Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cameron can’t count

David Cameron, the millionaire is exhorting the rest of us to ‘look to the future with realism and optimism’ – hard to see how those two are outlooks are compatible under current circumstances.

Realism tells us that jobs are down and unemployment is rising. How can that encourage optimism? Those of us in work are overworked and the out of work stand very little chance of finding work. Work stress related illness is rising. The number of stress related absences from work in 2010/11 was 400,000 – in 2011/12 it was 428,000 despite overall absences being reduced.
Government policies aren’t helping either. Look at the jobs lost in the insulation industry – a green industry – because of government dithering over vital energy saving schemes.

Government attempts to get more unemployed people back in work are truly pathetic.  Their use of the private sector has backfired with money being paid to private providers under fraudulent claims.

Now the government is trying to ‘nudge people off the dole’ and is taking a minute sample: a selection of the clients of a single job centre as a pilot on which to base future Job centre policy.

The only way to get more people into jobs is to invigorate the economy. The only way to invigorate the economy is to increase the flow of wealth. 

Wages - become spending and taxes – which become investment - which creates more wages i.e. more jobs.

Giving people on lower incomes more money increases their spending. Giving people on already high incomes can lead to some additional spending on luxury items (although it may simply drive up their prices) but generally leads to additional savings or to capital flight aboard. 

So who would you give more money to if you wanted the economy to thrive? Yes, I know, the answer is obvious, but Cameron doesn’t get it.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Food banks a national disgrace

The South East is the second richest region in the fifth richest country in the world – yet every district council area in Kent now hosts a food bank.

We have enough wealth and enough food to feed everyone – but we don’t distribute wealth equitably enough. It’s not only people on benefits who use food banks – families with children where only one parent is earning or there is only one parent are struggling too.

Energy bills are rising, the cost of food is rising, but wages are not. This government refuses to enforce a living wage, even though research shows this would be a net gain to the Treasury through reduced benefits bills and increased tax take.

 Even the opposition is only proposing to force firms to pay a living wage if they want to bid for public contracts. Why? Surely decency demands that everyone should be paid a living wage. Why should people work if they can’t feed and house themselves and their families from what they earn?

 We are supposedly a Christian country, I see no Christian principles in allowing people to be forced to work for less than their needs – or even worse, to work as unpaid interns because that is the only way they can eventually get a job in many industries (if they are lucky). We have legalised exploitation and created Victorian levels of poverty. TB and rickets are making a comeback. Is this really the country we want? We should be ashamed of ourselves – and of a government which allows this to happen.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Why doesn't our Council love cyclists and pedestrians?

Transport for London has serious ambitions when it comes to increasing cycling in London. It is targeting a 400% increase in cycling from 2001 to 2026 as part of the Cycling Revolution and, on its past record, it might even make it. Cycling on the major roads network in London has already increased by 173% between 2001 and 2012 and by 9% between 2011 and 2012. [1]

As well as the renowned Boris Bikes the capital has a network of Greenways: routes for pedestrians and cyclists which make use of parks, waterways and quiet residential streets to create calm, safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians with minimal traffic. They also provide cycling training, cycle superhighways, free cycle maps and a cycle safety strategy. [2]

What a contrast to our own dear Tonbridge where the Council has been blocking the Kent Highways plans for linking the exiting patchy cycle routes to form a network for many years now and refuses to consider pedestrianisation seriously.

We too could have a Cycling Revolution and our own Greenways. We too could have alternative routes for cyclists and pedestrians to either side of Tonbridge High Street – the North South route to the West of the High Street is obvious and, with a little planning, another one could be created to the East of the High Street – but our Council lacks the will to do anything to increase cycling and walking and reduce car use.