Category Archives: Inequality

Cut benefits? Yes, let’s start with our £85bn corporate welfare handout

The rise of TV programs and newspaper articles demonising those who claim benefits is a phenomena of the past couple of years. There is no question that this ‘new TV’ is inspired by those who want to make is more politically acceptable to cut benefits to the ‘undeserving poor’. It is a political strategy the US right wing has been using (very successfully) for many years.

What the media have not focused on is the far larger amount of money the government contributes in corporate subsidies, bailouts, tax cuts and tax not collected which enrich the Corporate world.

This is a society in which our government spends large amounts of time and money to make sure we don’t give poor people a penny more than they are entitled but at the same time funds a champagne lifestyle and huge profits for its friends.

It needs to change.

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Children playing in street of the former mining town of Easington Co Durham UK

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Billions of pounds of British public money has gone to business, with Disney getting £170m. They really are taking the Mickey by Aditya Chakrabortty Monday 6 October 2014 20.30 BST

‘Politicians and pundits talk about welfare as if it’s solely cash given to people. Hardly ever discussed is corporate welfare.’

Last October an article revealed that the British government had since 2007 handed Disney almost £170m to make films here. Last year alone the Californian giant took £50m in tax credits. By way of comparison, in April the government will scrap a £347m crisis fund that provides emergency cash for families on the verge of homelessness or starvation.

Benefits are what we grudgingly hand the poor; the rich are awarded tax breaks. Cut through the euphemisms and the Treasury accounting, however, and you’re left with two forms of welfare. Except that the hundreds given to people sleeping on the street has been deemed unaffordable. Those millions for $150bn Disney, on the other hand, that’s apparently money well spent –whoever coined the phrase “taking the Mickey” must have worked for HM Revenue.

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Continue reading Cut benefits? Yes, let’s start with our £85bn corporate welfare handout

Empathy Heroes – 5 People Who Changed the World By Taking Compassion to the Extreme

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Want to learn to change the world with empathy? Get ready to learn from the masters by By Roman Krznaric November 8, 2014

Ever heard of “empathy marketing”? It’s the latest business buzzword. The idea is that if companies can look through their clients’ eyes and understand their desires, they will be better able to tailor their offerings and gain a competitive advantage.

To me, this is stepping into someone else’s shoes just to sell them another pair.

I believe that the best use of empathy is not in the commercial world but in the social one, where it allows us to challenge prejudices and create political change.

And if you look through history, there are some extraordinary figures who have harnessed this power by engaging in what I think of as “experiential empathy.” This is where you don’t just imagine someone else’s life (a practice technically known as “cognitive empathy”) but try to live it yourself, doing the things they do, living in the places where they live, and knowing the people they know.

You might also call an experience of this nature an “empathy immersion.” It’s like empathy as an extreme sport—one far more exciting and adventurous than ice climbing or sky diving. Continue reading Empathy Heroes – 5 People Who Changed the World By Taking Compassion to the Extreme

Why would you Arrest a 90-Year-Old Veteran for Feeding the Homeless?

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Being hungry and without a place to live shouldn’t be a criminal offense By Lesley Kinzel November 7, 2014

When my dad retired a couple years ago, I was terrified.

My dad is a keeping-busy kind of guy, rarely content to sit around the house, not a tremendous fan of television that’s not basketball or football (excepting the occasional “I just discovered ‘Game of Thrones’!” binge-watch), and he gets prickly with nothing to do. We’re alike in that way. So when he stopped working, I worried: would he be bored? Would he be unhappy? What on earth is he going to do all day?

In the absence of an office and desk, however, he rapidly adopted two new activities: golf, which he had barely played in his life but which follows in the great tradition of recent retirees, I suspect in part because it is a slow game that takes forever; and working at a local soup kitchen.

My father volunteers at the Jubilee Center of South Broward, a rare five-days-a-week operation that feeds between 120 to 160 homeless people a day. It’s located in an older part of Hollywood, Florida, a city that lies just between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, originally founded in 1925 and named after Hollywood, California by a man who dreamed of creating a similar movie-making hub on the east coast. It is also where I was born.

It was therefore from my dad, and not the national news, that I first heard about 90-year-old Arnold Abbott being charged by police for feeding homeless individuals in a Fort Lauderdale park on Sunday — and that he was cited again yesterday for doing the same on a beach.

The Fort Lauderdale law restricting feeding homeless people outdoors is relatively new, passed by the city commission literally in the middle of the night on October 22 — at 3:30 a.m., to be precise, as opponents of the law protested noisily outside City Hall. The ordinance mostly affects churches and other advocacy organizations that bring food to South Florida’s substantial homeless community in parks and other public spaces, rather than relying on homeless individuals coming to a religious institution or other permanent structure to be fed.

Among other restrictions, the new rules state that outdoor feeding operations cannot be within 500 feet of each other, and that they must be at least 500 feet from residential areas. They also require such operations to have portable toilet facilities, which is a substantial hurdle for small groups trying to offer assistance on a budget, as almost all are.

The primary argument in favor of these limitations is not based on concerns about public health, as you might expect, but that bringing such support directly to homeless populations is driving people away from state-funded programs meant to get them into indoor emergency shelters and transitional programs, and therefore “encourages” people to stay homeless. As one lobbyist arguing in favor of the ordinance put it, “Feeding people on the streets is sanctioning homelessness. Whatever discourages feeding people on the streets is a positive thing.”

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And Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler has similarly stated: “I’m not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in the city of Fort Lauderdale. Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive.”

Continue reading Why would you Arrest a 90-Year-Old Veteran for Feeding the Homeless?