All posts by imatiger1

Austerity, benefits process, cuts and poverty impact on mental health and psychological wellbeing

Psychologists march from BPS Leicester to BPS London to raise awareness of impact of benefit system (process, cuts, sanctions and poverty), food poverty (in and out of work) homelessness (rough sleeping, sofa surfing, poor inadequate housing and risk of homelessness) (Guardian article)

The psychologists walking 100 miles to fight austerity’s impact on mental health

Walk the Talk website

Will Hall: Keynote speech at Alternatives 2012

As austerity policies spread with accompanying poverty, the toll on mental health means poverty becomes a central component and factor in development of and intensification of mental illnesses.There is often a developmental series of associated consequential life events leading from and interacting with, that can often either intensify or reduce negative outcomes. The opportunity to break any negative reinforcement cycles and to optimize positive feedback loops can radically change quality of life for those experiencing trauma.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

Will Hall did the Keynote speech at Alternatives 2012.

It’s another inspiring and deeply moving talk. He got a standing ovation for very good reason.

Things are changing! In the several years I’ve been doing this work I can see the change. We are making a difference. Our life experience and sharing that openly with others is making a difference.

One of the things that Will is talking about here is reframing our experience. This is a topic I often talk about on this blog too. Along with reframing our experience we need to understand the role of trauma in our lives and the lives of those who are labeled with psychiatric illness.

Those are just two things he touches on. There is much much more to this lovely keynote address.

Listen here.

Update: I’d not listened to the end of the talk when I did this…

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Austerity ideologies, possible alternative scenarios, the Iceland model and the next financial crisis

Austerity is an ideological policy that many governments decided on when they got together when it was realised that the entire global financial system was at risk of collapsing in 2008. It is one reaction to the scenario that was hastily put together to stop the imminent collapse, originally from an emergency meeting in US with the President and Federal Reserve and with constant communications between investment banks.  This policy was then copied in Europe, with just one exception, Iceland. it is also the one that was calculated to cause the least damage to the very rich and powerful, to corporations, chief executives of large companies, governments senior executives and high pay hierarchical bureaucratic structures of civil servants, health administrators and even down to maintaining a high pay entertainment industry, with advertising and sports that pay some of the highest rates of pay, and of course banks and bankers, high pay with phenomenal bonuses. The people who made the decision were closely tied to this group of people, so they were interest parties.

 

The alternatives were not good, as that would have been an immediate collapse of the banking system, which would have been uncontrollable and wiped out banks along with corporations with heavy investments, the global economy would have ground to a halt, but would have still existed.  The fallout would have hit those with the most invested in the financial sector the worst. However like Iceland, the fundamental bases of economies, especially ones with larger public services not totally reliant on the financial sector could still have carried on with the support of governments enabling the general system to carry on, bearing in mind that the financial system of banks would have collapsed, so everyone would have been affected. But the hit would have been top down instead of bottom up, as is the way of the austerity policies. The nearest in effect would have been the way Iceland dealt with the crisis, but on a much bigger scale. There would have been a re-basing of wages for different jobs and careers, with lower paid jobs being largely unaffected, some may even have taken over current higher paying ones, due to necessity of social care jobs compared with the redundancy of bankers and lowering of pay attached to bank sponsorships, so very much the advertising industry

 

But many higher paying jobs would have taken big hits, at least in the short term until an alternative banking system had been re-established and a new leaner advertising and sponsorship industry had been rebuilt.

 

For instance the entertainment industry, movies, television, big theatre shows and concerts would not have been able to continue to pay mega salaries to many film and sports stars, advertising would have decimated, big sports sponsorships, especially baseball,  baseball, tennis, golf, cricket, motor racing and any big tournaments that rely heavily on advertising and bank sponsorships. This is because many, even most banks would have collapsed.

 

However with fairer policies people could have kept their homes and there could have been support for at least up to a certain level of savings, but would have been enough to support all poor to middle incomes, again like Iceland. Some banks would have survived and they could have expanded along with a vastly nationalised system of retail banking, but with investment banking largely collapsed under the mark to market real value, i.e. bankrupt.  Mortgages could have been underwritten by governments via nationalised mortgages and government borrowing, as happened after World War I and II.

 

Borrowing would have had to rise to secure homes and an economic base.  Some will say this would have been unaffordable as it would have been immense. This would have been immense and unaffordable, but what they do not recognise is the cost of saving the banks, due to black holes of debt, highly leveraged products such as credit default swaps and derivatives, mean the cost is actually far higher than saving the people’s savings and mortgages, as in effect government shave instead taken on board all the banks’ bad debts and gambling losses and still have had to prop up the mortgage system.

They have also tried to re-engineer the housing bubble and equity bubbles using vast sums of money through quantitative easing and record low interest rates. In desperation for the first time even going into experimental territory with negative interest rates for banks, although for borrowers this is not the case as banks charge steep interest rate premiums to add to profits from customers.

Counties have also seen the opportunity to follow through ideological policies of austerity using excuse that the deficit is caused by spending on public services, which Is not the case, as in many cases such spending is part of the fabric of society, its services, but also the engine of the economy. The financial sector has multiplied in size to become dominant in the economy. Countries with the heaviest weighting of financial services sector are at the greatest risk, which is why Iceland was hit hard quickly, but they let the banks fail. In all other countries they have propped them up, but with smaller countries having least alternatives from central banks through QE, so Cyprus had to confiscate peoples’ savings and be bailed out by IMF loans with deep austerity conditions as is the case with Greece. Not the fault of the people, but the people are paying the price.

 

Stacy Herbert at People’s Parliament explains how the derivatives bubble of $1 Quadrillion debt exploded and the reactions of governments with ideological austerity and the mass investment involving oil and arms trades as well as banking in what has been termed by’ Artist Taxi Driver’ The War Machine:

Stacy Herbert on People’s Parliament #WarMachine

‘Artist Taxi Driver’, Mark McGowan on People’s Parliament:

The derivatives bubble of $1 Quadrillion represented the largest sum in the world, as much as 20 x total world GDP at the time in 2008. Latest estimates are of a derivatives bubble exceeding $1.5 Quadrillion and record debt and investments tied up in equities to $2 Quadrillion :

New York Times: Central Bankers, Worried About Bubbles, Rebuke Markets

By some accounts, the most up to date estimations of global derivatives in 2013 were already over $2 Quadrillion and by 2014 are even higher:

World Federation of Exchanges – over $2 quadrillion of derivatives in 2013

Growth in derivatives was steady from 2009 following the world stock market falls in 2008 to 2009 and emergency central bank stimulus measures of multiple QE around the world, flooding the banks with liquidity, i.e. money to speculate with. From regaining former record levels they have soared since 2011, with latest estimates up to 20% per annum by 2014 to new record highs that could exceed $2 Trillion or double what it was at the start of the global economic collapse in 2008:

LaRouche: ‘It’s Wall Street or Mankind, Your Choice’: Global Speculative Bubble About to Break the $2 Quadrillion Barrier!

When the highly leveraged banking gambles collapsed, the existent high stock market value sand high property prices imploded and governments panicked with emergency measures, which they followed through by austerity measures which were designed to recapitalise the banks from masses of people, along with reflating the bubble.  Trouble is it was that being such a big bubble caused the original collapse in 2008, so reflating the bubble and now even exceeding it with new high son equity prices in stock markets and new highs in housing bubble sin many countries. This places the world at the same risk as then, but without the same tools to deal with it, in fact there are not any because counties would start the next collapse from a position of vast debts from the last collapse. She very concisely explains the position that the world now finds itself in.

Wall Street hitting new highs daily, the familiar tune

The masses largely do not anywhere near comprehend the sheer scale of the losses or amounts covered, which in fact dwarf the cost of entire welfare states, benefits, health care, education, even GDP for years of all countries following this plan. However the debt has exploded again because the problem was not resolved and no action was taken against the banks and bankers involved. They have merely partially recapitalised banks based on governments’ ballooning debts and austerity measures that have been largely symbolic and  ideological have already been imposed which are like a drop in the ocean, with the world again teetering on the brink of economic collapse.

World stock markets Irrational exuberance again but requiring a more dramatic description this time round in world equity markets, with many stock markets around the world registering record highs. The only exceptions being in countries such as Japan where the meltdown was so fierce it has never regained anywhere near former values in 25 years and once down its down, its start again so lie the rest of the world the new base was in 2009 as the world banks and governments tried to convince the masses they had resolved the crisis. This has been fuelled by this pretence but also by the largest amount of money printing, infusions of liquidity through quantitative easing (QE) that there has ever been and as an index ratio to world GDP and contributed to banks ploughing in astronomical sums and the biggest rise on global equities on record in many countries.

Of the three biggest bubbles in history, the one referred to in 1999 was a technology sector bubble that was on a comparable scale with stock market history major bubbles and it collapsed in  2000, although it has been re-inflated again along with everything else in the current super-bubble. But for the general stock market in all sectors combined the current bubble is closed to the 1920’s one that led to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, with further crashes in 1930 and every time it rose in the 1930 fell back again, until WWII changed global economics, along with a human tragedy for millions, acted to boost the economy with demand, quickly followed by new developments in technology following WWII, to become post-war an age of another kind of industrial revolution, a technological one and expansion of capitalism, all before corporatism took over and technology was used to suppress the masses, with lower incomes, longer hours and mass unemployment, as opposed to improve things for them. But as bubbles go the current one is either second the 1920’s one or as the sheer amounts gambled and levels of leverage in so-called investing or rather gambling, way exceeds even the precipitous bubble peak of 1929, this is therefore perhaps the biggest bubble in modern history and more comparable to Tulip Mania or South Sea bubbles of even earlier times. But again as amounts of money in the economic system are at record levels and with vast leverage and the kinds of derivative based investment products and use of high frequency trading, places it even possibly beyond those historic bubbles, making it the biggest bubble in history

Dow closes above 17,000, yet another new record high.

Another day, another new high on Wall Street

Cheerleading advice given on US mainstream TV media in America was now it has reached a new plateau its time to get in:

In 1929 Fisher stated “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau”

Wall Street has for a century been the barometer of world equities and the current position is most closely compared to that of 1929 at the height of the irrational exuberance then where markets were considered to have gone up above a new plateau before the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression.

The volume of trading is vastly larger in modern times compared to 1930’s, but if it goes wrong then so too is the absolute level of risk, with banks again involved in complex derivatives, betting using high frequency trading (HFT) . UK, US and European banks and hedge funds, but especially UK and US are heavily involved gambling and betting on the global markets. Last year on one day the Japanese Nikkei index plunged 10% possibly contributed by rapid responses of high frequency trading to perhaps even an error in the algorithmic programs dictating the trading.

A Serious Drop in Japan’s Stock Market Adds to Wall of Worry

As at the time of the Wall Street crash in 1929, again in 2014 investors in the stock market have also reached a record high level of margin debt:

NYSE margin debt rises in May; first increase since February

Happy Days Are Here Again, a song that is from a film called Chasing Rainbows made in 1929 and a hit in 1930 at the very start of the First Great Depression

Austerity, Poverty, (Un,Under-) Employment, Inequality, Physical and mental health, and Psychological Well-being

A big determinant of absolute poverty is the cost of essentials and cost of living based on things that are unavoidable such as housing, food and shelter and legalistic bills such as Council tax and maintenance security costs such as house insurance. If running a car  legalistic as well as necessary insurance cover. If buying a house with a mortgage insurance requirement as part of the mortgage agreement plus to cover for risks to property in all aspects. Alternatives to buying a home or running a car are not free. Renting can be just as expensive as buying, in fact for anyone becoming redundant after paying a mortgage for years, renting can be a lot more expensive than a mortgage would be. But renting is also often the only means of getting housing when the large amount required to secure a mortgage and maintaining it is not possible on extremely low incomes, no incomes and poor job security. Not running a car cuts the insurance and maintenance aspects, but public transport is expensive, especially so on low and no incomes can be impossible to travel very far and restricts geographical mobility.

 

Most of the so-called ‘new’ jobs have been in London and the south East, although the quality, job security and pay rates of new jobs are not usually referred to, but again of all new jobs, the best paid and most secure may also be in London and the South-East, with the majority of newer jobs outside these areas tending to be in the most insecure lowest pay sectors. Also there can be great disparities within cities, with enclaves of poverty amongst great wealth, often showing some of the greatest divisions of wealth, also with dangers of property prices in areas with more better paid work pushing out lower paid workers who cannot afford to buy or rent property on low incomes. This means there is a poverty problem outside London and the South-east, which is masked by a skewing of economic statistics because of the London and South-east bubble, but also within the same otherwise more affluent regions an increase in poverty amongst the lowest paid, often insecure and unemployed, the poorest.

Since 2010, according to the Adonis Report, 80% of all new jobs have been London and another 10% in 9 other cities, leaving just 10% in the rest of UK spread unevenly:

Guardian article: Lord Adonis review backs devolution as key to ‘balanced economic recovery’

Cost of Essentials and Cost of Living in UK are discussed in the following article on the Living Standards Gap published by JRF:

“Party leaders must close the living standards gap facing the worst-off families”

Vox Political – ” The minimum income is 2-5-times what people get on benefits but still they are labelled scroungers”

According to Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Minimum income standard (MIS) many of the UK poorest will never have the opportunity to be able to achieve even this what is after all meant to be a minimum standard of living:

Guardian: Many British people will never afford an acceptable minimum living standard

Back in 2012 it was found in a report that the average person required £30 per day to cover the cost of bills, as food is one component amongst many essentials.

As the cost of essentials has continued to rise rapidly since then even that data is already out of date and therefore the cost of living is even higher. What the following article points out is it i snot the spending of the poor that counts most when determining an absolute minimum requirement as often the poorest people go without essentials such as food and heating in order to pay bills. This can be mothers skipping meals to ensure children are fed and even then not necessarily able to give them what they most need. Also single people are often under-represented in that benefits for single people are the lowest, although no child costs, but also no child benefits. Single parents too are under-represented as in couples even if one is low paid often one partner brings in some income and cost of living, such as mortgage, rent, heating, utilities, insurance is shared between two adults and any children, but for single people or single parents with children this is not an option. Also being single is often not the choice of the individual, either they have not managed for many reasons, including not being able to afford to socialise through being poor or just two compatible people just not meeting, or to becoming a couple or they have been but have ended up separating or getting divorced, with UK having one of the highest divorce rates in the world, so being single is just as common as being in a relationship.

The next article highlights something that is lacking in many reports, that of data lag, but also when reports are written with the purpose of propaganda dates can be deliberately selected so as to alter the results. As most of the worst cuts in benefits occurred after the data collection of many published reports, this means the situation is already far worse than is indicated in many even recent reports.

All told, essentials make up a very large proportion of the use of income and benefits are often inadequate to maintain even the basic cost of living requirements. This is where austerity and poverty is very under-represented and appreciated in terms of it now becoming absolute poverty in the developed world.

 

Many comparisons are often expressed for the purposes of excusing or belittling the problems of the poor in developed countries by making comparisons with the absolute poverty of living on, for example, £1 a day in the Third world, which is dire, and should not be in the first place. But this simplistic comparison also lacks taking account of the very high cost of living in many developed countries.

UK is one of the most expensive countries in the world to live, just to cover these essential non-negotiable costs. Because of this it would not be possible for anyone to pitch up a tent, along with UK climate and land regulations, Council tax, water rates, plus service such as sanitation and if trying to get to work in urban environments, transport, where to put one suit for interviews etc. and cost of produce in shops, to live on £1 a day. The essential costs now require above benefit levels for non-disabled and the additional sums for disabled are required for additional cost of being disabled, with many having to use these to pay for essentials and with cuts in disability befits also to endure absolute poverty, with even fewer ways out due to limits of disabilities and discrimination by employers.

Many have no choice but to resort to benefits as a safety net because of insufficient numbers of jobs that pay adequate wages to support the cost of living for essentials and then have to endure living with a shortfall of income to meet basic needs, many having to resort to debt or go without essentials, which in effect means many more in the developed world moving from relative to absolute poverty.

In any country there are added problem where there is relative poverty, as inequality in itself causes psychological and social problems, with social division. In developed countries there is sufficient wealth within the macroeconomic system pertaining to each country.  Np one should have forced to be in absolute poverty in rich countries and inequality can be minimised, with everyone having as reasonable as possible lifestyle, and especially equality of opportunities in education and employment as well as all aspects of society. There should not be anyone in absolute poverty, economically there is no reason for it, unless the economics are those of deliberate division and inequality.

World Bank report finds GDP growth in unequal countries, when deconstructed into top and bottom quartiles, that as inequality rises, poor wealth declining whereas wealth of rich increasing:

Ideally underdeveloped countries too should also be able to eliminate or at least minimise absolute poverty too, as the UN and UNICEF have often stated in their mandates for a more equal world and the poverty of the Third world is related to exploitation of the richer developed countries, so also a need for a more equal world too.

Helen Keller > Quotes > Quotable Quote:

“The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all … The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands – the ownership and control of their livelihoods – are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.”

 

 

Psychological and Physical Effects of Relative and Absolute Poverty and Austerity

Effects of poverty and austerity are wide-ranging and noticeably affect the lives of the poor, physically and mentally, with many alarming comparisons available as well as many not often sufficiently accepted in the media and by governments that are working on different agenda, where the poor are given low priority or in unequal countries are a priority in that  they are used a spawns in enabling the rich to get richer, by exploitation or discarded, cast aside.

In psychological terms all these stresses of the poor are manifest by  relative deprivation that adds to immense psychophysical and biological, and even neurobiological consequences of relative and  absolute poverty.

Ongoing blog item shall be added to as appropriate

Homelessness and Housing Shortages, a deliberate plan of inequality, sacrificing the poor

Housing shortage, homelessness and substandard accommodation, squalor, insecurity, Corporatism, Exploitation, Poverty, Austerity for the poor. 

Homelessness and Housing Shortages, a deliberate plan of sacrifice of the poor for the material benefit of the powered elite. Less than 20% of families on average incomes now earn enough to be able to start buying a home in modern Britain:

House prices: eight in 10 homes out of reach of families on average wages

Who can afford a roof over their head?

When one considers how much developed  countries spend on military, or on bailing out the banks and supporting through money printing quantitative easing for the banks, vast sums of money. Also in post WWII when rebuilding and the start of the welfare state with NHS or any country when building homes. In China the mass construction of vast cities, even ones with very few residents, ghost cities and is also if not utilised a vast waste and open to corruption, but is an example of massive infrastructure developments, state funded.

In many countries privatisation has also increased corruption involving profiteering of privatised companies and is a danger for the HS2 project in UK which is planned over a very long period of time, but is concentrated on a single transport link and does nothing to deal with the housing crisis and like many high cost state supported private schemes, which is currently a private owned rail system, so in effect is a subsidy for the private sector and  is open to quick profit syphoned off to directors and put into tax havens. The massive sum of money on this link also does nothing to solve great disparities between regions and cities in terms of jobs, pay and job security.

Homelessness and single vulnerable poor

Single people without families or where any relatives are also in poverty and do not have means to support them are at very high risk of moving from relative poverty to absolute poverty. People can be single, but without financial support for many reasons and many more are in this position than is realised by many researchers even, who often put everyone together, disguising the poorest outliers within broader data sets.

Being a single adult without support of others can happen at any age from becoming an adult. It can happen through bereavement, who may have lost one or both parents early due to illnesses,  disabilities, or be a carer because of  these.  They may have been been fostered, adopted or who have relationship problems, including abuse by parents, foster or adopted parents, or have been in a relationship, left home, only to be abused by a partner. Also where people have problems of drug or alcohol addictions, and disorders where a family cannot cope , so requiring separation for the sake of other members. This can also be due to mental health problems,  for many reasons, why people without  a regular income from a secure job, or redundant, unemployed may have very little if any outside support and are therefore totally reliant on benefits, not for luxury living, as anyone without anyone who can give a financial helping hand doe snot have even the minimum standard of living according to all scales of necessary minimum income needed to live in the developed world and expensive countries such as UK, so is literally a last resort safety net, that is now being removed, exposing the most vulnerable, with nowhere else to go at the greatest risk .

Guardian article: Welfare reform puts single people at risk of homelessness

Homelessness can be seen as a deliberate societal control varying as a means of abandonment of the state enabling more for ‘the haves’ less for ‘the have-nots’, whist serving as deterrent to force millions to take lowest levels of pay possible to survive, anything but be homeless and be grateful to have a job and not fight for better pay.

When the financial crisis struck in 2008, the sheer horror of the rich losing all their monetary net worth caused panic from world leaders and a resolve to do something to save the money of the rich, at all costs. Whether they succeeded or have only temporarily saved them due to a flawed means or by constantly defending the rich against the poor risk future uprisings of poor masses is open to debate and may play out over a longer time period, just as the Great Depression did. But they have sacrificed the poorest, also hit the poor to middle, anyone but themselves. Whilst they initially taking some of the hit due to the rapid meltdown of the stock market between 2008 and 2009, they then resorted to unprecedented scale of money printing to give to recapitalise the banks, reflate housing and stock market bubbles.

Also to engineer ideological austerity of the poor for the profit of the rich has resulted in the rich now becoming the richest they have ever been and the poor even poorer. Wealth inequality has widened to levels last seen around 1900 to 1930 and if it carries on will hit Victorian levels of inequality. They bailed out the banks, in the case of UK up to £1.5 Trillion all told, by various means, most significantly Quantitative Easing (QE) and boosted company profits by lowering tax for corporations and allowing them to get away with paying much less tax or no tax. But governments around the world, with the exception of Iceland have bailed out the banks and sacrificed the poor. To make matters worse for the poorest, governments following deep austerity plans, such as UK have cut benefits and support, forcing them through the cracks they have made in the welfare state that is being actively broken down by political ideological anti-welfare state policies.

When any society decides to abandon the poor en-masse, it is a means of population control accompanied by poverty with inadequate  diets, exposure to cold and damp, unhealthy conditions, with physical and mental health consequences and increased incidences of disease and malnutrition. Effects of living on the streets for rough sleepers are immense, with massive curtailment of quality of life and much higher mortality rates than the rest of the population. Such lowered life chances also exist for those in poorer accommodation, in low paid stressful jobs , insecure employment, unemployed and in debt due to poverty. Life expectancy is massively curtailed for many of the poor and this is not taken account of in artificially costing out for economic statistics, such as the cost to the so-called taxpayer, bearing in mind that everyone is a tax payer and that the poorest tend to pay the biggest proportion in indirect taxes and taxes on essentials. In the way that ‘benefits’ used to support the poor are given a cost, human life itself is not given value by the propaganda, only cost of  supporting life as an index of those fortunate enough not to be in the situation of poverty and despair.

Life for rough sleepers or in and out of hostels and occasional boards in low quality, dangerous environments, having to live with drug users, needles, inadequate sporadic food, usually of low quality and often risky condition, is not a solution for helping those in that situation out of it or to help and treat those with alcohol and drug addictions or to intervene to help to deal with mental health issues. It does the reverse, it encourages drug and alcohol use to try to escape the real world with a sense of desperation, through the use of chemically induced changes of state of mind, of presence, based substances that for a time change perception, an escape from very real hardship, but with terrible costs to pay because of the damage they do.

London Evening Standard: Number of young rough sleepers in London doubles in four years

The cost of supporting homeless would be relatively minimal on the scale of any countries economies, but instead most countries choose to let organisations deal with the consequences the best they can, which can be very limited and sporadic, that rely on volunteers and organisations that do their best with limited funds, facilities and competing between organisations and charities for limited finite sources of funding by a public with more poor themselves struggling to make ends meet, or others with means but wanting to keep more to themselves, but overall which limit the ability for charities to provide a solution, all they can do is do their best and without them people at the bottom would be without support. But having charities does not solve the problem. It is thus through the efforts of those involved in helping to deal with the symptoms, but not having sufficient means to deal with the causes, which are really societal.

Johnny Void: “DWP And Homelessness Charities Link Up To Bully Homeless Benefit Claimants”

Also in a blog by Jayne Linney the further tightening and cutting of support for the most vulnerable and homeless is discussed, along with details of a time limit of four weeks of exemption from actively looking for work, even for rough sleepers whose main priority is not competing with the millions of unemployed and underemployed after too few real jobs, but trying to get enough food to barley survive on, where to rest and sleep, how they can survive on the streets:

House Building, Supply and Demand in a 2-tier economy and Housing Market

Populations of many countries including UK are increasing, but house building Is not following suit. After decades of not building homes to match the population a crisis ensues, but it is a crisis of the poor and of a making by the state, along with an often unrealised sacrifice of more wealthy middle incomes who may be able to afford a decent home, but who are like mice running on an ever faster treadmill, chasing after a smaller and smaller piece of cheese.

 

If economic theories and GDP are looked at, which are in themselves open for criticism and debate, in relation to data collection, interpretation and what it all means to real people in real situations, also with variations depending on where one lives and what circumstances they are in. If immigration is considered, then that means more homes are needed, but immigration over the decades have created wealth and increased demand for local services, often much more so than the so called rich CEOs business leaders and financial services sectors who tend to put their wealth in tax havens and kept within the more exclusive luxury set and closed circles. Many local businesses have developed due to cosmopolitan mixes of populations, as opposed to standardised junk food, gambling, loan sharks, pound shops with cheap and unpaid labour selling goods often sourced by cheap and even unpaid labour, paying much less or even no tax on profits.

All governments engage in some level of control and distribution, trouble is it can be the opposite of wealth distribution for fairness and inequality, but instead upwards, is divisive and intensifies inequality.

 

When a state wilfully chooses not to build homes when the private sector is not building enough affordable homes, based on low incomes and not providing for masses in insecure employment, part-time, zero hour or unemployed.  Mostly the private sector prefers to build the more  expansive and for many even the majority unaffordable luxury developments. This is for  more lucrative new homes for maximum profit not for society. The shortfall where homes are needed to be provided for those who cannot afford to buy a home or to pay often equally exorbitant rents, all geared towards immense profiteering amidst a large base of unemployed and low paid, including a great number in insecure work, causal, temporary , zero hour, minimum wages that were set low and before massive increases in the cost of living inflation for utilities and essentials, required just to live independently, with mass privatisations of what used to be public utilities, adding to costs to accommodate enormous profits, even for fundamental human rights of natural resources necessary for life, of water.

 

Homelessness and the cost in dealing with It needs to be looked at on a national scale and in relation to country wide budgets, as part of society, the infrastructure, sufficient provision for the entire population, within context of the whole economy. This should be case in a more enlightened modern world, rather than the comparatively primitive feudal systems and massive inequalities of such as the Victorian era.

 

As such the cost of immediately removing homelessness would be relatively minimal, with so much great wealth for a large enough percentage of the population, in itself therefore need not be a big issue, but one of fine tuning, redistribution of some of the vast wealth towards solving a problem for those without means or resources to solve it themselves.

 

Much of a country’s wealth is also wasted, frittered away through corruption, people in high places ensuring they more than amply reward themselves from a big slice of the pie. Also by governments deliberately due to being buddies and joint investors of corporations, by not trying to get tax from very wealthy corporations that are partly so wealthy due to exploiting workers around the world. But nevertheless extremely wealthy and not paying taxes. Instead all going to chief executives and suits at different levels, also the cost of military expenditure of many countries is astronomical, often surpassing provision for the poor, as its lucrative, money making and often having investment involvement of governments, corporations and banks.

 

To house all of the homeless would be on the scale of the country’s finances a relatively small cost and have huge benefit to society, be humane, and ironically, if part of a house building programme would add wealth to countries that did this.

 

However those in power realise that this would also bring down cost of housing that is artificially high due to a lack of availability, not based on affordability but based on a shortage and speculators taking the ride to the top, before the inevitable housing crash on the other side of the failed economic policy.

 

 

The new Rachman rentier in an era of Austerity

 

Owning a home has become unaffordable to very large numbers of people, in effect to a new underclass of the poor, back to the days of Victoriana and a neo-feudal era of Austerity.

 

Those without work or doing all they can do part time, casual, temporary, but even secure low waged is not enough to buy a home. Renting has been allowed to rise to as much as mortgages for properties according to affordability being massively overpriced. However deliberately ensuring a shortage of supply of properties results in enough with money, borrowing or speculating driving up the prices temporarily, as it is unsustainable, whilst the poor cannot even get on the ladder in the first place. High cost rents have been supported by a mushrooming housing benefit system, which does not provide any material benefit for the poor, who continue to get poorer, but simply subsidises landlords who often own multiple properties and rake in profits from having so many properties, often assisted by banks who see them as business customers and people renting as just the ‘pesky’ poor people, as business people often see them, paying the rent or as a source of housing benefit.

And now landlords have been given the go-ahead from government to evict people on housing benefit, the poorest are facing evictions, even when they have spent years of time and effort improving the properties they were renting:

The following item from the Daily Mirror gives an example of one landlord owning multiple properties engaging in mass evictions of those on benefits:

For those on housing benefit allowing landlords to not have people on housing benefit means less places where the poorest can go to and all the best rented properties going to those with incomes that cover high cost rents, but for people with low, insecure or no incomes, having to fight with others for the poorest quality housing.

 

Inequality and a return to a Feudalism Class structure and economic system

Relating to macroeconomics Stiglitz (around 53:00 in video) with reference to Piketty ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ describes how much wealth now inherited and so is a reversing of the ability to improve one sown positon, back to previous ages when mush wealth was passed down through families leading to class divides, segregation, even though affordability to get an education through a massively increased cost education system.

 

At 1:03 in the video, Stiglitz mentions GDP is not a good measures of an economy as it does not say who is getting the wealth, it can mask inequality.

Wealth distribution in Holland affected by low taxes on financial products and investments that rich people more likely to have invested in, but higher taxes on essentials, mentioned in relation to economic commentary by Piketty:

https://twitter.com/vBelz/status/483588067593584640

How large differences in wealth have begun a new tax debate

This results in all the previous ways out of poverty being severely restricted for very large numbers and is reflected in poverty, inequality, lack of affordable housing and increasing homelessness.

References

 

Thomas Piketty (2014) Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press.

 

Joseph Stiglitz (2013) The Price of Inequality. Penguin.

 

This item is ongoing and may be added to as appopriate

Occupy, “Keep em kettled in”; time, employment, freedom to think, feel and express

Occupy, the movement that has grown up around the world.

A space with a purpose to protest austerity, inequality, injustice, greed, corruption, destruction of the environment, profiteering over people, violence, wars, plundering poor regions of resources, globalisation, corporate monoliths.

Occupation in terms of jobs can be rewarding in pay, but also in interests, in achievements, in contributing to a better society. It can also be negative in exploiting others, companies exploiting others in society.

Bosses treating staff like servants, bullies getting to the top, corporate psychopaths!

For unemployed, the aim is to get a job for monetary and personal rewards to enable disposable income to afford things they enjoy in spare time when not at work and if fortunate to have job that they enjoy also from the job. Problems arise when income is so low not to enable affordability to do other things, when it all goes on bills, leaving nothing and even worse when even after working, ends cannot be met. When that happens it is more like being unemployed without sufficient means to live, but working and still not having sufficient means to live, to properly be part of an exciting world.

A job becomes merely occupation of the mind, body and soul, lives of meaningless activity, drudgery, slavery.

Unemployment can be used productively personally for the individual as well as it being  a job itself trying to gain employment in  a world of immense competition, uneven opportunities, geographical and material limitations. It is not a level playing field, where connections and location can be even more important.

Unemployment can also free the mind that can be constrained in full time work doing menial repetitive tasks and the all too familiar out of work activities of watching TV or going to the pub, clubbing or hours of engagement in watching sport. Altogether leaving little time to think about anything else apart from carrying out menial tasks at work, drinking alcohol watching football and hours and hours of unreality reality TV.

“Attention spans”

Unemployment can mean a time to think, to experience existentialism, and relive “childhood dreams”

Rewind the Film, Manic Street Preachers:

To look at the world from a new position, not as cog in a meaningless wheel. Like when at university, between times of intense study when students learn and think, they have time to ponder to think about wider issues, existentialism, philosophy, art, literature, music, be creative and develop creativity and creative thought.

Menial work stifles creativity.

 

Governments can become afraid of people who think as they are not so easily led, coerced persuaded by propaganda. This is one reason extreme governments throughout history have cracked down on intellectuals and academics.

 

It could be argued that the fear of unemployed engaging in activities that may seek to protest at the inequalities of opportunities, lack of meaningful work with living wages, what through experience they know is injustice and an often unfair balance towards those lucky enough or having connections enabling them to get the better jobs, leaving others on the scrapheap. This could be part of the reasoning behind occupation in workfare unpaid or pushing into part time zero hour contracts that do not pay a living wage and are insufficient to live on type jobs.

Creativity:

John Cleese on needing time and space for creativity:

John Cleese on the 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Creativity, Essence, Eureka and mental cognitive psycho-neurobiological struggles with social interactions in mental health states, poverty, freedom of opportunity to think, feel, understand and express.

Secrets of the Creative Brain by neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen

“When eureka moments occur, they tend to be precipitated by long periods of preparation and incubation, and to strike when the mind is relaxed.”

Artist Taxi Driver on creativity:

“We don’t want you to dream, we don’t want you to be free.. to be musicians, artists..but to guard self-service checkouts..everyone wants to be someone..why don’t you ask them what their dreams are…make a 100,000 guitars..were going to promote creativity..set-up occupy centres..real books, philosophy society the arts…political awareness, debate support people to think for themselves…finding their dreams…a better society…A future where dreams are possible to realise…without hope, without dreams..about low pay no pay zero hour contracts..about corporations,,this is their society…give out 100,000 guitars, build libraries, centres, filled to overflowing.. they would never do that because they would learn..would take politics by the scruff of the neck..children of the future would own their own lives…The government is about the Disneyfication of creativity, kings princes heroes, war, protectionism.. like robots, unthinking, uncaring, controlled.”

It is seen by authorities, governments that occupation as necessary to control the masses.

No matter how low paid it may be, even for free, anything but let people use the time available to think, to debate, to present alternatives, be creative, produce art, music, contribute with organised vocalised alternatives, reiterate to think or actively protest.

Further control the masses by media propaganda, workers versus workers, poor versus poor:

“blame the poor, praise the rich”

This is occupation of time, of minds, to restrict, constrain, physically in protests and mentally, to be occupied:

“keep em boxed in, keep em kettled in

Create a mistruth so bewildering”:

30 Year War,  by Manic Street Preachers

30-year War Lyrics (Official Manic Street preachers website)

Manic Street Preachers – Futurology website

More on occupation, work, time, labour

Utopian dream turned into a dystopian nightmare by false self-centred greed is good mantra of those in control around the world.

Occupations, working hours, weeks. Instead of technology and higher productivity meaning everyone can work fewer hours for sufficient income, the fear of the establishment, those with the most of freedom has reversed employment improvements since the terrible days for the poor and working classes, the enlightenment of expansion of education and opportunity to the ‘Gordon Gekko’ ‘Wall Street’ “greed is good” ideology of the right and far Right, post-Capitalism and post-Communism, age of the Corporation, record nouveau-riche and return of the old and new aristocracies and oligarchs, landed gentry and peasant workers. Simultaneous Age of Austerity, rather as foretold in Orwell’s future dystopia of Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm.

Past decades and centuries of oppression of the poor, using technological change combined with reducing worker freedoms into widening the wealth divide, with lager numbers working harder for less. Masses not even able to get paid work suffering in poverty, even abject poverty, copying in unfairness in the developed world that has perpetuate din the Under-developed World. Generations of exploitation have resulted in such a system in the Third World, with terrible poverty consequences, disease, damage to life, malnutrition, starvation and masses losing life. All whilst the rich prosper materially and the people in effect put up with, do as they’re told metaphorically. Worn down, too poor and weak, starving, isolated by unaffordable transport, to stand up against a corrupt system. Even worse rather too close to comfort like science fiction dystopia mind -controlled, brainwashed by devious political corporate interest and media, controlled, divided with hate and prejudice, even with poor fighting other poor, whilst the rich carry on getting even richer.

Article by Thomas Frank in publication Salon:

David Graeber: “Spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded”

In UK the reaction to austerity mantra and propaganda, rise of activist protest movements such as UK Uncut, People’s assembly and DPAC:

Radio interview with Chomsky over UK social media activist Mark McGowan, Artist Taxi Driver:

In the interview which took place at MIT in 2013, Professor Chomsky had only listened to a single Artist Taxi Driver social media video broadcast that was played during the audio interview. Based on the one broadcast, he made some interesting observations and gave credit to this type of activism. 

By watching more Artist Taxi Driver videos, it soon appears he too has a very wide grasp of things that are going on, expressed in a different colloquial language to Prof Chomsky, but as Chomsky iterates is just as valid. It is also a way to get across to a wider cross-section of society to academia, but it is academics and activists who expresses such thoughts and ideas, that the mainstream media often ignore or repress.

 

It would have also been interesting to get Prof Chomsky’s reaction to many of the excellent video interviews Artist Taxi Driver has done with a wide range of activists in UK, or to his movie editions of compilations strategically put together in movie length production. 

It is quite a humorous observation, but not critical as it is part of a communication vernacular, of Prof Chomsky regarding Artist Taxi Driver, saying it his way, the use of words and dialectics

Chomsky goes into more detail on the Occupy movement and about a post capitalist society that the world is now in. 

Tony Benn speaking at Occupy camp in London in 2011 before it was removed in 2012:

Our Streets to One world, Our world, worldwide protests:

Some interesting references and links provided in following article on youth protests in Europe:

Protesting Youth in an age of neoliberal savagery

Disabled people Against the Cuts (DPAC) and UK Uncut Protest (2012):

Francesca Martinez speech at Austerity rally in London to highlight UK disabled and poor suffering in Austerity Britain (June 2014):

Russell Brand speaks at the same Austerity protest rally in London (June 2014):

Green activist Caroline Lucas at the London protest rally, speaks about the poor being made to pay the price for the failure of the rich and calls to stop the attack on the poor through Austerity (June 2014):

Russell Brand says of the mainstream media lack of coverage “if people knew what was happening they wouldn’t tolerate it… Ignorance is a necessity ingredient for oppression”

Interviewer: Do you still want a revolution?

Russell Brand answer: ” Yes”

Book review

Book review

Noam Chomsky – Occupy

Review: Occupy by Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky: ‘The Occupy movement just lit a spark’ – video

Further References:
Clive Boddy (2011) Corporate Psychopaths: Organisational Destroyers .Palgrave Macmillan.

Nancy Andreasen (2005) The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius – Daba Press.

Nancy Andreasen website, Ctreativity

Race to the Bottom: In and out of work poverty in reality both getting worse in UK and in many countries

One aspect of the current economic transference of the labour market is increasing in-work poverty, mixing unemployment and underemployment, more as part of a continuum of employment, with part-time, zero hour, and low paid remuneration, based on increasing of inequality. There is a widening as well as record wealth divide in many countries around the world. Some economics workers refer to the Gini coefficient and index, but this itself can be misleading, especially as it inadequately represents the scale of absolute poverty at the bottom and misses off the difference between poor and very poor, which can be the difference between being hard up and affording to live. Destitution, hunger and often is with respect to particularly disadvantaged groups or sectors within society, so that the reality for groups driven into poverty can be far worse than the very general Gini index can accommodate.

The following article also mentions availability of data, like unemployment statistics can be very misleading, or even if in the same direction, can underestimate the real situation and related circumstances for those suffering poverty. Limitations and even worse biased selection of samples of the population used in data collection, with resultant statistical error and questionable validity mean absolute poverty at the bottom is often far worse than statistics based on official available figures:

‘Difficulties calculating inequality and the gini coefficient’

‘In-work poverty’ soars by 59%

Useful reports on In-work poverty by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, discussing the various elements that contribute to falling incomes for the poorest in work:

‘Zero-hours contracts are just one part of the UK’s in-work poverty problem’

Not enough jobs, not enough hours, not enough pay: shocking rise of in-work poverty in Wales revealed in new JRF report

Search of ‘in-work poverty’ from Joseph Rowntree Foundation site provides some interesting demographics and details of reality behind the statistics:

In-work poverty article search

“Child poverty is increasingly a problem in working families”

It is a typical graphical representation from official sources illustrating rising UK in-work poverty statistic (2001/02 compared with 2011/12). It is useful as it highlights a problem of in-work poverty mushrooming in UK, but it is also  problematic to compare 2001 to 2011, as standard of living rose especially so for the poorest, but has rapidly fallen since 2010 and continued to fall since 2011. It also has to be borne in mind that the division is very general rich and poor, whilst in reality there are divisions of poor, with many shades of poor, with the poorest without means or with family able to supplement inadequate means, having the greatest fall in the standard of living in UK.

This statistic has been featured in many recent articles and newspaper reports on in-work poverty in UK relating to the latest in-work poverty situation. However, I have felt every time I read this information on in-work poverty increasing that it is often unintentional, but sometimes intentional affect, by comparing the two of making people think that out-of-work poverty is falling, whereas in-work poverty rising, but in reality both are rising, just in-work poverty is mushrooming. Often headlines state in-work poverty is now a bigger problem than out-of-work poverty. It is actually an unnecessary association, but it is a factor of comparing two variables, namely in and out of work poverty as a percentage of total poverty.

It was important to emphasise that this is something though that is often missed from illustrating the rise of in-work poverty and not a criticism of this graphical representation. In-work poverty is indeed a very real problem in itself, with many more going to work, but still not having a living wage and even benefits increasing due to inadequate income. However benefits have been cut per individual, so although the benefits bill in terms of government expenditure can rise and needs to with real inflation, as opposed to the inadequate official inflation figures is rising even more for the poor, due to the much higher weighting of essentials in the cost of living.

So for those having to rely on benefits, it is a very real cut and those not in work unless they have any other sources of support, such as family and not everyone has family or family that can provide financial support are left even more impoverished. But the way that the comparison appears is a factor in the way that statistics work, or rather are used. A lot depends on presentation of variables and associations, interactions, often with different types of error. There are many good books on statistics used in psychology and economics that explain these various aspects of using and presenting statistics (see recommended reading references note below for some books I like).

The case in point is that it would be interesting to examine further, by including in the graph, on the same scale, increasing poverty both in and out of work, but also still illustrating the massive increase of in-work poverty. This would help to illustrate both problems at the same time. That is, in and out of work poverty are both increasing in the UK. This is also quite possibly the case in many countries around the world that are currently praising themselves on falling official unemployment figures, bearing in mind many countries such as UK also use manipulate statistics to try to show unemployment as much lower than it actually is.

OECD forecasts, based on recent trends, inequality rising and GDP growth slowing in spite of population growth increasing:

Disguised unemployment, making official figures appear not anywhere near as bad as they really are still exists just its not featured in official figures, along with an enormous growth of underemployment, much lower job security and falling incomes of lower to middle incomes in many countries, but especially those following ‘Austerity’ policies such as UK. So Prof. Stiglitz in a lecture on the reality of US along with most of developed world, especially North Atlantic bordering countries, but with macroeconomic linkages throughout the world, still being in a Great Depression (24:00 in video) UK is even worse, but all are in a Great Depression.

The North Atlantic malaise: failures in economic policy

“not just a lost decade, but unless anything is done we could be talking about a lost quarter century..”

References

Joseph Rowntree Foundation website

Recommended reading references for books on statistics:

My favourite books on statistics, especially relevant for psychology, include one of my recent set books Andy Field, ‘Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics’ (4th Ed) (2013) Published by Sage and available as a book or on Kindle. Also the heavy weight book Barbara G. Tabachnick and Linda S. Fidell ‘Using Multivariate Statistics’ (2013) Published by Pearson.