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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Knife crime - now the serious search for solutions

Latest knife crime statistics reveal there are now an average of sixty (60) serious knife attacks happening each day in the UK. But it seems the entire country is now debating how to tackle this menace - so that must be good.

The idea of a curfew - using legal steps to force young people to stay indoors, say, after 9pm - sounds appealing initially but I wonder if it is workable.

Parents poll backing curfews - Sunday Times front page lead

And Government measures will include, it is reported, so-called 'shock tactics' where criminals who use blades will be forced to visit people in hospital who have been injured by knife wounds. Seems a bit odd - stabber goes to hospital, sees bloodied victims (who won't love the experience, I imagine), immediately repents. Hmm - maybe it'll work for some but I suspect not for many others.

Listening to 'mature adults' debate this week, there's a common theme - that young people (and their families) are to blame, they need to develop a better moral compass.

I'm sure that could help, but that seems to be psychological transference - in part at least - to shift all responsibility onto young people and their parents.

It's no coincidence that much knife crime happens in the most poor parts of Britain. There is little for some of these people to work to achieve, especially in difficult economic times.

Who establishes the economic and business systems that provide, say, meaningful work and societal activities? The hallowed 'market forces', government programs and community groups are probably responsible for the bulk of them.

Well, to repeat what I've touched on at times in this blog, it is the adult world that is influencing these young people.

The massive marketing and sales machines of corporations, companies and government suck money out of households everywhere like a hoover, led by business and political leaders that pride themselves on high levels of aggression and competitiveness.

People end up feeling powerless against these monolithic money-sucking beasts. I imagine that's why the terrorists who felled New York's twin trade towers celebrated victory, finally delivering a massive message to a money-driven system they see as evil.

Corporations are about creating wealth with no moral, ethical or legal limits (do your own checks if you don't believe me); put most simply, the corporation's existence is about a pathological pursuit of profit and power. And governments across the globe have capitulated - all we, the public, have owned in the past is now privatised or will be, to be run by private for-profit enterprises.

No wonder the Christian Church (and other religions too) is attacked by business and governments - she seems to be the only organisation that can stand in the way of this use and exploitation of the human purely for profit. More in another post on this point.

Our society needs to take an investigative look at itself - how can downsizing (throwing people out of jobs), ceaseless, chaotic change in the world of work (the very place that should help achieve security) be celebrated as victories for democracy?

And let's not forget the credit squeeze carnage that's going on - what on earth is going to happen to all the people who are sub-prime mortgage defaulters? They'll be carrying knives next. And then there's the resultant massive price increases on mortgages in the UK that's coming... the hard-working, law-abiding mortgage payers are going to be supporting the whole darn economic system, while top bankers (rhymes with w...), economists and politicians enjoy huge salaries for creating a system that's collapsing. Ws indeed.

No wonder then this translates itself to the streets, where those without money, not welcome in the corporation set, find pathological ways to feel worth something by operating as some kind of 'power-crazed' knife carriers, gang members etc. There's little else they can feel involved with or in control of, is there? Maybe it's a macabrely more satisfying life, at least in the heat of the moment.

Thoughtful article by Jon Cruddas in the Sunday Mirror today about poverty, inequality, David Cameron and the Tories that highlights the societal problems this country faces:

"David Cameron went to a school where the fee alone is more than double what someone on the minimum wage gets for a year of graft.

"It's a lot easier to stay healthy and in work when you're born into that kind of money, so he should be a bit careful lecturing the rest of us. He has no real knowledge of generational poverty or poor public services that you have to rely on... or the numbing effects of a chronic lack of social mobility and real opportunity... nor the day-to-day grind and struggle to make ends meet...

"I don't buy the idea that people living on the minimum wage or less are there because they deserve it, while people like Cameron are rich because they tried harder... The Tory view is that you fend for yourself, and if you fall down, well, it's sad, but it's your own fault.

"I take the opposite view - we're stronger when we work together than we are on our own...

"Take family values for example.
Cameron says he's for them. But if you're a mum working 40-odd hours in a shop, you need the flexibility to take a few days off if your kid has stressful exams or is ill. A good parent wants to help their kid revise or get well again - but at the moment only parents with decent jobs and good wages can afford to take the time off... That's what real family values are about.

"Inequality is the fundamental issue. The richer someone is, the longer they are likely to live - it's poverty that's the real killer. Behind Cameron's repackaging of the Tories is the same old brutal right-wing dogma." Read more of this article

And I'm not saying don't vote Tory - Iain Duncan Smith made some good points today on Sky News. He heads up the Conservative focus on looking to solve social exclusion and poverty problems.

He said: "The short term is being tough on these kids... but the longer term is saying the communities they are coming from, where their whole set of values is so inverse, that the whole idea of working, the whole idea of responsibility, just doesn't exist.

"You have got to change all of that as well, so don't just attack them and want to put them in prison, we have actually got to start sorting out this dysfunctional lifestyle."

As I've indicated I don't think blaming others for their lifestyle is quite hitting the mark - I believe adult society has a part to play changing how it lives; less aggression in business, less road rage, less alcohol, less rudeness, less focus on profit.

And I'll point this out again... why should young people work at crap jobs that pay abysmal money providing little cash for leisure time use? No wonder they head for the cheap vodka at Tesco; most of the adults do that too. At present, many of us are working for greed-induced shareholders desperate for as much profit as possible while the average young person isn't going to be able to afford somewhere to live for a couple of decades these days, if at all. Why should many want to conform to the current system? As the injustice mounts, civil disobedience will surely develop - history teaches us this has always been the case.

This global society's drive for profit, especially the corporate-type empires, seems to be impoverishing many, making us little more than slaves to corporate - and goverment-led - money-making machines (and when I say government, I refer to the huge 30-50-plus per cent we pay in taxes, National Insurance, VAT etc).

I'm just trying to encourage broader thinking. We have to consider if this is the progress and systems we want for life on our planet. Me? I reckon we all want something better, we just don't know what it is or how to do it.

Bit of a Sunday afternoon meander and reflection on things; but - back to violent crime - I'll never defend those who use violence and weapons... but, all you with power and influence, it's not just 'young peoples fault' or the fault of their families.

What I reckon we can also say at this time is that knife crime has been a long time coming, and it's going to be a long time fixing it.

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