Until December’s general election, Paul Sweeney (31) was member of parliament for Glasgow North East; last week he applied for ‘universal credit’ – tweeted that
becoming a benefit claimant for the first time was ‘disorienting’. In six weeks, when my salary ends, I intend to apply for housing benefit so I can remain in this cottage; like Sweeney, a ‘means tested benefit’ is new territory for me – a self-identity shift. He says a few people have told him they’d be too proud to claim – as though it was somehow shameful.
For whatever reason, my life failed to reach a balanced accommodation with money; I resented its exaggerated importance – its ‘primacy’ made me hostile; among the wealthy, I always knew I was a visitor – that I didn’t believe in their God. It’s not clever being 80 without financial security – but I would make the same choices again. Our NHS is a marvellous model of how society can be organised cooperatively, without a hint of shame. Some argue that human progress needs to be driven by competition, hardship and fear – I believe the opposite: Aneurin Bevan named his 1952 essay on a free health service:
In Place of Fear.
It won’t be very long till humankind creates the technology to provide for the basic needs of everyone – free of charge; but the human brain is not as agile with moral calculations. Just because we’ll soon have the resources to organise society cooperatively, doesn’t mean we’ll have the wisdom to do so; this still needs more work.
The association between Italian immigration and the catering industry (cafes, chip shops etc) is a particularly Scottish story; certainly an important aspect of my own personal upbringing; I still have close family wondering if their restaurants will survive lockdown.
This article is about Sweden, where instead of closing restaurants, they urged social distancing guidelines; I think the article is intended as an optimistic glimpse of how we could ‘ease back’ – but it had the opposite effect on me. The friendship and hospitality of my favourite café/restaurants – the whole social experience – has come to symbolise the return of our world to normal. I wish I thought it was close.
Mike Small of Bella Caledonia has posted an excellent, thought provoking
article about the growing movement for a de-growth/post-growth economy. He references the Positive Money Report – the Tragedy of Growth – I particularly like the five principles outlined for a lasting recovery from the Covid crisis.
Edinburgh Poverty Commission is an independent group researching steps required to end poverty in the capital. In recent weeks, it has been listening, at first hand, to the impact of Covid on people living in poverty. The Commission’s
3-page summery as well as an article in Sceptical Scot by Zoe Ferguson .
I got a thrill from this
short video of Kevin Rudd – former PM of Australia – berating Rupert Murdoch’s media empire; he calls it a ‘cancer on democracy’, which uses ‘mafia’ intimidation tactics against disserting voices. Such a powerful empire – ruthlessly punting a hard-right agenda – needs to be confronted.
When I started primary school, we walked both ways – which was normal; since then, the ‘school run’ has become the norm – children are now transported everywhere.
Recent research suggests that our over-attentiveness deprives them – not only of essential exercise – but of training in self-reliance. Of all the participating countries, 90% of Japanese children self-commute to school.
This is about a forest school nursery is Norfolk called ‘Dandelion’.
“The school’s directors keep the children outside in all weathers, place mud and philosophy at the heart of their curriculum and obtain outstanding results. It comes as no surprise that boxing children in classrooms and giving them plastic toys to fight over does not bring out their best. Keeping them outside, making them think of hundreds of ways a stick might become any kind of toy and allowing them to be led by their interests and personalities dramatically improves their conduct, their wellbeing and their attainment.”