Friday 12 August 2011

"All that you thought was true can be untrue in just a second."

If you threaten someone with homelessness, they're bound to abstain from crime, right? So some MPs think. Better yet, threaten households with homelessness if one family member commits an offence. That'll teach them the meaning of responsibility. The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 - the source of the infamous ASBOs - grants power to registered social landlords (RSLs) to take action against tenants who've caused disturbances in their neighbourhood. Even secure tenancies can be "demoted" by a court order. What David Cameron et al wish to do is to extend these RSLs' powers. Homelessness deters anti-social behaviour, right?

My question is: what about ex-offenders? A large number of men and women are frequently released from prison after having been cut off from the outside world for months, or years. Are they likely to engage in anti-social behaviour? Should they be given social housing at all, after what they've done?! Here's another idea. As a deterrent, let's threaten them with withdrawal of their benefits. Their sense of entitlement will soon dwindle once they realise they have to abide by the law in order to avail of their rights. After all, criminals don't deserve rights, right?

In reality, these Tory laws would result in further marginalisation of individuals who have already, for whatever reason (poverty, disenfranchisement, pure evil), resorted to criminal activity. I don't presume that these laws would only apply to rioters; burglars and thieves would surely be included too! So, once these individuals are evicted, homeless, unemployed and without income (oh, I know, I'll turn to drugs!), they'll soon learn that they have to be responsible for themselves and their community. They'll learn to look up to all the role models we are lucky enough to have in the UK and Ireland.

The defining event of our generation is, most certainly, the Recession. Like the Twin Tower Attacks a decade ago, and the fall of the Berlin Wall before that, the Recession will dictate the mood of the next ten years or so. I believe that summer 2011 was the tipping point. With the markets close to crashing again, a corrupt media scandal exposed, and England in riotous flames, things are pretty bleak. Surely they cannot get worse. Things have to change, right?

Unfortunately, what we lack in the UK and Ireland are role models. Nobody has been able to lead us away from this inevitable collapse; it has been looming for years. The leading minds of their own generation (MPs, bankers, etc.) have taken what they feel is theirs and have gifted us the leftovers. Our politicians have let us down and proved that power corrupts. The world's bankers have displayed their own notorious ethical standards. Some religious leaders have been found out for the irresponsible wretches that they are. Elements within the police and the press have been exposed as selfish and wayward. These are the leaders of our society.

The truths we were taught about governing and democratic accountability have left us flailing. This generation, starved of opportunity, must strive for a new truth. Together.

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