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"Setting the world to rights"...one blog at a time! Plus anything else that comes to mind

Friday, 14 September 2012

Religious views

Today I had occasion to respond to someone's reaction to the bombing in Libya. The person was pretty upset, quite naturally, but spoke against the Muslim religion rather than the individuals. I've set out my response below. Any comments please? I believe I'm right in what I say but I'd be interested to know what other people think.

"I’ve been reading the papers and Chris Stevens seems to have been a remarkable man, I wish there were more like him in the world. I agree, what has been done is outrageous. It’s outrageous that someone who has worked so hard for peace and stability has been killed, along with his fellows. It’s outrageous that anyone would attack innocent people in the name of God, or Allah or any other. I don’t disagree with any of your comments on the appalling reaction to something that is frankly not worth the attention it’s been given. However, I can’t bring myself to blame the religion itself. Atrocities are committed by different religions for different reasons. I’m not a historian and my understanding of the world is naive to say the least. However, as I understand it the Crusaders invaded the Holy Land because they were convinced they had the right; southern Irish bombed innocents in London because the UK supported the Northern Irish in their decision to be part of the UK, a division originating in the differences between Catholics and Protestants. Everywhere in the world there are constant reports of one religion battling another in some way or another, even different sects within the same religion. I’m the only Christian in my family, the others are non-believers. One member is even antagonistic towards all religion believing they are all evil and most of the word’s ills are caused by religion. It’s hard to argue against it when you look at the News but I still believe it’s not the religions, it’s the individuals. I could have blamed the Irish for the fear I experienced working in London in the late ‘70s, ringing round friends to make sure they were safe after one bombing or another but I know some northern and southern Irish and they were as sickened, and scared, as I was. I also know Muslims, have known Jews and one or two of the less mainstream religions. Please, please don’t let hate into your heart. Fomenting hatred and division is something these madmen/monsters/idiots would like to do. I’m not a pacifist, I’ll fight if I have to – in fact I can be a pretty antagonistic person - but I like to fight the right people. I agree with you, appeasement is wrong and I wish I knew a better way but perhaps we can at least act carefully?"

Saturday, 1 September 2012

'Work scheme is "slave labour" '

There's an idea currently touted for a work scheme for youngsters who have just left school.

'18-24 year-olds who have spent less than 6 months in employment since leaving school or college will have to work at least 30 hours a week to get their £56-a-week job-seeker's allowance. They will also get a guaranteed 10 hours a week help preparing their CVs and searching for a job'.

The intention is to try to enourage a routine of work so they don't become used to a 'benefits lifestyle'. Benefits will be with-held if they don't comply.

There is the usual outcry of 'slave labour'.

Good grief! Slaves are made to work without pay, these youngsters are simply being asked put something back into society in return for benefits in a way that will benefit everyone else while imparting a work ethic. Why is that so wrong?

If the proposal were for them to work for commercial business I would not be so supportive (I believe there was such a proposal but it seems to have foundered) because there are too many employers out there who would abuse the system. However, the proposal is for the youngsters to work for charities or community groups. This is otherwise unpaid work and not taking paid employment away from anyone else. It may not be their dream job but how many of us are in our dream jobs?

One stated objection has been that it would be preferrable to spend the money on courses to give them marketable job skills. Ahem, what exactly is the point of the education system we already have in place if not to provide this? These people have already, supposedly, been through the system and are now as educated as they are going to get, highly qualified or otherwise. They are now out the other side and out of work. Why would we want to spend yet more money on yet more courses, effectively deferring the problem, without any return?

Preparation for life cannot go on indefinitely, eventually life has to be lived.

Frankly, I would like to see this work-for-benefits system extended to other groups of unemployed people, not just school-leavers. It just needs to be thought through and set up properly in the first place.

So long as they have enough time free each week to search for paid employment and attend job interviews where is the downside? Perhaps there is one but I haven't found it yet.

Any thoughts out there?