Wednesday, 27 October 2010

B before A equals D


Press attention is focussing on the American mid-term elections being held on 2 November but there's another one looming before. On Halloween's Day Brazilians will again vote for the next President and I am supporting Dilma Rousseff. The story of Brazil's economic success interests me because it is the concept of a big state which has led to its' growing importance. This is in opposite to the UK which is moving away from a big state under the coalition. Jobs are being created and people's earnings are rising over there. Brazil was thought off as a third world country but it is one of the first to come out of the recession in 2009. The minimum wage has risen and employment has gone up. Since 2003 about 20 million people in Brazil have been lifted out of poverty. There is a growing middle class who is buying consumer goods. The most important achievement in Brazil is the Bolsa Familia programme which has given money to 12 million families in return for them getting their children vaccinated and sending them to school. President Lula seems to have achieved miracles but he cannot stand for another term. His chosen successor is Dilma who has pledged to carry on with the same programmes. I am fascinated by the contrast in how spending between the UK and Brazil is being carried out towards achieving the same goals of fairness and equality. Statism versus Small state. I really hope the Brazilians preserve the Amazon rainforest. I support Dilma because I think she offers the best choice for Brazilians. I have regular readers in Brazil and hope they will leave comments on this post.

Portuguese Translation ( I hope it makes sense)
Pressione a atenção centra-se sobre as eleições americanas de médio prazo a ser realizada em 02 de novembro, mas há um outro que aparece antes. No Dia das Bruxas brasileiros serão novamente votar a favor do próximo presidente e eu estou apoiando Dilma Rousseff. A história de interesses econômicos do Brasil êxito mim porque é o conceito de um estado grande, o que levou à sua "importância crescente. Isto está em frente ao Reino Unido, que está se afastando de um estado de grande sob a coalizão. Empregos estão sendo criados e os rendimentos das pessoas estão levantando mais de lá. O Brasil foi pensado fora como um país do terceiro mundo mas é um dos primeiros a sair da recessão em 2009. O salário mínimo aumentou eo emprego subiu. Desde 2003, cerca de 20 milhões de pessoas no Brasil têm sido retiradas da pobreza. Há uma crescente classe média que está comprando bens de consumo. A conquista mais importante no Brasil é o programa Bolsa Família, que deu dinheiro para 12 milhões de famílias em troca de obter os seus filhos vacinados e enviá-los para a escola. O presidente Lula parece ter alcançado o milagre, mas ele não pode ficar para mais um mandato. Seu sucessor é escolhido Dilma, que se comprometeu a continuar com os mesmos programas. Sou fascinado pelo contraste na forma como os gastos entre o Reino Unido eo Brasil está sendo realizado no sentido de alcançar os mesmos objetivos de equidade e de igualdade. Estatismo versus Estado pequeno. Eu realmente espero que os brasileiros preservar a floresta amazônica. Apoio a Dilma, porque eu acho que ela proporciona a melhor escolha para os brasileiros. Tenho leitores regulares no Brasil e espero que eles vão deixar comentários neste post.
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Thursday, 21 October 2010

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?
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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Lemon Squeezy Campaign

Students are being squeezed, hence the name of my blog title. I am absolutely stunned at our leadership's acceptance of Lord Browne's proposals on tuition fees. Today I am starting a campaign to abolish tuition fees because this is what the party pledged to do. This is important because so many students and parents of potential students voted LibDem because of this pledge. Now, the Libdems are not getting rid of fees or just keeping the cap but they are removing the cap. 
I know of some middle class people who were worried about their future and now they do not know how they will manage. Entry to University may be free but students will pay a big price for their education when they graduate. The threshold of £21,000 is a joke because it is not a lot of money. Where will people find the money to buy a house or go on holiday if they have to pay off huge student loans? What if someone with a student debt has a partner with the same? How will they manage financially? There is a book called Jilted Generation which sets out how difficult life is for the youth already. Well, life is going to get even tougher under Browne's recommendations.
I have real life examples of the students I know who are struggling  at the moment and their difficulties has inspired me to create this campaign:
1. Student 1 - Did a drama course at university and has been unable to get a job. He doesn't earn enough to repay his student loan but the worry of the debt is making him depressed.
2. Student 2 - Is doing a course at a good university and is unable to make ends meet on a student loan as it is. She works long hours outside university and still doesn't earn enough.
Please put your name and comments to this post. If you don't have a blog or account then please email me at janem510@gmail.com. I am going to send whatever I get to Liberal Youth, to add to their campaign, and to MPs.
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Monday, 11 October 2010

Marr tars bloggers


Arise bloggers. We have been insulted by Andrew Marr. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/oct/11/andrewmarr-blogging.
He says: "A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people."
I am single but that's about it. What's wrong with having pimples and being bald anyway? The real issue I object to is that he says 'citizen journalism has nothing to do with journalism at all'.  He misses the crucial point of blogging which is that it allows ordinary people and children to participate in issues that affect them. Some of these issues are political and some are socio-political.This is why it is called 'Citizen Journalism'. I am sure Andrew Marr is aware of new politics whereby oridnary citizens participate in the political process that affects them. Blogging is a tool in which to do this. I know journalists are highly intelligent and trained people and blogging in no way replaces them because, most of the time, their reports are based on fact. Bloggers tend to base their writing on their own thoughts and opinions. There is a difference I concede. However, the blogosphere is essential to modern day life. Also see http://spiderplant88.wordpress.com/

Blogosphere gossip - there is a difference of opinion going on between Guido Fawkes and the Labour leaning http://www.nextleft.org/. which is worth reading. Has Guido gone too far or is he being a highly responsible Citizen Journalist?
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Monday, 4 October 2010

Baffling day to be a child

I came home from school, turned on the TV and was shocked at the announcement by George O about the removal of child benefit payments. A whopping amount of 1.2 million households will be affected. Child benefit is a universal benefit- every child qualifies at birth. George O is messing with this ideology and this bothers me because:
1. Every child benefits regardless of whether they're rich, poor or in the middle at present.
2. Children are being targeted with this removal.
3. The benefit is a way of recognising that children are essential because they're the next generation.

People at the lower end of the tax bracket are most affected by this cut because they are the ones who have least amount of disposable income. Most of their money goes on the children and (I am going to be brave here) that this is the group who spends money on private education because the state system doesn't always suit their needs.  There is a link between what parents spend their money on and the future of their children. Child benefit can act as a saving  for when the child goes to university or if the child chooses to do something else.

On Sky News tonight there were people who said that 'people shouldn't have children if they can't afford them'. This is a chicken and egg situation. The child universal benefit is something that is given to a child when it is born. By removing this they are taking away a right that, at the moment, doesn't depend on tax rates.

People with children are being targeted. Some time ago I blogged about my playscheme being cut. It has now been saved but the subsidy has been withdrawn.

I worry about my generation because the cost of everything is going up and where is the money to provide us with the skills for the future?         
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