Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If your head buttons up the back don't read this

Here we go again, Tories saving the world by catching benefit frauds. Few would deny that there are those on benefits who do not deserve much of what they get, but organised criminals aside most people even with “extra benefit” still have a relatively poor lifestyle; any job they may qualify for could even reduce that poor quality of life – the system is rotten.

Anyway, that aside we have now been introduced to new headline capturing measures, more business for the private sector. They will be paid by result so the incentive to heap misery on even the perfectly innocent will be great. So all of us who may find ourselves on the dole (and it is coming to many, many thousands of us) you will have these guys to put up with to add to you misery.

“We need to cut the budget”, says prime minister Cameron, “ we need to save £1billion lost to fraudsters”. He then goes on to outline what £1billion could pay for.

First of all quite a lot of that money is lost by mistakes made by civil servants, but it is easy to victimise the vulnerable; it’s what the Tories have always done.

Now, let us ask two questions:

1) Why do we need to slash the national budget by so much money?

2) Why are so many about to lose their jobs?

Well, the hundreds of billions of pounds Britain has had to underwrite due to greedy and fraudulent bankers stealing or losing it is the reason. Now, part of that greed was selling loans to people they knew fine can’t pay for them and then selling those loans on to other banks disguised inside what look like lucrative deals. Now forgive me if I am wrong, but that is fraud, isn’t it? How many investigators were employed to investigate these guys? How many of those greedy fraudulent bankers have been arrested and thrown in jail? Answer: none and eh, none.

Let’s put this in perspective. In relative terms the benefit fraudsters are an insignificant blip in the economy. The greedy fraudulent bankers have caused more devastation to British society than any number of political terrorists – I do not say this lightly.

Aw come on, terrorists kill people. Yes, they do, but go back and read you newspapers over the last two and a half years and put together all those who lives have been devastated by this criminal debacle. Last week a man killed himself and his family in a fit of despair. If you found that your life is destroyed or ended would it matter to you if the person who brought you to that juncture wore fatigues, a kaftan or a suit? I think not. We have spent billions destroying two other countries to "protect" us from the first two, and gave billions of pounds to the suits and allowed them to carry on as before.

So if you find yourself out of a job and try to get a wee bit more so you family don’t starve, Cameron’s Commandos will come and get you. If you bring the country to its knees through greed, fraud or just incompetence the British government will reward you. Mind you, successive British governments, not just the Tories, have been complicit in all of this, but then so have all of us, for we have never demanded that these banking fraudsters be brought to book. Oh well, that's the global economy for you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Been a strange time

I got into blogging by experimenting with it when a novelist pal of mine asked me to set one up for him. I maintain his website, but he wanted his many readers to have a sort of instant contact with him. I set this one up to try it out and found I actually enjoyed writing again. I have used it to sit and write about things that interest me or have annoyed my – it is my rant page. I was dumbfounded when someone left a comment; there have been others since. I had no idea anyone would ever read what I write; nor do I write for other people, it just seems more worthwhile if the chance exists that someone might. As it is, hardly anyone does read it, but it is pleasant when someone replies.
The day I wrote my last entry I was unemployed and on the dole. The season at Culzean had ended a month before and I had been turned down for a temporary job at Caldeonian University (the same job I had supervised for five years before I left to become a countryside ranger) – yes, I was a wee bit upset! So now I was on the dole (or the "buroo" as it is known in Glasgow) being paid pennies with christmas a few weeks away. Depressed, me? NAW!!! That same day I got a call from ASDA (which Americans will know as Wal-Mart), the local superstore, who offered me a temporary job for christmas at just above the national basic pay rate. Oh well, better than nothing. I need to say here that the folk I worked with there were excellent people and deserved to be managed by better people. I have thought long and hard, but I cannot think of ever working with worse line managers than some of those in ASDA. See, they talk all that corporate crap (we were colleagues not workers) which is meant to make you feel like part of a team and while they talk the talk their actions and attitudes are always very different. I only felt part of a team through the help of my workmates. I worked outside in the car park collecting trolleys. from 3rd December till the middle of March with a few shifts inside on the checkout. For those who live outside Britain, last winter was the longest frozen spell for fifty years and ASDA finally supplied me with an outside jacket the week before I left. Let me be honest: they talk like they care, but they care fuck all for people's wellbeing. If you were unfortunate to work on checkouts 1-through-10 and it was a sunny day you had the sun directly in your eyes for 2-3 hours (even though it was freezing outside we had a lot of those this winter – fire and ice). The reason you had the sun in your eyes is because some arsehole manager though the windows looked better without the blinds and had them removed. We Care? My arse!
The thing that kept me going through the misery that was ASDA was that I knew I had the option to go back to Culzean in the Spring. I also knew I could not spend another winter like that and swore to get a permanent job this year. I am 56 years old and my age was beginning to work against me in the jobs market. I had tried over the last six or seven years to get work with Scottish Natural Heritage (the largest environmental employer in Scotland), but in vain, even though I am well qualified to work there. Last year I made them give me a list of all the positions filled in the previous five years with age and gender of those appointed. It turns out you have little chance of being employed by SNH if you are over 45, and next to no chance if you are over 50. Women outnumber men at SNH 3-2. Funny thing is, the management group at SNH is the exact opposite, go figure!
I like working for the National Trust for Scotland so I applied for the education officer job at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. I had a good interview but didn't ge the job (someone with all sorts of awards got it so I wasn't upset).
I also applied for the same position at Pollok House in Glasgow's Pollok Countryside Park and blow me, I got the job.
So, I am now the Learning Officer for a large Georgian Country House. The challenge is great and I am looking forward to it. I am, though, sorry to have left Culzean. I made some great friends there and it is such a beautiful place to live and work, but I do not need to work at ASDA anymore, yippee!
Of course, working at Pollok House means I am back living at home and I get to sleep in my own bed and wake up with the love of my life next to me, isn't life great? Yes it is!
I will write more on Pollok soon