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Care & compassion, a better society, a better world


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Kevin sanctioned on Work Programme and now begging for food

Government callous sanctioning forcing people destitute and into begging stealing or Wonga-style borrowing from loan sharks to stay alive, what next, a despicable situation and forced ‘criminality’. modern form of peasants stealing bread to stay alive or poaching on rich landowners land in medieval days. Poverty, hunger, malnutrition, a careless big society!

Ann McGauran

Kevin Jobbins, who's living on £7 a fortnight for food, following a benefit sanction Kevin Jobbins, who’s living on £7 a fortnight for food, following a benefit sanction

How does it feel to be “living” on a budget for food of £3.50 a week? Kevin Jobbins is doing exactly that, but the more you think about it, the less appropriate the concept of  existence or survival seems in this context. To survive  conjures up images of Everest expeditions  – involving a set of risks voluntarily  endured  by explorers who’ve personally opted to challenge their own physical and emotional limitations.

Kevin, on the other hand, came into the Greenwich Foodbank   because  he’s  not  surviving. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has failed to reinstate his benefits following a sanction in April. Kevin is 39, and is  receiving employment and support allowance (ESA). He’s waiting to go into detox treatment for drug and alcohol issues and is also on the waiting list for surgery…

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Modern-day Slavery: Low Pay, No Pay, No Prospects, disguised as employment, Forced Labour and Workfare

Singapore, housemaids sold a commodities in a shopping mall for the rich, advertised as going cheap and not requiring any days off:

UK, workfare, 6 months, 40 hours per week, not including lunch breaks, no sickness allowed for, as that could be a sackable offence, as could any rebellion for working for free with showing less than enthusiastic servitude to their masters. ‘Fake’ apprenticeships advertised as training, but really being work that otherwise would have been paid, albeit at minimum wage as care work for the benefit of poorer people and the community is regarded as very lowly in UK, by years of pay structures built up with minimal union involvement to secure better pay, on threat of getting the sack, whilst work gambling in banks, sports personalities or executives who wear expensive suits are valued highly. But not even minimum wage now for many, as the minimum wage guidelines are breached by ultra-low pay, disguised apprenticeship and unpaid workfare forced labour on threat of sanction of no benefits:

In the article it is mentioned that the Department of Work and Pensions representative indicates that, even though the UK government has repeatedly lost in court over legislation for unpaid labour and retrospectively changing the law, it insists it will ignore the high court ruling and continue to appeal any ruling.

UK Government backed media attacks UN and the UN rapporteur Raquel Rolnik for highlighting and criticising UK Government, DWP and minister IDS, over failings on human rights in its treatment of UK poor:

Ongoing blog item, shall be added to as appropriate with items from around the world, including unpaid forced labour in UK and an emphasis on disguised slavery in employment with no prospects, ultra low pay or no pay.


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Weapons of Financial Destruction #WarMachine Austerity, Banksters, Corporations, Governments, Corruption

People’s Parliament meeting July 1st 2014 with Artist Taxi Driver, Stacy Herbert and activists describing what is going on, briefly but detailed in the kind of way that is not covered in mainstream media. The truth shows where vast sums of money are made out of financial services, selling arms, including illegal torture products from the world’s biggest arms fair in London.

Stacy Herbert on the global economy explained in easy to understand terms, but telling the truth means absolutely enormous figures. Mammoth  debts, the real scale of the collapse of the financial system, Libor rigging, Forex, derivatives. It makes the entire costs of benefits, social services, health and education minuscule by comparison and furthermore is a net boost to economies in providing jobs and providing necessary services, whilst the debt to bail out banks provides no boost to ordinary people , provides no services to society, but ensures profit of the rich elites in banking and corrupt corporations and MPs heavily involved and invested in the sector to profit from the people, whilst extracting all money from the public and put into private hands, taking it away from the poorest, moving it towards the richest.

Stacy Herbert on Weapons of Financial Destruction #WarMachine:

 

Even when banksters loose through banking and risky products, they have ensured they always stay absurdly highly paid, with mega bonuses and their losses are taken on by governments in bailouts and passed onto the masses through ideological austerity, ultra low interest on anyone with savings, ‘bail-ins in e.g. Cyprus, near zero interest rate sin US and negative interest rates for banks in Europe.

 

Propaganda is centralised using media working with governments to mislead the public who mostly have no or limited comprehension of the scale of the dealings. But for many governments working together in the most right wing alliance since WWII taking advantage of the situation by idealogical austerity aimed at taking back societies to Victorian even Medieval Times, the Dark ages, a time of abundant wealth for the rich and peasantry for the poor.

 

Austerity implemented from bottom up, so the poorest are hit hardest and the rich actually profit from the losses, fuelling the greatest wealth divide in modern history.

 

Artist Taxi Driver discusses the meeting and more

Artist Taxi Driver speaks at The People’s Parliament:

TTIP government/corporate corruption:

 

UK National Debt and Deficit rocketing for constantly bailing out banks, ultra-low or no taxes for Corporations and Austerity cutting incomes for the poorest.

Russell Brand with Max and Stacy on the Keiser Report:

Russell: “I heard that the GDP have started including drug sales and sex trade sales to make GDP better is that true? Max:”…its about £10 billion of activity..” Russell: “… so they include it…Revolution…”


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Age of Austerity UK Juxtaposed: Poor suffer malnutrition, while diners attend lavish dinners

Two very different items, but juxtaposition of a desperate man suffering from malnutrition whilst others spend £12,000 per head for one meal, this is UK  in the Age of Austerity

Even worse those arranging the lavish dinners are the very architects of austerity for the poor masses, with an extra dose of austerity and poverty thrown in for good measure for the very poorest.

Liverpool man disabled and very ill, found suffering from malnutrition & suicidal after 8 months wait for benefits:

Lavish £12,000 per head dinner held with David Cameron and his wife, attendees including Bahrain lobbyists and Russian oligarchs:


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Foodbanks: The Failed State; Different Food for the Poor

Foodbanks are not the answer to a hunger problem in the Developed world. They are a symptom of the serious state of social security for the poor, a failure of the state in providing for its citizens. They sprung up from emergency rations for disasters, such as earthquake or flood, for communities suddenly hit. As such they can be helpful and generally have been for all people not as means to provide for the poorest only, but because of a sudden shortage in an area to provide cover whilst supplies can be restored.

As a regular means of supply they fail badly and are divisive, in that it means a society where the rich get to choose exactly what they want to eat and the poor have to eat what they are given, the crumbs off the table.

Running and providing food in foodbanks also requires a great amount of resources from volunteers who if they were able to volunteer the time and effort they put into running the foodbanks could help other needy sections of the community where voluntary work could provide additional resources for all the many charities in the country. Instead this means all this voluntary effort and related expense is channelled from other charities towards the foodbanks that should not need to be there in the first place in a developed society.

There are also fallacies from people who do not use them, portrayed in the media and by MPs and even some professionals when reporting on foodbank use, that poor people are relying on foodbanks, which in itself conveys the message that they are being supplied with their needs, when they are not, far from it. Also in reality most only provide food where vouchers have been issued by professionals, organisations and even job centres where other people have to assess if a person is eligible and then in most cases along the standard practice of a limit of 3 food supplies a year, with each supply given estimated to be enough for only a few days. Further it has to be considered for emergency rations, people can cope with lower quality food for a short period, but when this goes on for weeks, into months even years, there is a cumulative effect on health.

There is almost no choice for the recipient to what food they can receive, except for if someone is vegetarian and even then in a limited way. The next thing is for all the good work of volunteers and organisations and they do a lot of good work, putting in hours collecting sorting and distributing food, even trying their best with limited resources to make up as good a food parcel as they can, so it is not a criticism of the volunteers, but of a system that is necessitating this kind of provision, that is rather like a sticking plaster and not the solution to a failed economic system, one where inequality is the order of the day.

Also the generosity of members of the public, although not all by any means and with many of the public also being poor themselves as poverty increases so the ability to donate to foodbanks will also diminish. There is also the relative newness of people wanting to contribute to a disaster fund, but as time goes on, if it becomes part of running the system rather than as a short term emergency cover, then the public will also become fed up of constantly being asked to contribute to foodbanks. Even supermarket contributions of food can tend to include the types of food that is not the best for people who already have had a low quality diet, as many processed packaged foods are not the best for people in the first place. It is very much of the emergency provision and often not the most nutritious or even best value, but not to criticise the god work of the most well intended, also to realise the general population even with choice often chose foods that are not the best for health. But for users of food banks there is no choice as of course it is free, it is a last resort and many of the users are desperate.

Foodbank supplies generally do not include fresh produce, possibly partly due to problems of keeping and distributing fresh food that has not gone off, which would be wasted due to transit or if given out could be a health hazard, even a serious one. So it is partly a logistic limitation, but also fresh produce tends to cost more, although it is often better for people’s health. Then there is an absence of staples of any main meal, again possibly because these often include fresh produce such as meat or fish and they tend to be the most expensive of foods, even though not exotic foods, but the general cost of lean meat and fresh fish is expensive. Also for milk there appears to be a standardised use of UHT, condensed or dried milk, which is not the best for many people and anyone wanting to use skimmed milk for health reasons. UHT in particular does not suit everyone and condensed can be high in fat and is still not fresh. Also there is limited alternatives for vegetarians that often do not conform to what needs to be a very well balanced diet to replace the nutrients of meat and fish, often requiring fresh vegetables and a specially balanced mix of vegetables, beans, rice etc that can be expensive.

The items offered are generally the cheaper ones and value range products typically have less quantities of the main more expensive food items, also even by putting them in smaller quantities, so making as smaller meal. However because of the additives and fat components this is not necessarily helping people with weight, but also often fall well short of essential nutrients and made up by more chemicals and the less expensive items.

The allocation of foodbank vouchers also means many people are missed out from receiving foodbank vouchers and those that do, if their unemployment or ultra-low paid employment continues for any length of time is also inadequate. Even if food banks were always available to the poorest the types of food included would not provide a reasonable healthy balanced long-term diet and would provide very little even no choice.

The inclusion of such things as crisps, dried soups, tins of low protein soups even from well-known manufacturers do not compare with quality food. Even if some items are what people freely buy that doesn’t make them healthy foods. There can also be differences in quality between different foodbanks and where donations are part of supply, this can tend to be what others do not want. In some cases this can be near sell-by, which may not taste as good and if the food were fresh could present a health hazard, as often even supermarkets selling fresh items near sell-by often include items that a noticeably in poorer condition requiring immediate consumption properly cooked and even then can show a marked drop of fin quality and taste. Food that can be stored also can be not as good a taste if it is at sell-by or even beyond.

There is no room to be health conscious food or such things as free-range chicken if meat, including tinned meat likely to be highly intensive farmed, chemically pumped and not considering animal welfare type conditions. Also there is no room for food bank users to insist on green or to be able to choose not to have GMO sourced products. There is no free choice.

It is like if someone is given McBurgers to stop them starving, they are then exposed to the chemicals of the McBurgers and the consequences of a poor diet.
All of these facts apart, foodbanks are still inadequate as means of regular food supply to the poor. They are not guaranteed and are for very limited periods. The quality can be inconsistent and variable as well as affected by the limitations mentioned above. They may be sufficient for a short term emergency need as it would stop people literally starving on the streets. But they do not provide the best balanced diets and ultimately can have detrimental dietary affects, including increased obesity, which in the developed world is a problem, also too now in the less-developed world, where the poor have to eat what they can get. The result can mean someone can be malnourished at the same time as being obese, but suffering from a low quality diet. This can also be used by callous commentators in drawing attention to someone’s larger size as indicating they are well fed, which is far from the truth.

Overall foodbanks are not the answer to insufficient income and benefits and expensive food supplies. The growing reliance on them is a strong indicator of a failed economic system and they appear most in countries of the widest inequalities.

Mike Sivier: Starving British children are looking for food in rubbish bins

“100 of George Osborne’s worst Economic Failures” by DrEoinCl

 

Ongoing blog item shall be added to as appropriate