Sunday, March 04, 2012
You're allowed to disgust people if you are a Lesbian
Kenyata White and Aeimee Diaz were celebrating their anniversary at the American Kitchen & Wine Bar in downtown Phoenix this week when they were suddenly asked to leave the restaurant for "inappropriate behavior."
But after an uproar on Facebook and other social media sites, the lesbian couple has been welcomed back with open arms -- and free drinks.
The Arizona Republic reports that the couple was asked to leave the restaurant, which is in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, after the two women were seen hugging and kissing at their table.
A manager approached them to tell them their behavior was "inappropriate," and making other customers "uncomfortable."
"My partner and I were reminiscing," White told the Arizona Republic. "I had my arm around her neck, and she had her hand around my waist. I gave her a hug for about a minute, pulled myself away to give her a quick kiss, and then we continued talking."
White posted about the incident on her Facebook page and received an overwhelming response of support from the online community. Representatives of the hotel then met with the couple to apologize for the incident.
"We had the opportunity to meet with the couple late (Tuesday) to listen to their story and better understand their view and how they felt," hotel General Manager Leo Percopo said in a statement. "We had a collaborative conversation, and both parties are taking this incident seriously. Together, we have identified opportunities in which both parties can unite and work together to foster diversity awareness."
White said the couple was not only invited back the next day, but offered free drinks as partial recourse.
Now Britain's health and safety police bans the coffee from mothers' coffee morning because it is a 'scalding hazard'
Britain's oppressive bureaucracy is always looking for ways to harass ordinary people
It is a common occurrence up and down the country every day. Groups of mothers with their children get together for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee.
But mothers who attend one weekly coffee morning have been left furious after health and safety chiefs banned hot drinks from their event.
Volunteers have been ordered to change the name of the Friday morning sessions from ‘Coffee and Play’ to just ‘Baby Play’.
Biscuits have also been replaced by healthy snacks including fruit and bread sticks.
Parents attending the Stratford Children’s Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, must now catch up over a plastic cup of water.
The weekly 90-minute sessions have been running for five years for children aged 18 months and under and no toddler has ever been injured in that time. But last week Warwickshire County Council introduced the ban after it ruled hot drinks were a hazard to toddlers.
Parents have now branded the ban 'health and safety madness'.
One young mother, who did not want to be named, said: 'The hot drinks were never served in a cup or a mug. 'They were served in what I regard as a "no spill plastic safety cup" with a lid. 'There were almost like flasks, with a very small opening. Everyone is just a bit disappointed.
'I know it probably doesn’t seem much, but having a cup of tea or coffee is quite a nice social thing to do as a new mum. 'Does this mean I shouldn’t be drinking a cup of coffee in the comfort of my home? 'To me the ban is yet another example of health and safety madness.'
Children’s centres across Warwickshire can now only serve hot drinks if they are in a separate area from the toddlers.
Mum-of-two Sue Turner, 30, said: 'What the council are saying is if a parent wants a cuppa they must turn their back on their child and walk across to another area of the children’s centre to make it and drink it. 'Surely it is more dangerous to leave your child unattended than it is to have a cup of tea on a table next to you while you watch them.'
Vicky Kersey, children’s centre officer at the council, defended the ban. She said: 'To minimise any risk of scalding a child we have introduced a hot drinks policy at all of the county’s children’s centres.
'Hot drinks can now only be served at children and baby sessions if the layout of the centre provides a separate area to consume hot drinks away from children playing.'
Caroline Loveridge, spokeswoman for the Stratford Children’s Centre added: 'All families using the centre were informed about this change of arrangements and we invited their feedback. 'The majority of responses we have received have been positive and supportive as parents understand we want to minimise the chance of any harm being caused to their child.' [I'm betting that's an outright lie]
Why Britain's fallen out of love with the welfare state
Britain now spends 7.2 per cent of GDP on it's welfare system, and the costs of supporting the, supposedly, needy continue to rise. As the Whitehall empire grows, drowning the noble intentions of welfare in red tape, so too do the number who chose to abuse the system.
The Heaton family recieves £30,000 in benefits but wants a bigger house. Seventy years after Sir William Beveridge began our welfare system, Dominique Sandbrook argues that, if we are to protect the truly needy, the welfare state needs massive reform
Seventy years ago, with Britain locked in battle against the armies of Nazi Germany, one of the most brilliant public servants of his generation was hard at work on a report that would change our national life for ever.
Invited by Churchill’s government to consider the issue of welfare once victory was won, Sir William Beveridge set out to slay the ‘five giants’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.
When his report was published at the end of 1942, it became the cornerstone of a welfare state that supported its citizens from cradle to grave, banishing the poverty and starvation of the Depression, and laying the foundations for the great post-war boom.
For years the welfare state was one of the glories of Britain’s democratic landscape, a monument to the generosity and decency of human nature, offering a hand up to those unlucky enough to be born at the bottom.
Seven decades on, however, the British people seem to be falling out of love with Beveridge’s brainchild.
According to a YouGov poll for Prospect magazine, a staggering 74 per cent of us think that the Government should slash benefits. Young and old, Labour and Tory, rich and poor: every single social group believes it is time to cut back.
As the pollster Peter Kellner points out, such public unanimity is almost unprecedented. And what’s more, 69 per cent believe our welfare system has ‘created a culture of dependency’, and that ‘people should take more responsibility for their lives and families’.
On the face of it, such findings are not surprising. At a time when ordinary families are struggling to make ends meet, people are bound to resent those who seem to be getting something for nothing.
Only two days ago, the Mail carried the story of Dr Barbara Longley, a welfare cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 in benefits while secretly holding an NHS pension and owning a Spanish holiday home. And with similar stories appearing almost every week, it is little wonder so many people shake their heads in angry disbelief.
Even so, the turn against welfare is unprecedented. In previous times of austerity, public attitudes have always remained remarkably generous. Even in the straitened late Seventies, for example, seven out of ten people told pollsters they would like to see higher taxes to pay for higher social spending.
The truth is that we have reached a watershed. Seventy years after Beveridge’s landmark report, the British people appear to have lost confidence in the welfare state.
The current system has become bureaucratic, sclerotic and ineffective, trapping thousands of people in a cycle of dependency. New ideas and a new approach are long overdue.
The irony is that Beveridge himself could never have foreseen how welfare would look in the 21st century. For even when he wrote his famous blueprint, he was looking backwards.
His mission was to eradicate the grinding poverty of the Hungry Thirties, when three out of four people in some industrial towns were out of work, when thousands of children suffered from disease and malnutrition, and when rickets, dental decay and anaemia were widespread in inner cities.
And to his credit, Beveridge’s system was an overwhelming success. Thanks to Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, institutions like the National Health Service, as well as innovations such as national insurance, transformed the lives of millions.
Yet like so many top-down initiatives, the welfare state gradually became a gigantic exercise in Whitehall empire-building. The figures tell the story.
When Attlee left office in 1951, we spent just £700 million a year on welfare (not including health and pensions), which amounted to 4.7 per cent of Britain’s GDP. Yet in 2011 we spent a whopping £110 billion a year, which works out at 7.2 per cent of GDP.
To the outside observer, the welfare state now seems a bewildering carousel of benefits and tax credits. The Department of Work and Pensions alone employs 130,000 people to administer this Byzantine system, costing the taxpayer around £60,000 per employee when office costs are taken into account.
Not surprisingly, waste and fraud are widespread. A few years ago, even the DWP itself admitted that the level of fraud in the jobseeker’s allowance was almost 10 per cent. Year after year, as the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, remarked, ‘the story has been the same: the DWP loses enormous sums of money to fraud and error . . . Year after year billions of pounds are going into the pockets of people who are not entitled to them.’
Of course, no government can entirely eradicate fraud and error. And the abuse of the system should never blind us to our moral responsibility to help those in genuine need.
Still, it is worth remembering that when Tony Blair came to power in 1997, he claimed that we had ‘reached the limits of the public’s willingness simply to fund an unreformed welfare system through ever higher taxes and spending.’ Urgent welfare reforms, he said, would ‘cut the bills of social failure’, releasing money for schools and hospitals.
Not even Mr Blair’s partisans would claim that such reforms were forthcoming. Instead, the leviathan staggered on, quietly eating up more and more of our national income. For an example of the way good intentions can have very unsettling results, look at the case of incapacity benefit. Of course, those people who are genuinely disabled deserve infinite compassion. To look after the weak is the first duty of any decent government; to abandon them would be unconscionable.
Still, given the British people are better housed, fed and cared for than any generation before, it beggars belief that today more than 2.5 million people of working age are paid almost £8 billion in disability benefits.
Tens of thousands are apparently unable to work because of dizziness, depression, headaches and phobias, while 2,000 people claim benefits because they are ‘too fat to work’.
Embarrassingly, Britain now has the highest proportion of working-age people on disability benefit in the developed world. And while just 3 per cent of Japanese people and 5 per cent of Americans live in households where no one works, the figure in Britain is a humiliating 13 per cent.
Are British people really more likely to be disabled than their competitors? Is there, perhaps, something in the water that renders us more incapable?
Of course not. The truth is, Whitehall uses incapacity benefit to massage unemployment figures, effectively pretending that people are unable to work rather than simply out of work.
The people who really lose from this, incidentally, are those who are genuinely disabled. They deserve boundless public sympathy; instead, thanks to the abuse of the system, they are too often treated with scepticism.
But behind all this lies a deeper issue. Beveridge designed the welfare state for a tightly knit, deeply patriotic and overwhelmingly working-class society, dominated by the nuclear family.
Britain in the Forties was an old-fashioned, conservative and collectivist world, in which divorce was exceptional and single parenthood so rare as to be practically unknown.
Though millions of people had grown up in intense poverty, they were steeped in a culture of working-class respectability and driven by an almost Victorian work ethic. In the world of the narrow terrace back streets, deliberate idleness would have been virtually unthinkable.
Seventy years on, we live in a very different Britain. Collective class identities have largely broken down; in an age of selfishness, the bonds of the family have become badly frayed.
Even relatively poor families enjoy creature comforts, such as central heating and digital televisions, that their forebears could barely have imagined. Yet this has bred a sense of entitlement and eroded the sense of civic duty which once guided so many people. And as our culture of debt suggests, many of us demand the good life without being prepared to work for it.
Take, for example, Iona Heaton, a mother of nine from Blackburn, whose story was revealed in the Mail last week. Mrs Heaton might be a poster-girl for everything that is wrong with the current welfare system. Every year she receives almost £30,000 in benefits. By comparison, the average salary in Britain last year was just £26,000.
Her council house has a flat-screen TV, a computer, a Nintendo Wii, a digital camera and iPhone, and she takes her family to Pontins for two weeks every year. Yet she feels hard done by: the council, she says, should give her a bigger home.
It is a safe bet that Sir William Beveridge was not thinking of people like Mrs Heaton when he wrote his report. But then Beveridge was not quite the handout-happy do-gooder modern Left-wingers often imagine.
A man of personal austerity, who rose every morning at dawn, took an ice-cold bath and worked for two hours before breakfast, he hated the thought people might ‘settle down’ to a life on benefits.
‘The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility,’ he wrote. ‘In establishing a national minimum [income], it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.’
Tellingly, Beveridge was also an early supporter of ‘workfare’ — the system the Coalition Government is trying to promote, under which the unemployed, while keeping their jobseeker’s allowance, work for nothing for a few weeks to gain experience — arguing that to prevent ‘habituation to idleness’, men and women should be ‘required as a condition of benefit to attend a work or training centre’.
At a time when the Government is desperately trying to cut our public debt, and when we are facing decades of spiralling health and pension costs, getting back to Beveridge’s original spirit might seem like common sense.
Yet when governments try to reform the welfare state, they provoke hysterical shrieks of protest.
Absurdly, Margaret Thatcher is still derided as the ‘Milk Snatcher’ because of her decision to withdraw free school milk, a relic of the battle against malnutrition that looked simply ridiculous in the context of the Seventies.
George Osborne’s plans to cut child benefit for high earners provoked similar howls of fury, while the Left seethes with rage at the thought of capping welfare payments at £26,000 — even though millions of people in full-time employment take home considerably less than this.
Even the current crisis of the Government’s workfare scheme — under fire from Left-wing groups who, wrongly, argue it is unfair to the jobless — reflects the same spirit of entrenched refusal to change.
To my mind, though, it is frankly bizarre that we have entered the 2010s with a welfare system designed to solve the problems of the Forties, handing out child benefit to millionaires and allowing some people to make more on benefits than their neighbours do by sheer hard work.
With foreign competitors eating into our markets, the harsh truth is that 21st-century Britain will need to work harder than ever to earn its living. Even meeting our health and pensions bills for the next 50 years will be daunting.
Paying current welfare costs on top of that would stretch our finances beyond breaking point.
Yet this is not just a matter for government. What we need is not just a leaner and more efficient system, more carefully targeted at those who really need assistance, but a new spirit of collective social duty, from the nation’s boardrooms to its living rooms.
Going on as we are, as the Prospect poll shows, is no answer. For if public dissatisfaction with the welfare system continues to mount, then the real losers will be the people who really do need a hand: the genuinely sick, the abandoned, the weak and the unlucky.
Those were the people William Beveridge sought to help. Tragically, 70 years on, they may well be the ones who end up paying the price if Britain refuses to change.
Taxpayer-funded body needed to regulate Australia's media
Anyone for a free press?
A TAXPAYER-funded body should regulate all of Australia's news and current affairs across all media, an independent inquiry has urged. The Independent Media Inquiry wants a statutory watchdog to set standards and handle complaints involving all print, radio, television and online platforms.
The highly controversial measures were detailed in the inquiry's report, released yesterday by the Federal Government.
Aspects of the report already face strong opposition. Kim Williams, chief executive of News Limited - publisher of The Courier-Mail - questioned the role of government in the proposed body.
"The spectre of a government-funded overseer of a free press in an open and forward-looking democracy like ours cannot be justified," he said. "If print and online media are to continue to be able to robustly question, challenge and keep governments in check, they must remain self-regulated entirely independent of government."
Inquiry chairman Ray Finkelstein, QC, argued strongly for the new body, a regulatory regime to cover all the media. He said existing mechanisms regulating the media were not sufficient to deal with accountability in all news and current affairs platforms.
He singled out the Australian Press Council, which handles public complaints and monitors the professional standards of its print medium members.
But the APC opposed the proposed new body. Instead, it pushed for the strengthening of its own organisation to include news and comment in all platforms. This was the alternative the APC had presented to the inquiry for consideration.
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. 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.