Category Archives: Politics

Quote [75] – Historic Action: Government, Parliament and The Poor

Referring to work at a boys club:

“It was astonishing how wide were the interests of the boys in all kinds of subjects.  Sometimes they produced very good aphorisms.  For instance, we were discussing friendship one evening.  One boy summed it up by saying. ‘A pal is a bloke wot knows all about yer and yet loves yer.’  Another time we were discussing the qualities of a gentleman.  One said, ‘A bloke what does no work.‘ Another said, ‘A rich bloke.’ Young Dicky, a bright lad said, ‘I reckon a gentleman is a bloke wot’s the same to everybody’

As It Happened – C R Attlee
In the local association of Care Committees we used to have great fights against the adherents of the Charity Organisation Society who believed in the Poor Law principle of deterrence.  I recall a parson who advocated giving children only burnt porridge served at the most inconvenient place and time. Government Benefits / Support Systems As It Happened – C R Attlee
Poverty and the Law:

The problem of poverty caused growing public concern during the early 19th century. The existing system for looking after those unable to care for themselves – the old, sick, disabled, orphans and unemployed – was based on a series of Acts of Parliament passed during the later Tudor period. These laws imposed an obligation on every parish to take care of its poor, though this had much less to do with compassion than with the need to preserve order and stability.

‘Poor relief’ was not the responsibility of central government, but of the local parish, the main part of local government. A ‘poor rate’ or local tax paid by parish householders was used to help the poor in two main ways. In the 18th century those who were too ill, old, destitute, or who were orphaned children were put into a local ‘workhouse’ or ‘poorhouse’. Those able to work, but whose wages were too low to support their families, received ‘relief in aid of wages’ in the form of money, food and clothes.

Need for reform

New legislation attempted to improve aspects of the Poor Law, but left everything to local initiative. By the end of the 1790s there were clear signs that the system was under severe strain. Increasing numbers of parish poor were seeking assistance and the cost to ratepayers of maintaining the system was rising alarmingly, especially as payments were linked to the rising costs of bread and the size of families. There was also evidence that poor law payments were being used by employers to ‘top up’ wages.

In the early 1830s outbreaks of rural violence in southern England and complaints from hard-pressed ratepayers made it clear that urgent reform was essential. But opinion in Parliament and in the corridors of power was divided over how the Poor Law system could be made to work more effectively and less expensively. The main question preoccupying many MPs was whether it was right for the state to take some responsibility in such matters.

Appendix – for the above http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/livinglearning/19thcentury/overview/poverty/
  In 1832, the government appointed a royal commission to investigate the workings of the Poor Law and make recommendations for improvement. The commissioners sent out questionnaires and visited over 3,000 parishes (out of a total of 15,000) collecting information.

One of the leading commissioners, Edwin Chadwick, was already convinced that the system needed to be brought under rigorous central control in London. It also needed to be reformed in such a way as to deter people from making unnecessary demands on public funds.

The commission’s report and recommendations were published in 1834 and received wide support in Parliament. The commissioners had come up with a way of providing an efficient government cure for the problem, yet one which ensured a minimum of state interference and cost.

Reform

The Poor Law Amendment Act was quickly passed by Parliament in 1834, with separate legislation for Scotland and Ireland. It implemented a major overhaul of the old Poor Law by adopting all the commission’s main recommendations. A ‘Poor Law Commission’ (a new government department, in effect) was set up in London employing inspectors to supervise the work of local officials. Instead of an administrative system based around parishes about 600 locally elected ‘boards of guardians’ were set up, each board having its own workhouse.

Outdoor relief – the financial support formerly given to the able-bodied – was no longer to be available to them so as to compel them to work. Outside assistance was widely available to the sick and elderly. But in many areas assistance was only given within the confines of the workhouse where the regime was deliberately harsh and often cruel.

Pioneering Act

The new Act was pioneering in introducing a role for central government in the care of the poor, and remained in force throughout the Victorian age. But, as social commentators remarked, the treatment of genuine hardship caused by economic circumstances beyond the control of the individual had been ignored. By the 1880s, greater understanding of poverty and its complex links with economic conditions (such as low pay and unemployment) slowly began to change opinion in Parliament.

 

 

http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/livinglearning/19thcentury/overview/poorlaw/

 

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Quote [73] – Speech Extracts – Robert Kennedy

  I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all that I can.

I run to seek new policies – policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old, in this country and around the rest of the world.

I run for the presidency because I want the Democratic Party and the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation of men instead of the growing risk of world war.

Making Change & Why http://www.4president.org/Speeches/rfk1968announcement.htm

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In His Own Words

Robert F Kennedy

 

  My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

“Some men see things as they are and say why.   I dream things that never were and say why not.”

Making Change & Why

 

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ekennedytributetorfk.html

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In His Own Words

Ted Kennedy

 

Quote [71] : People – Self Interest vs Communism

  The communist think they have found the way to redeem mankind from evil.  Man is unequivocally good and well disposed to his neighbour, but his nature has been corrupted by the institution of private property.  Ownership of property gives the individual the power and so the temptation, to mistreat his neighbour; whoever is excluded from ownership is bound to be hostile to the oppressor and rebel against him.  When private property is abolished, when goods are held in common and enjoyed by all, ill will and enmity among human beings will cease.  Because all needs will be satisfied, no one will have any reason to see another person as his enemy; everyone will be glad to undertake whatever work is necessary.  I am not concerned with economic criticisms of the communist system; I have no way of knowing whether the abolition of private property is expedient and beneficial.*   But I can recognise the psychological presumption behind it as baseless illusion.  With the abolition of private property the human love of aggression is robbed of one of its tools, a strong one no doubt, but certainly not the strongest.  No change has been made in the disparities of power and influence that aggression exploits in pursuit of its end, or in nature.  Aggression was not created by property; it prevailed with almost no restriction in primitive times, when property was very scanty.

[* – Anyone who tasted the misery of poverty in his youth and experienced the indifference and arrogance of propertied people, should be safe from the suspicion that he has no sympathy with current efforts to combat inequalities of wealth and all that flows from them.  Of course, if this struggle seeks to appeal to the abstract demand, made in name of justice, for equality among all men, the objection is all too obvious: nature, by her highly unequal endowment of individuals with physical attributes and mental abilities, has introduced injustices that cannot be remedied.]

Communist Economics – Society Civilisation and its discontents – Sigmund Freud

 

Quote [69] – Advise From the Past .. To Governments Of The Day

  Wise policy is setting priorities – differentiating between that which is merely important and that which is truly essential.  And it would be both callous and self-indulgent for those of us who sit comfortably at home to form policy without full knowledge and consciousness of the costs to others, young men and women and children, whose lives turn on the abstractions of our discussion. Politics – Government Make gentle the life of the world

Quote [68] – International Politics, Society .. Wars

At the outbreak of the First World War the ex-chancellor of Germany Prince von Bulow said to his successor, “How did it all happen?” “Ah, if only we knew,” was the reply. Make gentle the life of this world
In Africa, I tried to answer those who asked, “If the United States is fighting for self-determination in Vietnam, then how ca it not support the independence struggle of Angola and Mozambique?”   I answered unsatisfactory, for there is no real answer.  Yet to the questionnaires, it is less our intention than our pretension that Is objectionable.  Thus does false principle destroy the credibility of our wisdom and purpose that is the true foundation of influence as world power. Make gentle the life of the world
“But you and I know that this war will not have any real victors and that, once it is over, we shall have to go on living together forever on the same soil” – Albert Camus Make gentle the life of the world
“There is no such thing as inevitable war.  If war comes it will be from failure of human wisdom.”  – Bonar Law Make gentle the life of the world
It is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them even to win wars, and that such deeds do us more harm than a hundred underground forces on the enemy’s side. – Albert Camus Make gentle the life of the world
Whatever the costs to us, let us think of the young men we have sent there: not just the killed, but those who have to kill; not just the maimed, but also those who must look upon the results of what they do. Make gentle the life of the world

 

Quote [67] – Commonality vs Diversity

We have treasured our educational system also as a firm pillar of the liberal community. This faith, however, is not unanimously shared. One critic has said: “Education (is) by its very nature an individual matter…not geared to mass production. It does not produce people who instinctively go the same way…(yet) our millions learn the same lessons and spend the same thing at exactly the same time. For one reason and another we are more and more ignoring differences, if not trying to obliterate them. We seem headed toward a standardization of the mind, what Goethe called ‘the deadly commonplace that fetters us all.’” This speaker was not part of a Berkeley rally; it was Edith Hamilton, one of our greatest classicists. Make gentle the life of this world

Quote [66] – International Community and Common Qualities

Each nation has different obstacles and different goals, shaped by the vagaries of history and of experience. Yet as I talk to young people around the world I am impressed not by the diversity but by the closeness of their goals, their desires and their concerns and their hope for the future. There is discrimination in New York, the racial inequality of apartheid in South Africa, and serfdom in the mountains of Peru. People starve in the streets of India, a former Prime Minister is summarily executed in the Congo, intellectuals go to jail in Russia, and thousands are slaughtered in Indonesia; wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere in the world. These are differing evils; but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfections of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows; they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. And therefore they call upon common qualities of conscience and indignation, a shared determination to wipe away the unnecessary sufferings of our fellow human beings at home and around the world.

It is these qualities which make of youth today the only true international community.

Our answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth.  The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans.  It cannot be  moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress.

Make gentle the life of this world

Quote [64] – Society, Dignity & Social Security

We must turn the power and resources of our private enterprise system to the underdeveloped nation within our midst.  This should be done by bringing into the ghettos themselves productive and profitable private industry – creating dignified jobs, not welfare handouts, for the men and youth who now languish in idleness. Make gentle the life of this world
The jobs have fled to the suburbs, or have been replaced by machines, or have moved beyond the reach of those with limited education and skills …

The fact is, if  we want to change these conditions – those of us here in this room, those of us who are in the establishment, whether it be business, or labour, or government – we must act.  The fact is that we can act.  And the fact is also that we are not acting.

Make gentle the life of this world
Our society – all our values, our views of each other, and our own self-esteem; the contribution we can make to ourselves, our families, and the community around us – all these things are built on the work we do.  But too many of the inhabitants of these areas are without the purpose, the satisfaction, or the dignity that we find in our work. Make gentle the life of this world
And there are others: on the back roads of Mississippi, where thousands of children slowly starve their lives away, their minds damaged beyond repair by the age of four or five; in the camps of the migrant workers, a half million nomads virtually unprotected by collective bargaining or social security, minimum wage or workmen’s compensation, exposed to the caprice of fate and the cruelty of their fellow man alike; and on Indian reservations where the unemployment rate is 80 percent, and where suicide is not a philosopher’s question but the leading cause of death among young people. Make gentle the life of this world
And the effects of the shortage of meaningful employment are reinforced by a welfare structure which is frequently destructive both of individuals and of the community in which they live.

More basically, welfare itself had done much to divide our people, to alienate us one from the other.  Partly this separation comes from the understandable resentment of the taxpayer, helplessly watching your welfare rolls and your property tax rise.  But there is greater resentment among the poor, the recipient s of our charity.  Some of it  comes from the brutality of the welfare system itself: from the prying bureaucrat, an all powerful administrator deciding at his desk who is deserving

Make gentle the life of this world

 

Quote [63] – Equality Of All Our People

We must recognise the full human equality of all our people – before God, before the law, and in the councils of government.  We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because of the laws of God command it; although they do; not because people in other land wish it so.  We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do. Make gentle the life of this world