Oct. 11th, 2010

Book meme

Oct. 11th, 2010 04:21 pm
mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
Picked up from various people. This appears to be a list of 100 books or series that are important cultural artefacts - I've bolded the ones I've read, and commented on all the ones I know something about.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Read this for A-level, which was my first encounter with her work. I fell in love, and read my way through all the other completed novels within a few months.
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - I loved this as soon as I started it, at 12 or so, and every time I go back to it I find new things in it, and new angles on Tolkien's concerns, his influences and the people who've imitated him or reacted against him.
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Read this for A-level, disliked it intensely. Should give it another try sometime.Read more... )
mirrorshard: (Default)
So, this Jeremy Hunt chap is saying that the cap on benefits will encourage poor families to "be responsible" in planning their family size, ie. not have more children than they can afford. Obviously, the reactions to this in the media have varied between "what a courageous stand, it's about time someone was brave enough to say this - we shouldn't have so many poor people around" and "oh, good grief, what a clueless authoritarian twat".

Most of the non-barking-mad commenters have, of course, been quite clear on the principle that having children isn't something you should have to "afford"; that support for your children isn't something you should have to deserve; and that a government minister has no business even having an opinion about the proper size for someone's family, let alone engaging in social engineering.

What I don't think has been highlighted enough, however, is that this statement implies that a family on benefits will be there for a long time - for the kind of planning horizon which allows for several pregnancies and childhoods. It's either stunning ignorance, or an attempt to assume (and persuade us about it by stealth) the existence of an underclass of long-term benefit claimants who are content with that lifestyle and chose to be there. That one would be a classic othering/scapegoating strategy, which we've seen applied to a lot of groups over this country's political history.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised by either or both. This is what we get for a government of rich people, very few of whom have ever had to work a badly paid job, let alone lived only on benefits. (Do any of you know of any MPs who'll admit to having done this, by the way? I don't, but I'm willing to believe there might be some ex-benefit-claimants amongst them, and if there are we should bend some energies into getting them a Ministerial brief.)

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