How much money do we really need?

There is currently a lot of talk about poverty and almost a new report each day explaining one or another group of people will be worst off because on the government’s response to the recession, portraying it like it is the crime of the century.

I would argue that those who talk about poverty are often far removed from the situation and do this understand what a low income means in 2012. I believe they have an image of poverty from the pre-war and Victorian eras which no not reflected of the relevant comforts and choices people on benefits currently have.

I have lived on a low income much of my life and I have lived in areas where the majority of my neighbours on benefits. I believe much on the problem is not how much people have but the choices people make with the money they have. If people can afford cigarettes, alcohol, mobile phones and X-Boxes, can they really be considered pool?

And I feel in the future, materials will be less important as self-identity plays a better part in our happiness through social networks etc.  So how much money do we really need to be happy?

I think the arguments about the welfare reforms and people having to work for their benefits is really showing how with the united middle class government, the so-called poor are now simply pawns in the out of touch intellectual debate of the now ruling middle class as human rights is simply seen as after dinner conversation as the rest of us get on in the real world. 

I may be on a low income but I feel extremely rich.

Suicide is normal? (for disabled people)

I certainly hope not! I am unwilling to continue to accept that if  a disabled people wants to die, the reason is very clear, their condition. Even if their reason to seen as environment, it is usually assumed to be disability related and perfectly acceptable!

I have even heard it been said that the welfare reforms and mythical cuts will result in more disabled people killing themselves. While this may add to their stress, it is insulting to humanity to assume a person’s life can be measured in terms of what benefits they are entitled and demonstrates the prejudices towards disabled people. It is also worth noting that the stress caused relates more to the misleading information peddled by charities and organisations on the reforms, who wish to profit from winding up disabled people enough to blindly fight for their dependency as second class citizens, so who is at fault here?

The desire to commit suicide is a form of deep depression based on the fact people are very unhappy at their immediate situation and feel unable to see any way things will get better. It is a long term solution to a short term solution and this is no different if someone is disabled or not. People need support to see how their situation can improve and to see how they have and not what they are not.

No policy, no person, no idea or no belief is harmful enough in the cold light of day to need to commit suicide. Life is not always going to be easy but it is always worth living. Impairment and disability can be difficult but there are many other difficult things in life where suicide would certainly not by encouraged by society as it often is here.

Making the most of life

As far as we can know or understand, we only have one life and I feel we have a duty to make the most of it. I think because I always died at birth and because it could be seen that everything to do is a bonus what how many people expect of me, I have really taken this idea to heart.

I believe as a result I had a ‘bucket list’ in my head, a list of what I wanted to achieved, from a very early age and I have been very good at achieving them. The list includes having a go at all kinds of sports, especially water sports, travelling to a range of countries, meeting Prime Ministers, visiting specific places like Downing Street and doing all those one of experiences like having tea at the Ritz.

I have not yet done the Ritz and I still want to be invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. Another one big to do to go to Australia which would be fantastic. Some things I have done a few times like see the inside of parliament and next week I am attending a House of Lords reception about AAC. 

This list of achievements is not about competing with others but what I want to do for myself. I want to try everything which interests me at least once so that I am able to have an informed opinion.  I also like to say ‘not yet’ rather than ‘never’ if I am asked if I have done something I have not yet tried.

I am proud of what I have achieve and I feel I can achieve more and in fact whatever I put my mind to doing!

Just ring the door bell

I find it amazing how many people, especially disabled people, will start a petition or go to the newspapers when they have a complaint or concern about an organisation or business, rather than and before directly approaching them in a civilised manner.

Right from a very early childhood I learnt that if you do not ask than you can not get. I took this very much to heart, and overcoming the idea I was cheeky, I have always took this idea far. I believe even if the request is not normal, if you do not ask politely, you do not give an opportunity to consider it.

I never actually complain any more and by this I never use an organisation’s complaints procedure before I find the procedures aim is to slow people down and manage disappointment rather than get anything down. What I do now is find the email address of the most senior manager responsible for what I am concerned about and politely make them aware of my concerns and what I would like done.

It is amazing what can be achieved with this approach and I now have many colleagues in many organisations which I can quickly, directly and effectively approach with any concerns I have. This is because I have learnt to just ring the doorbell!

A fan of google

It is interesting how in the world of technology one giant quickly replaces another one. Two years ago the core applications I used for work and leisure were from Microsoft including Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. Now, I am using Google Chrome and a whole range of applications from this new giant.

I like Google because it is always improving its services in small ways with lots of add-ons that make things much faster. Also, much of my applications are accessible on my iPad as well as desktop, adding a new dimension to its usefulness. Google also has a whole hosts of services which work well together.

I am only a fan of what works for me and if a new giant comes along which is better than Google, than I will not be frightened to change what I use.

Rewarding Conformity?

I wonder in the same way society punishes success, whether it also rewards conformity, especially in terms social care and within the context of personalisation. So much is now talked about choice and control but is that what they really mean?

When a professional offers service user a so-called free choice in what they live, it is often with the unspoken belief they will make the right choice and one they can manage. It is like a restaurant asking people what they would to eat without providing them with a menu and then getting angry at them for not choosing something they are prepared to make.

Professionals, charities and indeed organisations who claim to represent disabled people often have a fixed and low expectation of what disabled people can contribution to society, and I feel often expect disabled people to conform to the second class existence society demands and the government pays for.

I have clearly never fitted well in conforming to how others expect me to behave and anyone who has foolishly provided me with a free choice has regretted it as I expect people to deliver what they promise as I expected to be treated with the same respect as a non-disabled person rather than the second class existence people try to plan for me.

The end of Television

It is becoming clear to me that we are seeing the end of television as we have known it since the 1930s. By this, I mean this is that we will see the end of fixed ‘linear’ channels who will broadcast specific programmes at specific times of end day.

I believe technological advantages and the increase of social media means that we will see ‘on demand’ service take a dominant position supported by event based live streams for sport, music and news events. The only channels we are likely to survive are 24 hour rolling news channels but within a fully multimedia package.

I already record everything I plan to watch and very rarely watch things at the time live, even if I starting watching a few minutes later when I am ready. The benefit is I can pause it when I need a comfort break or whatever. It also means some evenings I can record twice the amount of television I could physically watch.

And if that was not enough, now I can download a third and even forth programme from the on demand service, putting me in complete control of what I watch and how I watch it. And things have only started to change as the multimedia revolution continues to develop.

Punishing Success

I feel we have a society that punishes success. By this I mean that when someone is successful in any way, they are pulled down by others and the target of jealously and contempt. I am not referring to bankers as that is greed not success but rather how the tabloids try to destroy careers and how specific groups resent those who succeed on a personal level.

I would argue that the so-called disability movement, or rather those who claim to be a part of it, tend to resent disabled people who are successful independent from them and within the mainstream environment. They are often referred to as traitors for not feel oppressed and moaning all the time at how everyone hates them. 

There is almost a general fear of people who are confident about who are they and certainly a fear of anyone who thinks for themselves rather than accepting the norms others demand of them. This fear is the problem of those who feel they must waste energy bringing others down and not those who are naturally successful however this is not always easy.

If society is damaged, then to fix it, this is a good place to start.

Confidence or Arrogance

I am very aware that some people perceive my confidence to my arrogance and I think it is worth explaining how I define the terms.

I see confidence in a strong believe in yourself and the views you have without unnecessary influence from others. It is a willingness to stand me what you believe in even if it is very different from what others believe or to what can be seen or proven. It is not an unwillingness to listen to others and neither is it a fear about challenging the viewpoint of others. It is a willingness to grow and learn as someone who has accepted who they are.

I see arrogance as having a believe system that is shallow and based on fear, and on that basis there is a unwillingness and need not to listen to others and to simply dismiss their viewpoint as irrelevant. There is a fear to learn and grow as it may require confronts aspects of themselves which they fear. 

On these definitions it is clear I am confidence rather than arrogant and I am unwilling to accept people’s discomfort with what I have to say get in the way or accept when people say I am arrogant between they fear what I say. I also feel that because of my speech impairment and freakish appearance, some people expect me to have no opinions and therefore see me as arrogant because I say what I see.

I know I am what I am and that is all that matters.

A balanced lifestyle

I have believed for a long time that a good lifestyle is a balanced one. Everything and anything can be good for you if it is done in moderation. Also the more you work and experience stress, the more this needs to be balanced by leisure and fun.

I have to acknowledge and believe that if someone is not working and therefore not experiencing the related stress, then it is correct that disabled people are not entitled to support for leisure activities as this is not equal treatment with non-disabled peers. However, if disabled people are working then to maintain a balanced lifestyle then they need access and relevant support to leisure activities.

This may therefore need social care funders to think differently outcome outcomes and needs to acknowledge how working can change the needs of a person and how ‘having a holiday’ can not always be seen as a luxury.