Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Alternative Medicine for Motor Neurone Disease/ALS

Since cannabis has been shown to be harmless and non-toxic in numerous studies, researchers and many neurologists are currently recommending that ALL patients who have been diagnosed with ALS should begin cannabis therapy immediately. Researchers have discovered that a concentration of cannabinoids as found in cannabis, especially a derivative such as cannabis oil, is extremely therapeutic in the slowing of the progression of ALS, thanks to these and other studies addressing similar neurodegenerative disease states.These patients have a life expectancy of less than five years.
Says one expert who requested to remain anonymous: 
"People have been using cannabis as a medicine for thousands of years. If it were me or my family member, we would be utilizing every possible administration of these neuroprotective substances, even if we were forced to move or break the law." Our source continued. "I mean seriously, what does a patient with ALS have to lose? We have shown clinically that this is a treatment with actual real time benefits that actually slow the progression of this horrid disease. What possible side effect could cannabis and its derivatives have that would make death preferable to the side effects?"
A review of the scientific literature reveals an absence of clinical trials investigating the use of cannabinoids for ALS treatment. However, recent preclinical findings indicate that cannabinoids can delay ALS progression, lending support to anecdotal reports by patients that cannabinoids may be efficacious in moderating the disease’s development and in alleviating certain ALS-related symptoms such as pain, appetite loss, depression and drooling.

Legal access to medicinal cannabis in the UK - SATIVEX  

In 2006 the Home Office licensed Sativex so that:

– Doctors, at their own risk, could privately prescribe,
– Pharmacists could possess and dispense, and named patients with a prescription could possess. 

Some studies:- 
Effective treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains elusive. Two of the primary hypotheses underlying motor neuron vulnerability are susceptibility to excitotoxicity and oxidative damage. There is rapidly emerging evidence that the cannabinoid receptor system has the potential to reduce both excitotoxic and oxidative cell damage. Here we report that treatment with Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) was effective if administered either before or after onset of signs in the ALS mouse model (hSOD(G93A) transgenic mice). Administration at the onset of tremors delayed motor impairment and prolonged survival in Delta(9)-THC treated mice when compared to vehicle controls. In addition, we present an improved method for the analysis of disease progression in the ALS mouse model. This logistic model provides an estimate of the age at which muscle endurance has declined by 50% with much greater accuracy than could be attained for any other measure of decline. In vitro, Delta(9)-THC was extremely effective at reducing oxidative damage in spinal cord cultures. Additionally, Delta(9)-THC is anti-excitotoxic in vitro. These cellular mechanisms may underlie the presumed neuroprotective effect in ALS. As Delta(9)-THC is well tolerated, it and other cannabinoids may prove to be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of ALS.
Marijuana has been proposed as treatment for a widening spectrum of medical conditions. Marijuana is a substance with many properties that may be applicable to the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These include analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. In addition, marijuana has now been shown to have strong antioxidative and neuroprotective effects, which may prolong neuronal cell survival. In areas where it is legal to do so, marijuana should be considered in the pharmacological management of ALS. Further investigation into the usefulness of marijuana in this setting is warranted.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative condition characterised by the selective loss of motor neurons from the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex. Although the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie ALS are not yet fully understood, there is significant evidence that several neurotoxic mechanisms including excitotoxicity, inflammation and oxidative stress, all contribute to disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, recent results have established that although primarily a motor neuron specific disorder, ALS is not cell-autonomous and non-neuronal cells including astroglia and microglia play a critical role in mechanism of disease. Currently the only licensed therapy available for the treatment of ALS is the anti-glutamatergic agent Riluzole, which has limited therapeutic effects. However, there is increasing evidence that cannabinoids and manipulation of the endocannabinoid system may have therapeutic value in ALS, in addition to other neurodegenerative conditions. Cannabinoids exert anti-glutamatergic and anti-inflammatory actions through activation of the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors, respectively. Activation of CB(1) receptors may therefore inhibit glutamate release from presynaptic nerve terminals and reduce the postsynaptic calcium influx in response to glutamate receptor stimulation. Meanwhile, CB(2) receptors may influence inflammation, whereby receptor activation reduces microglial activation, resulting in a decrease in microglial secretion of neurotoxic mediators. Finally, cannabinoid agents may also exert anti-oxidant actions by a receptor-independent mechanism. Therefore the ability of cannabinoids to target multiple neurotoxic pathways in different cell populations may increase their therapeutic potential in the treatment of ALS. Recent studies investigating this potential in models of ALS, in particular those that focus on strategies that activate CB(2) receptors, are discussed in this review.
Therapeutic options for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset motor neuron disorder, remain limited. Emerging evidence from clinical studies and transgenic mouse models of ALS suggests that cannabinoids, the bioactive ingredients of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) might have some therapeutic benefit in this disease. However, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the predominant cannabinoid in marijuana, induces mind-altering effects and is partially addictive, compromising its clinical usefulness. We therefore tested whether cannabinol (CBN), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, influences disease progression and survival in the SOD1 (G93A) mouse model of ALS. CBN was delivered via subcutaneously implanted osmotic mini-pumps (5 mg/kg/day) over a period of up to 12 weeks. We found that this treatment significantly delays disease onset by more than two weeks while survival was not affected. Further research is necessary to determine whether non-psychotropic cannabinoids might be useful in ameliorating symptoms in ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor neuron loss, paralysis and death within 2-5 years of diagnosis. Currently, no effective pharmacological agents exist for the treatment of this devastating disease. Neuroinflammation may accelerate the progression of ALS. Cannabinoids produce anti-inflammatory actions via cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), and delay the progression of neuroinflammatory diseases. Additionally, CB2 receptors, which normally exist primarily in the periphery, are dramatically up-regulated in inflamed neural tissues associated with CNS disorders. In G93A-SOD1 mutant mice, the most well-characterized animal model of ALS, endogenous cannabinoids are elevated in spinal cords of symptomatic mice. Furthermore, treatment with non-selective cannabinoid partial agonists prior to, or upon, symptom appearance minimally delays disease onset and prolongs survival through undefined mechanisms. We demonstrate that mRNA, receptor binding and function of CB2, but not CB1, receptors are dramatically and selectively up-regulated in spinal cords of G93A-SOD1 mice in a temporal pattern paralleling disease progression. More importantly, daily injections of the selective CB2 agonist AM-1241, initiated at symptom onset, increase the survival interval after disease onset by 56%. Therefore, CB2 agonists may slow motor neuron degeneration and preserve motor function, and represent a novel therapeutic modality for treatment of ALS.
Significant advances have increased our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), yet this has not translated into any greatly effective therapies. It appears that a number of abnormal physiological processes occur simultaneously in this devastating disease. Ideally, a multidrug regimen, including glutamate antagonists, antioxidants, a centrally acting anti-inflammatory agent, microglial cell modulators (including tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-alpha] inhibitors), an antiapoptotic agent, 1 or more neurotrophic growth factors, and a mitochondrial function-enhancing agent would be required to comprehensively address the known pathophysiology of ALS. Remarkably, cannabis appears to have activity in all of those areas. Preclinical data indicate that cannabis has powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. In the G93A-SOD1 ALS mouse, this has translated to prolonged neuronal cell survival, delayed onset, and slower progression of the disease. Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS, including analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. With respect to the treatment of ALS, from both a disease modifying and symptom management viewpoint, clinical trials with cannabis are the next logical step. Based on the currently available scientific data, it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.

Legal access to medicinal cannabis in the UK 

Legal access to medicinal cannabis within the UK is limited to the pharmaceutical cannabis based medicine Sativex. This can only be prescribed to MS sufferers and is at your doctors discretion, so differing postcodes can effect access. It should also be noted that although the NHS in Wales will subsidise Sativex, the NHS in England will not, so typical treatments can cost up to £500 a month. All other cannabis use or production in the UK is Illegal.

EIGHT things you need to know about Sativex:-

1. With the connivance of the UK Home Office and government, GW Pharmaceuticals has been allowed to develop a monopoly cannabis business against all the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. Cannabis is a very effective and safe medicine for a wide variety of conditions but in order to facilitate GW’s monopoly, the British public has been systematically misled and misinformed by government propaganda. Most seriously, people in pain, suffering and disability, seeking to provide their own cannabis medicine, have been ruthlessly and cruelly pursued by a corrupt law enforcement policy.
2. Sativex IS cannabis. It is pharmacologically identical to the plants from which it is made. It is NOT just an extract of THC and CBD, it contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds included in cannabis. As GW founder and chairman, Geoffrey Guy, says “Most people in our industry said it was impossible to turn cannabis into a prescription medicine. We had to rewrite the rule book. We have the first approval of a plant extract drug in modern history. It has 420 molecules, whereas every other drug has just one.”
3. Sativex DOES get you high, just as every form of cannabis (except industrial hemp). See the Sativex Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) which describes “euphoric mood” as a “common” side effect.
4. GW’s licence to cultivate cannabis issued in 1998 was for research purposes only. Since at least 2003, GW has been involved in commercial exploitation of cannabis and has therefore been acting unlawfully. The Home Secretary RETROSPECTIVELY LEGALISED GW’s licence by statutory instrument dated 13th March 2013. For the 10 years prior to that, GW, its directors and employees should have been subject to the same criminal penalties as anyone else producing a class B drug.
5. GW is engaged with the Home Secretary in an unlawful conspiracy falsely to distinguish Sativex from cannabis.Note that when re-scheduling Sativex in schedule 4 it has used a 75 word definition whereas every other drug in all five other schedules is defined by one word. The definition of Sativex even includes its method of delivery by an oral-mucosal spray. No other drug is scheduled by its method of delivery.
6. GW is engaged with the Home Secretary in an unlawful conspiracy to protect its unlawful monopoly of medicinal cannabis with the support of the British police which acts as armed enforcers of a private commercial interest.
7. The Home Office overrides doctors prescriptions for medicinal cannabis produced by Bedrocan, the Dutch government’s official producer. Home Office officials intimidate and threaten GPs who write such prescriptions.
8. Sativex is fantastically expensive. The NHS is charged at least 10 times the price for Sativex that organised crime sells cannabis for on the streets and between six and 17 times what Bedrocan is available for. 

Further information:-

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Principles of Tyranny

Tyranny is a phenomenon that operates by principles by which it can be recognized in its early emerging stages, and - if the people are vigilant, prepared, and committed to liberty - countered before it becomes entrenched. Jon Roland 

There is a story by HG Wells called "the Country of the Blind", in which a sighted man accidentally stumbles across a society of blind people. They treat him as sick because of his sight and (SPOILER HERE) the story ends with them putting his eyes out to make him 'healthy' like the rest of them.

In our sick society the people who see the truth through the rhetoric, who speak out against lies and injustice, who stand out from the herd, are the exceptions. Some of us might privately grumble, but most of us toe the line, don't ask questions and look the other way, hoping those in charge know what they're doing but in any case leaving the big decisions up to them. 

Even when we feel uneasy about the ethics or morality of what is being done in our name we tend to suppress our reservations  - we want a quiet life! 
It's dangerous to speak out. We've learned that challenging authority, or even standing out from the crowd, leads to punishment, bullying and ostracism.
Our families, our schooling and peers, our hierarchical workplace systems, all teach us to respect authority, to be obedient and to fit in, and those lessons are perpetually reinforced by the authorities, by propaganda and by the mainstream media.

A healthy society is one in which dissent can be voiced, questions raised and challenges made, freely and openly and without fear of retribution. The right to stand up and speak out should be the cornerstone of every democracy, but in England, as the rhetoric and policies of Labour, the Tories and the Lib-Dems become increasingly indistinguishable, opposition parties have ceased to offer any meaningful challenge. Ordinary members of the public have little chance of being heard, and as a result, speaking out against miscarriages of justice and abuses of power is largely left to grass roots activists, whistleblowers, investigative journalists and human rights lawyers, people like Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Gareth Pierce.

Without such people there are few remaining checks and balances to restrain the powers that be who, after all, are fallible. The more our leaders silence dissenting voices, the more isolated they become and the narrower their perspective. Tunnel vision makes them paranoid and insecure. Resistant to sources of external influence and afraid of losing control, they become increasingly oppressive, defending their position by “the arbitrary and unrestrained exercise of power”.
This is the definition of tyranny.

The "war on terrorism" has become a war on civil liberties. We need people who refuse to be "blinded", who take risks and bear punishments in our name,   and are brave enough to stick their heads over the parapet to expose wrongdoing. These people are not "terrorists" . On the contrary, they are the “moral policemen” (and women) of a just and humane society, and to brand them as criminals is a perversion of the truth. 
Outlawing dissent is the action of a repressive and sick regime.  It is the blind cutting out the eyes of the sighted, and then who will be left to watch out for us?

Charwoman Miaow, 20th August 2013






Sunday, 4 August 2013

First they came for the Immigrants


I am writing to express my disgust at the government’s “Hostile Environment” campaign and its divisive, scaremongering and scapegoating tactics, including the “Go Home” van campaign, the Home Office “anti-illegal workers” twitter campaign, the Home Office plan to force visitors from certain Asian and African countries to pay £3,000 to visit the UK, and the UK Border Agency stop and search campaign, as well as the plans for further curtailment of immigrant’s entitlements to education, healthcare and benefits.

The very concept of creating a hostile environment for immigrants is morally repugnant. Whether legal or illegal, economic migrant or asylum seeker, black, Asian, Jewish, whatever – immigrants face extremely tough challenges and deserve the respect and compassion of those of us lucky enough not to be in their shoes.

To claim that the “Hostile Environment” campaign is not racist is total rubbish. Threatening and stigmatising people of ethnic minority backgrounds in ethnically mixed areas by driving vans around with pictures of handcuffs and the message “Go home”, sending out border patrols to stop and search dark skinned “suspected illegal immigrants” at tube stations and tweeting pixellated photos of arrested individuals (without even mentioning that they are mere suspects) are strategies designed to portray non-white immigrants as undesirables and criminals and, by association, place all non-white people under suspicion and mistrust.

Using the label “illegal immigrants” is just a smokescreen.
Statements made by the government deliberately blur the distinctions between legal and illegal status and between economic migration and political asylum, fostering a general suspicion of immigrants whilst simultaneously denying their positive contributions to Britain's culture and economy.

The “illegal workers” campaign deliberately obfuscates the fact that not all illegal workers are immigrants, or non-white, feeding on the myth that hordes of immigrants are invading Britain, “stealing our jobs and ruining our economy”.

The government’s cynical manipulation of information casts immigrants – both legal and illegal - as undeserving spongers and, because it is impossible to tell an immigrant from a born and bred non-white Briton just by looking, threatens anyone with dark skin who comes across as “a bit foreign”.  The obvious and deliberate implied overall message, which lacks supporting evidence of any kind, is that Britain is being taken over by a mass influx of non-whites.

What evidence there is suggests that legal immigration is actually a boon for Britain, and that the numbers of illegal immigrants entering Britain are in fact quite low. In terms of being a drain on the economy, the “problem” of illegal immigration is of little significance compared to, for example, the tax avoidance of big business or the huge payouts given out under the Private Finance Initiative. Immigration as a “problem” is just a red herring, a handy way of distracting the populace from focussing on the real issues and the real culprits, and shifting the blame onto vulnerable and disenfranchised groups.

The “Hostile Environment” campaign uses heavy-handed and frightening tactics based on false and misleading statistics and calculated to stir up resentment and hostility towards non-whites. Whether or not it is simply a publicity stunt aimed at winning over UKIP voters is irrelevant. To send out this message using these kinds of tactics is an absolute disgrace to the British government.

Humanity has an unfortunate tendency to scapegoat and blame those perceived as outsiders. Hitler knew this and used it very effectively to gain power. That this government is prepared to feed into the nastiest and most shameful inclinations of the electorate and stoop to these rabble rousing propaganda techniques, reminiscent of those used by Goebbels in pre-Nazi Germany, sets an extremely dangerous precedent. Targeting minorities on the grounds of their ethnicity is racist, no matter how much the Conservatives deny it, and as such is but the first step on a very slippery slope, as doubtless all those at the top of the party are fully aware.

I haven’t voted for years, feeling utterly disenchanted with party politics and the lack of choice between the parties, but under these circumstances I urge everyone to vote against the Tories, if only because of the vicious racism and intolerance of this campaign of calculated and cynical evil.
Charwoman Miaow
4th August 2013

Sunday, 23 June 2013

McDemocracy - Supersize it!

Democracy - from Greek dēmokratia - dēmos 'the people' + -kratia 'power, rule'

The dictionary defines democracy as “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”

The Oxford dictionary further defines democracy asthe practice or principles of social equality”.

What then has happened to democracy? My understanding is that it is the responsibility of every citizen to actively participate in shaping society. Taking an active part means standing up for what is right and speaking out against what is wrong, yet our governments are persecuting people who do just that, and keeping tabs on all of us in the process.

Whistleblowers are a prime example of democratic activism. These are people who go against the grain, standing up for matters of principle against huge pressure and at enormous personal risk of loss of job, salary and reputation, not to mention threats to life and liberty.

When institutions and those appointed by the state to look after our interests are so often compromised by their position, and their desire to remain in position, any society worthy of the title “democratic” should be handing out awards to the brave individuals who take up the challenge. Instead those individuals are subjected to vicious smears, persecuted, bullied, imprisoned and even murdered.

Not only whistleblowers but also grass roots activists fighting for truth and justice suffer the same fate. Environmental campaigners, animal rights activists, those fighting – or just speaking out against - corporate and government corruption, greed, and exploitation, are treated as dangerous criminals, undeserving of the rights and protections of ordinary citizens.

What can justify the infiltration of, for instance, London Greenpeace and the so-called “McLibel” activists by men like Bob Lambert and John Dines, and their use as agent provocateurs to discredit and manipulate legitimate protest?  These undercover policemen seduced and married young, idealistic and socially active women, and went on to have children with them, merely in order to gain credibility and access to their networks. The deceit and betrayal was carried out in the name of democracy by our police and sanctioned by our government.

A million people marched in the UK against the war in Iraq, and where was democracy in action then? It was an overwhelmingly unpopular and illegal military intervention, but Britain went ahead with it, ignoring the voice of its citizens.

There is no risk to society from socially conscientious people who care enough about the world they live in to become actively involved and try to do something to make it a safer and better place – for all of us. On the contrary, we owe them our gratitude and huge respect. The risk comes from the opposite side – from the increasing covert and illegal surveillance and the corruption of truth and justice perpetrated by those in positions of power in our name. Corruption, misinformation and blatant terror tactics against those who dare to challenge the authority of those in power are compromising the underlying principles of our supposedly free and democratic social systems.

The truth has been turned on its head and they’re counting on our apathy, and fear, and self-protectiveness to stop us from action. Let’s show them that they’ve counted wrong. Stand up, speak out, and face the truth! Democracy is more than under threat – it has been secretly taken over by a self serving, paranoid and greedy elite.

Spread the word.



Friday, 17 May 2013

Opium for the People

The West's Hidden Propaganda Machine.

Brilliant article here - Eliane Glaser writes with clarity and insight. Here are some quotes:

"In the west today there is no distinction between propaganda, advertising and mass consumerism. A political system that protects elites and provides a mere illusion of democratic choice relies on a population enthralled by the latest iPhone."

"We are no longer appealed to as thinking citizens. We are simply flawed units to be prompted into spending more and costing the state less."

The "veneer of openness and people-power exemplifies western propaganda's habit of masquerading as its opposite."

Link to full article here

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Truth is Out There

It’s the same the whole world over,
Ain't it just a cryin' shame?
It’s the rich what gets the pleasure
And the poor what gets the blame

This is a letter which attempts to state the obvious. Somehow the obvious has got lost in a haze of confusion, misinformation and lies, so this is to remind people of some hard facts we've lost track of, and debunk some pervasive and pernicious myths that have become so engrained in social consciousness that they are now accepted as indisputable truths.

Politicians wonder why voting is on the decline and why there is such voter apathy. Is it because people no longer care about their communities? Is it because they are so happy and satisfied with the way things are that they see no need to change?
Obviously not, but there is a general feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. People see injustice and inequality at every level of public life. They see bankers and billionaire corporations, who certainly don't need the money, breaking the law and not paying taxes without suffering any consequences. In many cases the culprits are rewarded with huge bonuses, pension pots and lucrative new posts. Meanwhile, ordinary people suffer under austerity measures, and woe betide them if they dare to take any liberties with the system in order to try to make ends meet.

Government and the media tell us that it’s the fault of immigrants, benefit “scroungers”, “druggies” and criminals that our economy is depressed, and that these “undesirable and unproductive” groups place an enormous burden on the public purse. We are also told that the welfare system itself, incorporating unemployment benefits, education, pensions and the National Health Service, is costing the country a fortune.

 The solution proffered is to cut back on social welfare whilst simultaneously tightening up controls and ratcheting up punishments as a deterrent to “undesirables”.

 But is it really the case that social welfare is responsible for economic austerity? And is it really the poorest and most disenfranchised in our society who deserve to be punished and expelled?

How much of our current economic woes are in fact the result of bankers and speculators playing fast and loose with the economy, gambling and taking risks at our expense, knowing they have nothing to fear if it all goes belly up, and can rely on the ordinary taxpayer and the government to bail them out?

Does cutting back on health and education and taking away safety nets for the worst off in our society – people on low incomes, single parents struggling to raise families on one income, the unemployed, the disabled, and disenfranchised groups like immigrants – really make the country richer and more productive overall?

What is actually going on here, despite what government propaganda and the media may tell you, is a clear case of blaming – and punishing -  the victim, whilst  rewarding the culprit.  The victims are the more vulnerable members of our society, those who lack the resources, money and education to effectively stand up for themselves. The culprits are big business, corporate interests, bankers and speculators, and the politicians and other minions that serve them. The government is in the pay of the culprits. The police, the media, the military are in the pay of the government. So the culprits – the perpetrators of morally indefensible crimes against their fellow citizens, are walking away scot free.

There have been huge protests in the
U.K.  - against the war in Iraq for example - where millions of ordinary citizens came together to express their opposition. But the protest was ignored, the voices were not heard, and war was declared in our name in spite of all our opposition.

No wonder people no longer trust the state to listen to their concerns or to take action to right these wrongs. No wonder people have lost faith in politics as a means for social change and have grown cynical and disenchanted. Politicians of all political persuasions have repeatedly shown themselves to be unworthy of our trust, to be deceitful, corrupt and self serving.

People are increasingly aware that those in power are not really concerned with the state of the nation or its citizenry, rather they have their own interests at heart, which is the pursuit of power, and they will do or say whatever it takes, firstly to get into power, then to hold onto that power, and from there to use that power to line their coffers and assure their futures.

But there is still some attempt to speak out and be heard, outside of the party political system which is failing its public so badly. Grass roots street movements have sprouted up independently and spontaneously to protest against the social ills that are left completely unaddressed by the establishment. Activists bravely  and imaginatively initiate and organise petitions and protests, with little if anything in the way of funding, a lack of support even from the liberal press - who don't want to be labelled as extremist so prefer to minimise the grounds for protest and the strength of public feeling - and vicious labelling as trouble makers and criminals from the conservative media. Protestors face police violence, imprisonment and a criminal record, when the only "crime" they have committed is to make manifest their protest in the face of political indifference.

Why then are protesters so often stigmatised as criminals and trouble makers?  Is it really morally reprehensible to go out on the street and protest when you believe that something in society needs changing?
If people of all ages, from all races and backgrounds and in great numbers, feel the need to go out and protest, doesn’t this suggest that they have something to say which needs to be heard and acknowledged?

Democracy is still probably the best idea humanity has come up with for government so far. It certainly beats tyranny, dictatorship, hereditary privilege or religious fundamentalism as ruling principles. The problem is not that the democratic process itself is necessarily defunct, it is that the current version of democracy as it is practiced in the west, and in particular in
Britain and the USA, has been hijacked by corporate interests acting in the name of capitalism and consumerism. Ignoring as it does the voice and welfare of the people in order to safeguard the interests of the elite, it is this brand of democracy, which is not really democracy at all, that has been discredited. When profit and greed become the motives driving the political process, the citizenry become mere commodities to be bought and sold, used and exploited, in whatever way will best serve the interests of those holding the power.

Advocates of such populist doctrines as "law and order" and "zero tolerance" say that we need to take a hard line with the “unsavoury” elements of our society, and I agree. What I take issue with is who those unsavoury elements are.

If you come from a privileged background, have had the advantage of a good education at one of the best private schools with a track record of high achievement and a reputation which opens doors to the higher echelons of society and all manner of lucrative posts, and if you are financially comfortable or wealthy, then to break the law by evading taxes, although the payment of those taxes would in no way have caused you to suffer hardship or deprivation, is morally indefensible.

If, on the other hand, you come from a disadvantaged background, grew up on a "sink estate"' in a family living on a low wage, went to an urban "sink school"' where literacy was low and educational attainment negligible, and now work part time at an unskilled position earning less than the minimum wage, to then break the law to supplement your wages by claiming benefits to which you are not legally entitled, just to raise your quality of life (and that of your family and dependants) to a more tolerable standard, seems far more easy to justify and understand.  How many of us would not do the same in that position?

Yet who is it that the government penalises, and who do they reward? Again and again taxes are cut for the wealthy, whilst benefits are slashed for the poor. As the poor get poorer their choices and opportunities diminish, as do those of their families and their children. If the only way to survive is to cheat or to break the law, then that's what people have to do, there's no alternative.

As the rich get away with corruption, fraud and tax evasion, and are rewarded with perks, exclusion clauses and bonuses, their arrogance increases. Give them carte blanche to milk the system and exploit it to the max, and they will.
Charwoman Miaow, May 2013

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Eat the Rich

Only when the last tree has been cut down
Only when the last river has been poisoned
Only when the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find
that money cannot be eaten.        
Proverb, American Indian