Budget 2015

Jul. 8th, 2015 11:30 pm
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (woman thinking (Joseph Kleitsch)
Well, today was the Budget. I've been very lucky today; the changes they're making don't shaft me, though they do a hell of a lot of other people. I've got friends who aren't sure yet how they're going to be affected - we're still trying to clarify, for example, whether contribution-based ESA will behave in the same way as regular ESA under the changes, or whether it'll be eliminated as has previously been discussed. I talked to a lot of friends today and people are variously bemused, scared, despairing - and that's just the disabled people I know.

Maintenance grants for low-income students are being abolished and replaced with loans (because students aren't in enough debt, apparently). And while the Chancellor huffed and puffed a lot about how great the Tories are and how much they value the institutions of the BBC and the NHS, when you read below the lines, they are notably undermining them and still working towards their privatisation. The National Living Wage, meanwhile, is a joke - it'll be lower than the existing minimum wage. Correction: very much to my surprise and pleasure, this is wrong: it will in fact be higher, which just shows the need not to report stuff without checking. Details of this, and further fact-checking of the Budget claims, can be found here: https://fullfact.org/factcheck/economy/budget_summer_2015_osborne_harman-46357

It's not all bad news - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) mounted a courageous action in which they completely blocked Westminster Bridge and the front of Parliament, ensuring that George Osborne had to be taken to deliver his speech via an underground route. I don't know how well covered this been in the mainstream media, but I urge you to share the YouTube videos wherever you can online - it is so, so psychologically important that people, both disabled and able-bodied, see resistance; that they see ordinary people like them occupying public spaces and communicating our message. Chunkymark, the Artist Taxi Driver, has various bits of footage of DPAC: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGThM-ZZBba1Zl9rU-XeR-A

Something I've been thinking about for the last couple of years is the fact that we're living through history, but history is often recorded in a biased way. We have to make sure that this doesn't happen - yes, we have to fight austerity and prejudice now, but we also need to look to posterity and record our experiences and observations in every way possible. I'm not just talking about the internet - if you've spent long enough online, then you've seen a lot of websites come and go. What I'm saying is, don't leave our cultural repository of these events to any one ephemeral medium or platform. Get the message out every way you can.

Please note that this is a public post. I welcome your comments but wanted to highlight this because I know this affects some of you in very personal ways and I wanted you to be aware in case you are sharing personal details.
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
If you're a government body in Northern Ireland,  this question may have a surprising answer.

I had a big, rambly, ranty post about how the Roads Service is destroying a medieval archaeological site of rare extent, preservation and value. About how despite its existence being well documented (mapped since the 19th century! listed! known!), the decision was made to build a road through it to facilitate Fermanagh's hosting of the G8 conference. About how often Northern Ireland's heritage and tourist sectors between them drop the ball at valuing, preserving and promoting the ancient Irish heritage which fascinates the rest of the world. But I'd rather you hear from people with cooler heads, greater eloquence, and expertise in the field of archaeology. To kick off, here's today's news:

"'No-go zone' imposed around Enniskillen crannog" - BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19053339
Staggeringly, archaeologists haven't just had to fight the Roads Service on this - no, they've had opposition from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. You know, the umbrella body which contains the heritage service? And you can read about the social media campaign to preserve the site, along with a fantastic evocation of its archaeological value, here:

Saving Northern Ireland's Noble Bog - Archaeology.org
http://www.archaeology.org/issues/81-1303/trenches/531-northern-ireland-bog-crannog

For a revealing perspective on the deeper problems within Northern Irish commercial archaeology, let's hear from Robert M. Chapple, the archaeologist who got fired for alerting the media and public to this nonsense:

Empire of Dirt: time to call time on commercial archaeology in Northern Ireland?
http://rmchapple.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/empire-of-dirt-time-to-call-time-on.html
He wrote this two weeks ago, and I'd guess his prediction about not being consulted has come true - he certainly wasn't mentioned by name in this morning's Good Morning Ulster coverage of what he rightly calls the crannog fiasco. 

I admire him both for his shedding light on a wretched state of affairs AND the fact that he works in quotes from Conan the Barbarian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Die Hard and Watchmen. Clearly, he is of our people.

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I know I owe you guys replies to comments on my last post - I'm on the run at the moment, but just had to get the above off my chest...

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cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (Default)
"What can the cat-posters hope to gain?"

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