Ed Balls is not an impressive politician, not by virtue of his shrewdness, delivering or occasional principles. Still, you might hope of paid politician, someone who does it for a living, would eventually get the hang of it.
But no, Balls doesn’t, as Neil Schofield argues:
“There’s some nice triangulation there. Balls is trying to play both sides of the street on welfare and benefits, and manages to get in a bit of One Nation rhetoric as well. But the point is that his underlying assumptions are both wrong and, in my view, counter-productive.
The problem with Ed Balls really lies in that second quote, where he continues to use the rhetoric of austerity. Austerity is failing, and there is an increasing body of evidence to show why that is the case – I’ve referred to the IMF’s evidence about the multiplier before. The evidence is increasingly showing that we need precisely the opposite of spending cuts, and that any tax increases should fall overwhelmingly on the wealthier, for reasons of both equity and to ensure that they do not damage demand (Balls’ argument that his scheme should be paid for by reducing the pension tax advantages of those on the highest incomes is very welcome, but misses the point – more spending and an end to austerity would increase tax revenues across the economy as a whole). “
Any compassionate person reading the Where’s the Benefit blog would be struck by the ferocity and persistency of government attacks on the disabled, a Testing Journey and If you can only walk twenty metres you’ll get no help :
“When PIP starts to replace Disability Living Allowance next year anyone who can walk just twenty metres will not qualify for help with mobility. Twenty metres is less than the distance most of the disabled parking bays at my local Tesco are from the door. It’s really not much. Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer get a mobility allowance and as a result will no longer be eligible to lease a Motability car. One day it might be you that needs this.
The government has also left out the phrase “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner” from the PIP regulations. This means that if a person can do something just once, or can push through pain to do it, they might not get help and can’t even challenge it at tribunal. “
The Labour Party has a problem challenging the Tories on this issue, they essentially agree with the Tories’ underlying assumptions as Liam Byrne’s thinking has shown.
It’s a pity that it takes The Children’s Society to point out the downside of Tory policies:
“Half a million soldiers, nurses and teachers will have their income slashed under the coalition’s benefits crackdown, according to a new report. The chancellor’s sub-inflation rise in benefits and tax credits over the next three years will hit a whole range of the country’s most trusted professionals.
Up to 40,000 soldiers, 300,000 nurses and 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose cash, in some cases many hundreds of pounds, according to the Children’s Society. The revelation appears to contradict the government’s stated intention to target shirkers and scroungers, and will raise the temperature of the Commons debate and vote on the plan on Tuesday. “
A reminder, for timid Labour, of what Tory attacks really mean:
“On Friday night Christina Martin posted a link which caught my eye. It was a few lines from a local paper which said that a blind, deaf, tube-fed, non verbal, disabled man from Scotland had been deemed fit for work by the DWP. As a result of not completing the form correctly his benefits will be stopped on 7th June and he will have to access the appeal process to have this decision over turned.
This man has to have 24 hour care and the person who had completed his form for him as his disability prevents him had not included something in the 30 page form which meant that due to that error his money will stop. “
That was not an isolate incident:
Elsewhere, Syrian journalists caught in middle of conflict
In the US, Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower is surprising.
Austria still has issues:
“(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents documented in 2012 by Austria’s Jewish community has doubled from the previous year, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish community said.
Oskar Deutsch told the Kurier newspaper that the Jewish community registered 135 such incidents last year, compared to 71 in 2011.”
Tom Pride’s post on China is worth thinking about:
- China is the world’s largest authoritarian dictatorship.
- About one third of the industrial waste water and more than 90 percent of household sewage in China is released into rivers and lakes without being treated.
- Half of China’s population lacks safe drinking water.
- China’s incredibly high rates of liver, stomach and esophageal cancer have been directly linked to contaminated drinking water.
- In China, in 2008 six babies were killed and 300,000 were left sickened after consuming infant formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
- In summer of 2011, the China government reported 43 percent of state-monitored rivers are so polluted, they’re unsuitable for human contact.
- Most of China’s rural areas have no system in place to treat waste water.
- An estimated 980 million of China’s 1.3 billion people drink water every day that is partly polluted.
- In October 2009, Greenpeace identified five industrial facilities in southern China’s Pearl River delta that were dumping poisonous metals and chemicals—such as beryllium, manganese, nonylphenol and tetrabromobisphenol— into water used by local residents for drinking.
- In March 2010, more than 3.5 tons of “yard-long” green beans contaminated with banned pesticide isocarbophos, were destroyed after being discovered on sale in the central city of Wuhan.
- In Shenzhen, southern China, nearly one third (28pc) of food made with rice flour were found to have levels of aluminium above national standards.
- An undercover investigation in March 2010 estimated that one in 10 of all meals in China were cooked using recycled oil, scavenged from the sewerage drains beneath restaurants.
- Research showed that 10 per cent of rice sold in China was contaminated with heavy metals, including cadmium, some contained up to five times the legal limit.
Bloomberg’s Mapping China’s Red Nobility is excellent for detailing the interconnections and relationships amongst China’s elite.