Would you like to be paid for sitting at home all day doing nothing? If so, you could try getting in touch with Autonomy, a British-based think-tank currently seeking £1.6m in funding to give away £1,600 per month over the course of two years to 30 lucky British citizens. This is billed as the first small-scale trial of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) ever to be tried out in England, an idea whose time has supposedly now come. As advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are predicted to render us primitive humanoids increasingly irrelevant in the workplace over coming decades, UBI is increasingly cast as the possible answer to potential looming mass unemployment. UBI involves doling out every individual in any given nation a free state-administered handout each and every month or week, no strings attached. Recipients may choose to use it to supplement existing income from part-time work, to pay their way through higher education, to fund themselves performing voluntary work in the local community … or, rather less optimistically, to sit around at home all day eating crisps and watching TV. Simply put, UBI would simplify and universalise all pre-existing state benefits systems, essentially placing everyone on a kind of lifetime state unemployment allowance – without any need for them to necessarily actually ever bother seeking out a job. Some people like the idea, others are sceptical. British Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith scoffed that the Autonomy think-tank would “be surprised to hear there’s a system already in place regarding income, which is widely referred to as ‘employment’.” Personally, I rather like the idea of a UBI in principle. I just doubt whether it could actually succeed in practice. Yet it is not the practicality (or otherwise) of funding or administering UBI we shall consider here, but something which may at first seem like a side issue, but really is not: what would most people actually choose to do with all that new, unearned free time a UBI allowance would gift them? False idles Modern-day advocates of UBI take their place within a long line of thinkers who have had exceedingly unrealistic expectations about just how the liberated proletariat will employ their time, once freed from the bonds of degrading capitalist free-market wage-slavery. Consider, for instance, Karl Marx’s famous words to the effect that less time at work and less specialisation of labour forced upon the individual worker by capitalism would allow people “to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, raise cattle in the evening, [and] criticise [literature] after dinner … without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” Put politely, these imaginary, infinitely enlightened Marxian beings are not humans as we currently know them. Recall too the left-wing English philosopher Bertrand Russell’s 1932 essay In Praise of Idleness, which contains passages like the following, about the likely impact of shorter work hours upon the ordinary people whom Russell had occasionally glimpsed whilst looking out through the windows of his large country mansion. A looming four-hour workday, he said: “… would enable a man to use leisure intelligently … Peasant dances have died out except in remote rural areas, but the impulses which caused them to be cultivated must still exist in human nature … [Because workers are so tired] the pleasures of urban populations have become mainly passive: seeing cinema, watching football matches, listening to the radio and so on … In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving … Men who, in their professional work, have become interested in some phase of economics or government, will be able to develop their ideas without the academic detachment that makes the work of university economists often seem lacking in reality.” Surely Russell’s own idea is lacking in reality? What he is saying is certainly true for an exceptional minority: miniscule working hours and a UBI doubtless will enable a few genuine working-class geniuses to develop their talents without starving, but I suspect the vast majority of mankind will continue to be satisfied by watching football matches and films (although who precisely will be volunteering to staff and run the actual stadiums and cinemas is more of a moot point).
If you thought that Russell Brand’s problems were the biggest story in the UK right now, think again. Think about a revolt brewing in the British Civil Service against gender ideology and a warning from within the ranks that identity politics are undermining government itself. Yes, the sacred cow of transgenderism, reverenced by the political elite of nearly every Western country, is being blasphemed in the very corridors of bureaucratic power by unbelievers who say their right to disagree is being trampled upon. Back in April, 42 of them from 16 government departments signed a letter to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case which says that ideology about gender promoted by trans activists has become embedded in the Civil Service in a “significant breach of impartiality”. The letter was leaked to The Telegraph, which broke the story last weekend. At a time when even prime ministers stumble over the definition of a woman, they have underlings who cling to the idea that there are two sexes and that there is no crossing from one sex to the other. There are public servants who do not want to meet the opposite sex in the women’s bathroom even if it is dressed as a woman. They do not want to undergo training that tells them why their attitude is wrong and must change. Nor do they want to watch videos urging them to become LGBTQ+ allies, or stop talking about “mums and dads” when it might offend someone. Yet, in the departments where the letter writers work, the concept that “everyone has a gender identity which is more important than their sex” is “treated as an undisputed fact”, they say. Staff who openly disagree suffer “serious harassment” at work and live with a “pervasive fear” that they will be victimised. (Their own views about sex and gender are protected under the UK’s Equality Act as “beliefs” rather than facts.) Gender ideology has created a culture in the Service that “distorts the operation of government in many ways,” the letter warns, “and it is reasonable to be concerned that it could improperly influence government policy”. Or, as one signatory told The Telegraph, “There has been a widespread woke takeover of Whitehall that our most senior officials have swallowed hook, line and sinker”. The authors of the letter plead for “urgent action to ensure that Civil Service impartiality is upheld, and freedom of belief is respected.” Of course, 42 people out of a workforce numbering nearly half a million is not a lot. However, those few are likely to represent a much larger number. Eight of the signatories remained anonymous for fear of losing their jobs. An individual testimony published by The Telegraph begins: “I work as a civil servant for a major government department and I am part of what I believe is a silent majority being bullied into accepting the wholesale adoption of gender identity ideology.”
Anyone who has ever bought something only to hate it once they got it home is familiar with the concept of buyer’s remorse. Sadly, the regret felt after making a bad purchase also applies to the world of politics. The difference is that politicians, once elected, cannot be returned for a refund. And the damage they inflict on their constituents or nation can linger on for years, long after they have left office. Which is why many American voters, when faced with the reality of the Biden Presidency, are now having second thoughts about voting the man into office. Biden’s fast-sinking ship of state Truth to be told, this process actually started fairly early on in his Presidency as shown by a series of Gallup polls, which show that, while Biden did initially enjoy a 56 percent approval rating generally (60 percent among younger voters), support for him quickly dropped so that by March 2022 his overall support had fallen by 14 percentage points to 42 percent. This drop was particularly worrisome in light of the even greater declines seen among some key demographics – namely, Millennials and Gen Z voters (down 19 and 21 percentage points respectively), African-Americans (down 21 points) and Hispanics (down 20 points). Since that time, Biden’s approval rating has remained stuck at around the 40 percent mark, even dropping below that recently. While this is close to the level experienced by Presidents Trump and Obama at the same point in their Presidencies, there are a number of red flags unique to Biden. One is the steep decline in support seen among independents – which fell from 61 percent in January 2021 to 39 percent in August 2023. Another is the softness in support from young Hispanics and African-Americans. And then there is the ongoing flight of working-class voters to the Republicans. Recent polls have been so dismal that even the usually Biden-friendly mainstream media have been forced to recognize the depth of voter discontent. The most recent example involved the ABC News/Washington Post poll released in late September. It found overall approval for Biden to be trailing disapproval by 19 points (37 percent approval versus 56 percent disapproval). To make things worse, his approval was lower (30 percent) when it came to the economy and lower still when it came to immigration (just 23 percent). The intensity of the disapproval felt by Americans was shown by the 45 percent of respondents who strongly disapproved of his performance compared to just 20 percent who approved strongly. And to cap things off the poll concluded that, were a Biden/Trump Presidential election held today, it would be a toss up – in spite of Trump’s many legal woes. While this latter finding may seem implausible, there nevertheless are a number of trends that do seem to support it. Declines in key demographics One is the growing support for Trump among African-Americans and Hispanics. For in this poll Trump got the support of 20 percent of African-Americans and 42 percent of Hispanic votes – a significant increase from the 8 percent of African-American and 36 percent of Hispanic votes he got in the 2020 election. These numbers are particularly striking in the case of African-American voters, given that no Republican candidate in the last 50 years has gotten 20 percent of this group’s votes – the average for the period being just 9 percent. Part of this may be explained by Trump’s personality, which some observers believe connects well with African American men – a hypothesis for which there is some evidences. For example, one Fox News poll examining attitudes toward the candidates running to become the Republican Presidential nominee found that 41 percent of non-white men had a favorable view of Trump – with 25 percent declaring themselves to be strongly favorable. (This contrasts with the 27 percent approval rating from non-white women who clearly were not as impressed by the man.) But that’s only part of the story since almost all of the other candidates saw their favourability rating among African-American respondents stand at or above the 20 percent level. So, it’s clear that others things are likely at work here as well. One such thing is a growing sense among some African-American voters – particularly the young - that their decades-long support for the Democratic Party has failed to pay the dividends they had expected. This was underlined by University of Chicago academic Cathy Cohen who stated, “we have a generation of young people who have seen up close the limits of electoral politics. They've seen the election of black mayors, they've seen the election of the first black president, and they've also seen that their lives have not changed.” A similar sentiment was reported by Reuters drawing upon a number of polls and interviews. It found a number of respondents who complained about the Democratic Party’s failure to deliver on its promises and its growing emphasis on LGBTQ rights and abortion at the expense of economic issues. Teamed with this is a sense that, once in power, the Democrats are not much different from the Republicans – a theme explored by researchers with the Black Swing Voters Project at the American University in Washington DC Of course, this sense of alienation is far from restricted to people of colour and the young. For there is a strong sense among large numbers of working-class people across all races and ethnicities that the Democratic Party may no longer adequately reflect their views. Part of this flows from the Party’s socially-liberal stances that conflict with the more conservative values held by many working class people in such areas as public safety, LGBT issues, abortion and renewable energy. In an article in The Atlantic, left-leaning scholar Ruy Texeira describes what he calls the “Democrats’ Long Goodbye to the Working Class” which over time has seen working-class voters leave a Democratic Party they believe increasingly reflects the values and concerns of university-educated activists and voters. While this trend may have initially been centered on white working-class voters, many Hispanics are now joining them - with early indications that Black working class voters may now be starting to follow suit.
Africa has the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The problem is not uniform across the continent, of course, but most of the countries that register the worst figures are in Africa. In some of them, like South Sudan, over a thousand mothers die for every 100,000 live births. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines maternal mortality as the “death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication.” This is irrelevant to the present topic, but man am I glad I got that before they erased the word “woman” from it! In any case, the fact that African countries lose so many women to pregnancy-related complications is one of the biggest scandals of modern medicine. The major causes of, and solutions to, maternal mortality have been figured out for a century, and many countries in the developed world now have maternal mortality rates within the single digits. Still a tragedy, yes, but not nearly as scandalous. Unfortunately, most of the attention paid to African mothers has been focused a lot more on reducing the number of children they bear, rather than on stemming the loss of our women, hence the frenzy of activity and funding for the promotion of abortion and contraception. Spurious claim Some commentators even have the temerity to opine that abortion and contraception are necessary healthcare for African women, a potent set of tools even, in the fight against maternal mortality. In the deluded eyes of this crowd, access to so-called “safe” abortion and modern contraceptives should be the highest priority of sexual and reproductive health in Africa. However, this is utter and inexcusable hogwash. There is no proof that access to abortion and contraception has any salutary effect on maternal mortality. The most drastic decline in maternal mortality in history took place in the developed world over around 15 years, from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, long before legal abortion and the pill were widespread. According to a review paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, maternal mortality rates for the developed world in 1930 ranged from 250 deaths per 100,000 births in the Netherlands (the lowest) to around 700 deaths per 100,000 births in the United States (the highest). By the 1960s, these had declined to under 60 deaths per 100,000 births in each developed country. Tragically, the country that thereafter legalised abortion most dramatically, the United States, now has the developed world’s worst maternal mortality figures. In fact, it is getting worse, especially in the African-American community, which, incidentally, also happens to have the highest abortion rates of all the major racial groups there. On the other hand, Poland, one of the few developed countries that refuses to kowtow to the pro-abortion lobby, has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. It loses two women for every 100,000 births. The same was true of Ireland before it, too, succumbed to the hysteria of abortion activists.
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