Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Britain's cotton-candy council workers

Frail pensioner paid council to remove old TV... and was ordered to drag it outside herself so workmen didn't injure themselves

When 85-year-old Charlotte Cubitt decided to get rid of her old television, she thought it would be a straightforward process.

Although the set was far too heavy for the pensioner to move on her own, her local council offered an £11 removal service which seemed the ideal solution.

But then she hit a snag. On contacting the council, she was told by an official that staff could not enter her home and pick up the set – because of health and safety regulations. Instead, she was told she would have to drag it to the kerbside for collection.

Mrs Cubitt, from Colchester in Essex, was outraged. She said yesterday: ‘They told me I would have to put the TV outside my house because health and safety concerns prevented the men from carrying it out of the house. ‘I have seen these men and they are generally quite hefty and are employed because of their ability to handle heavy sacks of rubbish.

‘Countless times I have watched a man pick up five or six black bags – sometimes even more – and then stagger across the road to the assembly point. ‘What would be the risk of taking a TV from my house to carry it a couple of yards to sit on the kerb to await collection?’

Officials from Colchester Borough Council had suggested that the pensioner ask neighbours if they were willing to help.

But Mrs Cubitt, who still has the unwanted old-style set, said: ‘Would I be responsible if the neighbour suffered an injury? ‘I don’t understand it because the council must have insurance that would cover them, although I think it unlikely someone would be hurt carrying a television out to the road.’

The council’s deputy leader Martin Hunt, who also holds the portfolio for street and waste services, said: ‘The council is unable to collect items from inside the property because of possible insurance claims. ‘The council considers it the responsibility of the resident or their family to take the item to the agreed collection location.’

In February, the council was involved in another health and safety row when workers were banned from taking rubbish out of wheelie bins in case of injuries.


British review: 'parents must not be ridiculed' for complaining

Parents must feel free from "the fear of ridicule or appearing a prude" for complaining about their children being confronted by sexual imagery or commercial pressures, a report commissioned by the Government has concluded.

Parents will be encouraged to make a stand against companies, especially retailers, advertisers and broadcasters that cross the boundaries of decency. A special website designed where they can register their concerns will be set up within the next few weeks.

However, the report, which has been warmly welcomed by David Cameron, relies entirely on regulators and companies to adopt a voluntary approach, leading to some critics to say the report does not go far enough to put the brakes on "an unthinking drift towards ever greater commercialisation and sexualisation."

The wide-ranging review has called for companies and regulators, especially Ofcom, in charge of broadcasting, to adopt a variety of measures to curb the worst of the television, music and advertising industries excesses including inappropriately raunchy performances by pop stars on family shows such as the X-Factor. It has also instigating a one-stop website which can be used by parents to register complaints and find out information.

"We need parents to be parents," said Reg Bailey, who authored the report. "We want it to be more socially acceptable for parents and others to say that they are not happy about aspects of sexualisation and commercialisation, without fearing ridicule or appearing out of touch."

The key recommendations suggest that advertising billboards within at least 100 metres of schools and nurseries do not display sexual imagery; music videos will have a cinema-style rating; retailers should not sell lacy, black or underwired bras to under-12s as well as no longer stocking thongs and T-shirts for toddlers with inappropriate slogans such as "future WAG" or "Dive In".

So-called lads magazines such as Nuts and Zoo should either be sold on the top shelf or have their front cover images covered up in a "modesty sleeve"; consumers should be given the option when buying, or first turning on, a smart phone to block any adult material; and companies should no longer be allowed to pay children to promote their products in schools.

However, questions have immediately been raised about the voluntary approach, which relies on companies agreeing to change their behaviour and regulators to adopt a more censorious attitude.

Bhs, Matalan and Primark, all major childrenswear retailers are not part of the British Retail Consortium, which has been responsible for drawing up the code for stopping the sale of inappropriate clothing.

The Mothers Union, the Christian charity of which Reg Bailey is the chief executive, was one of the bodies to question whether the report was robust enough.

Rosemary Kempsell, the charity's president, said: "We cannot agree with the review that a purely consensual approach will be the most effective and that further regulation or legislation would necessarily disempower parents.

"As the review points out several times, parents want help and support to address the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and Government intervention is one way of achieving this. We should not be afraid to challenge industry when the welfare of our children, and their future, is at stake."

Sarah Teather, the Children's Minister, who commissioned the report, defended the voluntary approach: "One solution will not fix it.

"You don't always change things by regulation. That's not to say we rule out regulation. The Prime Minister has already said we will come back to this in 18 months time." She added that she hoped the retailers that had not signed up to the pledges would follow suit.

She and Mr Bailey both admitted it would difficult for parents to "put the brakes on" when it was impossible to define "inappropriate" or "sexual" when deciding whether a advertising billboard could or could not be placed near a school.

Mr Bailey said: "It would have been very easy to get bogged down with definitions of how many metres from a school or what is a sexualised image.

"What we have tried to do is put power back in parent's hands and let them decide. There will always be a range of views. One person's view of what is acceptable is another's persons unacceptable."

He said the most important thing was for parents to feed back and complain to the regulators.

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, is to be encouraged to take into account the concerns of parents when deciding what is and is not appropriate before the watershed. Many, Mr Bailey said, had expressed concern about the 2010 X Factor final, which sparked controversy with its sexualised performances from pop stars Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.

"That really came back very strongly that a programme that was essentially family viewing, a lot of parents felt very uneasy about some of the acts on there," he said of the hit ITV talent show.


"I am not resigning"

A married Congressman admits to lying, to sending obscene pictures of himself to young girls, and yet boldly proclaims that he will not resign.

Welcome to more evidence of serious cultural decay:
A tearful Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, admitted to a history of sending inappropriate messages and images to females he met on the internet during the past three years.

While he called his conduct "deeply regrettable," the congressman said he would not leave office for his actions.

"I am not resigning," Weiner said at a press conference Monday in a Manhattan hotel. "I have made it clear I accept responsibility for this. And people who draw conclusions about me are free to."

Weiner said he was "deeply sorry" for his "terrible judgment and actions" and offered apologies across the board to those affected by the scandal, primarily his wife.

"I've not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters and the media," Weiner said....

Weiner's ugly problem, however, seems to be a continuous interpersonal battle, one the congressman said is not caused by substance abuse.

"I'm not making any excuses for my behavior. I don't do drugs. I wasn't drinking. That wasn't the cause of this," he said. "This was me doing a dumb thing, and doing it repeatedly and then lying about it."

But through it all, Weiner assured he had not broken any laws, performing the communications mostly on his home computer rather than on government-issued equipment.

And so, the disgraced congressman hopes his constituents will realize that this scandal does not change his ability to get bills passed or perform community service.

I can't imagine the man sticking around but then again, I don't have a progressive mind.

I am however someone who thinks the man is capable of genuine sorrow and regret and is within reach of God's forgiveness and mercy. But I don't think we need to lower the bar for elected office and allow this man to continue to serve.

Step down Mr. Weiner and tend to your family and to the restoration of some semblance of integrity and dignity.


Discrimination may not be wrong

Tibor R. Machan

Most folks now consider discriminating against people because of their race, color, culture, age, sex etc. wrongful, unjust or unethical. At one time, though, being discriminating was deemed a good thing but that was when the idea was used to mean something like tasteful, discerning, even aware. But then it became something objectionable when people discriminated between others based on certain features that were irrelevant for purposes of deciding someone’s merits or worth as a professional or citizen.

Yet even now most folks have no problem with one’s having a favorite color, flower, ice cream, brand of car, hairdo, or apparel, etc. That means, of course, that in practice one will be drawn to these favorites while avoiding what one doesn’t find attractive or appealing–much of shopping pertains to picking favorites and avoiding what’s not favored. There is hardly anyone to whom this doesn’t apply and there is nothing wrong with it at all. This is so even when it is acknowledged that such tastes and preferences are quite arbitrary or subjective, not based on any sort of objective standards.

In contrast, it is also well and widely understood that when it comes to professional choices, it is indeed mostly wrong or unethical to let one’s tastes or preferences make a big difference. My dentist’s hair cut might not appeal to me but what matters is how good he is at dentistry. A teacher whose wardrobe is unappealing doesn’t lose points as a teacher for that. Nor is a student to be graded down for the color of his or her shoes. And the same thing holds across the board. (Of course, it is possible that someone’s tastes will clash with one’s own so drastically that one just cannot bear it!)

Now the same might also hold for race. There may be nothing amiss with preferring the skin color black to white or the other way around, so in personal matters this will be influential while in professional matters it should not be. One isn’t a racist for liking some skin colors more than others unless one lets this be a factor in judging people’s performance, worth, or qualification for citizenship. But otherwise acting on one’s preferences is no different from selecting favorite flowers or sofas and the like.

Yes, there are many areas in human relations when it is inappropriate to invoke mere preferences as one decides for or against someone. When one judges a competition in, say, technology or sports, all that may count is what is relevant while what isn’t needs to be left out of consideration. That is what justice demands. But life isn’t all about justice. It isn’t unjust for me to prefer tulips to roses, cabbage to broccoli, stake to fish or tall women to short ones.

All of this is pretty much common sense and widely acknowledged in practice even if careless rhetoric tends to go against some of it. (I am not considering here being judgmental based on religious or political convictions. Those can be well founded and need show no prejudice at all.) In dating, nearly everyone but a fanatic egalitarian will base selection on one’s preferences, tastes, etc., at least to start with. And few will feel any qualms about it–guilt for liking tall rather than short dates–although here and there one learns of some who do feel guilty for not preferring dates who are, say, overweight or speak with a heavy foreign accent.

The reason there is much concern about making selections based on race, color or sex is that such selections often concern hiring, promoting, including or excluding people who should be judged based on skill, competence, and other objective factors. In those matters reliance of tastes and preferences can be blatantly unjust, while in choosing a date it would not be.

A problem with getting all this wrong is that condemning those who act on their preferences often leads to people feeling guilty, seeing themselves as acting unjustly, as even harming people, whereas that’s not so at all. It is just that it is clearly wrong in certain cases to invoke one’s tastes and preferences, namely where what ought to count is the qualification one has for specific tasks or roles. But basing one’s preferences for other people on one’s tastes or preferences is entirely acceptable when kept within proper bounds.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: