Can we sue the Government?

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First posted 23.06.14 by Julijuxtaposed

 

Can we sue our government?  I don’t know how feasible this is.  There is no research in this post.  This is because, not only am I no expert – not on anything actually (though I think I have more inkling than I’m allowing in this post) – but I am sensible enough to know that I could research until the cows come home and it will still come down to the will and authoritative arguments of those who are actually qualified – and maybe a jury.  This is just a layperson putting an idea out and into the ether.

Unless one lives on another planet, is one of the deliberately deaf and blind Alright-Jacks or the I’ll-only-pay-for-mine Brigade, one can’t fail to register the growing inequality of treatment, wealth/prosperity and opportunity perpetuated by this Government.  For those with eyes to see, the march towards a fascistic system is clearly in view.  With mass subjugation by serfdom, corporate control and media-politico doublethink, many woken people have been rightly growing increasingly concerned for some time.  And angry.  So very angry.  And so justifiably so.

We have no mechanism as a citizenry, to hold our governments officially to account, aside from elections.  They fixed parliamentary terms with no counter-balance to get rid of an administration before a General Election and tell us they think an election every five years is sufficient, as though we should think ourselves lucky to get that.  They don’t even think we need a proper power of recall when it comes to individual MPs!  It’s just not good enough, is it?

Can’t We, the People, bring a class action against an entire government?  Here, through our own British Justice system.  Obviously I have this government in my mind, specifically but, absent the parliamentary will to write such a vehicle into Law as would rebalance our power, I’d also like us to try and set a precedent.  Let’s face it: this Coalition is not the first and, unfortunately, probably won’t be the last to abuse us through abuse of office.  Can’t we sue them for:

Breach of contract/merchantable quality
Reckless endangerment
Negligence/Malpractice
Extortion/Slavery
Fraud/Insider trading/Accepting bribes
Fiduciary incompetence
Oppression of legal, human rights

Obviously we can’t sue them just because we don’t like government policy, albeit that we don’t like government policy.  It has to be grounded in more than mere opposition to political colour or the failed aspirations of a manifesto, particularly when the respondents are a Coalition.  As I said, I’m no lawyer or constitutional expert but surely there must be at least one valid charge on that list, (whether or not they are all correct legal terms) or a charge I haven’t thought of, that entitles us to seek criminal or civil justice within our own legal system.  Scare the pants off ‘em I say!  The whole damned lot of them!  Surely there is a range of ‘expert witnesses’ on whom we could call and there must be organisations, lawyers, economists, anthropologists and other relevant academics who could help us build a case?  Perhaps We, the People, need our own version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement… 😉

Two High Risk Strategies: Apathy and Revolution

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From Julijuxtaposed

My thanks to Russell, without whose timing I may have written about something else…

Apathy: lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern:
Origin: early 17th century: from French apathie, via Latin from Greek apatheia, from apathēs ‘without feeling’, from a- ‘without’ + pathos ‘suffering’

Is apathy the right word for the public’s attitude to politics and the democratic process?

Is there really a lack of interest? Perhaps in the current content spewing from most mainstream mouths but this is not the same as a lack of interest in the issues.

Is there really a lack of enthusiasm? Perhaps for the direction in which said spew wants to take us. Perhaps for some issues: immigration gets some people very heated, for instance, whereas others refuse to see it as an issue worthy of so much time.

Is there really a lack of concern? I should bloody well hope not! Considering the political and the personal are irrevocably intertwined, how can one not be concerned? – Unless one has managed to completely detach from all national/global systems by living free in the woods or on another planet, never needing any assistance from anyone for anything. Ever.

Modern Politics, like religion used to be, is the vehicle by which a Society constructs itself. How can any individual or group maintain a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern for the very processes which determine and govern with so much inescapable relevance and influence? To sustain that level of detachment beyond a temporary knee-jerk reaction, surely takes some ignorance or selfishness? It is a myth to assume that individual or collective apathy can either be sustained or helpful except to the interests of the most powerful. Apart from pleasing the most libertarian, anti-government types, all it does is leave far too much to chance and the presumption of or dependency on the goodwill of others. Abstention from voting, especially continual abstention, is about as conducive to progress as a toddler stamping his foot. Do people really think that not voting will bring forth the altruistic service of our politicos; that they will correct themselves in the face of such meaningless punishment? No one in secure authority gives a shit. They don’t need to.

Far better, I think, to turn out to vote and spoil one’s ballot in the absence of a palatable choice. At least spoiled ballots show you’ve noticed and care. And they are counted. After all, it is one of the few official platforms we have through which to exercise choice and show our consent or disapproval. If those who currently subscribe to the apathy label were to turn up and spoil their ballots, would this not go further towards speeding up politicians’ incentive to do more than pay lip-service and start to take us seriously? They could not so easily use the ‘disenfranchised’ argument with such carelessness nor inflict the response of using their grassroots as an apologetic excuse buffer because it would already have been made clear that their manifestos didn’t cut the mustard. Imagine if the spoiled ballots in a General Election outnumbered the ticked boxes? Besides, it’s hardly as though it excludes us from organising other platforms simultaneously. I’m pretty sure we can multitask.

Revolution:
1, a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system:
2, an instance of revolving: revolution about the axis of rotation
Origin: late ME, from Old French, or late Latin revolutio(n-), from revolvere ‘roll back’

Is revolution the best or only response to our malaise?

Maybe, but it is also like rolling dice. Revolution is another one of those generalising, shorthand words we throw around with casual ease. I have. This is because I hate what our present government is doing and also what other governments and the corporatocracy are doing all over the world. But I could have said the same thing about the Labour Administration in its last years as well as the Tory one before that. And probably, those older, would cite an earlier regime. But that’s because since, well, forever, it has always been that the solutions to the reasons for our discontent have been piecemeal and hard won. So, ‘roll back’ to what? To when? The golden age when we all thrived?

Rotate until we’re back where we started? Revolution usually comes when the causes of frustration reach a critical mass, something snaps and along comes momentum. This invariably makes for an indeterminate period of deadly uncertainty and violence. The initial gratification is short-lived and it usually chews up and spits out those who start it and theirs is rarely the enacted vision when it is all ‘over’. The leaders of the new epoch are usually those who had the power and/or opportunity to fill a vacuum. That does not guarantee a successful outcome for everyone else. I’m not saying no hard revolution under any circumstances. More that we should be careful what we wish for because this sort of revolution is a risk of unknowable proportions, the kind of which should be a last resort.

Some people talk about a revolution in terms of ‘evolution’ but this is much more akin to natural adaptation. In this context it involves a shifting of the psyche; an altered perspective because of changes in thinking and/or direct experience. Truly progressive shifts in consciousness come about over time and rest more within the domain of the spiritual. It is the sort of shift that is seen as revolutionary in hindsight. It cannot and should not be commanded or forced: to do so is to manipulate Free Will and that is an unsustainable and black magic.

As I’ve said elsewhere: it took us a very long time to get into this mess so ‘fixing’ things will certainly not be a quick affair (with or without a revolution). Plus, one person’s version of fixed is going to be another’s vision of a nightmare and, whatever my politics or my view of progress, I don’t want it to be at the cost of causing misery to another. I know what that’s like. I’ve also no time for the notion of a utopian view. It’s a romantic sounding synonym for dictatorship unless everyone shares exactly the same vision and how often does that happen? If there is a utopia in our earthly destiny – and there may be – I believe we might be looking in the hundreds or even thousands of years, for it must create itself organically and our species is nowhere near sufficiently evolved.

That doesn’t mean we don’t need leaders. We do. Not the command types or would-be messiahs to follow blindly and who do our thinking for us. That would just be another form of abdication or surrender; a choosing to be children that takes us right back to chance on another’s utopia. We need leadership that comes more in the form of inspirational thinkers and creative visionaries. We need the voices of practical wisdom and emotional intelligence which connect the small and large picture and the short-term with the long. Leadership of the kind that facilitates joined-up thinking about the connectedness of the problems we face so that more appropriate questions are asked and the solutions, therefore, more likely to be obvious, of better quality and embraced. We also need to remember, in our justifiable fury, that not everything needs to be razed as violent revolutions are want to do: some old scaffolding is as essential as a keystone. Baby and bath water, so to speak.

Sometimes changes, both good and bad, happen with tsunami speed but mostly they come by increments of evidence, experience and persuasive argument until the tide turns. That is what normally forces the reluctant political will. That may not seem very satisfactory but it won’t happen at all if the people for whom democracy is supposed to exist – us – are reluctant to first fully engage their own political will in the existing process.

“Before enlightenment: chopping wood; carrying water. After enlightenment: chopping wood; carrying water.” ~ Zen proverb

How much longer?

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How much longer?

First posted on May 16, 2013

I look to the mainstream media for some honest reporting and perspective – Ha!

I look to the Opposition for some counter-arguments, some persuasive alternatives – Ha!

And I look to the Government – yeah, that body of representatives whose wages we pay to manage our common affairs and interests on our behalf. That bunch of cretins who fought tooth and nail for the chance to be in charge and will no doubt convince themselves to try again in 2015. Ha!

For how much longer do the good people of this country have to bang on about the need for repairs and new infrastructure? I shan’t patronise with a list, for it is endless – and the number of people ready, willing and able to participate in such large and essential projects is also becoming endless. But you don’t need me to explain about the scourge of unemployment, the reasons for underemployment, the plight of our untrained and despondent youth, the complete and utter waste of brain and brawn…

How many times do the good citizens of this country need to suggest the lowering of house prices – both for sale and rent? How many times do we need to explain that the landlords are the rentiers; that the surveyors and mortgage companies determine what a property is worth?

How many people need to be made homeless before it’s acknowledged that there are not enough affordable houses? How much longer will the Government get away with this bedroom tax abomination, given that for many, that bedroom is not an extra room at all and in light of there being no alternative housing for those who would be happy to downsize?

For how much longer are the lucky employers of this country going to have their wages bill subsidised by the government in the form of tax credits? For how much longer will the taxpayers put up with their hard-earned contributions going to this curious and very uncapitalist subsidisation of wages?

When is someone going to say that paying some poor sop a pittance to look after someone else’s kid so the parent can go and work for another pittance is just plain crazy and mostly serves a cold and futile ideology? Where on earth did this obsession come from that every single adult must work in some governmentally recognised capacity for it to even be considered a worthwhile occupation?

When is someone going to tell that Iain Dontcare Smith that a few disabled people aren’t going to save the economy by being made to work at some meaningless job which still requires loads of government subsidy because employers tend to have to be blackmailed into employing them? Whose needs is IDS serving?

When is someone going to ram this empty but plainly loaded “make work pay” phrase up the ivory towers of these disingenuous MPs? We all know it’s not about getting a wage you can live on, but about reducing benefits to a level on which you obviously can’t. Given the magnificent economic incompetence of this Coalition, this is a nasty attitude at best.

But then, when is the good British public going to tell this government that all their welfare reforms are cruel, given the economic climate? That if you want to weed out the genuinely feckless or lazy, you have to provide a climate in which they become self-evident rather than merely accused as such by carping government ministers and high-horsed media stenographers. Apparently “welfare’ shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice” but who is in charge and who hasn’t provided any real alternatives? When will the public ask whose “choice” it actually is?

When will the good people remind this government and media that Brits are perfectly happy to do the jobs immigrants do, that it’s not the nature of the job but the deliberately low wages these jobs come with? When will the public realise that it’s only possible to live on such poor wages when you’re single and prepared to share your accommodation with 20 other people because you imagine and hope that this will be temporary? When will government and media acknowledge that it is policy and slack stewardship which create the climate possible for both immigrants and British citizens to be exploited and undercut in their wages, working conditions and accommodation?

And when, oh when will the good people of this country stop blaming immigrants and Europe for all the ills which plague this nation? When will it realise that Europe doesn’t just hand down some edict which can’t be questioned or modified – that governments are largely free to interpret most EU guidelines in their own ways and that that is exactly what they do. It’s called expedient political gaming when a government claims its hands are tied by Europe.

When are the good people going to tell this government that they know who makes the rules by which HMRC must operate? The likes of Amazon and Google are doing what any business would be sensible to do: maximising their profits and paying out as little in tax and other overheads as they can get away with. Who sets the rules? Who decides what ‘evasion’ is and what is ‘avoidance’?

When are the good people of this country going to rail at the government for its bigotry and ineptitude? When are the rational citizens going to declare war on short-sighted, ignorant, crass and divisive policies?

I’m not looking for answers here. This is just a rant. Like you, I already know what I want most of the solutions to look like.

Moving On

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Moving On

Ideological labelling is a two-edged sword. It is both convenient shorthand, for the purpose of making a generalised point and a poisonous straitjacket, wielded as a weapon of insult. Well I’m tired of such labels being bandied about to no helpful effect. Far from facilitating progress, they just distract from the essential arguments and solutions which invariably require a balanced outcome. And anyway, that thing called ‘socialism’ that I would call ‘humanitarian’ doesn’t exclude me from appreciating the finer purposes of capitalism. But then, I’m a complex Human Being and I see and feel little in black and white.

Such polarised thinking is confining, isolating if you will and is better reserved for absolutes. As it ‘takes all sorts to make a world’ and, if we believe in freedom, individual empowerment, collective good, national interest, global solidarity – why then, policies need to embody these abstractions and make manifest their humanitarian meanings.

Our Dear Leaders, governmental, corporate and institutional, are tinkering around the edges of everything because they want to maintain control and to this end they practise more than enough chaos to ensure they do. We still have decent domestic and global frameworks but they are run by hyenas and amoebae. Conflicted between their own self-preservation and collusion with their domestic and global counterparts, they fight for their theoretical survival by toughening up the status quo. This is not progress. This is a frog-march towards entropy.

Where we are, where we have been and where we are currently going – this is not a viable construct. It never really was because – well, look at the state of things! It took lifetimes of ‘progress’ to get into this state and it will probably take one or two more to counter the damage inflicted. It surely won’t be fixed this decade. Nevertheless, this is a moment of huge opportunity which is being obscenely wasted while The Powers That Be take full advantage of theirs. Progress is always defined in terms of growth, expansion and profit: more, more, more. Of course these are not bad things in themselves but they are also not the be-all and end-all of a thriving Society. In fact they have got us all running to stand still. I look at my country and I look out at the world and I think: concentrate on achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability and build up from there – because, dear Reader, right now, I would call that ‘Progress’. I don’t much care for the ‘buts’ of old ideology or stale economic thinking. I care about principle-in-practice. If there’s a Will, there’s a Way, right? Well I believe the People have the will and that ways can be found. So this is also our opportunity.

Will it take a revolution? Probably, though it needs to be one of united consciousness to be successful. Will it happen? Not if the despots get their way and we have a big fat war, the after-effect of which would be seen as setting a restore time rather than rebooting.  Once the war was over, the world would just be reset by the same people in order to begin the whole cycle all over again. We’d be right back here within a decade. But ‘they’ lack imagination so desperately that they can’t see past their love for broken window economics, so the signs do rather point that way. [I half expect within the next twelve months to hear David Cameron declare a State of Emergency followed by an announcement that elections are postponed until further notice.] So, there’s that narrow window I mentioned in a previous post. Revolt now in united consciousness and seize control before we lose the opportunity, or trust that those who currently can will alter the flight path.

I believe in identifying the ideal and taking all practical and ethical steps towards achieving it. Yes, I’m an idealist at heart, but I’m also quite pragmatic. I’m not some naive romantic or impractical utopian. I figure that if I don’t get there, I am at least travelling in the right direction. To me, that’s what’s missing in national and global debate. Instead all we get is the feudal, has-been ideology from the usual withered ranks of political discourse. I don’t care so much what it’s called; I care about whether it actually works. We need to be looking at and talking about what it takes for a country to be self-sufficient and how we ensure that Life’s essentials are globally sustainable and accessible to ALL.

This must put philosophical conversations about values and expectations above those of economics – at least temporarily – and dialogue must rise sufficiently high above the existing level of crap. Once we have established our collective priorities we will know what we want our revenue to be spent on and the politicians will be in no doubt as to their function: that of representative management rather than managing representation… unless of course, we decide to do away with politicians altogether. And along the way, here at home we could establish that so-longed-for written Constitution to enshrine our high but common values. This would, in turn inform the basis of our economy. Bottom-up reorganisation. Will and Way. Whose will and whose way will it be?

This will take deep thought, much heated debate, openness and a great deal of patience but we shouldn’t be afraid of stimulating, radical and creative ideas. Imagination is currently all geared towards paranoia, albeit largely justified. Our Dear Leaders can’t see further than their own professional mortality and they will not jeopardise this for the sake of our brighter future because it doesn’t countenance their traditional vehicles of power. Our ideal world isn’t run on the fuels of war, exploitation, profiteering or terrorism, is it? No, our ideal fuels for Life are our precious natural resources, naturally grown food, fresh water, shelter, peace of mind, a stimulating education, an empathic community and respect for all Life: human, animal, vegetable, mineral (and digital?!).

The Vested Interests should be investing in us, the planetary populace. They should be working to achieve lives worth living, not just for their own but for every being on the Earth. It takes courage to let go and raze the dross; it takes respect, integrity, vision, wisdom to build ethical structures. Isn’t that what we want? What is left to carry humanity through is Hope, Despair’s antidote: a grounded, tangible hope, which breeds optimism, aspiration, cooperation, endurance, focus, effort, strength. The Dear Ones can’t or won’t promote this chink of light but the energy of a Just revolution just might.