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Slice of Life - welcome to England

The problem with writing a blog is that you really ought to write something daily, or at least every few days. But the sad fact is that my life just isn't that interesting.
Sometimes I just don't have anything to say.

Sometimes I have to look for things to say.

And sometimes stories come from nowhere.

Welcome to a night in Lebanon...

Rioting in London, picture from Yahoo!
[picture from Yahoo!]

No - wait... Holy crap! This... is... London?

You know, I sort-of understand what started this - and I don't mean that guy that the police shot, that's just a foil. It is years of corruption and mismanagement. Years of Labour lies and outright thievery, followed by the ConDem lot trying to fix a very broken thing by screwing over the most vulnerable. Pay, benefits, and pensions are either frozen or increase by mere pennies, while petrol and domestic fuel prices rise - a friend wrote to me to say he has just bailed on Southern Electric following an email (not a letter, an email!) "apologising" for electricity increasing by 11% and gas increasing by 18%. Oil companies, meanwhile, keep declaring record-breaking profits. No, there is no broken pipeline in Nigeria, no, there is no jittery Arab with his hands on a big valve and dollar signs flashing in his eyes. It's the CEOs and shareholders who are making is all bend over and take it up the backside so they can get obscenely rich, for they know we pretty much do not have any other choice.

What the hell? I'd be annoyed too. Is our pay going to rise to account for all of this? Of course not, we're on some artificial "cost of living" or some useless excuse that raising wages of low-paid workers will adversely affect the economy. Ha! Like the "economy" is in any fit state to begin with. Prices rise, pay doesn't, and daily you hear of yet another company laying off a couple of hundred workers. I'm neither an economist nor a mathematician, yet I can see the bloody obvious...

I have a friend who lives in a remote area. Remote equals lack of jobs. If proposed plans to restrict benefits to long-term unemployed are implemented, including the idea of cutting payments to people who haven't worked in <x> time, how is he going to fare? He would work, if there was work. If anything, a large organisation looks set to downsize and move operations, meaning yet fewer jobs.

Britain is severely broken. Perhaps all those Eurosceptics who seem to think everything is a-okay ought to step back and see what a crappy cesspool your country has become. This is in part due to greed. This is in part due to mismanagement. What does Britain create? You know why Germany and France are the powerhouses of Europe? It is because both have a strong work ethic, and because both produce. The company I work for - a fair bit of that is purely for export. And why not?
So I ask you - what does Britain produce? Why were so many jobs and manufacturing opportunities allowed to be pushed off overseas? Why didn't the government step in to provide incentives to keep these jobs in the UK? Fair enough, they probably don't give a toss about 250 employees in the big scheme, but let that happen enough, the numbers rise to an important number.

Couple this with a breakdown of disclipline. You know, when I was a kid I was abused by a policeman. He smacked me across the side of my head. I don't recall why, but I know the way I was back then and I can say I probably deserved it. These days, he'd dare not touch me for fear of impinging on my Human Rights and winding up with a lawsuit.
Screw Human Rights. Their job is to keep the peace, and if that means smacking some smart-mouthed little asswipe, then that should be within their job remit. Whining and whinging aside (for the working class British excel at being drama queens when it suits), any half-competent arbitrator ought to be able to tell if the officer intended abuse, or a short sharp dose of 'correction'.
Knowing the sort of child I was, I'd probably have hit me harder.

The sad thing is, there will be people reading this with an "oh my GOD!" expression on their faces. Let's up the ante a little, shall we? My mother smacked me, and I will smack my children (regardless of what "the law" says), should I have any. I do not feel hated or abused, I still live with my mother and I love her very much. I like to believe I have grown up to be a polite, decent, and reasonable person. Not the sort of person to knock up a fourteen year old and spend my days scoring and knocking over grannies for their pension pittance.
Perhaps it is to do with environment, that I didn't grow up in a dull hopeless sink estate. Or maybe it is because there was discipline in my life. If I did bad things, I suffered. If I did good things, I was rewarded. After a time, the suffering and rewarding faded away, but by then I knew right from wrong.
If you can't instill discipline, how can you suitably guide your children? Oh, wait, these laws are probably thought up by upper-class people who have scary nannies looking after their children. Well, reality ain't quite like that.

Then there is the education, what with pseudo-degrees that are increasingly worthless, teachers who are either useless or disillusioned beyond the point of caring any more, a curriculum and system that permits a shocking number of children to leave school functionally illiterate, plus the recent idea that so-called universities can charge even higher fees, perhaps to cover the cost of printing up all those degrees in "media studies". So what is the purpose of school these days? Once upon a time it used to stand for something, and I bet there are many teachers who long for those days, but they just aren't getting the support they need. Why spend twenty grand on educational resources when a minister can use it to tart up a second property?

Al Murray was quite correct when he made frequent references to "Broken Britain", but I think what saddens me is that it is likely that the government will try to appease the greater public (i.e. not the rioters), they may pass a law or two, they may pledge additional policing, with the underlying problem being completely ignored, that being the sense of "Rise up against the Man who keeps oppressing you, and take it to the streets". After all, many of these are the people with literally nothing to lose.

Okay. Fine. Go urinate on the doorstop of Number Ten. But at what point does being angry at The Man lead to...


Why are we seeing scenes like this in the capital of a reasonably prestigious country? Why are we seeing looting, people walking off with stuff, smashed windows, burning cars, buses, and homes in the capital and other large towns? Where does being pissed off turn into terrorism? Where does destroying your neighbourhood ever seem like a good idea?

Tuesday, police leave and training were canceled. Everybody on the job. I don't know, I think by now with London seemingly calmer (all the good stuff nicked, I guess) but violence spreading elsewhere, it might have been time to call in army support. Screw these people's Human Rights, if this is their idea of how to behave, pin 'em down then hang 'em up on charges of terrorism.

But, also, perhaps instead of reimbursing MPs for cutting their holidays short (which is a spectacularly bad time to make such an announcement, and reeks of the sort of greed and Me-Me-Me attitude causing tensions in the first place), perhaps we ought to take a good hard look at ways for the country to improve itself. For the disenfranchised poor are as much members of the community as the Toffs. Is it fixable? Will anybody really try?

Remember, this is the city that in less than a year will be hosting the Olympic Games. Would you feel safe?


Footnote I

Some comments, perhaps by dim Brits or foreigners, are calling for the police to be armed. This, I believe, would be a terrible idea. For a policeman with a gun is what originally sparked this problem (and, as it seems, the story is changing day by day, and not for the better I might add). However what we see is a bunch of Hoodies roaming the streets smashing windows and setting fire to stuff. Seemingly because they can, because feel they have power over the situation, and rather than do anything useful with their power, they rampage. It would be fine and dandy to think of the police turning up, pulling out their M16s, and mowing the bastards down.
Only that will lead to the Hoodies seeking out weapons for "protection", and before you know it, emmigrating to the Middle East would suddenly seem like a viable solution compared to the gun battles in the inner cities.
Really, bricks are slow and visible. Doesn't help much if you get hit by one, but there are only so many bricks a f**kwit can throw at any given time. Swap bricks for bullets, you're taking a whole different degree of "Oh Crap!".
This is why guns should be the last resort, not standard issue.


Footnote II

In a glowing moment of heartwarming, the day following the worst of the riots in London, the very maligned "social media" that is thought to have been a factor in a lot of this was used to organise hundreds of people to help in a clean-up operation.
Cleaning up London, picture from EuroNews broadcast
[picture from EuroNews broadcast]

The number of helpers far outweighed the number of rioters, and while scenes such as the ones in the main part of this blog entry are terrible and news-worthy across the planet, it is vital that this side of the story is shown as well, and my hat off to EuroNews for including it. Because this shows that there are many decent people in the country, and that there is hope.
All we need now is strong leadership to recognise the value of this.


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