King, George, Sweet Charity and a Jilted Generation
Yesterday was a surreal day for me. It was the third day of my school holidays and I felt as if I had been transported into some sort of Wonderland. I started my day off by attending a Christian Aid event on tackling global poverty and Jesse Jackson was the main star. It was amazing to just see him. The reason I say 'see' is because I couldn't really understand his accent. I did make out the word ' King' but I wasn't sure if he was talking about Martin Luther King, Jesus or Elvis. It was so amazing and fantastic to see him in person. Harriet Harman who was there rushed off presumably to see George O speak. Isn't she part of the reason why we have to have these cuts?
Another speaker at the Christian Aid event was Andrew Mitchell, Secretary for International Development, who was extremely pleased that the aid budget had been ring-fenced. People are wondering why the aid budget was protected when charity should begin at home and we have poverty in this country.
Then I watched George on TV. Ironically, after George's speech I went to watch a matinee musical called Sweet Charity in Central London. George's announcement about the cuts wasn't exactly Wonderland but I was aware that some sort of modern history was being made. In the past I don't think that people even watched the CSR speech. Actually, I don't think people even knew what the CSR was!
In the evening I attended a talk at the London School of Economics (LSE) by Shiv Malik and Ed Howker who co-wrote a wonderful book called 'Jilted Generation'. Again, ironically, the book is about how previous decisions by Governments have left the youth of today in financial trouble and heading for more trouble in the areas of housing and jobs.
George O said in his speech, '... we do not saddle our children with the interest on the interest on the interest of the debts we were not ourselves prepared to pay'. I agree but why has universal child benefit been cut for some children while rich pensioners continue to benefit from having free eye tests, free prescriptions, free bus passes and free TV licence for over 75s? I don't want poor pensioners to suffer but there are pensioners who can afford to pay for these services.
I am troubled about the cap on university fees being removed, the age threshold being raised for the 'shared room rate' for housing benefits to 35 years old in April 2012 and the long-term sick being asked to go back to work and having to pay for their prescriptions. People over the age of 25 would like privacy and their own space. They cannot be treated like university students who are happy to share. The long-term sick must be making themselves even more sick by worrying about their benefits and inability to work.
I worry about this 'Fairness' business. We aren't all equal and we all have different circumstances. In a Kingdom of Wonderland there will be toads that need flies, Muchkins that need houses and Unicorns that need water. How would a George O in this Kingdom decide on fairness?