Examples of Demonisation

A few weeks ago I happened to be at a friend’s house where I had the misfortune to catch one of these ridiculous “reality” shows on TV.  I can’t remember which one but you know the kind: camera crew enters the household of a family on benefits who have tons of kids, the family are given money, they mis-spend it, etc.  On this particular occasion the family had bought an enormous flat screen television with some surround-sound system.  The program edited in loads of shots of the family thoroughly enjoying watching this – shots only a fool would believe were natural – before cutting to the house’s exterior to reveal a broken window and run-down estate.  Isn’t that hilarious?  What an insight into the psychology of the masses: they can’t be trusted to use money wisely, haha, what silly people!

As you can probably guess, I don’t find anything remotely funny about this.  Even if you set aside the obvious exploitation of this dysfunctional family, the sickening broadcast of child abuse for entertainment, shows like this are dangerous.  They paint an image of a typical working class family on a typical housing estate which, for many of us, might be the only conception we have of such a lifestyle.  I’ve been brought up in a fairly wealthy but generally egalitarian area where housing estates do exist but no stigma exists around them – so I’m always quite confused by such ideas.  Clearly, the majority of families on benefits who live in rented housing are not like the families you see on these shows, else the country would be on the verge of collapse.  Instead, I am sure, the shows find examples of the most tragically ‘hilarious’ people they find and then exploit their problems for entertainment value.

It can be debated whether this is part of an intentional agenda or not, but shows like this are, along with the rest of the media, contributing to this anti-benefit backlash we’re beginning to see.  There’s no better example than the Daily Mail’s recent infamous headline over the Philpott case.  Is the story about the tragic and unnecessary death of children?  No, it’s about benefits.  But I bet when they cover a story about tax evasion they don’t bill it as: “VILE PRODUCT OF UNEQUAL UK.”  The more these stories are ground into our culture, the more people might actually believe these lies about the majority of people who have a genuine need for benefits.  Nearly everyone I speak to is of the opinion that our benefit system needs reform and, while they may be right, this is nearly always because of the “benefit scroungers” – usually followed by an anecdotal example of someone they know who leaches the system.  I don’t deny that such people exist, but this frenzy to cut benefits seems to ignore the people who need them most.  What most people don’t seem to realise is that the money lost through benefit fraud is actually quite tiny.

For a detailed further look at this issue, I would highly recommend Owen Jones’ book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class.

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Oxfam Report: Rich Could End Poverty

The charity Oxfam, which deals with efforts to tackle poverty throughout the world, has released a report which should come as no surprise: that the 100 richest people in the world have enough money to cure world poverty four times over.  Earning an annual amount of $240 billion, these billionaires have the ability to alleviate the suffering of millions, yet don’t use it.  As the world’s poorest starve in these times of economic depression, the richest 1% have in fact seen their income increase by 60% over the last twenty years.  In light of these facts, criticisms against France’s Socialist Government increasing taxes on the rich or our own government’s targeting of the poor through cracking down on ‘benefit scroungers’ when far more is lost through tax evasion, are completely unfounded actions.

Imagine a prosperous, peaceful and equal (how else would they avoid destroying their own race?) alien civilisation were to conduct a survey on our planet.  They would examine Europe, America, Australia, Japan, etc. and see very prosperous nations with very healthy, well-nourished people in them, living on the height of our civilisation’s technological advances.  And yet they would also notice people sleeping rough on streets in the rain.  They would then look at Africa and Asia, seeing mass hunger and illness and death, yet some incredibly well-off people interspersed throughout.  On deeper analysis they would see that our world has enough materials and food to feed everyone, but one half of the world gets most of it.

If they didn’t then destroy our planet to stop us spreading throughout the Universe, they would be very naive.

Report: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cost-of-inequality-oxfam-mb180113.pdf