have decided that a very few are going to become increasingly rich beyond all reason, while the rest of us grovel in the dirt. It’s that simple.

      If you want to work until the day you die, do so. But you should have the option of not working when you get old. Live is so short. There’s so much more one could be doing.

    5. They are too wimpy to discipline correctly too.

      What would you say was correct discipline then, Julie?

      ash

    6. It’s a fair point, though. Off sick on full pay…

      Fed, I read the article twice, it doesn’t say anything about being off sick on full pay nor imply that that would be a heinous crime by un-dedicated, disinterested, selfish teachers. :/

      Anyway, to anyone who might say why should people be paid when off sick.

      1) It’s been built into our (best in the world if you ask me) welfare system as a kind of insurance in case a worker is unable to earn. Everyone is entitled to sick pay if they pay into the national insurance scheme.

      2) Some companies, The NHS, national and local government made sick pay part of the terms and conditions of employment as part of the entire employment package, i.e. as part of the salary. Workers who benefit from their employer’s scheme can not usually claim sick pay from the national insurance scheme (even though they pay into it).

      It’s civilised to take care of our workforce, it keeps them fit and able to work.

      Yes, there are people who abuse the system but it’s not every single sick teacher. What the article is woefully pointing out is that our schools are in real trouble because of years of neglect.

      ash

      1. Fed, I read the article twice, it doesn’t say anything about being off sick on full pay nor imply that that would be a heinous crime by un-dedicated, disinterested, selfish teachers. :/

        Said with tongue firmly in cheek, Ash, and speaking from experience rather than from identifying anything in that specific article. I should have made that clear. A teacher friend of mine was off sick for several months on full pay. He absolutely was genuinely sick; nothing undedicated, disinterested or selfish about his absence. He’s off sick a lot, actually. It’s an occupational hazard, picking up every cough, cold and bug that spreads so easily among children.

        The cost of supply teachers should be considered, though. Especially when, I’m told, they rarely teach. How can they when they come in for the odd day here and there and their brief is just to maintain order in the classroom? Must be a nightmare.

        I’m just mischievously throwing things in to get a reaction for the sake of good discussion, don’t mind me. 😉

    7. To Julie and – I suppose – many others,

      No wonder children at school don’t behave, don’t show any respect to teachers (and adults in general) if they constantly hear at home (and anywhere else) that teachers are wimpy, lazy, have too much time off, steal childhood, are unfair, etc…

      I had a dream… teachers and parents working together in peace and respect, just so that children feel some harmony in the educational system.

      I would have many more things to say about education, but my English is not good enough to be able to argue more deeply. I must have had bad and incompetent English teachers in my youth… 😉 Also, I don’t know very well the British educational system.

      Go, governments of all countries, shut down (or is ‘close’ the right word? I don’t know) classes, schools, why not? “We don’t need no education”, after all (right, good old Roger? Well done, you and thank you). Make teachers “work until they die”, of course children will then be happier at school and show more respect to 80 year-old teachers. If it was not so dramatic, all that would make me laugh so loud…

      1. Make teachers “work until they die”, of course children will then be happier at school and show more respect to 80 year-old teachers.

        That’s an interesting point.

        Shouldn’t teachers be forced to retire sooner?

        I’m just kidding, of course. 😉

    8. When I was young, I was unemployed out of choice, because I was too damn lazy to get a job (and immature) and too busy partying. There is always a job around even if it is working as a cleaner. It all depends on what you want. My younger sister proved that to me.

      Julie,

      I suppose we are giving different meanings to the word “young”. I don’t know in your country, but here only those who are around 20 and left the school after secondary have hope to get the kind of jobs you’re talking about (cleaner, waitress…), which are almost always lacking of any regular contract, than absolutely unreliable and underpaid.

      These working conditions are only suitable (but still unfair, in my view) for a very young person who lives with the parents, but they’re definitely not enough when you reach my age and you obviously feel the need to leave the family home and start building your own future. It would be nice to do that before reaching the pension (which we won’t have) age, wouldn’t it?

      Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. The point, here, is not the dignity of a job. Even if “We Are All Bourgeois Now”, my family didn’t forget what working hard means, so I’ve grown up convinced that any occupation has its own dignity, as long as it’s honest.

      The point is that these works seem to be the only ones available now, but why should someone be interested in me, when there are lots of younger people and blackmailable immigrants to exploit and underpay?

    9. What would you say was correct discipline then, Julie?

      Well, disciplining a child is not by sending them home. I could not believe when a teacher was discipling or telling a child it was wrong, he was talking to them softly with no authoritative tone whatsoever. If the kid did not comply, the teacher sent them home. Where is the discipline in that. The kid is going to think, Yay. My best friend’s son started to learn that if he did not want to go to school all he had to do was play up at school and get sent home.

      Time out does not work for all children. Some children are more clever than others. Some obey instantly, but some also defy. The definite ones need to learn to respect. A child will not respect a teacher if the teacher talks softly to them. They teacher needs to be a little more assertive. So if the teacher can actually teach the child that they are the boss, then maybe the child would be better behaved.

      However, back in my day, if I played up at school (in Texas) I used to get the paddle. Of course, I never played up again. I learned to respect my teachers.

    10. To Julie and – I suppose – many others, No wonder children at school don’t behave, don’t show any respect to teachers (and adults in general) if they constantly hear at home (and anywhere else) that teachers are wimpy, lazy, have too much time off, steal childhood, are unfair, etc…

      Personally, Michèle, I do not let my little girl know any of my thoughts on these issues. I do not want to cloud an innocent mind with trash. She does not hear this. I assure you I protect her from this all. I am so tempted to home school her now as I do not want her to get polluted. However, she is in a church school now, where discipline and respect are much better. She is a happy little soul now.

      If I think about these things and get angry, I suffer in private when no-one is around. That is how much of a rage the last school has had me in. The last school only wanted ‘sheep’ for kids. There are a few other bright kids from that school who have now suffered the same fate and it is refreshing that the parents come to me to talk.

    11. I suppose we are giving different meanings to the word “young”. I don’t know in your country, but here only those who are around 20 and left the school after secondary have hope to get the kind of jobs you’re talking about (cleaner, waitress…), which are almost always lacking of any regular contract, than absolutely unreliable and underpaid.

      Well, I got dumped in this country at the age of 18 and I survived without my parents. I had no choice as I did not have an American passport. I spent a few years living on people’s sofas and surviving on potatoes. I had to make a life out of nothing. It took me years but I did it. If a dumb fuck like me can do it, then anybody can.

    12. However, back in my day, if I played up at school (in Texas) I used to get the paddle. Of course, I never played up again. I learned to respect my teachers.

      Thank you for your reply Julie. Before I read it, I’d read your comment about do-gooders up in the comment 2 string, and realised that we had similar thoughts about discipline.

      You are quite right. Furthermore as you said, many parents won’t take responsibility for their wayward children and won’t support the school’s efforts.

      I remember being scared to tell my parents if I got told off or punished at school because I got told off and punished again!

      I hope your daughter is happier in her new school. 🙂

      ash

    13. Said with tongue firmly in cheek, Ash, and speaking from experience

      Oh Fed, what can I say about this. :v I have a good few friends who are teachers and honestly they are very professional and dedicated and over the years I’ve found myself defending teachers because everyone seems to complain about them.

      I should have realised what you were doing. 🙂

      ash

  6. Even if the topic is mainly about the UK situation, I just can’t help writing about it.

    As I reached the conclusion that, being virtually outside the job market at my age, I will never be able to get a pension in the future, I also feel perfectly represented by The Who song above. A young man (or a woman) “ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days”, actually, it seems.

    Neither my parents, nor I can remember another bad time like this, at least in the last decades. Here the malcontent is everywhere. We continually have strikes and demonstrations: against the Prime Minister and the Government, against nuke/water privatization, against public sector cuts (education, welfare and culture, first, as always). There is chaos in Naples because of the rubbish and NO TAV activists beaten by the police in Val di Susa while trying to defend the beautiful place they live in from a mad and useless (in my opinion) devastation.

    No, it’s no wonder that Rousseau went mad and it’s no wonder that, in a world like this, many young people end up becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

    1. We’re on exactly the same wavelength, Alessandra. A young woman has less than a young man, in fact, when you consider that she will often be paid less than he will earn for doing exactly the same job, which is scandalous.

      Perhaps you can take some cruel comfort from another Who lyric, ‘Eminence Front’. Those making these absurd rules (or keeping them in place when they are able to break them once and for all), who believe themselves the masters of others, truly are enslaved and it can’t be pleasant.

      “Drinks flow
      People forget
      Big wheel spins, hair thins
      People forget
      Forget they’re hiding
      News slows
      People forget
      Shares crash, hopes are dashed
      People forget
      Forget they’re hiding
      Behind an eminence front
      Eminence front
      It’s a put-on”

      Reminds me, too, of this one by Motorhead:

      “Rich men think that happiness is a million dollar bills
      So how come half of them O.D. on sleeping pills?”

    2. Thanks, FEd. I knew “Eminence Front”, but I had never listened to Motorhead before.

      Your songs make me think about “A Satisfied Mind” by Bob Dylan (it’s a cover, isn’t it?).

      “How many times have you heard someone say
      If I had his money I’d do things my way
      But little they know
      It’s so hard to find
      One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.”

    3. Your songs make me think about “A Satisfied Mind” by Bob Dylan (it’s a cover, isn’t it?).

      I didn’t know who wrote it, but I recall a nice version by John Martyn from his Sunday’s Child album.

      It was written by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes, the first recording by Porter Wagoner in 1955.

  7. Oh… a tough one to comment as a foreign-speaking. As far as I understand this has to do with cutbacks on pensions. Let me take a wild guess: This will primarily hit women? People with lower income? There you go.

    Those of us who are more fortunate, must recall the good old word: Solidarity. And support those who are less fortunate. Strikes may be inconvenient to those who are not involved, but way more inconvenient to those who sacrifice their income/time and risk their jobs to make a point.

    I think.

  8. – Welcome To The Machine by Pink Floyd
    – I’m The Slime From The Video by Frank Zappa

    I was going to send this to Lorraine in the last post but when I read up on the lyrics decided it fitted here very aptly:

    “You will obey me while I lead you
    And eat the garbage that I feed you
    Until the day that we don’t need you
    Don’t got for help…no one will heed you
    Your mind is totally controlled
    It has been stuffed into my mould
    And you will do as you are told
    Until the rights to you are sold”

    Fourteen Black Paintings by Peter Gabriel:

    “From the pain come the dream
    From the dream come the vision
    From the vision come the people
    From the people come the power
    From this power come the change”

    ash

  9. I hope I don’t come across as an anarchist. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for British people to register their protest. I do think the students were just the start of civil unrest. Look all across the world, there is unrest everywhere. I’ve seen a great many of these sorts of things before but I can’t say I’ve ever seen so many countries so restless at one time.

    I feel that greed and wanting more than you need is the main root of society’s problems. Maybe it all comes down to sex. The one with the best display of wealth, (in the animal world that is the best feeding ground/nesting site/watering hole/biggest antlers/biggest body/etc.) gets to breed most and that is the unconscious drive for us too.

    Female humans fall for the male who appears to be a good provider for offspring and who will pass on his strengths so that her child will also succeed. When we were (animal) hunter-gatherers, females probably selected a mate based on hunting ability, prowess, trophies.

    It can translate to modern humans. The jungle is just different but we are the same animal. So, I think greed could be driven by desire to reproduce.

    Now how this fits into to modern politics, my mind is racing Fed, you shouldn’t have started me on this. 😛

    ash

    1. It can translate to modern humans. The jungle is just different but we are the same animal. So, I think greed could be driven by desire to reproduce.

      Ash,

      Thinking about it, some wealthy and greedy individuals (especially politicians…) actually show a strong connection with their primitive animal instincts. :))

      Joking aside, what you say might be right. Have you ever read “The Naked Ape”, by Desmond Morris?

    2. I haven’t actually read it Alessandra, I’ve read bits of it or bits about it over the years.

      I’m interested in some science and how the living world came to be as it is. Sometimes when you watch animal behaviour I think you can see parallels between them and us. It seems to make sense to me given that we evolved out of the same place they did.

      ash

  10. Where to start…

    OK, for a kick off I’m sick and tired of this “We’re all in this together” crap – are we f*ck. From where I’m sitting it looks as if the bankers are carrying on with business as usual while everyone else is expected to pay for their incompetence. Only it’s not everyone, is it? It’s the disabled, sick, school kids, students, elderly and anyone else who needs a bit of help and support first.

    We’ve still got plenty of money to pay for wars though.

  11. The best and most highly skilled workers will simply take their trade elsewhere. As a society that wants good teachers, doctors, civil servants (that includes firemen, police, army, hospital staff etc.) we should ensure we retain good, well qualified people by giving them good pay and conditions.

    That said, I do recognise that people are living longer and staying active and healthy so why shouldn’t they carry on working if they want to? Delay taking their pension, continue to save towards it if they want. Educational establishments don’t want to keep on older teachers though because they are on very high salary scales, they’d rather get rid of them and bring in cheaper, newly qualified teachers.

    The government must be very careful how they handle this. Across the board, do we want just out of uni people teaching our kids, treating our illnesses? Not me.

    One of my kids now an adult, has had a quite rare, long standing impairment, she had an accident and the symptoms, long dormant, flared up and gave serious cause for concern to the hospital. We explained what it was but the doctors, four different specialists, had never heard of it and didn’t really believe us. She was sent for tests finally after hours of traipsing from one hospital to another. The person who finally did recognise it and ensured she got the correct treatment, (could have been life threatening if mis-diagnosed), was an older, well experienced medical professional.

    ash (more to come)

  12. I work in the private sector and had my pension slashed a couple of years ago. Plus I now have to work until 66 to get a state pension so I do feel for the public sector.

    However I can’t remember the lollipop ladies being blamed for creating the deficit…

    I guess as a nation we spent it all, in varying degrees, when the times were good and we are going to pay for it now.

    Spirits up everyone. At least they can’t tax your smile and the air that you breathe… yet!!

    Songs and albums that come to mind:

    Queen – I Want It All and I Want It Now
    Roger Waters – Amused to Death

    1. Hiya Pete. 🙂 Hope you and the family are well.

      Lollipop ladies creating deficit? Yes, you’re right Pete. There’s also loads of people who don’t have a mortgage, can’t get one so don’t have a loan, people who can’t get credit cards or other forms of credit because of their status as low paid, unemployed, unemployable (such as severely disabled), partners who chose to stay at home minding family whilst partner works. None of these people have debts because they have no access to loans. Why are they having to pay to bale out the banks?

      It makes my blood boil because ordinary working class people are effectively being taxed for something they have no control over. Frank said we are serfs, I’ve long thought that too.

      ash

    2. All is still going in the right direction thanks Ash.

      And dont be letting your blood boil. It just isnt worth it. I may be a serf but I have a lot better record collection than my masters.

      Fed: Money, excellent choice!!

  13. I’m with the teachers. Strike!!! Here in America we’re seeing the same sad story you are seeing over there. Right now public sector employees are being blamed for all the budget deficits locally, at the state level and nationally by the mainstream media. No one in the financial sector–that gave us this global meltdown–ever sees a negative word in the media. It’s all a joke. The banks, the super rich/the financial sector are basically stealing everything from everyone.

    A brief history of America: In America, the banks created the great depression and swallowed up most of American farmland. Then after the wars, the banks and wall street destroyed the private sector middle class by outsourcing everything overseas. The last people standing are public sector employees. Now they are going to shut us down as well. The super rich want EVERYTHING, and they are getting it. In America they increasingly own absolutely everything–and most people are in debt to the banks until the day they die. With the creation of the EU the super rich are going to swallow up everything private individuals have as well and have you working for them until you drop. It’s getting really ugly in America. It’s all so sad. America has become one of the most corrupt countries on earth. Europe is following its lead.

    What’s a pity is the physical resources exist for the world to function as some kind of social utopia. But all our democracies have been corrupted. We’re all screwed.

  14. Julie, I am a teacher. We need to agree to disagree about teachers. They are the most dedicated, talented, concerned professionals I have ever met in any field. They work longer and harder hours than most people suppose, and for far less money. And they take on the rather awesome responsibility of educating our youth, shaping their minds, creating productive citizens where once there was crazy youth. You would not believe the demands made on teachers, the difficulty of doing this challenging job well, and the very little thanks they get. And, how low the pay is.

    But Julie, this is something you need to know: we disagree, but I would fight to the death for your right to voice your opinion.

    1. . . .but I would fight to the death for your right to voice your opinion.

      Dan, I used to say that too!

      Another saying I heard and liked better is, “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day”.

      However, I do still find myself wondering when to fight and when to run away sometimes. :))

      ash

    2. I’m sorry, Dan. I am spouting off about teachers of STATE schools in the UK only, due to a very bad experience with them. I am really sorry, I was so enraged by the said school that I really wanted to go round at night and burn it down. I am not targeting all teachers. Besides, I had an American education and my teachers were great. I loved my 2nd grade teacher Miss Quattlebaum and I will never forget her. She had made such an impact on me. She let children be children too.

      I have respect for teachers if they are willing to teach. But the last school that my daughter went to, they did not have time for children who were not stretched enough – who were too intelligent. They either sent them home or accused the child of having ASD – despite your child going to hundreds of assessments to be told that your child is normal by specialists. Lots and lots of mums had told me that the SEN Coordinator at the said school has called the parents in for concerns of ASD and their child. One poor little girl got accused of this just because she wet herself. Lest we forget in the UK children start as young as 4 and all children are different when it comes to toilet habits. I started school at 6 and my best friend from St Petersburg started school at the age of 7 and she is now a Senior Mechanical Engineer. So what is the benefit of starting school early? I know, to get the child out of their parents’ hair!

      In fact, I had a wonderful childhood in the US but as I see it in the UK, kids are treated differently. I will never forget when I used to come over to the UK and listen to how children were spoken to on Blue Peter in the 70s. It was so weird. I am not saying the US is the greatest place in the world, but over here parents and teachers seem to be in such a rush to have their children grow up and to me that is wrong. I suppose, in reality, and in other countries, lots of children are denied childhoods.

      Another thing that I noticed is in nursery, carers started teaching kids about shape, colour etc. etc. and, lo and behold, they started doing all that in reception (kindergarten in the US I think). So the intelligent child is thinking: ‘Huh! I already did this!’ and in turn they will get bored. Therefore a bored child is a naughty child. Can you see what I am trying to say?

      Children are NOT EQUAL when it comes to intelligence. Some are smarter than others. That is the laws of nature.

      Please don’t let my nasty experiences cloud your judgement of my opinions, I am merely just offloading my frustrations and I am sorry. Maybe it does not do to be raised in one country and then live somewhere different – almost alien. Believe me, it is not easy being a stranger in your own country.

    3. They either sent them home or accused the child of having ASD – despite your child going to hundreds of assessments to be told that your child is normal by specialists.

      “Accused”?

    4. “Accused”?

      Every child that was naughty or defiant or quite a character had to have their parents called to the office and the SEN would blame their behaviours on ASD.

      *mouth and foot* – I should not have used the phrase ‘accused’ but that it how the school made you feel, like you were being held to ransom, and were also made to feel that you were a rubbish parent. We were made to feel that it was wrong that is why I used that word, because my husband and I were made to feel as if it was a crime. It was awful. So discrimination is still rife too.

      There is nothing wrong with this if the child does indeed have ASD. I for one was most concerned when the SEN lady did suggest this to me about my daughter. As soon as I could, the waiting lists are dreadful, I took her up to every feasible specialist and she went through various tests and they call came to nought. No diagnosis could be given. Even my sister who works with special needs children in the States said she is just a child being a child.

      But after speaking to parents who had their children in the SEN office, they were all told the same thing. The head had faith in that office too. So there was no understanding there either. So any child who did not just sit there and be a “sheep” had their parent called in. It was ridiculous, I think some parents even contacted Ofsted about this.

      I guess this all has really bothered me too, because as some of you know, I am obsessed with education. I believe in the importance of education and only want what is best for my child. I want my child to be educated, not a high school drop out like I was (not a drop out by choice though). To have qualifications is very important. I guess I am so obsessed that what I have seen of it so far has really let me down.

    5. One of my biggest concerns with the state of education is that the powers that be insist that there must be one magic way to teach all children. There isn’t. That every child learns differently, in different ways and at different rates, is basic educational theory. But they insist that every child must have “grade level” skills (i.e. that all 8 year-olds in the US should read at 3rd grade level of proficiency) and they come down extra heavy on teachers when this does not happen. Anyone with any knowledge of math knows, though, that 100% of anything is statistically impossible.

      For those keeping score, that’s 2 unrealistic demands upon American teachers: that each one of their students meet an arbitrary standard, and that each teacher find the one magic method of teaching all kinds of children. Teachers whose children don’t “measure up” on standardized tests are increasingly punished. When teachers and the teachers’ unions complain about this, they are harshly accused of everything from being overpaid to not caring about the welfare of their students. Unbe-F*cking-Lievable!

      From where I sit, that’s about as idiotic as it gets. First, because judging a teacher on the test scores of their students is like judging a dentist by how many cavities his patients have. Second, because test scores are not a reliable measure of student achievement. And third, because as stated at the start of this rant, all children are DIFFERENT and cannot all be evaluated in the same way.

      The effect on the children? Devastating. Standardized tests induce a huge level of stress and turn children off to school, when good practice is to make children WANT to learn. It creates inequities in which a child is under enormous pressure to “perform” and is made to feel bad for not being “above average.” It has cost good teachers their jobs. And it serves as a disincentive for teachers who would otherwise serve a disadvantaged population.

      And all because some lawmakers with an agenda insist that the way to “fix” the schools is to blame the teachers.

    6. …when good practice is to make children WANT to learn.

      Reminds me of – to my mind at least – one of the most beautiful quotes by Einstein:

      “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

  15. F’ed, you mischievious old rebel you. Look what you and your old mate Rousseau have stirred up.

    I admit a shameful lack of knowledge of the works of Rousseau and fear I would not be able to do justice to a discussion of them in 1500 words. I think it may be fair to say however that he believed in the importance of a General Will or consensus of all interests as the basis for organising government.

    This generally accepted notion has not, of course, stopped us arguing thereafter about what exactly constitutes the general will, or if you like, common interest.

    The strikes under discussion no doubt signify a growing concern that the current “austerity” measures (which are supposed to be for the benefit of all) are in fact a veiled (perhaps thinly veiled) attack on what has been a consensus view about the scope of welfare and state benefits. By focusing on pensions however, they tend to invoke debate about whether State employees now benefit from unrealistic levels of benefit in retirement.

    There is no doubt that the private sector has seen a rapid dilution of what were at one time superior pension arrangements. The fact is that people are living significantly longer than was expected when Final Salary Pension schemes were devised. The maths are fairly simple. The benefits being paid out exceed the contributions that were made.

    The complication is that pension schemes represent a “promise” to members that they could have expected to rely on and which they believed to be part of their terms and conditions (although technically they often are not). Plans are made, jobs taken etc. on this knowledge. Changes to these arrangements therefore feel like a backward step, particularly increased contributions which operate as a pay cut, even if actually still supporting a good benefit.

    It would be very unusual and probably illegal for changes to be retro-active so we have to be careful with the language of “loss”, which will usually be against a future expectation. The changes that are proposed will usually be inevitable and probably justified IF they ensure that good schemes remain in place. In the private sector good schemes have generally been replaced with “less good” schemes related to Contributions made.

    On the whole therefore I think that the Unions should be co-operating to ensure the continuation of good schemes and recognising that even with later retirement and higher contributions they still represent good value. The Employer should seek to make the changes as gradual as possible to allow time to plan and compensate.

    It would be unfortunate however to benchmark what is a “proper” pension policy by what the private sector can implement as a minimum. It may be the case that public sector pensions should be maintained as a way of giving the private sector a competitor to perform against, so that the State does not simply pick up the cost in the form of future welfare bills. People who regard public sector benefits as “too good” have a simple choice … go and work in the public sector if you want to.

    Underlying the whole issue of course is the very real issue of the affordability for society of a rapidly ageing population, wrapped up in the other hot issue of concern regarding the quality of “care” homes which are all too often dumping grounds for people unable to look after themselves and who have no prospect of improvement. Of course the weakening of pension arrangements will only increase the cost of such provision on either Government or the families of this group.

    I rather fear that this debate requires a new “consensus” rather than a squaring up along traditional them and us lines. Of course that doesn’t tend to happen.

    If there was one song that I would cite it would be “My Generation” with the bleak but entirely reasonable sentiment “Hope I die before I get old”. Looks like everyone should start doing their bit by living fast and dangerously and popping their clogs a bit earlier. Our obsession with living long at the expense of living well may be doing us no favours.

    1. when Final Salary Pension schemes were devised. The maths are fairly simple. The benefits being paid out exceed the contributions that were made.

      What popped into my head was that some economist or banker or investment advisor, whoever these people are that are supposed to invest pension contributions in funds that will be profitable and pay a good return, made a bad investment. Further evidence if ever we needed it about the trust and respect we’ve lost for banks.

      Anyone remember the mis-selling row about endowment policies that won’t pay enough to cover people’s initial mortgage loan? We’re told it’s because interest rates fell or the stock market took a hammering or something.

      ash

    2. I do remember companies (like BAe, who I worked for at the time) having pension surpluses in the 80s. If I remember correctly BAe stopped making employer contributions into the scheme for a time.

      Then there was Robert Maxwell…

    3. If I remember correctly BAe stopped making employer contributions into the scheme for a time.

      Effectively imposing a cut in salary to staff who agreed a contract that included both parties making contributions to the scheme.

      Presumably they stopped contributions because the fund was doing well. Foolhardy move, any fool can see that over a 25, 30 or 35 year term stock markets and interest rates are going to move. It was a cynical move by the employer because they surely didn’t hire idiots to manage it.

      “Cynical” is the wrong word here, ruthless, cold hearted, careless are better descriptions.

      I had a friend worked for on of the biggest building companies in the country. They used the pension fund to bail them out of a financial crisis, went bump and lost all the employees pensions. Of course none of the directors were personally liable.

      I Predict A Riot (by Kaiser Chiefs) is a nice angry sounding title. :))

      ash

    4. Our obsession with living long at the expense of living well may be doing us no favours.

      Tim,

      I finally managed to read all your comment. 🙂

      I completely agree with your final statement.

      The gradual extension of people’s life doesn’t necessarily imply a good life’s quality. On the contrary, in our rich countries, many old people just “survive” by taking lots of medicines, or going in and out from hospitals. Of course, everyone has the right to decide if his own life is still worth living or not, but, personally, I can’t help thinking it would have been better to make the people live happier and quieter (than, healthier), than simply longer.

    5. Pensions is a complicated and probably rather tedious topic – for my sins I have “served” (i.e. didn’t get paid!) as a Trustee.

      Lorraine is right that many schemes took Holidays when schemes were deemed to be fully funded. The big problem is that the “true” position is only known a lifetime into the future … Any statement you see about deficits is a projection using actuarial projections about life expectancy, inflation, and investment performance over the “risk free rate”. No doubt about it the two areas that have moved the goalposts are increasing life expectancy (apparently a good thing until we have to pay for it) and investment returns which have been lower than expected. This isn’t just poor management, even entirely “passive” funds (not actively managed) which track indices have under performed. People who don’t like corporations making profits may modify their view when they realise it decimates their pensions.

      The problem is that if you assume investment performance to be lower, you have to increase contributions … Another unpopular thing to do.

  16. Hello again mates,

    Here I am, Diana and now living in Houston Texas since April. I’m here because of my husband’s illness and in Italy it wasn’t possible to have a right, quick therapy without bureaucracy.

    So the therapy costs a lot of money and it was possible just for our strong work since we were students. But now it would be a dream for young people as my daughter.

    I was a teenager in the 70s and in those years it was possible to hope for a good job (also if in the south of Italy it was a different situation). My mother was a teacher and a researcher in a high school: her pension when she retired was really ridiculous: moral, money is not a solution for all but everyone of us knows that it helps a lot. Too much money is surely a damnation but who can say when is too much?

    I love David for his huge heart also, he donated a big house and the incomes of a lot of participations in gigs or shows… may be he was remembering about the years in France in 1966.

    Sorry for too many words.

    A hug
    Diana

    1. I think I can perfectly understand what you say, Diana.

      I do hope you and your husband will find in Houston what our country’s absurd bureaucracy denied you.

      My best wishes.

  17. As a teacher I find the general statements that all teachers are out for themselves, as a few have insinuated so far, exceedingly insulting. I hear the same often, here in Australia, and often there is an example or single situation that has fed this opinion.

    The vast majority of teachers are there because we care for the future, we care for the children. In my experience (26 years in a secondary state school) I have seen the best and worst of parenting and everything in between – we are all a part of the community! My suggestion is to stop and think. Teachers are easy targets – all those holidays etc. etc. Well, if it’s so easy, get the degree needed, come into a classroom on your own and face the multitudes. If you survive that you might actually start to teach the children something worthwhile like analysing a David Gilmour solo and understanding how his use of bends adds to the tension and release of his phrasing.

    All students deserve the best. It’s time society learned to pay for it appropriately.

    Jonathan

    1. I wonder if it is a kind of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ thing Jonathan.

      All of what I’m about to say is with jovial intent because I am firmly of the same opinion as you and can’t understand why some parents regard teachers as the enemy instead of partner.

      People in the other professions, doctors, social workers, lawyers etc. aren’t seen or more importantly thought about on a daily basis by the public. What follows is not one word of a lie. :))

      We all think about school and teachers every day and sometimes it makes ones blood pressure rise because the damn process of getting out the door to take the kids to school, winds any normal person up every day of the week. So straight away ‘school’ gives us a negative vibe.

      Very often, no matter how much a parent nags or threatens, our offspring will NOT do their school bag the night before, leave the (now festering) PE kit under the bed until 8.30am on the day they have PE again. Mother knows they should have left five minutes ago because the road works that should have been finished two months ago and enrage her every morning and because of the narrowing from two lanes to one the dodge in $*%$’s, will do it again.

      The Mother has to go buy ink for the printer and make it work (!) then rush off to meet the kid at the gates at lunch time to give them the work they’d done but not printed because the printer was out of ink and they didn’t tell anyone!!!!

      The new ink sent the printer crazy and now part of every page has a rainbow of colours down the left side.

      Because the printed piece looks awful, the kid texts the mother (who is at the supermarket) and asks if she could e-mail it to her school e-mail account. Mother picks up wrong frozen quick dinner and rushes off. The effing computer is password protected, mother texts child for password and through a series of codes and feats of mind reading finally switches it on. Eventually finds the work and it won’t send! After more exchanges in text message, mother who now has Medusa hair and steam coming out of her ears, successfully sends work.

      Damned kids come home from school and an argument ensues because the older one was out of IT credits to use the school printers and the younger sister refused to let her have hers!!! :))

      The mother pours a pint of Barcardi. The husband walks in, sees the washing up in the sink and asks the mother what she’s been doing all day and why is it frozen dinner again? Mother loves her husband and children so says it’s the school’s fault, they should get free printing! (Poor deluded fool, she should divorce them all!)

      Hope I made you laugh Jonathan. Seriously though, it could be because teachers are seen very frequently whereas the other professions have a ‘mystique’ about them. So familiarity breeds contempt.

      ash

  18. The Establishment Blues, written in 1970 by an artist (US) known simply as Rodriguez (part of almost every South African’s DNA):

    The mayor hides the crime rate
    Council woman hesitates
    Public gets irate but forget the vote date
    Weatherman complaining, predicted sun, it’s raining
    Everyone’s protesting, boyfriend keeps suggesting
    you’re not like all of the rest.

    Garbage ain’t collected, women ain’t protected
    Politicians using people, they’ve been abusing
    The Mafia’s getting bigger, like pollution in the river
    And you tell me that this is where it’s at.

    Woke up this morning with an ache in my head
    Splashed on my clothes as I spilled out of bed
    Opened the window to listen to the news
    But all I heard was the Establishment’s Blues.

    Gun sales are soaring, housewives find life boring
    Divorce the only answer smoking causes cancer
    This system’s gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune
    And that’s a concrete cold fact.

    The pope digs population, freedom from taxation
    Teeny Bops are up tight, drinking at a stop light
    Miniskirt is flirting I can’t stop so I’m hurting
    Spinster sells her hopeless chest.

    Adultery plays the kitchen, bigot cops non-fiction
    The little man gets shafted, sons and monies drafted
    Living by a time piece, new war in the far east.
    Can you pass the Rorschach test?

    It’s a hassle is an educated guess.
    Well, frankly I couldn’t care less.

    What exactly has changed in 40 years?

    1. If you hadn’t said the song was written in 1970, I would have thought it was about the present situation.

      “Garbage ain’t collected, women ain’t protected
      Politicians using people, they’ve been abusing
      The Mafia’s getting bigger, like pollution in the river”

      Amazing. :!

    2. What exactly has changed in 40 years?

      The size of the population. It’s doubled. So the situations described, if they haven’t gotten worse than just standing still, will eventually deteriorate.

      The ludicrously wealthy will be safe from it all though in their own fenced in, heavily guarded, compounds (should that say “castle”?).

      Outside the people are revolting. (Yes, I did mean it two ways 🙂 )

      ash

  19. And another, from my “own, personal” social commentator, Rodriguez: Rich Folks Hoax

    The moon is hanging in the purple sky
    Baby’s sleeping while its mother sighs
    Talking ’bout the rich folks
    Rich folks have the same jokes
    And they park in basic places

    The priest is preaching from a shallow grave
    He counts his money, then he paints you saved
    Talking to the young folks
    Young folks share the same jokes
    But they meet in older places

    So don’t tell me about your success
    Nor your recipes for my happiness
    Smoke in bed
    I never could digest
    Those illusions you claim to have going

    The sun is shining, as it’s always done
    Coffin dust is the fate of everyone
    Talking ’bout the rich folks
    The poor create the rich hoax
    And only late breast-fed fools believe it

    So don’t tell me about your success
    Nor your recipes for my happiness
    Smoke in bed
    I never could digest
    Those illusions you claim to have going

  20. One more thing on the topic of striking teachers.

    The big debates going on in the media right now are side shows–like should teachers’ pensions get cut? Things to divert attention away from the real root of all society’s troubles. The debates about public sector pensions, the debates about the debt in Greek–they’re all side issues to something else. And that’s the very nature of money–these days, what it is, how it is created, etc. and how we’re being screwed by it. It’s all crazy stuff. How the Bank of England creates money out of nothing, which the English people and government then goes into debt to “borrow,” so that there’s a national currency. If you sat down and spent a half hour explaining what money actually is to the average person they’d be horrified. Most people right now, for instance don’t know that there is an economy now, that is bigger than the real economy. That of derivatives, Hedge funds, CDOs etc., that is completely divorced from reality and yet affects every one of us–directly. Most money in use is being created in this netherworld. It’s an economy that shouldn’t exist, it’s based on debt, on “financial products,” on hedges that are essentially legalized gambling which all the banks are now engaged in. People are getting rich in this netherworld of money on a scale you can’t imagine.

    But at the same time this system is directly impoverishing us all and it’s destroying the planet ecologically, and it’s completely corrupted our democracy.

    1. Well said, D.Q.

      Capitalism loves to turn workers against each other. That’s exactly what’s happening here. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as much solidarity between workers as is usual during a strike. Many bystanders are of the strong view that teachers earn a decent wage, get a lot of time off (holidays, not just stress-related) and that a poorly paid job is better than no job at all, which is all perfectly fair.

      If doctors are going to strike next over their pensions, as I read yesterday may be a possibility, considering that a doctor’s salary makes a teacher’s look quite pathetic, I shudder to imagine the public reaction and could spit blood picturing smug Tories delighting in the discontent among working people, because that’s exactly what they want.

    2. smug Tories delighting in the discontent among working people, because that’s exactly what they want.

      Divide and conquer. Whilst the people turn on each other and are fighting amongst themselves for crusts, the bastards run off with the country’s wealth.

      ash

    3. …a doctor’s salary makes a teacher’s look quite pathetic…

      It’s the same here. And what about researchers? A friend of mine, graduated in biology, has been working as a researcher at university for ten years, being paid so bad, that she was almost a volunteer. This year, her contract wasn’t renewed, so she had to look for another job, but she still can’t find anything to do.

      That’s shameful, if you think that medicine (and doctors) wouldn’t even exist without research.

  21. ‘Lo all.

    Education is essential. Teachers in today’s Ps3/X box/TV/X Factor age have a much broader spectrum of individuals to attempt to educate. A lot different from when most of us were kids, eh? Must be hard. It’s repeatedly said by the current government (UK) that “The debt the last government left” is the reason for the austerity cuts. My arse is it! Makes me sick. Sorry, didn’t realise Mr Brown and co were also running the economies in Greece, Iceland, Spain, USA, etc.

    The real reason for this topic is the greedy bastard banks! Who are still, in our educated faces, “taking the piss” – always have and always will. Forgive them for they know no difference, the pigs!

    I also think that the current government (UK) are reading the wrong book! They must think we have brains made from carrots.

    Fed, I visit this blog for alternative or likewise views, be it musical or educational. Again it proves to me most blogs are barking up the same tree. This makes me feel good.

  22. My favourite lines from “The Dirty Jobs”, by The Who.

    “I am a young man, I ain’t done very much,
    You men should remember how you used to fight.
    Just like a child I’ve been seeing only dreams,
    I’m all mixed up but I know what’s right.”

    Then, there would be also Tracy Chapman “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution”.

    “Don’t you know
    They’re talking about a revolution
    It sounds like a whisper
    Don’t you know
    They’re talking about a revolution
    It sounds like a whisper

    While they’re standing in the welfare lines
    Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
    Wasting time in unemployment lines
    Sitting around waiting for a promotion”

  23. As ever, this blog portrays an emotive and enlightening debate. My lack of intellect precludes me from divulging my opinions in a rational way. However, I respect the comments of each of the participants in this thread. It serves to act as an awareness of the various perspectives that we all develop as individuals absorbing information/disinformation as we each live our day to day lives.

    Despite all this disarray, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that although our lot may not be as much or as comfortable as it once was prior to the banking conglomerates screwing things up big time, there are still millions of people who have a helluva lot less.

    Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
    Another Brick In The Wall (Part2) – Erm…
    Telegraph Road – Dire Straits
    Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads
    Karma Police – Radiohead (Just for you FEd) 😉 😛

    1. My lack of intellect precludes me from divulging my opinions in a rational way.

      Reading between the lines Ken, there’s intellect and rational divulging of opinion aplenty! What a great song Telegraph Road is.

  24. Looking through all of these comments, what strikes me most is that, although we in America often think of these things as our issues, they are global. Any of the comments from European “irregulars” could have been written by an American with awareness of the politics of our times. I try to keep aware of the state of the world, but still it comes as a surprise that it is not just us Yankees who have these problems. We have not heard much about the situation in the UK, which is typical since we don’t hear much at all about world news. I rather suspect that “they” don’t want us to know much about world affairs, or about any news with more substance than Lady Gaga’s latest fashion choice.

    Anyway, it is enraging to note that in these “tough economic times” the rich have done quite well, while demanding that the poor give huge concessions. Here in the US, all the talk is about cutting essential services for the middle and lower classes and NOT TAXING THE RICH!! Republicans take it as a religion that when the rich are taken care of, they take care of everyone else. It never bothers them that when given monies, the rich have always put it right into their own pockets!!

    Our political “leaders” have really worked hard at playing reverse Robin Hood, even those who profess to do otherwise. It is a crime, and apparently, the criminals are practising their craft on BOTH sides of the pond. Sickening.

  25. “We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.
    We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
    We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
    Let there be justice for all.
    Let there be peace for all.
    Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
    Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.
    Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
    Let freedom reign.
    The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”

    (Nelson Mandela, May 10th 1994)

  26. David Gilmour, the WORLD’S greatest guitar player!!!!!

    Keep on rockin’ David, you’re the lord of the strings.

  27. Hi FEd, 🙂

    Sorry I’m off topic, but I wish to show you this video about Sam and Dave. What do you think about it?

    Bye, Hydrea

    1. Love it. It’s one of my favourite songs and didn’t they have such great moves? Nice to see them before hate consumed them, too.

    2. I love it too! I think they gave to the audience good vibrations.

      PS: I saw yesterday there was a chat. So, I hope that I will join it next time.

      Bye to everyone. 🙂

      Hydrea

  28. Hi Fed and all.

    Funny thing talking about strikes and teachers, my garden is overlooked by the school here in Brampton. I sit out there often, well all the time as I smoke. I lived here just over a year now, the class windows are always open and I have got to know 1 or 2 of the teachers in there. I hear them everyday as they are always shouting at certain pupils, those poor teachers must be stressed to high heaven when they go home, and what do they earn? £26,000 a year. My hat goes off to them, and all power to them.

    We English seem to sit down and let these Tories get away with murder. DSOTM, there’s a lyric in there about the ENGLISH WAY. But yet again it’s Mr and Mrs Average and the poor who will pay. If we should be blaming anyone it’s banks, banks, banks. And the bankers who run banks. We would all jump up or we will when the Tories start to dismantle the NHS, created by a great Welshman I might add. There are other ways, fairer ways, to pay off the national debt but yet again it’s Mr and Mrs Average and the poor who will suffer most.

    Regards
    Damian

    HEY TORIES, LEAVE THOSE TEACHERS ALONE, 😉

    1. We English seem to sit down and let these Tories get away with murder… But yet again it’s Mr and Mrs Average and the poor who will pay.

      Well, my husband and I (yes, MARRIED!) are Mr and Mrs Average and we were sick and tired of the Labour Party (the Party of high taxation) taking our hard earned cash and just giving it out willy nilly. When I cared for this one client, she was boasting about how she and all her (unemployed) family gets to go swimming for free. I said, “Oh! Would I be able to go free then?” she said, “Oh, no! LOL, you work, workers have to pay their way”. That really pissed me off because in a round about way, I was paying for her to swim for free (through my taxes) whilst I had to pay for swimming for my family out of my pocket. So in other words, I had to pay twice. This is just a small example, by the way.

      It seems to me that UNMARRIED, single parent families get so many rights and hand outs. And it is not nice when they brag about it either.

      When I used to go to the job club, the rest of the people in the job club were WHITE men and they said, “I am not getting out of bed unless I get a job that pays me £250.00 bring-home pay each week”. They said that their rent, council tax etc. was being paid for by the government, so why should they work?

      The point I am trying to make here is that if you are married and have a child, you have no rights whatsoever. This country panders to the unmarried. Therefore the break up of the family unit and ultimately the break down of society. Sound like today! Under Labour, my husband and I were struggling more and more to the extent that I was having to buy clothes for me and my daughter out of charity shops etc. Because of all the high taxation, my husband did not get a pay rise for 6 years either. I suppose the only benefit of the last government was the low mortgage interest rate.

      Bombs away!!!!!! 🙂

      1. But just imagine being unmarried with no children, Julie. I tell you, if you want to think long and hard about where your taxes go, and you’re unmarried and without children, it seems you don’t get very much back at all (unless you’re sick, of course).

        I think Labour did a lot to help families, which was very admirable even if I personally did not benefit. The Tories, as I recall, helped rich families get richer and told poor families, who they’d made poorer because they made entire communities unemployed, to get on their bikes. Lord Tebbit was misquoted, he was talking about his own father during the Depression, I know, but he had no sympathy whatsoever for those in the regions his party had destroyed. At least Labour strove to improve such deprived areas; the Tories were content to see them left deserted then and that’s their feeling still, if you listen to Iain Duncan Smith.

        I do tire of shameless people believing they should get something for nothing when there is absolutely nothing but idleness stopping them from earning and achieving through their own efforts, though. I just don’t believe there are as many of them as the Tories would have us all believe.

    2. Were you IN this country during the Thatcher years? The worst, THE WORST! con this country ever fell for was to believe people would climb “the social ladder” by buying their own council house then go on to take on Tory philosophy and continue to vote for them.

      We were doing very well with a Labour government until then. The unions unfortunately couldn’t imagine the future we would get by bringing the Labour government down. We are still paying for it today.

      The Tories then sold off the national wealth. They encouraged borrowing by the little man to finance the new “Tory” (“wealthy”) lifestyle he thought he wanted.

      I know people who re-mortgaged their house because they borrowed so much to finance holidays and live beyond their means, that it was the only way to bring the payments under control and reduce the interest payments. The ghastly truth is they are paying for a couple of holidays they had ten years ago, and TV and sofa they wore out, over the 25 year term of their mortgage. AND, because of all the rampant borrowing everyone did because everyone else was doing it, they’re now in negative equity.

      Torys???? They ruined this country 30 years ago and we’re too stupid to remember what started it and voted them in again!

      ash

    3. I do tire of shameless people believing they should get something for nothing when there is absolutely nothing but idleness stopping them from earning and achieving through their own efforts, though. I just don’t believe there are as many of them as the Tories would have us all believe.

      Furthermore, a lot of the people sat at home all day doing nothing but eating and smoking, are ruining their health. It’s a ticking time bomb, a pandemic of obesity and self inflicted health problems and working people will be the ones paying for their treatment and disability benefits. I agree, some obese people got that way because of their health condition/disability and we can’t tell the difference by looking.

      It’s disgraceful that people disabled from birth or by syndromes or by things other than greed, are being made out to be the bad guys bleeding the country’s wealth by not working. The public don’t understand exactly who the government is targeting on benefit tightening, they think it is genuinely disabled people because they are talking about benefit fraudsters. Disabled people are getting flak over it.

      Julie, working in the care field for sick (?) people, look at it this way: looking after them has provided you with a means of earning. BTW, dependent on your family income, you might qualify for tax credits therefore qualify for Passport to Leisure which gets you half price or free swimming.

      ash

    4. It’s disgraceful that people disabled from birth or by syndromes or by things other than greed, are being made out to be the bad guys bleeding the country’s wealth by not working.

      Indeed it is.

      As I’m on my soapbox, I think it’s also disgraceful that hard working immigrants should be a scapegoat for Tory cuts (‘cuts’ is not a typo, by the way; the Tories should cut tax breaks and absurd expenses for people whose wealth should suggest that they do not need additional perks) and an excuse for lazy locals to hide behind. This stuff about there not being any jobs for locals because there are too many immigrants really gets my goat. Some people simply don’t want to work and think they somehow deserve better than the menial jobs on offer to them, even though many have never worked and would appear at first glance to have virtually no transferable skills. I’m sure there are immigrants milking the system, of course, but there are many more who work damn hard to carry out jobs that certain others refuse, and they deserve more respect, for they contribute to society when others do not.

      Another story peddled by the right-wing media…

      Speaking of which, good news about the News of the World, isn’t it? Scrapped after nearly 170 years in light of some horrible allegations. Good riddance.

    5. I do tire of shameless people believing they should get something for nothing when there is absolutely nothing but idleness stopping them from earning and achieving through their own efforts…

      Me too, although it seems to be more acceptable if they go under the title of Trustafarian or Socialite.

    6. Great news about “that” paper.

      Yes, I heard them too, talking about limiting the numbers of immigrants. You’re absolutely right Fed.

      Best of it is we’re getting better service from a great many of the immigrant workforce. They speak very good English, have good customer skills, good manners, some are highly qualified beyond the needs of the post they hold, BUT, they are willing to work and for minimum wage.

      I heard someone say something about asking employers to consider taking on British school leavers instead. That could be a completely different topic in its own right. A work ethic needs to be instilled again into our people with promise of real and long term rewards, the place to start could be with school leavers.

      ash

    7. Were you IN this country during the Thatcher years? The worst, THE WORST! con this country ever fell for was to believe people would climb “the social ladder” by buying their own council house then go on to take on Tory philosophy and continue to vote for them.

      Is it safe to come out of my bomb shelter yet? I was expecting abuse for my bold statement above! 😀 Nothing like a lively debate.

      Yes, I was IN this country during the Thatcher years. I was left on my own, homeless, jobless, back in 1983. It was up to me to drag myself up and do something about it, it took a while but I did it. When I stopped being a loaf-about, I used to just walk into jobs. However, I did live in Oxfordshire (Bicester) back then, so I don’t know if that makes a difference. Even though it was a small market town at the time, it was relatively easy to get a job. I discovered that when I worked, I got money, then I could buy better food etc. Then I started striving to better myself even more, is there anything wrong with that?

      Personally, I don’t see as buying your own ‘council house’ as climbing up the social ladder (which also in my view is not a bad thing to aspire to better oneself). As someone who did not have a place to live, the idea of buying a council house was like a dream come true (affordable at last to the common man). As a person who had just a dustbin liner of clothes and lived on potatoes because that is all they could afford, the thought of being able to buy their own house was great. Because I had nowhere to call home, I just loved the idea of being able to own my own house. A place that would be mine, a place where I could not get kicked out of, my own castle and a little something to leave behind for my little one(s). A lot of my friends had the same dream as me. Margaret Thatcher, in my opinion, gave us the ordinary Joe, the chance to own our own castle. It is so hard to put this into words, I guess, if you had nothing and nowhere to call home, you would understand the desire. I guess the desire, is the same burning feeling I have now about longing for an education. So I guess, you could say, I climbed. But it was only out of sheer determination and want.

      We were doing very well with a Labour government until then. The unions unfortunately couldn’t imagine the future we would get by bringing the Labour government down. We are still paying for it today.

      Were you indeed! To be fair, when Labour was in power back then I was too young to understand. But I do remember the ridiculous amount of strikes the country seemed to have. Every time I visited my grandparents in Leicester, someone was having a strike. My uncle, an ordinary Joe, from Leicester, seemed to be struggling all the time during the Labour government back then. He was in and out of jobs, struggling to keep his family and mortgage payments, so he had to get two jobs, that coupled with my aunt working. I wish I listened to what my parents, grandparents and uncle were saying when they were talking about the state of the government back then, but I was only 11 – 14. But I remember their discussions seemed unfavourable.

      They encouraged borrowing by the little man to finance the new “Tory” (“wealthy”) lifestyle he thought he wanted.

      Well, it seemed like Labour in the Noughties did the same thing, where encouraging borrowing was concerned. We had the property boom. Then all the greedy property developers bought up all the cheap houses, so the average Joe could not get a look in. I was out mowing my lawn at the front of the house, and I said to my husband “Gosh! Everybody seems to be rich these days”. My husband said: “No! They are not rich, they are just living off credit, etc.” Even the young were driving around with “new” cars. Then everybody moans about all the debt they are in. Thank god I never owned a credit card.

      I know people who re-mortgaged their house because they borrowed so much to finance holidays and live beyond their means, that it was the only way to bring the payments under control and reduce the interest payments. The ghastly truth is they are paying for a couple of holidays they had ten years ago, and TV and sofa they wore out, over the 25 year term of their mortgage. AND, because of all the rampant borrowing everyone did because everyone else was doing it, they’re now in negative equity.

      Sorry, but the persons concerned should have managed their own money a bit better. The Tories did not MAKE them borrow all that money. And yet, again, the last government encouraged the same thing. At the end of the day, it was up to the individual when it comes to managing their own finances. The had the FREEDOM to control their OWN spending. Yes, it would be very easy to go crazy with spending, even these days, but it takes a lot of careful budgeting so that things don’t get out of hand. My mortgage is my top priority because I finally own my own castle (something which I cherish and is mine and I will not be kicked out of). And if I lose my job, then I will take any shitty job, just to keep on top of my mortgage, which, is now less then rental payments. Perhaps people should have adopted my attitude, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it until you have saved up for it, etc.

      Tories???? They ruined this country 30 years ago and we’re too stupid to remember what started it and voted them in again!

      In my opinion, they did not ruin this country. They dragged it into the 21st century. They got rid of all the moaning Minnies’ “let’s strike because we do not have any toilet paper” mentality. Protests are good, but if you give someone too much rope… that is what happened. It went too far.

      Gosh, I hope you guys don’t hate me! 😉

      1. As always, you have my respect for voicing your opinion with such passion, Julie. Thank you for contributing so much to this thread. Those are very fair points, particularly the one about people taking more responsibility for their spending. I agree: holidays and new cars are not essential, and I have little sympathy for those who live far beyond their means and then look to be rescued from their debt.

        However, the day I give Lady Thatcher any credit (for being anything other than an evil witch, I mean) will be the day hell freezes over. She caused more misery than joy. If she’d wanted to create a fairer society, when pasty-faced yuppies were becoming obscenely rich and dole queues were stretching around the block (one in eight out of work), she could have shared the country’s wealth and eased a lot of heartache if she’d wanted to.

        But then, she didn’t believe in society, did she?

    8. Julie, working in the care field for sick (?) people, look at it this way: looking after them has provided you with a means of earning. BTW, dependent on your family income, you might qualify for tax credits therefore qualify for Passport to Leisure which gets you half price or free swimming.

      I work as a care worker for the elderly in their own homes. It is a wonderful job. They are not all sick, in fact hardly any of them are, they just need a little help with things, some of them just like a bit of company and because I have the utmost respect for pensioners (which sadly there is hardly any respect of older people nowadays), the job is absolutely rewarding. One of my clients even used to fight at Anzio, and another was a prisoner at Auschwitz, so you can imagine all the wonderful and enlightening conversations I have.

      The person I was talking about regarding swimming was, fair enough, not well, but the rest of her family were and they were all able to work but did not want to. She used to offload to me about how they rely on her for her benefits to keep the family running, etc., like a new car, housing benefit etc.

      Yes, we get tax credits, but the very minimum. If you jointly earn less the £16,000.00 then you are also eligible for working tax credits and have your nursery fees paid. Obviously, our joint income is over that amount. I knew a single teenage mom who actually did work (that fact is actually great indeed) but she got all her nursery fees paid and working tax credit. Fair enough, but, the last nursery fee bill that I paid was £770.00 and my husband and I were “just” over the threshold of having any sort of monies towards paying these fees so we just had to pay it.

      I think what I am trying to say here is that this single mom, although she does not own her own home, is financially better off than us. Her daughter was in all the latest clothes and was pushed around in a “Jeep” pushchair for Christ’s sake! For some reason, the government seems to think that if you are married and a home owner, you are rich. Absolutely not! Just think, you go into an unemployed person’s house, which I have been in a few, and they have leather furniture, with carpets that your feet sink into and huge televisions. Whereas, home owners (well, the ones I have met and myself included) have threadbare carpets and clothe themselves out of charity shops.

      Sometimes, you can see why people don’t get married because they are better off financially.

      Another thing whilst I think about it, I had some good friends who were married and just had a baby. They all lived in a bedsit. They were on the Council house waiting list. But they kept going down the list because the Council were giving the houses to single teenage moms first. Where is the equality in that? Imagine, bringing up a baby in a bedsit!

      And yes, being a care worker has given me a means of earning, but to have it thrown back in my face like, “Thanks for working, your tax is paying for me to have all these luxuries of 3 laptops, huge tellies, top fashions, with takeaways thrown in for good measure”.

      Sorry, I am not evil, I promise, just sometimes see it that it is the worker who has to pay for everything and it seems that we just get penalised for everything.

      As for the passport for leisure thing, we still have to pay for swimming. But I was just using that as an example.

    9. This stuff about there not being any jobs for locals because there are too many immigrants really gets my goat.

      I completely agree.

      Employers are the problem, not immigrants.

      First of all, if you see the statistics, the number of immigrants arriving from both communitarian and extra-communitarian countries, is not so high as our governments want us to believe. Overestimating them seems just a way to shift people’s malcontent on a common enemy, which is always a good strategy to hide the unfairness of some governments’ choices.

      That said, it’s not the immigrants’ fault if so many greedy, often dishonest, employers prefer to exploit and underpay them, instead of taking on a local worker who would probably ask for a regular contract and a fair salary. What should an immigrant do? Refuse an underpaid job and die of starvation? I suppose it’s hard to fight for rights (which you probably have never had in your own country) when you’re far from home and you have to find a way to survive everyday.

      Moreover, even if it were true that immigration contributed to worsen the job market, making us all lose some rights, and “stole” jobs from us, that could happen, in my opinion, just because some governments, for their own benefit, created the conditions and gave the employers the possibility to take such a criminal advantage of the immigrants and of many of us.

      To be continued, sorry.

    10. Some years ago, when it was still easy to get a good job and have spare money, we (as a society, I mean) could spend some years enjoying our comfortable life, allowing ourself to refuse the jobs we judged not good enough and leaving the harder ones to those who just couldn’t choose.

      Now things have changed, for many reasons, first of all because having some money made us forget to check what kind of world the politics and economy were preparing for us.

      So, it is really too easy and not so realistic, in my view, to blame the immigrants who arrived last of all for the problems we didn’t have the will to solve when it was the time to do it.

    11. The Tories have never been a party for the people. They will always seek to help business and most of their friends and contributors to make money out of us. They don’t care about the welfare of the working classes. In case you don’t know, you are working class.

      You say you did not benefit from a great education. I know care workers don’t have anything like the same sort of knowledge or qualifications as the assessment team and probably council social services department that placed the care worker in the clients’ homes.

      I also know that people’s perceptions of a disabled family’s circumstances are very often skewed because they don’t understand. This is why there are expert assessors. If your client qualifies for disability benefits and a Motability car, which is brand new every three years because that is what the government says it should be. That is none of your business. Better people than you assessed them.

      Further, you didn’t say how many “able to work” adults lived with this person. I expect their needs as carers were also considered by the same assessors because they don’t pay for care workers when there are family members able to do it. It may be that they are unable to work because of their caring responsibilities. It may well be that their health has suffered by years of caring and they are unable to work.

      You simply don’t know enough. It’s no wonder genuinely disabled people are being hounded by government as benefits cheats when people making a living out of disability “care” are going about saying such things. WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?

      ash

      1. I think that’s probably a good place to end this discussion.

        Thank you to everyone for adding something to it; it’s always good to consider different points of view.

    12. Julie, you have completely fallen for the Tory con I described. It was Tory policies which started the slippery slope to borrowing and credit cards and everything.

      There aren’t enough social houses available for your friend in the bedsit because the Tories sold them. People started selling them for profit and spiralling prices egged on by greedy thoughts of profit is where it all went wrong.

      Don’t give me “well, they should have known better” regarding the story I told about people, their mortgages and debts. There are tens of thousands, maybe more, people all over the country like it. AND yes, like I said, people were too stupid to see it coming and just as stupid when we voted the Tories back into power.

      The single Mum that works, power to her elbow. She has more disposable income than you because she can’t get a mortgage to buy a house, couldn’t afford the upkeep and maintenance, insurance, etc. She pays rent that increases in line with inflation. She will not have anything at the end of it for her child to inherit. You will make monthly repayments on your mortgage. The payments will remain more or less the same which in real terms over the long term will actually be a reduction in monthly cost. You will have a property worth a considerable amount of money for your child to inherit. Are you still jealous of her apparent good fortune? Or the apparent good fortune of the disabled family? I bet either one of them would swap with you in a heartbeat because you have so many more opportunities open to you.

      ash

    13. Ash, you did not “read” what I wrote, my client told me these things. I am not judging. She told me how her family were using her benefits. I did not judge her at all. I listened to what she was saying.

    14. One more thing, when I worked in conveyancing a couple of years ago, the government were trying to put something in place to stop people transferring their property to their children. So if I or my husband gets ill, we have to pay for our care, the government will slap a charge or our property so that when we die, they would take out a huge amount.

      One client, after it all went through probate and the government, took their chunk, inherited a mere £9k out their parents’ estate. The chunk of money went to the cost of their care.

      I slogged my guts out 24-7 for my house, and I do not want to give it to the government. Why should I work and have it all taken away?

      I give up on this topic now, because I don’t think people are reading what I have written in the way that I meant. I guess I am not articulating myself properly. Plus, I still want to have friends here.

      1. Julie,

        It would be a very boring world if we all agreed all the time. I’m grateful to you, and to everyone, for raising some interesting points and am sure that nobody intended to cause anyone any offence.

        Thanks again, all. No hard feelings, I hope.

  29. Well, you really got me going now.

    As you know I work for Victim Support who are a charity run but mainly government funded organisation, and guess what. They have had their funding drastically cut, by around the amount of a week’s war in Libya. My Manager in Victim Support has had to reapply for her job with a large cut in her salary, as has my Manager in Witness Support in the courts.

    And the Tories ask us to go out and volunteer and support.

    Damian.

    1. I’m sure that lots of us would love to volunteer and support in our free time if we could rely on a wage that would cover more than our bills and would be paid for putting in the hours that MPs put in.

      The annual salary of an MP is £65,738, by the way. Cabinet ministers receive a salary of £134,565 and the Prime Minister takes home £142,500.

      As you’d expect, they have a rather nice pension: a final salary scheme into which they can choose to contribute at 1/40th, 1/50th or 1/60th, rates set at 11.9, 7.9 and 5.9 per cent respectively.

      There are 648 of them. Maybe that ought to be cut for starters?

  30. Had to say this about Julie D’s comments on the UK State run education system.

    Yes, we do have problem pupils and some poorly run schools, but when have we in the UK had a pupil or former pupil or pupils walk into a school and gun down teachers or kids as has happened numerous times in the good old US of A? What sane country lets its citizens walk around with guns on the street and in the open?

    Damian.

    1. True enough, Damian! That is one aspect I could not stand about the States. Guns! It all comes down the the American Constitution.

      When I was a kid, my sister nearly shot me in Texas and that is only because we thought the gun was a toy. My aunt used to leave the gun around to shoot rattlesnakes that came in the house.

      The kids (not all) in the UK may not have guns, but they do go around abusing adults. Kids have no respect for anything or anybody these days. If they are not taught respect both at home and in school, how are they supposed to act with respect? In fact, only last year, some kids in Birmingham killed a man in his 40s by kicking him to death because the man dared tell them off. I have had gangs of kids throw stones and coins at me when I was going to work on my scooter. So they may not have guns, but they are just as vicious.

      I am not slagging this country off, well, maybe I do sometimes, but we all do that! When I first came back to the UK in 1980, I went to a friend’s British school. She was the same age as me and what she was learning was far superior to what I was learning. I then in turn took her to my American High School on the base to show her what we were learning. All in all, I was rather envious of her as her education was far superior to mine.

      What has happened? The UK used to have the best education system in the world! Why did we have to “dumb-down” everything?

      1. 🙂 On this issue we do agree. You only have to flick through the TV channels to see the dumbing down. It’s ridiculous.

        But I hasten to add that the newspapers rarely bother reporting stories where kids do something nice. They’d rather focus instead on the examples of wickedness and degradation. Dare I say that it’s the Tory newspapers controlled by Rupert Murdoch which delight in sensationalism most of all?

    2. But I hasten to add that the newspapers rarely bother reporting stories where kids do something nice.

      Absolutely right, the papers/media only ever report bad news (and the very occasional horse stuck in a river rescue story). It sells papers.

      I was talking to Thomas (hello 🙂 ) in the chat room the other day, he was telling us about Caylee Anthony, a big trial coming to a close in the States. I looked it up. As someone who knew nothing about it until the verdict was in, I’d say people have been gripped by mass hysteria over this case. Bad though it is, this murder, there is much more in the world to be worried about. How is Japan doing? Are people being murdered in war torn African countries?

      I don’t read newspapers, I see the BBC news now and then. With regard to my local neighbourhood children and youths, I treat them as people without a prejudged attitude. I’ve yet to have a problem with any of them. I’d rather not go about afraid of them thus creating an Us and Them.

      My local “hoodlums” gave my car a push in the snow in winter. Some say hello and ask how I am, I give them the ball back rather than chase them away and when I have asked them to play elsewhere because they’d been here for a while, they do. Treat them with respect and you get the same back.

      Don’t let your attitude be prejudiced by newspaper articles. They report the minority.

    3. I don’t read newspapers, I see the BBC news now and then.

      Ash,

      Although I haven’t forgiven the BBC for its refusal to screen the Disasters Emergency Committee aid appeal for Gaza, I keep an eye on their website.

      What of this skeleton found in Australia: a “giant wombat” the size of a four-wheel drive car? Did you see?

      No, wait. Am I guilty of dumbing down? 😉

    4. The wombat, I had a quick search of and found this.

      I guess it’s the same wombat (species). 🙂

      Dumbing down? I’ve got pennies rolling round my head, I expect some will drop sometime. :))

      ash

    5. Just a thought, we have had a few crazed shootings up north recently. I know they weren’t kids, but all the same, a lunatic shot people (was it 16 shot dead, I can’t quite remember).

      Then there was that poor child in Liverpool who got shot dead by other children.

      What the hell are guns doing in this country?

      1. What the hell are guns doing in this country?

        Indeed. The UK has a big enough problem with knives.

    6. Further to the wombat :)) I had a look to find out if the modern one was a de-evolved version. The first thing I wanted to know was how much smaller the modern one is. I thought they were cuddly little guinea pig type animals. They’re not ! They are a metre long and weigh about 25kg – look.

      They live in burrows. Now, you have to think to yourself, did the ancient giant one weighing three tons (!) and the size of a “four-wheel drive car”, live in burrows too?

      I have a joke, I might have told it already:

      Q. What do you get if you cross an elephant with a kangaroo?
      A. Big holes all over Australia!

      I’m wondering about those big holes now. :))

      ash

  31. Tory, I may be, but I do not read ANY newspapers. I either watch the news or read Twitter. I don’t have time to read papers. I might occasionally read the Birmingham Mail, but that is it for me.

    I don’t believe what the papers say half the time.

    As for the gangs of kids, I see them every single night whilst out on my scooter. I did not however see the man being kicked to death more or less just down the road from me, but it was on the local news and people were talking about it. So no newspaper sensationalism in this instance. 😛

    1. Yes, we all see them. A grubby little waster thought it funny to refuse to budge from the middle of the road until I was very close to him the other evening. Oh, it was so tempting to accelerate, particularly as the smarmy git was wearing a Manchester United shirt and making rude hand gestures at appalled pedestrians, but I don’t think my defence of “Well, that’s one less gobshite in the world…” would have gone down well.

      Would the workhouse sort them out, do you think?

    2. …particularly as the smarmy git was wearing a Manchester United shirt…

      Wicked sense of humour there, FEd.

      However, I keep a little quiet these days about a certain “blue” shirt! :v

  32. I am going to finish on this comment now.

    I am 47, went to a junior catholic school as did my 2 brothers. None of us passed our 11-plus. I was beaten and bullied from day one of school, names such as ‘tramp’ and ‘dosser’ as I came from a council estate. Teachers also beat and abused me, not shitting you. That was 37 years ago. Then at senior comp. the same again, but worse beating and name calling. I left school in 79, no qualifications, nothing. Same as my 2 brothers. But all in all, when I look back I think I am a better person through that and my insane father.

    I will not have anyone call hard working teachers ‘grabbers’ or ‘moaners’. My friends are teachers, one who went ill because of his work load. And I will not have anyone call my country or call the children of this country because of a small minority, all bad. My niece has just completed her A Levels entrance exams, the first in our immediate family, and I am proud, very proud, of her and her friends.

    What I’m trying to say is the problems you hear of now have always been there and always will.

    Damian

  33. Giant wombat: I’ll bet they were tasty on the prehistoric barbie! 😛

    I love archaeological discoveries like this FED! What an incredible find! Here’s another, an ancient Greek computer reconstructed using Legos!

  34. Sorry to hear it, Damian! Sorry that you suffered. And I am sorry that I upset you.

    I was venting out of the heartache and trauma that I have been going through due to ONE school. Like I said, I do not have it in for all teachers. I respect teachers who actually WANT TO TEACH! I want my daughter to have an education, but they did not want to seem to give her one.

    I vented and I knew it was wrong but I had no-one to tell, I had to get it out!

  35. If 2,000 year old man was tinkering with computers, then perhaps 50,000 year old Aboriginal man had computers to go with his grilled wombat. :))

    I have a book of European cave art: the level of sophistication of ice age humanity (20,000-50,000 years ago) is staggering. Long term, I’m an optimist and I think the spark of human ingenuity doesn’t die. But if we do snuff it, something better will take over. Like wild carnivorous ‘roos.

    Apropos of nothing, it certainly gives one hope for us all that despite mankind’s problems that (s)he still manages to survive, and keep going in a creative way.

    1. BBQ’d giant wombat then computer games round the embers. :))

      That 2000 year old Greek computer is staggering eh? I mean, they didn’t have cars, railways, TV, planes all that we think of as some of man’s greatest achievements. They did have people with brains big and clever enough to make a machine capable of calculating the movements of the planets and it had a human programmer that had calculated the mathematical formulae required to make it work! I have no idea how to do that. 8| Have many of us even ever thought about the maths involved? Absolute genius.

      It’s astonishing isn’t it Sharon, the sophisticated ability of ancient humans? They weren’t really as ‘primitive’ as we think.

      I think there is hope for human survival during the next extinction and rise of a dominant species (technically there is a mass extinction event happening now but we’ll all be gone before an onlooker will see its full effect). There are humans living isolated from the modern world, who have the same big brains. So long as we leave them and their habitat alone, they could be the next dominant species, or maybe they will simply be the survivors of our species.

      The wonderful thing is, the world will continue and so will evolution.

      ash

  36. Educators are lucky people. Not much money but I have so much fun being with 3-6 year olds every day.

    Through the eyes of a child, money means nothing. Remember your favorite childhood memory and I’ll bet you money had nothing to do with it. I asked my 21 year old daughter what her favorite childhood memory was and she said, “Running in the woods with my friends and seeing who could eat sour candy without making a face!”

    Let’s help each other peacefully.

    USA

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