From British daily The Morning Star:
Having a bit of a laugh
(Thursday 16 October 2008)
Or they might have imagined that the probation officers’ union deputy general secretary was being slightly mischievous.
But the importance of what he was saying only becomes evident when you see how Britain’s poor are treated by the legal system and how they are portrayed in the media and then compare that with the treatment of the bankers.
ASBOs are almost exclusively directed against working-class youth, especially on rundown housing estates where unemployment and general hopelessness have served to alienate them.
The anti-social behaviour that they are accused of is no joke. It often makes life a misery for other residents, especially for the elderly.
But the reality is that an ASBO is awarded without its recipient having been found guilty of any crime and breaking the terms of an ASBO can then lead to a custodial sentence, once again without the formality of a youngster being charged and convicted in court.
How do their misdemeanours of graffiti, shouting abuse and making a lot of noise compare with the very real crimes of the financial bosses who have gambled with people’s money to enrich themselves and then looked to other people to pick up the pieces?
The banking directors who walk away from the wreckage that they create don’t do so with a tag on their leg.
It’s usually with a golden handshake.
And they are still treated in the financial pages of the heavies as respectable businessmen who did well to create “value” when their gambling paid off and who are regarded now as a bit unlucky to have come unstuck.
They are not the unlucky ones. Those who are really cursed by bad luck are the staff working at many of these newly impoverished financial institutions who will pay with their jobs for a crisis that they had no part in creating.
And, while bank staff will find it difficult to find comparable jobs in recession conditions, the fat cats still have their ill-gotten gains to keep them warm and will probably slip back into a boardroom somewhere.
So who are the scroungers? Is it those who cost individual banks billions of pounds and thousands of bank staff their jobs or those left to rot in impoverished communities on benefits or low-paid work?
With one in three children in poverty, it is clear that this target will not be met, so the government has updated the target to abolition of child poverty by 2020. What an exercise in cynicism.
If the government is serious about tackling child poverty, it must increase the national minimum wage to a level that makes a difference instead of insulting the poor and waging war against them.
And it must prioritise construction of council houses and investment in infrastructure to provide many more well-paid jobs instead of casual work and valueless training schemes.