Category Archives: Chomsky

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

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