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Monday, 8 April 2013

The Crockpot

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to start using my slow cooker over the Easter holidays. Which I have!

So far, I've made three dishes, all from very different parts of the world.

The first was Pork Paprikash, a Hungarian dish. Andrew really liked this one, but I was not as keen on the intense paprika and green pepper flavour, although the pork was quite tender.

Next up was a New England Pot Roast, no prizes for guessing where that came from. A familiar set of English flavours, in a New English style of cooking. We both enjoyed this, and with the addition of Yorkshire pudding, and some Dill and Horseradish Cream, it was delicious.

Finally, I tried some Cowboy Pork and Beans, with rice. I didn't have a few bits and bobs that this one needed, so I improvised with some leftover Cajun spices - it was about the same in the end. For some reason, the sauce came out quite thin, but it was still flavoursome, and the pork just melted away.

No picture of this one, but perhaps some more posts to follow, as I have bought a whole load more stuff this week! Recipes can be provided, if anyone wants them

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Welcome to the Golden Age

The post title is not sarcasm. It is simply fact. Despite what the gutter press would have you believe, the institution of a welfare state circa 60 years ago has not led to the gradual devolution of our country into a sad reflection of a once golden nation. There never was a golden age. At every point in the past of this country more people died, of illness, violence, poverty, and general ignorance, than they do now.

And, in fact, the welfare state has been a significant part of ensuring that we live in what can only be considered a golden age of humanity, certainly in comparison with every other era that has gone before us, and many countries who currently co-exist with us.

However, that's not what many right-wing commentators would have you believe. They are convinced, and subsequently want to convince you, that this society is rotten to its very core. It's populated by scroungers, murderers, layabout, wastrels, and worse, all brought into existence because we have a state that supports the poor, the ill, and the disabled.

Any complaints to the contrary, like, for example that the welfare state supports the aforesaid groups, and that actually, there are bad apples in every society (whether it has a welfare state or not) is met with a chorus of derision.

"Pffft," they say, "You damned leftie. How could anything possibly be worse? Surely, if the state wasn't there to support these people, then they'd have to start working harder? Surely, if we weren't so soft on crime people would stop murdering and thieving and defrauding"

Well, would they? Would they?

Let's have a look at the evidence. And I don't mean someone on benefits splattered over the front page of a trashy tabloid, which proclaims (while lasciviously listing the intimate details of that person's sex life, you know, to show how depraved they are) that they are poor, and ill-educated, and just a bad sort because, because there is a state that supports them.

I mean the long-term evidence about what life is like in this country. Because without that, we can't possibly know whether "things are worse now", can we?

And who knows, perhaps I'll find that mythical Golden Age, and then we can all petition our MPs to return to EXACTLY the same laws, social circumstances, and voting rights that we had then, because obviously, it doesn't matter if child mortality rates have fallen, racism and sexism and homophobia are no longer tolerated by law, more children are educated now and to a better rate than they ever were. It doesn't matter if we now have a minimum wage, or universal suffrage, or a system which supports people who are unable to work through disability, and who would once have had to turn to begging or prostitution.

None of that matters. Do you know why? Because none of that sells papers.

What sells papers is a man with 15 children, who has threesomes with his neighbours and concocts a stupid scheme that kills 6 of his children.

But that doesn't mean the system is wrong. Just because one family didn't work doesn't mean the whole system doesn't work. But that doesn't sell papers.

What sells papers is a blistering attack on the welfare state, which directly equates welfare to why this man killed his own children. Because that's easier than confronting reality.

Which is this: those parents were failing. They received money from the state which they failed to turn into nutritious food, warm clothes, and a rich and loving environment for their children.

And so what do we do?

Choice 1: Take away state money from every other family who needs it. From every other family who is poor and struggling, but who takes that state money and turns it it into food, and clothes, and an environment filled with positive experiences. Take that away, just in case a minority of people abuse it. Knowingly consign children into poverty because of a moral outrage whipped up by the gutter press?

Choice 2: Keep the welfare state. Support families who need support. Don't consign children into poverty and crime, simply because the right-wing media wants more money for the millionaires.

Let's take Choice 2. Choice 1 looks like the rest of human history. It sees the elderly dying of cold, parents choosing to let their children eat rather than them, children bought and sold by people desperate to make money. It sees people choosing between food and medical bills, in a competitive system that is supposed to make it "better for consumers". The ability to make Choice 2 was bought for us by the solidarity of our ancestors, who refused to accept anything less from the ruling elite.

Don't let their sacrifices be for nothing. Don't let the richest in our society fool you into thinking that you will gain from the loss of the welfare state. Don't believe their lies.