Home » Ain't life great. » Where’s the fucking money?

Where’s the fucking money?

“Data from 98 of the 151 local authorities in England with statutory responsibility for social care show that they met only 218 (42%) of 515 targets to improve social care in their area and missed the other 297 (58%).” – The Observer, 11 December

By: Health correspondent Julian Sick ©2016 @holby.gen

The question that occurred to me while just now walking Hunzi in the dogshit-strewn exurban space that passes for our local park was this:

Where’s the money?

Slipsliding along a muddy part of the footpath by the river that sometimes floods leaving puddles people have tried getting around, trampling the grass, spreading the misery, I briefly thought it might be nice if the Council were someday to complete the paving and rustic-bridging of the whole length of the path.

Immediately the answer came: that’s absurd! They haven’t got any money for that sort of thing!

They can afford to pay PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s consultants hundreds of thousands of pounds for a generic report (only the names are changed) telling them how to save money, naturally.

They can close care homes and spend £1.5 million on a fully equipped day-centre for the elderly, only to pull it down again to make room for a Tesco development.

They can take pleasure in granting permission for a Pizza Express restaurant in a listed building, just across the way from Domino’s Pizza, in a town that already consists almost entirely of fast-food joints, pop-up hairdressers and charity shops; but whose only ethnic Welsh bookshop has closed.

But frivolities like cleaner streets and a couple of hundred yards of cinder track to keep people’s feet dry, no, sorry.

They’re not unique in these regards. I’m reading daily of care-home closures and abandoned support services, that have been brought about as a result of former Chancellor, George Osborne’s well-intentioned institution of the Living Wage, which he brought in without thought to what might happen to private care-giving businesses on fixed-price contracts to provide services to local authorities, who can no longer afford to pay their care workers at all.

I’m reading about the accelerating collapse of ‘care in the community’ as more and more elderly people are thrown onto the good offices of NHS hospitals already groaning at the seams with diabetics and cirrhotics, sclerotics and other lifestyle victims.

Amazingly, my mother’s local authority has voted her the unlimited funding required to put in place a palliative care package, so that she can go back to her virtually uninhabitable, top-floor city flat, where the landlords are just waiting for her to die before sending in the decorators. At present she is ‘blocking’ a hospital bed, alongside many identical chalk-faced, semi-conscious, moaning old ladies being wheeled in and out all night, and they’ve lost her dentures; but there’s nothing more the NHS can do for her, other than provide round-the-clock nursing care they need to free up beds for people they can cure, so she has to get out.

Age 91, she will get all the physical supports she needs: a special bed, a portable loo, a walking frame – anything; plus four one-hour visits a day, each with a team of two carers, who will cook and clean for her, shop for her and collect prescriptions, bed-wash and toilet her, provide pain relief, switch things on and off. (Although bizarrely they can’t provide any care at night, and will have to leave her alone and vulnerable in the building, armed only with a bedpan.) This, for a feisty woman who until this Autumn was still gamely independent. All her bedroom furniture will have to be moved out, only they don’t do that, I have to arrange it somehow myself in a strange city, on a busy street, living as I do 250 miles away.

Is it so wicked of me then to more than half-wish she might just not wake up tomorrow?

She might spare herself, the care teams, the local authority – and poor old me, six hours away on the train, hauling my protesting prostate across town through the dangerously overcrowded underground network to visit every week – the immense cost and difficulty of providing all this, a slow-motion existence of physical pain moderated by cigarettes and alcohol, just so she can have ‘one last Christmas’ at home – a dismal apartment from where, after 51 years, she was begging me only a few weeks ago to get her out – with me, her closest surviving relative and really poor company, when she could just go into a properly equipped nursing home, or better still a hospice, to enjoy a chat and maybe access to, or a view of, a garden, grass, trees, sky for her remaining weeks or possibly months?

And there’d still be turkey and a paper hat.

But she’s already ordered the food. Masses of it, more than I could eat in a month. Lobster! More than she can afford on her pension credit.

Naturally, M&S’ salespeople don’t ask telephone customers: ‘hang on a mo while we just run through some questions to determine if you’re a bit doolalli and haven’t really thought this through?’*

Who is going to cook it all? I suppose I shall have to cook it. Who is going to eat it all? I shall have to pretend to eat it, before throwing most of it in the bin. And then she will die anyway, as you do, and there will be the whole process of disposing of everything: the bureaucracy, the paperwork – telling her bank manager he was a fool to lend her the money she will never pay back – dealing with 50 years’ worth of junk, unburdening the fridge of its jars of furry things and arranging any obsequies. We don’t have money for a funeral, so she’s said she wants to leave her body to science. What the cancer leaves of it first. They won’t necessarily want her, however. Then what do we do?

And who will there be in the flat, to take delivery of the food? My mum can no longer walk as far as the door. Care workers will have to take delivery.

It’s that moment you’ve been dreading for the past ten years, and now wish you’d done more, anything, to plan for it before it arrived. She seems rational, although she’s not, she’s quite cognitively impaired and not making a lot of sense. Only I can tell!

But at least there appears to be a support service, liaison between the specialist nursing staff and the local authority social services, professionalism, outcomes – genuinely caring people – money.

I read about the tens of thousands of elderly patients elsewhere in the country left to rot in their own piss and shit, to go undernourished (some care services simply dump a fortnight’s worth of ready-meals in the fridge and then leave, where there used long ago to be daily ‘meals-on-wheels’), drug-addled and abused in so-called care, granted one ten-minute ‘hi-and-bye’ a day from a foreigner on sub-minimum wage, because their local authorities aren’t among the wealthiest in the country like the one where my mum has lived most of her adult life.

Why are other local authorities so strapped that they cannot provide this level of care everywhere? Have they spent it all on consultants? Where is the money?

It seems there is a huge mountain of money in our country.

The UK is about the fifth or the sixth largest economy in the world. British-based businesses are sitting on a pile of uninvested cash worth nearly a trillion (thousand billion) pounds. How much more is stashed in places like Panama we simply have no idea. UK house prices, rents and commercial offices are soaring out of reach of ordinary working people, which means even richer people are buying property, forcing up the value. Just the national private housing stock two years ago was estimated at over £5 trillion; commercial property added another £2.3 trillion.

The total value of financial assets in the UK, basically what’s in the bank vaults, is reportedly over £8 trillion. And another – wait for it – £4 quadrillion is traded annually (largely untaxed) through the City of London. Would half-a-penny in the pound really have been so burdensome that Goldman Sachs would have moved its office and junior money-baboons to Frankfurt?

‘Black Friday’ last week saw our so-called ‘Just About Managing’ lower-middle-class spend £2.9 billion on seasonal Chinese junk their kids can use to send each other pictures of their pubescent sexual organs. Employment – jobs – is at its fullest and highest since 1971. Wages are rising at 2.3% a year. Unemployment continues to fall. Consumer debt is said to be £1.5 trillion, equivalent to the entire annual GDP. VAT – purchase tax – continues to produce £105 billion a year for the Treasury. The DWP is spending half-a-billion pounds a year on French and US contractors profiting mightily from gouging the disabled.

The Government has over £100 billion in ‘infrastructure projects’ on the drawing board, including more ships for the navy, a polluting and destructive new runway at Heathrow, a pointless train-set that will gobble up half a million acres of land, homes and villages just to suck money from Birmingham to London 20 minutes faster than the perfectly adequate service there is already.

Replacing our four ageing Trident submarines with the already outmoded Successor-class submarines we could just buy from the Americans but instead have to build ourselves to retain a few thousand jobs in Scotland to keep them from leaving the UK will cost at least another £68 billion. There’s the cost of leaving the EU, probably another £59 billion (not to mention the unlimited bribes being offered to foreign investors to stay in Britain after Brexit, and the cost of replacing EU subsidies to farmers, regional development and the R&D sector).

All this shit is apparently funded out of cheap government debt; higher than ever. Even all those wasteful billions of project-pounds are barely a pimple compared with the trillions of pounds Britain is worth: yet 90% of the local authorities in the country can’t afford to provide decent basic care services to the elderly; while (apart from inworkers) the population is fast ageing. And the Government says, oh, sorry, there isn’t enough to go round, you’ll just have to cut back some more, or raise more taxes locally from the very people you need to help.

What they mean is, as with energy policy, they haven’t been planning for this, they plan only as far as the next election.

This is irresponsible governance, for which the Prime Minister should take responsibility – but she won’t.  She’s just splashed out a thousand quid on a pair of leather trousers. Having recently sold some more furniture, after 68 years as an Equity union member my mother left precisely £633.

So I’m going to ask you again, crapulous Treasury cunts, political tossers, Mr Carney and the private finance baboons:

Where’s the fucking money?

*And, as it turns out, it was a fantasy: she hadn’t actually placed the order after all.

Sad news

Monday, 5 December

My mother died in the hospital this morning, eight days short of her 93rd birthday.

 

A leap in the dark

We’ve been told 97% of the universe is ‘dark matter’, powered by ‘dark energy’. I have written before, speculating therefore about ‘dark time’, though as no-one reads this, my bogl, no-one has yet attempted to discover it.

Perhaps it’s time we thought about ‘dark money’, and what it is threatening to do to our world; our grandchildren.

Trump, egged-on by his pet British arselicker, Farage, a noisome, self-promoting political nonentity of whom he would never have heard before the publicity-starved succubus arrived in Mississippi to gatecrash his convention, between the latest of his 31 appearances on the BBC Question Time panel, has leaned heavily on Brexit as an example of how people are fed up with big government.

Yet he has shown no intention of honouring his campaign pledge to burst the Washington insider bubble in his stumbling appointments to his cabinet of some very scary insiders indeed, dismal hokey cretins from the southern swamps, white supremacists, bloodthirsty ‘Mad Dog’ militarists with fundamentalist Christian views, financed from the shadows by lobby groups acting for Fortune 500 companies opposed to all environmental, public health and human rights legislation, willing to risk extinction to promote the US arms and highly polluting energy industries.

In his approach to China, little Donald McRonald has already shown that he is a dangerously loose cannon, utterly ignorant of international affairs; a spoilt brat who has been told he can’t have a big red fire-engine for Christmas. But because he affects the charmless personality of a mercurial shapeshifter, it may be that he is deliberately provoking confrontation to please the Dumbfucks and the Pennsylvania coalminers, we can’t be sure. He’s not even been sworn-in yet.

In fact, it appears that while he has been pre-insulting the Chinese leadership and enjoying cosy chats with Taiwanese president Tsai, one of the few women whose pussy he has not yet grabbed, crossing one of the fattest and most vividly red diplomatic lines on the planet, he has been lobbying Taiwan privately behind the scenes to build more Trump hotels, confirming that a Trump presidency is designed entirely and absolutely to make Trump great again, and fuck you middle-America, you losers.

His unfortunate VP, the Christian fundamentalist (how similar Christian fundamentalists are to Islamic fundamentalists!) Mike Pence, has been struggling with the media, without a lot of conviction, to justify Trump’s infelicitous and, frankly, infantile outbursts on Twitter, a medium purpose-built for unreconstructed teenage baboons to put their cretinous views out into the twatosphere in the middle of the night in 124 characters or less; avoiding the need for extensive, thoughtful analysis.

I voted to remain in the EU – I’m 67, part of the age group blamed for voting to leave, although I know no-one here of my age who did vote to leave – not for boring economic reasons but because I prefer to remain part of what remains of human civilization.

Yeah, so what was that Brexit thing about, I hear you ask?

Imagine, reasoning Americans, you were part of a 43-years-old organization uniting you with all the autonomous states in somewhere we’ll call Canada, that gave you the right to trade freely, travel, live and work in Canada, full citizenship rights; but which involved paying a proportionate subscription according to your annual GDP to cover the costs of administering common consumer protections, cross-border policing, worker safety and product standardisation, umbrella trade deals with the rest of the world; and provided finance to support agriculture and development of your underperforming economic areas.

Following an election, some rightwing politicians on the make, people who don’t like business regulation, pressure your Congress into calling for an early referendum, claiming (falsely) that Canada is in effect ruling America through unelected and unaccountable institutions; and that millions of Canadians are pouring across the border to live and work in the USA because it’s so much better and they get free social benefits at taxpayers’ expense (actually, you need their labour to grow your economy – your population is ageing and underqualified).

So a bunch of disaffected miners in Pennsylvania, brainwashed by years of propaganda in a populist press dominated by corporate interests opposed to Canadian antitrust laws, voters facing the inevitable death of their hideously polluting, underinvested rustbelt industries, tip the balance of the vote in favour of abrogating the treaty, having no knowledge whatever of the technicalities and the consequences of getting out; regardless of whether or not Canada is responsible for their economic decline; heedless of the fact that Canada is actually providing funding for redevelopment in the stricken areas while resisting the onward march of the big tax-dodging corporations who have globalised their jobs.

They just want to ‘send a message’, that they want bigger TV screens and more sale-bargain sofas in their lives, and they don’t like politicians, although they cannot say what they would replace them with. So they throw their iPhones out of the pram.

That’s the actual situation we’re in with the EU. Any attempt to oppose this historically irresponsible and permanently binding vote, that threatens to destabilise the entire postwar political consensus, is howled down by the bully boys dominating a supine and craven media, that in turn whips up its phoney patriotism to ever greater excesses. Even our Supreme Court judges, who are merely being asked to consider a High Court ruling that the executive needs final Parliamentary approval to reverse the treaty, are being subjected in advance to a vicious smear campaign in the Brexit press; branded as ‘traitors’, their families receiving death threats on social media.

It smells horribly of fascism sponsored by powerful interests, the crony capitalism of the Bilderberg Group and the chummy billionaires who foregather in Davos every year to carve-up what remains of the world between themselves, and to hell with the rest of us. How easy it is to play the immigration card, to get everyone believing that ‘foreigners’ and obscure international institutions, the ‘worldwide conspiracy’ is responsible for all your economic woes!

As in America with Trump, opponents of Brexit are bullied and stigmatised; targeted for elimination. A pro-Remain MP, 42-year-old mother of two young children, Jo Cox, was shot and hacked to death by a crazed white supremacist in the street outside her office, only two weeks before the referendum last June; fifty thousand ugly, slobbering morons tweeted their joyous approval; Farage has accused her widower, who started a campaign for tolerance, of running a terrorist-sympathising organisation. The Government and the security services have since stood by and done nothing.

We live in increasingly dark times. Please understand that behind the rise of  the Brexit baboons are some very nasty, very wealthy – very greedy people indeed; and they will stop at nothing to continue raping our world until human civilization and all life on the planet (other than their own) is ended; which may not be very long now (Arctic temperatures are up to 33 deg C above normal for November).

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation

Plagiarism corner

In a Christmas commercial for a credit card company, a couple of ordinary middle-aged women are fantasising about what they will do with the money, when one announces that she plans to buy another saxophone.

As readers of this, muh bogl, and of scabrous Comments I have made on The Guardian news pages, may recall, I have long been pointing out the silliness of Big Data-type advertising pop-ups on this, muh li’l laptop, offering me more saxophones, after I bought one online in September.

I wrote, how many saxophones can one person use, who doesn’t yet play the saxophone? It seems that in this post-truth era, it’s not a relevant question.

 

All’s well that ends well

If you’re still not certain about the place of 2016 as one of the weirdest years in history, consider the following story:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-38205945

Shoppers in Carrickfergfus, Northern Ireland, panicked on Saturday morning as a stray goat rampaged through their shopping precinct, jumping onto cars and terrorising shop staff, principally by looking strangely at them. A pensioner, whose name was given as Billy, was butted in the rear and sought refuge in a shop, where the manager is quoted as follows:

“The manager described how the goat began eating flower baskets outside the shop on Victoria Road and then frightened staff and customers as they tried to get into the building.

“It was into the baskets eating all the plants and running round the car park, I thought: ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!'”

Oh, yeah? he said that? Really?

It just shows the Irish can still make hideous puns in the face of terrible adversity.

In the end, anticlimax: the capricious beast’s owner turned up, took it by the horns and led it peacefully away.

As you do, when you own a goat.

Which I have.

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