WITH regard to the House of Commons debate this week on food poverty, there is certainly a paradox between generous shoppers donating to food banks in supermarkets and the coercive attitudes exhibited towards benefit recipients, perhaps best encapsulated by Clement Attlee suggesting we should pay our taxes gladly, and not dole out money on a whim.
While food banks are a lifeline for many, there is an air of inevitability that their institutionalisation will follow the paths of the US and Canada and become so embedded in society that they form part of our social security system.
Or actually become our social security system.
Often overlooked is that food is our most basic need, underpinned as a right by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
If we acknowledge food is an unconditional human right – and the commodification of welfare contests that view – the existence of radical inequalities suggests our political system needs re-examining.
If we revert to charity, we fail to challenge the legitimacy of a system that leaves people reliant on food banks.
We must look and act upstream for the solutions to food poverty. Opening more food banks merely hides the underlying causes.
Discovery of ‘Pinocchio’ gene
From: Robert Reynolds, West Bank, Batley, West Yorkshire.
THE human genome project aims to map human DNA. There are between 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome. Identifying these genes can lead to amazing breakthroughs in our war against certain diseases.
However, I can now reveal that the UK and American governments have suppressed a report identifying a “liar” gene. Dubbed “the Pinocchio” gene, it is found specifically in senior politicians with a tendency to lie.
Their noses have been found to grow when elected to govern.
Of course I lie! But wouldn’t it be a superb way to know if our politicians are lying?
The latest is from George Osborne, who, through wizardry techniques of accounting, is insisting the budget deficit has fallen from £185bn to £90bn.
Or inflation is 2.1 per cent, when the cost of living is soaring! Nice try, George.
I wonder if Disraeli had a big nose when he said that “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”?
Not such a loveable rogue
From: Keith Wigglesworth, Mead Way, Highburton, Huddersfield.
WHY are so many people being ‘dewy-eyed’ on the death of Ronnie Biggs, often referring to him as a ‘loveable rogue’? He was a thief and, like all thieves, not very nice (Yorkshire Post, December 19).
When science was not for girls
From: Brian H Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.
IF I have understood Jack Brown’s exercise in lexicology (Yorkshire Post, December 16), he subscribes to the theory that women are from Venus and men are from Mars and that “one size fits all” schemes on the grounds of equality in education or business are misguided.
Presumably he would have approved of the system at the grammar school my wife attended during the early post-War years. She wanted to take sciences at A-level but the only concession to science for girls up to O-level was biology and a single year of physics and chemistry.
Despite excelling in those sciences she had no option but to take A-level French, English and Latin. Fortunately, she was a good all-rounder – believe me, I was at the same school – and she went on to gain a good honours degree in French.
Is it any wonder there were so few female doctors in those days?
Prosperity from Keynes policies
From: Allan Davies, Heathfield Court, Grimsby, NE Lincs.
I DO not know why Godfrey Bloom MEP (Yorkshire Post, December 9) is so dismissive of Keynesian economics.
The period, say 25 years from the late 40s to the early 70s, gave Britain the best results in our entire recorded economic history. We had full employment, the fastest rate of economic growth and living standards, we were increasingly better housed, we saw the beginnings of the NHS and saw the school-leaving age raised twice, and all of this despite the highest rates of taxation outside war years.
It contrasts starkly with the rest of the period since circa 1860 which marks the beginning of the second, the scientific and technological industrial revolution.
From 1873 to ’96, we experienced depression. The years 1930-39 were years of mass unemployment. From 1980 onwards we have seen the dominance of neo-liberal economics with a return to mass unemployment and its attendant miseries.
All of this is standard economic history. It is perverse of Mr Bloom to be critical of the most successful period in a total of over 150 years.
Three wishes for good debate
From: Coun C C Wraith MBE, Burton Road, Monk Bretton, Barnsley.
THREE wishes for 2014:
1. That MPs on all sides who act like undisciplined children at school playtime, obey the Speaker so we can enjoy Prime Minister’s questions and hear what is being said instead of watching and listening to their loutish behaviour (do they ever watch a recording of themselves? I doubt it).
2. That TV interviewers allow the interviewee to answer questions they ask without constant interruptions from them (Daily Politics and Question Time being two prime examples where, once again, enjoyment of the programmes is spoiled).
3. Then the third wish will have been granted if the first two are followed – to be able to hear and enjoy political debate.