A fear of… well, everything, but mostly change #EURef

This whole referendum campaign has been awful. All it has done is divide the nation even further. The only winners in this are the Conservative party, because whichever way this goes they’ll be able to say they couldn’t do certain things because of the outcome, in the same way they’ve used the “Labour created this mess” line for the past six years.

There is so much misinformation flying around from both side, it really has shown politics up to be the filthy, corrupt mess we all know it is, and that’s why I’ve stayed out of posting anything other than fact-based articles until now. The truth is that we don’t know what effect an exit would have, either on the economy or on immigration figures, but both sides have been pushing fear regardless.

I don’t want to live in a world of fear. I want to live in a world of opportunity. I want to live in a world where the vulnerable are looked after to the same degree as the most privileged.

And that brings me to my vote. I’m not scared of change. Indeed, I would suggest that if the world was less scared of change, we would make progress at a much faster rate. If we could open ourselves up the fact that due to technological advances we no longer all need to work (and haven’t since the seventies), then we could create a world far more equal and full of opportunity than the one we already live in. Full employment is not something to aspire to. We should be looking towards near-zero employment.

With near-zero employment there would be no wars, there would be no fear of immigrants taking your job, there would be no fear of loss of control, there would be no fear about job insecurity, because your needs would already be met. Want to know more? Start with The Choice Is Ours or Paradise or Oblivion.

Anyway, I digress. As I said, I’m not scared of change. However it has to be considered that throughout history, at times of significant economic change, it’s the most vulnerable who are the worst affected. You only have to the look at the effects of austerity to see that. If there is a shortage of any kind during the transitional period, it will be the people at the bottom that suffer, not those at the top.

I might be able to consider voting leave more seriously if we didn’t have a government that has proved itself keen to exploit the vulnerable at every opportunity, but the humanist inside of me is the overriding factor.

If we’re to bring about genuine peace, then we need to work more closely with our neighbours, not isolate ourselves from them. Yes, the EU needs a lot of work. Yes, the EU is corrupt – as is all politics. Yes, the Remain campaign has been as full as misinformation and lies as the Leave campaign.

But it we want to change that, until such time as we are genuinely ready to start talking about a Resource Based Economy, then we need to remain part of the conversation, not the neighbour everyone is talking about behind their back.

I’m voting REMAIN on Thursday 23rd June.

Screwed in all directions

I’m seething.

Having just got my head around the government’s latest budget, and trying to work out how it will affect my disabled girlfriend (summary: income reduced, and outgoings increased), I’ve just got in to a lovely letter from HMRC. A threatening letter, in this government’s usual condescending tone. Here, take a look yourself.

HMRC_letter

So, let’s go through those key points, shall we?

My self-employment needs to be done on a commercial basis, with a view to making a profit

Oh, silly me! Here I was deliberately trying to lose money that I don’t have, to make my life even more difficult.

My self-employment needs to be done regularly and in an organised way

Fair enough. Well, that is, if I trusted this government to define what “regularly and organised way” means. I take it that the inspectors will fully understand the showbiz industry, will they? They’ll know that there’s no such thing as consistent work? They’ll understand that 95% of actors are unemployed at any one time? They’ll understand that you could make one year’s salary in one day, or no salary at all for several years, for reasons out of your control?

And what does “organised” mean? I spread myself across as many business types as I can just so that I can make ends meet. Will the government inspector view that as disorganised? I strongly suspect so, because as usual, this is another exercise to take money from the people that need it the most.

I may not qualify if I don’t make a profit

Brilliant. So instead of going after Google and Amazon, they’d rather take a few hundred quid off a sole trader who is struggling to make a profit. Someone that spends that lavish income on luxuries like food and toiletries. With no knowledge of their background, their endeavours, or the intricacies of any given market.

They may want to inspect my business records

Again, fair enough – come and have a look. But why are you wasting tax-payers resources in pursuit of a few hundred quid (which you won’t get, by the way, because I’ve nothing to hide) when THERE ARE BUSINESSES OUT THERE THAT OWE BILLIONS IN TAXES?

You know what? Don’t even answer that.

Why am I so upset? Well, let’s look at my current financial situation – laid bare:

Income: Part-time monthly salary- £470 approx
Self-employment for 2015-16 – total £1400 so far – approx £116 pcm on average (skewed by the fact that £700 of that came from October alone)

Expenditure: Rent+bills, car tax, savings (£10pcm!), phone bill, credit card repayment, car insurance, computer finance, WWE Network – total £610 approx.

TOTAL: A loss of £24. You may notice that apart from the WWE Network (at £9.99pcm) there are no luxuries in there. Even if you were to remove my car costs, I would spend twice that amount on public transport in a month.

You’ll see then, that my working tax credit covers my living costs and nothing else.

Oh, and by the way, in managing a social enterprise, a community website and a community festival, on top of part-time employment and pursuing paid acting work, I generally work at least 60 hours per week.

Now my business decisions lie in the hands of a government that doesn’t understand community enterprise. A government that could decide that I haven’t made enough profit for their liking. A government that only sees the word PROFIT in front of their eyes when they make decisions with community services. A government of multi-millionaires that don’t understand that you can start a business with no money, but to compensate you have to give it extra TIME.

The biggest irony is that if I stopped my claim and closed my businesses, I could then be forced to do “community work” while claiming JSA.

Now this alone I could stomach if they weren’t hitting my girlfriend doubly-hard at the same time.

My partner has MS and is unable to work. In today’s budget, another raft of cuts to disability benefits were announced. At the same time, her entitlement to housing benefit and council tax reduction were being reviewed by the Labour council. It’s likely that not only will her income be reduced, but the small amount she receives to help manage her condition will now have to be spent on additional costs forced on her by local government – namely making up the shortfall in housing benefit, and council tax reduction.

And this all on the same day that Gideon announced MORE tax cuts for higher rate tax-payers, and for companies that don’t pay what they owe anyway.

It’s easy to see that this government are coercing people to take their own lives. I’ve had too many conversations with vulnerable people recently that are in complete and utter despair because it doesn’t matter how hard they work, or how many hoops they jump through, this government is making their lives tougher by the minute.

No one that I have spoken to wants anything more than their basic human rights – the right to shelter, heat, food, and to live without persecution.

I live in one of the richest countries in the world. The rich are getting richer.

How are those struggling bankers doing?

Cake

My disabled girlfriend just asked me for a slice of cake. I had to say no. See, I’ve decided to adopt the Conservative approach to cake.

Unfortunately, I explained to her, the purchase of the cake was funded by HARD WORKING PEOPLE, and HARD WORKING PEOPLE didn’t want people who don’t work as hard as her to have access to the luxuries that they can’t have, because despite the fact that they are HARD WORKING PEOPLE, they are still unable to afford cake.

She protested, so I explained that 0.1% of cake benefit claims are fraudulent, so I’ve adopted a policy of guilty-until-proven-innocent, and if she wanted access to the cake, she’d need to go for a fit-for-cake assessment.

I then reminded her that if she wanted the cake badly, she could apply to the access-to-cake fund. But as soon as she looked in the opposite direction I moved the money to my wallet. “Sorry,” I responded disingenuously, “we don’t have enough money to fund your cake.”

She really wasn’t happy about this, so I introduced a new rule in the house. Vulnerable voices were are allowed to campaign against rules in the six months prior to a cake purchase. However, if she incorporates and pays me a big sum of money, I’ll happily allow her to influence future rules.

Next, I told her that she didn’t need the cake, as I’d looked in her fridge and found some carrots. Clearly she was wasting the money provided by HARD WORKING PEOPLE on cake that she didn’t need. She’d have to learn to budget.

I then explained the situation to her landlord, who, upon finding out that she was claiming cake benefit, asked for six months rent in advance.

She kicked up a fuss, saying that she’d worked hard until her disability made it impossible to work. But I ignored that, because I know that it doesn’t matter any more. We can’t afford to give non-HARD WORKING PEOPLE cake for doing nothing any more, because if we did, we’d have to take money away from the banks and THAT WOULD LEAD TO BANKERS LEAVING THE COUNTRY, WHICH WOULD INITIATE ARMAGEDDON.

Okay, so it's a chocolate roll, but the point remains

Okay, so it’s a chocolate roll, but the point remains

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