Archive for January, 2008

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You can take recycling too far

17 January, 2008

I have carried an organ donor card for over twenty years: to do so was an informed decision I made, of my own volition, and without any pressure, implied or otherwise.

 Choosing to leave your organs after your death – that someone else might live – has to be a voluntary act, entered into after thought and consideration. Whatever the government might like to think, human beings are not commodities, and our bodies should not be considered as a mere collection of spare parts, ready for recycling as soon as we have gasped our last.

Considering that this same government has shied away from the idea of compelling us (through a system of fines) to recycle our rubbish, it seems surprising that it feels less queasy about doing so in relation to our hearts, lungs and livers.

 But New Labour’s proposal to introduce the principle of informed consent should not surprise anyone, as it is constitutes the acme of state power and control – the Government will decide what to do with your heart or liver, not you, because Nanny knows best. 

This can be wrapped up any way you like: a measure to improve the availability of desperately-needed organs for transplant; an efficent way to make sure that people act in a way that politicians are sure they would – if they could be bothered – but don’t be fooled.

This is State Interference at its most profound level, claiming ownership of your not-yet-dead body (kept alive, to preserve the organs) and forcing you to act for the benefit of others through compulsion. Of course it would be better if we all carried donor cards, but I believe passionately that we, as citizens, have the right to self determination, the right to make our own decisions in life, provided they don’t actively harm others. And that includes the right to be selfish, if we choose.

What is more fundamental than the right to choose what happens to our very flesh, once it ceases to support our being?

This is not a debate about systems or process; it touches on the very cornerstone of our pesonal freedom and liberty: unless we actively sign up to donate our organs, it has to be assumed that we choose not to.

It may well be apathy in some cases, but a free society must allow people to be apathetic.

Let’s face it, the world would be a much better place if we all visited the elderly regularly: will this government start making a note of where we live in relation to old people, and fine us if we don’t improve their lives by visiting all those within a given locus? People must choose for themselves whether to act in the interests of others.

If this proposal becomes law, then I – after twenty years of carrying a donor card – will opt out, in protest.

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Let me have men about me that are incompetent

16 January, 2008

My apologies to Shakespeare, but what other reason can our Prime Minister have for not sacking Peter Hain? 

Competence should really be the bare minimum expected of a Cabinet Secretary: any other senior manager would be sacked (or moved out of harm’s way) for incompetence, but in another fine display of lack of resolve, Gordon Brown has allowed the Work and Pensions Secretary to cling desperately on to power (rather a dispiriting sight).

What an insight into the prime ministerial psyche. Perhaps he is like the girl in my class at school, who told me that she liked to go around with ‘fat’ girls, “as they make me look better.”

 Perhaps the PM’s only hope of looking even half competent is to surround himself by complete incompetence.

But what a disaster for Britain.

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Tory proposals for long-term unemployed

11 January, 2008

Back after a bit of a break, so Happy New Year to you all.  

Listening to David Cameron’s proposals for those who refuse work to be compelled to do community work, I can’t deny that they struck me as rather familiar – see my blog on tackling dependency culture – so I am rather flattered. Of course, it could be that his team of advisors had exactly the same ideas as I, but I shall fondly imagine that mine was the seed that germinated.

If I have one small request, it would be that, in presenting the proposal, we see a little more emphasis on the life skills that can be learned through community work, and how, if managed properly, it could help give those who have never been in work the self-esteem and self-confidence that they need in order to apply for jobs.

That was the key to my proposal; it wasn’t about taking punitive action against slackers. If you read the detail of David Cameron’s suggestions, the emphasis is also on helping the long-tem unemployed, but the press have chosen to focus on stick, rather than carrot – plus ca change.