The Meerkat Muse – 22/9/21

It’s that time again! Let us digest the events of the last couple of weeks.

Tories hate the Poor

Yeah, I’m being blunt here, but why wouldn’t I? It’s the truth. They recently announced plans to raise National Insurance, something that will affect the poor a lot more than it will affect the wealthy. They plan to reduce Universal Credit payments soon, something else that will affect the poor, and not the wealthy. This is to cover rising social care costs, but there are ways of doing so that don’t put the crunch on the working class. Alas, the Tories have almost always favoured elitism and classism ahead of actually thinking about the rest of the country, and this latest move is yet more evidence of that.

The more money you earn, the smaller the percentage of National Insurance contributions gets. If you earn between roughly £10,000 and £50,000 per year, you pay 12% in NI contributions. Above £50,000 that percentage drops to only 2%.

The NI rise will reportedly bring in £12 billion to relieve stress on the NHS and help cover social care. Want to know how much money a 5% tax on the wealthy would raise? £262 billion. That figure is over five years, so we’re looking at over £50 billion a year. You wouldn’t have to penalise the poor, and the rich would remain incredibly rich.

It’s at times like these that we hear how unfair it is to tax the wealthy, who as we know earned their wealth (cough). Never mind that millions of people who work hard earn a small fraction of what the wealthy earn (and I’d argue many workers, especially those in the NHS, are horribly undervalued). We need to take pity on the rich! Yet, with a fairer tax system (that as mentioned would still allow for the rich to be rich) there’d be a lot money in the pot, and with that, you could pay a decent living wage, provide a lot more for schools, hospitals and police, fix the roads, and generally raise the quality of life for the vast majority of the country.

This should be a no-brainer. The rich don’t suddenly become paupers (far from it) and everyone who is currently on the breadline can breathe a huge sigh of relief. So why are we as a nation not outraged at our current set of circumstances? There is an apathy to the casual cruelty and contempt for the poor on display from this government. The disparity in how rich and poor are taxed and the huge difference it could make to public funds should be headline news.

As a nation we have the resources to treat everyone fairly and with dignity. Not doing so is a choice, and a bad one at that.

The Musings of an Agnostic

Recently Bruce Gerencser kindly published a guest post of mine, which can be viewed by clicking on the above link. I invite you to have a look at it better understand my views and thoughts on faith and life.

The Conflict of Apes

I’m slightly annoyed that WordPress ate the previous draft of this bit, because I’d recalled two interesting dreams and now, only one of the pair remains in my mind. The theme of the dream I do remember is conflict. I was an ape, and along with several other apes living in the jungle, we had a beef with one particular boss ape who was being something of a tyrant. In the end we foiled him by catching him in a net.

There was also a dream about marionettes or robots in a warehouse that started to come to life, which might have been inspired by my daughter’s on-going obsession with Five Nights at Freddy’s. Then there was a Criminal Mind’s-inspired dream featuring clandestine FBI missions in the Middle East. My dreams are many things, but they cannot be described as boring!

The Hard Work Begins

Jumpmaster Press recently contacted me to begin the process of editing The Awakening. The key things are to show the reader (rather than tell the reader) what’s going on, and to use active phrasing, as opposed to passive phrasing. I can see a lot of effort going into understanding precisely how to apply both concepts to my book.

Grammarly describes an active voice as ‘a sentence has a subject that acts upon its verb’. The warship opened fire at its targets. Whereas a passive voice is where ‘a subject is a recipient of a verb’s action’. The targets were fired upon by the warship. In broad terms I think I understand, but I guess I’ll develop that aspect of my writing as the good people at Jumpmaster Press and I go through the book.

I’ve said this is a process, and it will take time, but it is worthwhile, for the reward of a well-polished book is what awaits.

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings

My wife and I took a staggered approach to this one, in order to save money and also ensure we could collect our daughter from school! The end result is that we both got to go to the cinema! For me it’s the first time since March 2020 that I have sat down in a plush cinema seat and watched a film. Without giving away the details, Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings is a beautifully choreographed film, where the fighting sequences closely resemble the graceful sweeping movements of dancers, only with added intensity!

Also, dragons. Oriental dragons. There will never be a time when they aren’t awesome.

Too Meek and Mild?

Based on some of the, shall we say, passionate discussions I’ve had on this site down the years, you might not think of me as a shy and retiring person, and I’m not, but it’s equally true that I don’t like confrontations in certain circumstances. For example, something happened at work the other day that pissed me off, and I wondered whether I should speak directly to the person involved, but I’m not sure how to approach the subject. The gist is that I was talking to a customer, making eye contact with them (and they at me), and a colleague decided to interrupt and then took over the conversation. At the time of writing there has yet to be an order out of the customer, but if one arises I’ll be a bit aggrieved, to put it mildly.

Perhaps I need to be more bullish. I shouldn’t be accepting of such situations, however much I don’t like confrontations (at work at least). This is something that affects my income, and that in turn affects my family. I guess the time has come to be assertive on this and say something. If I don’t, this problem will continue.

The Meerkat Forums!

I put out the question and within a day made a decision anyway – I now have forums for Meerkat Musings! I’m not expecting a hive of activity, at least not yet, but hopefully with time there will be more and more traffic and more and more action.

Heating or Eating? How about neither!

If Boris Johnson claims we’ll be alright, then it’s fair to assume we’re screwed. With energy prices threatening to soar and food shortages becoming a bigger and bigger problem, it is clear this government is not fit to lead a piss-up in a brewery. Brexit is the key factor, though many news outlets are not prepared to directly mention Brexit (a curious thing for them to omit). Weren’t we told there would be no downside, only a considerable upside? That was the claim of David Davis, the Brexit Minister, back in 2016. How’s that looking now?

Meeting the Publisher

On Tuesday I got to ‘meet’ (via Zoom) one of the good people of Jumpmaster Press, who helped clear up the difference between active and passive phrasing, and showing what’s happening rather than telling. He has directed me to a group regarding world-building and other elements that will help make my book as good as it can be.

Onwards and upwards. Life is a learning curve and I plan to continue learning. Let’s see what happens.

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