Category Archives: capitalism

Small Thoughts on the US Elections

Despite not being American, it’s hard to ignore US elections. This is always the case anyway because America is so central to the world stage, but it’s particularly hard this time around because it’s so weird.

Watching this, the latest instalment from the lovely people at Cooch Watch:

I’m struck once again by the sheer bewilderment I inevitably get when I consider that there’s so much as a single woman in the entire United States of America even considering actually voting for Romney and his gaggle of misshapen misogynists. I’m kinda disappointed that any men are, either, but not exactly surprised. But women?

I mean, OK, I kinda get the mindset some female voters will have about the abortion issue. Women who are certain they won’t ever need one (too busy filling their quiver) and are equally certain that their daughters won’t ever need one (because they’re Promise virgins, not like them other sl*gs). See?

I don’t like it but I get it.

But rape? I can’t even list the recent gaffes made by Republican politicians about rape because I’m assuming that even the Universe has some kind of finite time frame and, whatever it is, it won’t be sufficiently long to get them all down.

Suffice to say, it’s always a woman’s fault, it’s never ‘rape rape’ anyway, and a child resulting from rape is both a gift from god and a biological impossibility.

You get my drift.

But. I suppose that the same women with Promise virgin daughters believe all this shit, so they’re equally certain that they and their offspring won’t get raped, either. But what about the other 99% of American women who haven’t leapt off the edge of reason and hit their head on the way down?

I hate to reveal this to my American readers but there is a perception over my way that Americans are just a bit, just ever so slightly, completely nuts. Which is typically self-hating given that the people who hold this view are the same as those who think Americans are our soul mates.

I, however, subscribe not at all to that view; as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Americans are no more nuts than any other nationality. They’re just more able to put their nuts in our face is all.

So, American women: not particularly nuts, still considering voting for Romney.

THIS DOES NOT COMPUTE!! BRAIN IS MELTINGGGG….

And then I saw something which attempted to explain it. Thank shit for that, I thought.

And, no, I can’t find the link, but the reason boiled down to ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’

It seems that a substantial proportion of the women intending to vote for a misogynistic sack of shit are doing so because they believe Romney will be better for the economy than Obama.

[An Aside: I think Obama is pretty great, and if you don't I suggest you come over here and admire the NHS before Cameron fucks it completely to understand how awesome universal healthcare is.]

I ceased to thank shit and proceeded to slap it around the face.

The economy? The economy? That thing left in such a state by the previous Republican administration that I’ve named it twice?

But let’s ignore the past and move forward, eh? I don’t know enough about the intricacies of the economic policies of either Republicans or Democrats, so – although I have my suspicions which will be more mindful of the needs of the vast majority of Americans – I can’t really comment on their relative merits.

But Romney? A man who, as far as I can gather, made his money deliberately putting vast swathes of Americans out of work and generally behaving like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman but without having had the good fortune to meet a prostituted woman whose simply country goodness and stunning beauty makes him see the error of his ways?

You want to give this man an entire economy?? Are you nuts?

Now you no longer need to be a woman for me not to understand why you’d vote for Romney.

Unless you are a billionaire, this man will fuck you. He’s not even hiding it, not even trying to. He’s ‘not concerned with the very poor’, which, should he be elected, will soon be the vast majority of the American population. He ain’t lyin’, either, though he does, it seems, lie about a lot of other things. Like his tax payments, for example.

And because this is pertinent but also just because I love fuck yous set to music even if they’re not entirely feminist, I present to you the thoroughly smashing Wrong Direction:

I’ll leave you with one thought. We voted in our own Romney. Like Romney, David Cameron promised to fuck us and we voted him in anyway. Now, he’s getting busy fucking us and, let me tell you, it really isn’t very nice.

Save yourselves. Before it’s too late.


The Motherhood Penalty

Via Sociological Images.

[In the labour market] one thing we know is that, if you compare mothers to child-less women who are otherwise equal, mothers are on lower wages than child-less women. And this has become an increasingly important component of gender inequality.

‘The pay gap between mothers and child-less women is now larger than the…gender gap, the gap between men and women.’

And this:

Women make about 69% of what men make (not controlling for type of occupation), but most of this disadvantage is related to parental status, not sex.

‘Women without children make 90% of what men make, while mothers make 66%.’

Now. You tell me again that feminism doesn’t need to fight for mothers?

Front and fucking centre.


Mummy Wars

The mummy wars – or mommy wars – are, yawn, big news again lately I notice.  This shit is running all over my internet like a naked toddler with diarrhoea. And, like the aforementioned offensively leaky child, I regard it with a look of disgust and irritation in equal measure.

There’s this piece in Salon which is particularly interesting.  Sub-headed, ‘Behind sound bites and media hype, there’s the real conflict real mothers face every day‘ the article details the author’s journey from believing the mummy wars to be media hype to the sad realisation that they are – in fact – real.

Take this:

We as women spend our whole lives being judged, and never more so than for our roles as mothers. We suffer for it, and frankly, we dish it out in spades. We park ourselves in separate camps, casting suspicious glances across the schoolyard. And it sucks because the judgment is there and it’s real and it stems so often from our own deepest fears and insecurities. We pay lip service to each other’s “choices” – and talk smack behind each other’s backs.’

Who in god’s name is this woman hanging out with? And, seriously, why doesn’t she hang out with someone else?

Now, I’ve been a SAHM and a working mum so, like the author, I’ve had a foot in both ‘camps’ and I have never, not once, heard a mother ‘talk smack’ about the other group.  Oh, sure, I’ve heard mothers time aplenty diss other mothers’ style of child-rearing – that mother never disciplines her child, that mother feeds her child crap, that mother pushes her child too much – and that sucks as it is because of the emphasis on mothers being the sole ones responsible for that kind of crap despite everything; even if the mother works full-time and the dad stays at home, somehow deficiencies in a child fall to the mother. Yes, sucky.

But I have never, not once, heard that followed through to a conclusion of: that’s because she works so much, or that’s because she stays at home.

Now I’m willing to accept that, nowadays at least, the kind of mothers I interact with are privileged ones. They are, to a large extent, women whose family income allows them an actual choice as to whether to work or not. If they don’t work, their partner brings in more than enough to cover costs and if they do work, the kind of work they do will more than cover the (exorbitant) costs of childcare.  [Let's ignore for now the very real effects on that 'choice' by things such as societal expectations that if either parent quits work, it will be the mother, that expectation in itself being reinforced by the fact that, being generally paid less than their male equivalents, it will make 'sense' for it to be her because she's not earning as much as a male partner by the time they have children.]

I have to acknowledge this privilege because it makes a huge difference in terms of ‘mummy wars’.

Firstly, it makes a difference because this ‘working v. SAHM’ thing is, by and large, a dilemma of privileged women. You can bet your life, for example, that the debate isn’t taking rural India by storm. You can equally bet that it isn’t much of a hot topic even among working class mothers in the UK.  For the vast majority of mothers worldwide, their ‘choices’ are by and large so manifestly not choices at all that the whole issue doesn’t merit attention. It’s fair to say, therefore, that as well as straddling both camps, I am surrounded by the actual ‘mummy warriors’.

Secondly, it makes a difference because I have heard, on many occasions, mothers express their own personal preferences. I have heard mothers say, ‘I need to work, otherwise I’d go crazy being at home with the kids all day’, and I have heard mothers say, ‘I want to stay at home with my kids, I think it’s important in their early years.’  As far as I can gather, these sorts of statements are largely held to be evidence of THE MUMMY WARS! which strikes me as a bit odd.  I hear mothers express opinions all the frickin’ time that I think are completely loopy juice, but I don’t put on a breastplate and start running them through with a sword.  I take them for what they are – personal opinions that I don’t happen to share, but ho hum, tomayto, tomahto and all that.

Because statements such as those above will only be considered to be affronts to the listener if the listener has some issue with their own personal choices in that area.

If I work and a mother says ‘I think it’s important to stay at home’ that opinion per se isn’t offensive to me. If I simply happen to believe that a happy mother is more important than constant physical presence and working makes me happy, then I just chalk her opinion down to the fact that we all have, well, different opinions and go about my (working) day. If I’m a happy SAHM and another mother wonders how I can be with the kids all day and manage not to foam at the mouth, I can only reply, ‘Well, we’re all different, aren’t we?’  Simples, as that annoying rat says.

However.

If I’m not happy with my choice – if my choice, whilst appearing more ‘choice-like’ than most mothers’, isn’t really a choice at all, if in other words, my privilege isn’t quite enough to fully insulate me from those limited choices (and what mother’s is, really?) – then my response will be a loud Fuck you! followed by the breastplate donning and a healthy dose of righteous indignation and a bit of Braveheart yodelling.

If I work because financially I have to but do in fact believe that by doing so I am actually damaging my children, or if I stay at home and am in fact starting to foam at the mouth on a daily basis but can’t find a job which covers the cost of childcare, then I will find that mother offensive in the extreme. And she will become my enemy and I will hate her frickin’ guts.

And this, of course, is the real key to the mummy wars. The fact that real choice is so very limited for mothers and the societal trope that, whichever choice we make, it will be wrong. The author of the Salon article gets to this conclusion, too, but then, for me, falls down by exhorting mothers to be the ones to reset the rules of engagement:

…damn near all of us are fiercely, ferociously devoted to our families. When we can get past being scared somebody’s going to call us out as whopping female failures, we can see that, though our days are structured differently, most of us are working our guts out. That we love our children. That we are not enemies. When we remember that, when we talk to each other instead of merely about each other, we can reach across the playground to raise a generation of future men and women who respect each other as workers and parents. More than that — we can, finally, be comrades.’

As if we don’t have enough to do already what with the carping and the suspicious glances, now we’re supposed to solve problems rooted in the gross inequality inherent in a patriarchal capitalist system.  I could maybe pencil that in for Friday afternoon, if L’il Boo naps that day.

It is not mothers who limit their own choices. And it is not mothers who can expand those choices by just being a bit nicer to each other.

The real battle lies not between working or SAH mothers. It lies between mothers of all stripes and a patriarchal system that stabs us in the back as it raises us up for admiration. Motherhood, they tell us, is the most important job in the world, but you lot, being women and all, are invariably fucking it up NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! HA HA! Which presumably is why, in a society that judges unpaid labour to be economically worthless, we don’t get paid for this most important job.  Because we’re shit at it, remember?

[And if you want a deeper and way more amusing exploration of the unavoidable insanity that this shit causes, take a look at this sublime article from Katha Pollitt, via blue milk]

Real actual mothers may not fully appreciate the real forces at work against them and they may indeed look with envy at a mother sitting on the opposite side of the no-choice fence. But real, actual mothers don’t, in my experience at least, have the energy to judge other mothers’ choices; they are too busy trying not to judge their own. They are – even the privileged ones, especially the privileged ones – too busy trying to navigate a path between their children’s care and happiness, their own personal needs and society’s expectations to have time to judge others.

So if you want ammunition to wage this particular war, you won’t find it here. Here in Boogieville, we respect and support all kinds of mothers, from the SAHM to the part-timer to the full-blown careerist. We respect all mothers, from those who are truly happy to define their motherhood as merely a small part of who they are to those who define themselves entirely as mothers.

Because here in Boogieville we understand, a la Andrea Dworkin, that until we are all free, none of us are free.


Food, Glorious Food?

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.  Or rather, I’ve been thinking about our relationship to food, a sentence which in and of itself is completely weird when you think about it.  A relationship with Food?  This can never end well.  Food will never write, never call and will make you fat just by looking at you.  Bastard.

But it seems that increasingly we just cannot accept that Food is just not that into us.  We insist, despite Food’s complete inability to watch movies without hogging the popcorn or give good head, on pursuing this relationship and weeping when it makes us sick.

And we are getting sick.  Over a million people in the UK suffer from some kind of eating disorder.  Those most at risk are young people between the ages of 14-25, although this may well be changing.  Statistics from the NHS show that that 14 figure may well have to start being revised downwards to say, oh, 10.

Oh, hang on, Ms Optimism!  Statistics from last year were open-mouthed shocking: Almost 600 children below the age of 13 were treated in hospital for eating disorders in the three years previous.  That figure included 197 children between the ages of five and nine.

Five and nine?  Are you frickin’ kidding me?  You’re kidding me, right?  No, you’re not kidding me.

Do not even get me started on childhood obesity.

Boogie is six.  To say that I find this piece of information troubling doesn’t really hit it.  This piece of information makes me want to weep.  And then kill somebody, or at the very least kick a three-legged kitten.  In other words it makes me sad and mad and mean all at the same time.

Course, the old, ‘it’s the celebrities’ thing was trotted out, with Susan Ringwood of eating disorders charity B-eat telling the Telegraph that ‘the figures reflected alarming trends in society, with young children “internalising” messages from celebrity magazines, which idealised the thinnest figures.’

And yes, I’ve no doubt that’s a factor, but the thinness of celebrities is only an effect in itself.  Why are the celebrities so thin in the first place?  Is there simply a genetic connection between a hunger for fame and a preference for lettuce and brittle bone disease?  I haven’t read the literature, but I’m suspecting not.

We’re just emerging from National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, but I’ve been thinking about food for longer than that.  In honesty, I started thinking about food when I had a girl-child but it’s only recently that I started thinking beyond the obvious about it: beyond not wanting her to be fat; not because I’m fattist (which the more enlightened among you will recognise as a comfort-blanket of a fib), but because I wanted her to be healthy.  You know, like, thin.

Not really thin, of course, because that would be as wrong as wanting her to be fat.  So I wanted her to be not too fat, not too thin…what exactly did I want?  Where was the fucking line?  How wide or narrow was this weight spectrum that would be found acceptable by me?  Was it only a few pounds wide or did a stone more or less make no difference?  Would a heavier weight be acceptable if she were taller and could ‘carry’ it better?  Was it OK if she was generally thin but had a bulging belly?  Was a bulging belly deemed OK at 4 but unacceptable by 8?  Could she have a large bottom?  Was whether a large bottom was acceptable at least partially dependent on whether they were ‘in fashion’?

Now, I ain’t stupid.  I could see that something was off with my thinking; it was so…prescriptive.  And so open to failure.  Keeping Boogie within ‘acceptable’ weight limits – no matter how narrow or wide – was going to take micromanagement to a new zenith.  I could see where it would end and I am fucked if I’m going to start weighing out my daughter’s food and have her doing one-armed press-ups in between episodes of Scooby Doo.  But where else could it go?

What was off?  I knew the facts.  Too fat or too thin was unhealthy.  Either led to all kinds of increased medical risk.  It’s true, all the doctors say so, right?  Right?

It was only when I understood why too fat or too thin was unhealthy that everything fell into place.  And I could only make sense of that when I understood that ‘too fat’ is, to paraphrase Caitlin Moran, when you no longer resemble a human being and ‘too thin’ is when the weight of your very skin is too heavy to bear.

When I understood that what was ‘unhealthy’ was not a body shape but a state of mind.

Not many doctors tell you that.  Oh, they tell you that when you’re 14 and you’re hospitalised with anorexia, or 46 and unable to heave your bulk out of a specially-made bed.  Sure, they tell you then, when it’s too fucking late.  Before then, when you really needed to know it, your obsession with your body size, your desire to get it ‘right’ whether ‘right’ was thinner or fatter, was lauded, you were praised for ‘taking control’ of yourself.  Right?

Yep.  It’s that relationship with Food thing again.

Reading Bodies by Susie Orbach really helped clarify my thinking.  As I’ve said before:

In a nutshell, Bodies basically explores how, in the last thirty or some years, our whole concept of what a ‘body’ is has changed from being merely the physical structure housing a person, to being the sum of what a person is, and as such, something that we must now ‘perfect’ in order to ‘perfect’ ourselves as people.

‘Or bodies must be tamed, made to conform to ever decreasing notions of of what is physically acceptable, or we will be found wanting as people.’

When the cage that houses you becomes who you are, interior decorating takes on a whole new importance.  And when that cage is something as fucking unreliable as a body, prone to leakage, stinky emissions, unsightly diseases and other unfortunate social habits, you can see that changing the wallpaper every 10 years just ain’t gonna cut it.

How could we not have a relationship with Food?  Food is the most immediate, most obvious way we can change and mould our bodies.  Food is the thing that can now define us: as fat slobs, as over-achieving control freaks; as people who have control or who have no control at all.  No wonder the whole ‘relationship’ is so fucked up.  But just because having one is becoming seemingly inevitable, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

What are we missing?  We’re missing that food has no fucking bearing on who we are.  Just being genetically programmed to retain fat or just being really, really over-fond of cheesecake or being able to exist on an apple a day, doesn’t actually define who we are as people.  It just means we have genes, or we just really, really like cheesecake, or we have (quite unfathomable to me) self-control.

We are missing the fact that’s it’s impossible to have a ‘relationship’ with food, however healthy we may like to boast that relationship is.  Food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less.  If we choose more good fuel, our bodies will perform sufficiently well so that we don’t have to think about them and we’ll probably lower our chances of becoming unwell.  If we choose more bad fuel, fuel that works against our bodies, our bodies will probably start to falter sooner or later, to a greater or lesser extent.

That’s it.  There is no ‘relationship’.  This is not a two-way street.  You can treat your cheesecake to dinner and a movie then serenade it with love songs before giving it oral sex for three days straight and it still won’t change into having the nutritional value of a floret of broccoli.

But still, something is missing.  We may understand the idiocy of having a relationship with Food, but we still need to eat, right?  Jesus, if we have no relationship with Food, how do we know when to eat, what to eat?

The thing that’s missing is called hunger.  The relationship you need to have is with your stomach.  And it’s the same relationship whether your stomach is convex or concave.

Your stomach will tell you when you’re hungry.  So eat when it tells you to and stop when it tells you it’s full.  And the more I think about it, the more I realise that what you feed it with is largely irrelevant.  Whether you chow down on cheesecake or broccoli, as long as you listen when it waves at you shouting ‘Full!’, most of the rest of all the shit is gravy.

So yes, I tell Boogie about ‘good fuel’ and ‘bad fuel’ and I try to give her some idea of the difference between the two (salmon helps your brain work, pasta gives you energy, brownies give you sugar lift), but that information has become, over time, background noise.

My nightmare micromanagement scenario has segued into an idea of breathtaking simplicity.

Eat, I tell her.  If you’re hungry, eat.  When you stop being hungry, stop eating.

It sounds like a revolution when I write it down like that.  How can that be possible?

It will be a long time before I know whether I gave her the ‘right’ message.  But one thing’s for sure however it turns out: it won’t be any worse than any of the other messages she’s getting.

And it at least has the advantage of simplicity.  How bad can it be, right?


So this is Christmas?

Yes, it was and I’ll tell you now things may be slow posting-wise for a while longer because I moved from the darkness into the light.  I embraced a whole new dawn of technological creativity and bowed before a god whose design aesthetic is mind-blowing.  Yes, I changed from a PC to an iMac. Am I lovin’it?  Well, yes, yes I am.  I love even just staring at it when it’s turned off.  I am totally in love with it.

So, yes, Christmas.  Over and done with and I’m nursing a sense of anti-climax.  Having got myself spectacularly well-organised in the run up to the event, I was busy hugging  myself with glee and anticipation when I came down with tonsillitis.  Again.  Which was bad enough but then a day before things got seriously weird when I started upchucking blood.  I know it was blood because I put some in tupperware and showed it to my doctor, heh, heh.  Never say I don’t know how to make somebody’s Christmas.

Enough about blood vomit; I can sense you really want to know what the children of a feminist get for the big day.

The short answer is: pretty much the same as every other spoilt Western kid, only in reverse.

L’il Boo got a cooker and a tea set.  Boogie got a secret agent HQ and a pair of MMA/boxing gloves.

And yes, for the record, Boogie would never have got the cooker.  I am that kind of mother.

I tell myself that I simply buy what the children want; or what would seem to be something they’d enjoy given who they are right now.  And to a certain extent, that is absolutely true.  Boogie, for example, has for some time now, dressed almost exclusively in black because ‘that’s what spies wear‘.  And she’s so into her martial arts at the minute that when L’il Boo launches himself at her (to hug her? to headdbutt her? to rugby tackle her? – it’s impossible to tell until it’s all over bar the shouting), Boogie will sometimes reflexively move her foot in a perfect roundhouse kick and fell the poor child before even he’s made up his mind.  Obviously, I say, no,don’t kick your brother, but it’s quite beautiful to watch, this absolute unerring sureness in her body’s ability to protect itself

And L’il Boo is forever putting plastic food items in the washing machine at nursery and refuses to leave the place before he’s offered, and made, multiple ‘cups of tea’ for me and every member of staff there.

So I have no difficulty in saying ‘I got what I thought they’d like.’  I did, it is true.

But it would be totally untrue to say that ‘I got what I thought they’d like without any consideration of the wider implications of what they might like.’  Because I didn’t.

Because for a start, Boogie likes every single bit of plastic tut she so much as glimpses on the TV.  And I mean everything.  She is an advertiser’s dream.  She even professed a desire for the new ‘girl’ version of Lego (for which you’ll have to visit Reel Girl all by yourself because I have yet to figure out how to copy a web address on this ‘puder), which she has as much chance of getting from ‘Santa’ (i.e. her miserable, fun-eating feminist mother), as I have of getting a boob job with industrial-grade silicone implants (thanks PIP – again, you’ll have to figure that link out for yourselves). Because, just in case you were confused, the new ‘girly’ Lego is an insult of quite epic proportions to girls everywhere.  And by extension to women, and I don’t take these kinds of insults lightly.  Bastards.  FUCK LEGO AND THEIR BEAUTY SALON SHIT.  Phew!  Glad I got that out of my system.  And if one more fucking company wheels out insulting eye-searing pink toys and then waffles on about ‘honouring girls’ play patterns’ I am going to go bat shit fucking crazy.  Even more so than normal.  Girls: taught to play a certain way since birth, toy companies then look at them playing that way and use it as an excuse to serve them more of the same shit.  Arrgh!

So there were lots of things Boogie professed a desire for which, whilst they may have made it on to her Santa list, were never, not in a million fucking years, going to appear under the tree on Christmas morning.  Unless, of course, I was dead and my mother – or any number of annoying relatives and in-laws – had taken over the Father Christmas role.  And even if I were dead, there are legal instruments in place to prevent that very thing.  I really am that kind of mother.

And yes, you can accuse me of brainwashing my children as much as you like, but it is just me; just little old me against a muti-billion pound industry feeding my children gender stereotypes until they’re sick.

Trust me, I can live with the accusation.

And so, is this Christmas?  Of course not; it’s actually New Year now.  And judging by the amount of vino I have already consumed on this yes-you-can-start-drinking-at-noon-it’s-a-special-day day, I will, once again, fail to see in the new year.  So I shall wish you all a good one and hope for you all a year filled with small victories and big, big memories.


Adverts don’t make Me Cry, Either

In yesterday’s Guardian, Charlie Brooker discussed the new genre of Christmas adverts we now get at this time of year.  If you don’t know Charlie B (you know, if you’re, like, foreign), you really should pop by to say hi, if you like your curmudgeon to come with a side of snide and an acerbic aftertaste.

I can’t help it; the man makes me laugh, OK?

Charlie B was particularly charmed by the new John Lewis advert, which shows a small boy anxiously watching the days click away until Christmas…but! contrary to all expectations, he is not the spoilt middle-class offspring of virtually all of John Lewis’s customers (I think I became middle-class purely so I could love JL more) awaiting the arrival of presents, but a charming, lovavble munchkin who cannot wait to give his parents their present.

Here’s the ad:

No, I didn’t cry, either. I was too busy wondering what monstrosity the boy had made out of two lollipop sticks and a tuft of cotton wool and managed to call a present.  I am, clearly, a bad mother.

But is it OK to laugh at this?:

Given the fuss they were making, the tears they shed, you’d think they were watching footage of shoeless orphans being kicked face-first into a propeller.  But no. They were looking at an advert for a shop.’

Because I laughed at this till tea came down my nose.


You, Me, Amber Cole: I Did Tell you It was all Connected!!

from Against All Evidence.  Fucking priceless.


We Are the 99%

L’il Boo, as I mentioned, has only recently come out of hospital.  He was in for a week; for most of that week (after finally escaping resus), he was in a private room (due to being officially contagious).  Doctors dropped by twice a day, more if I made it known I had a specific question or concern to be answered.  Nurses came by every hour at least, to do his obs or give him his meds.  Tests were run as needed.  X-rays were taken as needed.  His room was cleaned once a day.  He was fed three times a day.  I was given a bed with clean sheets, blanket and pillow.  A ‘play specialist’ popped by every day to provide fresh toys from the ward play room (which, being contagious, he couldn’t visit).

In short, he was well looked after.  And he was looked after for no money whatsoever from me.  Oh, of course, I pay taxes to contribute to the NHS; I’m not a simpleton, I get that I ‘pay’ for the NHS like everybody else, but you know what I mean.  His care was assured without any financial effort on my part whatsoever.  Fighting rising panic as he struggled to breathe and I struggled to get us to the hospital, I didn’t for one second have to consider the financial implications of going to hospital.  I could concentrate my energy purely on L’il Boo without worrying if the whole experience was going to bankrupt me.

Uh-huh.  The NHS.  You will not get me to say a bad word about the NHS.  Although.

I am particularly lucky.  My local hospital is fairly new, well-equipped, has a dedicated paediatric A&E and is, without a doubt, one of the better hospitals in the country.  I have heard many a tale – some from members of my own family – of NHS inadequacy, woe and neglect.  The NHS is not perfect, for sure.  Fo’ sho’.

Although this lack of perfectness is of course mainly because a succession of governments just keep fucking with it, rather than because there is anything wrong with universal, free healthcare as a concept.  Yes, yes, it’s starting to cost more as the population ages and no, no, you don’t have enough money to allocate to it, but yes, yes, you fucking would have if you hadn’t given it to all the banky wankies.  But in any event, you per se fuck with any public service – health, transport, rubbish collection, whatever – when you forget that its purpose is not to make a profit and, ergo, that it is not somehow failing if it makes a loss.  That is the whole point of a ‘public service': it is provided to the public even though its worth cannot be measured in money – by god, it’s actually designed to cost money! – but in other, more nefarious, ways like quality of life, happiness, satisfaction and other concepts that are now considered to be virtually communist in nature.  We have, of course, roundly forgotten this basic principle in regard to almost all our public services.  Much to our shame.  And we are, once again, trying to be made to forget it in regard to the NHS.  It’s a fucking crime.  And it’s what happens when the economy stops serving people and people start serving the economy.  And the richest 1% who dictate that economy, of course.

And I’ve just been reading through We Are the 99% tumblr.  And frankly, it breaks my stone cold heart.  What immediately strikes you about the stories posted there is that almost everybody has an issue with healthcare: the vast majority on there just can’t afford it.  Amazingly (for some naive soul not au fait with the American healthcare system), there are people who have health insurance (which seems to cost an arm and a leg) but still can’t afford healthcare because they can’t afford the deductible.   I am completely flummoxed by the inequity of the American health care system; I just don’t get how it’s got to the point where even if you have health insurance, you still often can’t afford to actually access healthcare..?  Hey, I live in Conservative Britain – I get inequality.  I get that unfettered capitalism destroys people’s lives.  What I had never got – never appreciated if you will – is that in America that destruction can follow a direct A to B path of such startling simplicity that it will leave you breathless.  Which, for a huge number of Americans, will be a respitory problem you’ll just have to DEAL WITH!  You got nothing fuckin’ coming is what you got!

I am not smug.  Do not think I am smug. I could not be smug because do you know the other big piano around the necks of ordinary Americans besides health insurance?  Student loans.  Thousands – in many cases hundreds of thousands – of dollars in student loans, taken out to pay, largely, tuition fees.  Which we have just introduced.

How can I feel smug when it’s just same bullshit, different day?


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