The Conservatives are so committed to the Northern Powerhouse they've moved it to London

On Thursday morning at 09.30am staff were beginning their day at the Sheffield office of the Northern Powerhouse department when the Permanent Secretary arrived to tell them that the decision has been made – without any consultation whatsoever – to close the office down and move their jobs to a consolidated HQ and policy centre in London as part of a ‘cost-cutting strategy’.

Civil servants who were part of the successful but limited policy to spread expertise to broaden BIS’ insight on investment across the UK were told – out of the clear blue sky - that their services will no longer be required. For those of us who desperately want investment to flow to a real Northern Powerhouse and desperately want a government which serves the entire United Kingdom - not a small sect based around Whitehall - this was a sobering announcement, and one which has been met with understandable fury in Sheffield.

The fact that the government three times refused Labour requests in the House of Commons to publish the business case for their decision - produced by multi-national management consultants McKinsey & Company for a whopping £200,000 - suggests that even on their own crude cost-cutting rationale, the case may not be as clear as ministers made out.  

Instead, we have consultants from the City of London working for Conservative ministers in Whitehall in order to further centralise government, taking power and investment away from the cities and regions outside of London. It says a great deal about the Tories’ contempt for the North that they think a consolidated “combined central HQ and policy centre” has to be by rights in Westminster, rather than basing more in Sheffield and the rest of the country, where the operating costs would be cheaper and the perspective on UK Investment much broader.

And internal documents I have seen seem to confirm this. They suggest that for the BIS Board the intangible benefits of “London water-cooler conversations” outweigh the more clear-cut costs in increased accommodation and staffing - missing the obvious problem that it is Westminster groupthink itself which has seen business spend increasingly invested in London’s Zone 1, at the expense of the rest of the UK.

The statistics support this. Under the Tories the proportion of civil servants based in London has steadily risen, despite a stated policy to spread the civil service across the country. We’re not talking about the dedicated civil service clerks and job centre staff in London and the rest of the country who do a fantastic job but whose jobs are at risk – it is that policy making power is once again being concentrated at the centre, in Whitehall as much as Westminster. And we know the damage that does.

We know because we have an economy where nearly half of the UK’s cities suffer from low wages and even lower investment (almost all of them in the North and Midlands) and these are areas senior policy makers rarely tread.
And we know because we saw it over Christmas with the devastating floods which reaped havoc across many of our communities. Flood defences in Leeds which were cancelled in 2011 and which could have helped stop the damage were considered “too expensive”. If these floods had happened in Leeds on a weekday, the cost to the local economy would have been £400m. It is unacceptable that major cities of the UK, like Leeds, could be so vulnerable and suffer this chronic lack of investment - but the same is happening in Sheffield where £20m of government funding needed to protect the city is not forthcoming.

Indeed, the same is happening across the country.

The delays in the Midland Mainline – now projected to take up to four years longer to reach Yorkshire than originally planned, which will cost the region millions in lost investment, while Crossrail runs full steam ahead. The well documented transport spend per head which is 12 times larger in the capital than in other areas of the country, demonstrates the warped thinking and the flawed investment flow.

But surely there was no greater demonstration of the Tories’ SW1A groupthink than the decision to cast aside our great manufacturing sites while watching the London financial services industry reach boiling point. Sheffield Forgemasters which could have built the next generation of UK nuclear power stations denied a loan in 2011 for a giant forge which would have meant Hinckley Point C would have been proudly ‘Made in Britain’; our steel industry and the livelihoods communities across the country rely on cast aside as “unprofitable” and the odds weighted against them.

Continuing decline in manufacturing as a share of GDP as Conservative ministers’ continue to concentrate their economic policy on the whim of the City of London; booting out the acting head of the FCA, Martin Wheatly and kyboshing an inquiry into the behaviour of bankers because the City wouldn’t tolerate it. No matter the consequences for the rest of the economy of a square mile back to business as usual without even a shred of the regulation necessary to stop another crash.

While the UK needs an industrial strategy and an economy that is balanced between regions and sectors, the Conservatives blinded by Whitehall group-think are making strategic decisions which do nothing for the near-half of UK cities with low-wages and even lower-investement. The question is being asked by communities from Sheffield to Redcar and across the UK – why is this government not speaking up for me?

Sexism Against Men Is To Be Formally Recognised

For years feminism has been deemed a legitimate and needed movement – for centuries women have been less advantaged and discriminated against in many (but not all) areas – but some male issues, including the rise in suicide, do get overlooked.

Today, for the first time, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is being called on to officially recognise that men and boys do experience inequality and systemic disadvantage in some areas of British life.

According to the Telegraph, the EHRC has been taking submissions for proposals to be included in a strategic plan for 2016-2019 to analyse, crack down on and try to help rid sexism against men.

Areas drawn attention to include: 

  1. The high male suicide rate.
  2. The challenges faced by boys at all stages of education including attainment.
  3. Men’s health, shorter life expectancy and workplace deaths.
  4. The challenges faced by the most marginalised men and boys in society (for instance, homeless men, boys in care and the high rate of male deaths in custody).
  5. Male victims of violence, including sexual violence.
  6. The challenges faced by men as parents, particularly new fathers and separated fathers.
  7. Male victims of sexual and domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based crime, stalking and slavery.
  8. The negative portrayal of men, boys and fathers.

While some extreme feminists may claim men can’t be on the receiving end of sexism because of current patriarchy, it would be counter-productive to ignore areas men are discriminated against as a result of their gender.

“It always gets me when MRAs bring up the draft as an example of discrimination against men. Yes, it’s true that no woman in America has ever been subject to conscription in times of war; however, being that the most recent draft was in 1973, most likely neither have you. If you get to drag up stuff that happened before you were born, so does everybody else–and I’m pretty sure the ladies are going to win that particular game of misery poker.”

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Ask yourself this question: Were you aware of inequality growing up?

Your answer may depend in part on where you went to high school. Students at racially diverse schools, particularly black and Hispanic students, are more tuned in to injustice than students going to school mostly with kids that look like them.

That’s one of the main threads of a new book by Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University. In Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice, Shedd goes straight to the source: the students at four Chicago public high schools.

Your School Shapes How You Think About Inequality

Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR

THE U.S. IS NEARLY THE MOST WEALTH-UNEQUAL COUNTRY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD

Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.

Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world’s wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.

$2.13 PER HOUR VS. $3,000,000.00 PER HOUR

Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which is $3 million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour ‘work’ week.

Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more valuable than the average restaurant server that earns $2.13 an hour. A comparison of top and bottom salaries within large corporations is much less severe, but a lot more common. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.

A SINGLE TOP INCOME COULD BUY HOUSING FOR EVERY HOMELESS PERSON IN THE U.S.

On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year . These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget.

For anyone still believing “they earned it,” it should be noted that most of the Forbes 400 earnings came from minimally-taxed, non-job-creating capital gains.

THE POOREST 47% OF AMERICANS HAVE NO WEALTH

In 1983 the poorest 47% of America had $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation’s wealth.

In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation’s wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).

At the other extreme, the 400 wealthiest Americans own as much wealth as 80 million families — 62% of America. The reason, once again, is the stock market. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93% of it.

I cannot encourage and implore you enough to watch this film. You want to know the Why and How to the above raw facts about America (and in turn, the state of the world)? Spend a concentrated hour and a half with Robert Reich by watching ‘Inequality For All’. 

Who is Robert Reich? 

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock, “The Work of Nations,“ and"Beyond Outrage.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, INEQUALITY FOR ALL is available on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon. His new book, “SAVING CAPITALISM: For the Many, Not the Few” is out 9/29.

Watch the film for free using the password ‘bernie2016′ ! 

theguardian.com
Wealth therapy tackles woes of the rich: 'It’s really isolating to have lots of money'
It’s tough at the top. As one psychological counsellor to the 1% says: ‘I am not necessarily comparing it to what people of color have to go through, but …’
By Jana Kasperkevic

This fucking article:

“I am not necessarily comparing it to what people of color have to go through, but … it really is making value judgment about a particular group of people as a whole.”

“People say: ‘Oh, poor you.’ There is not a lot of sympathy there,” she said. “[Wealth] is still one of our last taboos. Often, I use an analogy with my clients that coming out to people about their wealth is similar to coming out of the closet as gay. There’s a feeling of being exposed and dealing with judgment.”

Way to insult POC and LGBT+. Jews were mentioned as well. You know what the difference is though? Wealthy people can decide to share their wealth. The agony of being in top 1% solved and everyone wins.

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Would never have known this. Very brave.

The 62 richest people on Earth now own as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion.

Originally posted by primadonna--princess

Every now and then, a new report serves as a stark reminder that the inequality crisis is far more dire than most people realize think — and it’s growing even worse very quickly. A stunning new report by Oxfam on global inequality has several revelations which do just that. The above stat when compared to 2010 becomes even more horrifying.