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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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25 Responses to 990

  1. Sophie says:

    I’m finding the combinations of closed libraries, increased tuition fees, and crumbling schools horrifying. Have you seen Lauren Laverne’s rant about it? (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/10-oclock-live/video/series-1/episode-3/save-our-libraries) I wonder sometimes whether we should be out on the streets like the Egyptians. But here I am just thinking about it.

  2. Ben says:

    Amen – Jon.

    Along with this: Banking, the less I think about who I bank with the more I negative effect I have on bonuses/banking crisis.

    and many more abdications of personal responsibility that surround us.

  3. goodfield says:

    Wot no valentines message! :-)

  4. subo says:

    it’s so creepy, living in a gost town

  5. goodfield says:

    Subo: Even the H’s are leaving town! :-)

  6. Caroline TOO says:

    Dear sir,

    I would like to help
    if I help then the b**tards
    will think that their ‘big society’ plan is working
    please help me out of my conundrum
    yours faithfully
    Caroline TOO

  7. jonbirch says:

    Dear Caroline,
    I am very disappointed you feel this way.
    Particularly as you seem to have seen through our evil plan.
    You are right. To volunteer more at the same time as you
    are supposed to be earning and spending in order to build
    up this corpse economy is indeed completely impossible.
    We would be grateful if you could keep this to yourself
    though, it really would not do for us to be found out.
    I thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
    Yours Sincerely,
    The Gov.

  8. Caroline TOO says:

    dear Gov.

    please define your use of the word ‘sincerely’

    yours confusedly
    Caroline TOO

  9. Hazel says:

    Hmm. I don’t necessarily agree with Caroline Too. Volunteers are stifled and aren’t even going to be allowed to help. We have a council (Labour run) who can’t/won’t spend any money on jobs they see as low priority but are only allowed to be done by the organisation appointed by the council (for maintenance and cleaning of school buildings etc). Cleaners are bound by red tape about what they are and are not allowed to do due to health and safety. They are not allowed to act on their own initiative and just go and get some masks and gloves to clean mould from windowsills even if they were willing to. Parents are not allowed to paint stuff even if they happened to be professional painters and decorators and gave their services free to make environment better for the children …but the council are not going to spend money they haven’t got on jobs they say are “low priority”. I give up.

  10. jonbirch says:

    hazel… i don’t think you’re point disagrees with caroline too’s point. they are both equally good different points i think and i agree with both of you if i understand correctly. :-)

    Dear Caroline,
    Clearly I mean ‘sincerely’ as in ‘insincerely’…
    like when we pledged we’d not put up school
    fees… we were sincere in that. then we put them
    up and were equally sincere in that. two opposing
    ‘sinceres’ clearly add up to one very sincere ‘insincere’…
    i hope this clears things up.
    Yours truly,
    The Gov.

  11. Ogg says:

    Jon/Caroline: Don’t stop taking the pills!

  12. subo says:

    as Modernism fade’s and crumbles, might we see a revival of community and the human spirit?

    however scary it feels watching the Education System, the Army, the Police & the NHS reduced to a fraction of their former power – I also wonder if life might be sweeter without their total dominance?

    still, criminal about the library’s & post-office

    so here’s to keep dreaming and praying – and chipping in, if you can

  13. commutertheology says:

    Asbo. Sorry, yet to be acronymed person of civil disorder, you have hit the nail on the effing head yet again.

    I’ve worked with volunteers since I started in the workplace (also being one myself in my spare time) and while I’m the first person to say how fantastic their contribution has been, they’re not a workforce. It reads so cold on screen, but being a volunteer is about offering time to a cause you care about. Only the most time rich *and* cash rich of people will be able to sustain their enthusiasm for the cause to take over from established services.

    Big Society was a laughable concept at the manifesto level. It is terrifying that this is being touted as the future of UK infrastructure.

    I think we should ask MPs to become volunteers… run government on the basis of goodwill and free time and let’s see what happens!

  14. jonbirch says:

    agreed, commutertheology. the ‘big society’ is not even an idea. it’s a way of taking the credit for what people are already doing whilst at the same time taking away their resources for doing it, thus making the voluntary sector and those that manage and oversee it fewer in numbers. as you say ‘laughable’ to ‘terrifying’ sums it up. at least the public aren’t buying it as an idea… i think most people can see when they’re being conned (no pun intended).

  15. Kim says:

    Volunteering is actually already shrinking where I live, because the infra-structure within which people volunteer is getting closed down. The litigation culture and regulatory framworks are far too heavy for unqualified, uninsured folk to make a go of it, even with their bags of goodwill, enthusiasm and common sense, which are in short supply in govt. Dismantling that nonsense should be a priority, but I agree, why aren’t we marching [in the small space we are allowed in] to Downing St. in our millions?? Jon – if you make the rallying call, I’ll book the coach? :lol:

  16. roy says:

    so often you make me laugh – this one left a lump in my throat
    I am glad that it did!

  17. JF says:

    Caroline Too hits the nail on the head. I have been dwelling on a similar conundrum: I don’t want to ‘reward’ the Govt for stripping away vital local services, but I do think that the bloated, overblown state apparatus built up by Labour needs dismantling (even though this inevitably means job losses… jobs we should never have created) and that there needs to be a shift back towards common sense involvement of people in their own communities. But Hazel makes an important point that ‘H&S’ is the number one enemy of ‘common sense involvement’. So that needs dealing with, too. But in general, I am ready and willing to play my part in society, whatever size it turns out to be.

    I guess the proof of the pudding for me is the social ethics of the job losses, as they roll out. If I hear that my local council is laying off 500 people and ‘wow isn’t that terrible’… well, it depends. For me there is a world of difference as to whether these are e.g. mental health carers or ‘regional spatial planning consultancy health and safety enforcement officers’, even though redundancy of the latter also affects individuals’ lives.

    The massive missing piece is that in some areas of this country, the sense of community has been ebbing away for a long, long time and people here could easily slip through the “Big Society” net unless measures are put in place to mitigate this. Else the fears of ‘Dickensian’ levels of poverty & disenfranchisement will turn out to be true.

    Another key piece is the weird stuff that councils still seem to have money for, even while they’re laying people off. You cannot paint a picture of ‘the cupboard is bare’ and then waste millions on e.g. a traffic project that is unwanted and fails to promise any real benefit. In essence, people’s trust in an authority’s decision-making has to be part of the fabric of whatever they’re trying to get us to buy into.

    So glad that ASBO has gone political. I can relate to this so much more! :-)

  18. Ben says:

    I can’t decide whether the Big Society is meant to be about volunteering (if so it’s crap.). Or about mutualisation of key resources so it is owned commonly which seems a great idea (with reservations).

    But stripping the staff and budgets then mutualising is criminal.

    Phrase I keep hearing and hating is something along the lines of: “I voted Conservative but am now really disappointed” – What did they expect!

  19. Ogg says:

    Still talking about the Big Con whoops I mean Big Society by the Conservatives?

    Firstly it’s a nice idea for an IDEAL world populated by TOTALLY ALTRUISTIC individuals but unfortunately we all live in the REAL world populated by mostly anything but TOTALLY ALTRUISTIC individuals.

    Secondly it is based on not providing services we have already paid for and getting us to do work instead (they must be laughing in there boots) in order to save the treasury money.
    This is to pay of the bills run up by Gordon B in order to bail out the Banks (to save all our jobs) which had been f**ked by a bunch of greedy conservative voting bankers. These are the same guys who moan about the bank tax which gets passed on to you & me through higher bank charges etc, whilst they quietly pocketing £9 billion worth of bonus payments (bigger than the UK contribution to Irish debt also caused by greedy bankers) from the banks profits (£6 billion for Barclays alone this week) – again they must be laughing in there boots.

    Personally I think they did it in part to queer his (gordon B’s) pitch politically but mostly for the money. Either way they didn’t care who picked up the tab as long as it wasn’t them. As a result we have all been royally screwed and will be for years to come.

    If the Big Con (oops there I go again) is not based on not providing services we have already paid for why havn’t we seen a reduction in our Council Tax bills from the last year.

  20. Pat says:

    however scary it feels watching the Education System, the Army, the Police & the NHS reduced to a fraction of their former power – I also wonder if life might be sweeter without their total dominance?

    Subo, while I perhaps might be able to follow this as regards the Army and the Police, I am totally perplexed as to what you mean by the ‘total dominance’ of the Education System and the NHS. As regards the latter I would have thought that a system which (whatever its faults and failings) does a pretty reasonable job on the front line (especially given all the constraints and difficulties it operates under) of delivering free health care to all who need it, was worth celebrating and preserving (albeit it needs improving in some respects). At any rate, I’d rather have it than PFI hospitals and private health care anyday and I think the proposed plans for its reform (=destruction) are a complete nightmare.

    Once the NHS has gone we will never get it back and I think there are many who will not find life ‘sweeter’ in such circumstances – quite the opposite in fact. I speak as one who has worked in the delivery of health care myself and who still has close relatives heroically slogging away delivering first class services to doubly disadvantaged people on a shoestring budget.

    Sorry if I’ve misunderstood you.


  21. jonbirch says:

    i have noted that whenever a tory speaks of the terrible legacy left by labour in front of an audience, the audience tends to boo. this at least shows me that people are more switched on than the government seems to believe. question is… at what point will we have all had enough, or will we just watch all that is good (flawed but good in principle) die a death that there will be no coming back from?
    i voted lib dem to make sure tory couldn’t win in my city. i thought, like most did, that we’d end up with a lib/lab coalition… i never expected what we now have and am utterly amazed at how quickly the countries infrastructure can be brought down when there is the political will to do so. no mandate, no permission, no support from the people in any way… dictatorial and thuggish in every way. a complete abuse of the democratic process.
    it really shouldn’t matter whether or not the government wants the nhs… the people want it and that should be all that counts… the governments job is to make it happen and do it in a way that respects the voter and the needs of the country. sure, there’s too much middle management, sure there’s too much red tape, sure there’s lots of things wrong… but nobody has ever believed that throwing out baby and bathwater were a good idea, unless they were heartless, or cruel or suffering from a mental problem… i think this government must be suffering from all three.

  22. chris says:

    i voted lib dem and it seems we ended up with just about as far from lib dem as you can get. I am very ashamed of them. Power corrupts, eh?

  23. JF says:

    Jon – why does this government have ‘no mandate’? Your choice of MP got in and he is now part of the coalition… You suggest you were sort of expecting a coalition anyway, so does this one only lack a mandate because it’s not the one you wanted?

  24. Carole says:

    The problem with volunteering is that it doesn’t, in my experience anyway, instil the same level of commitment in people as a ‘proper job’. Before anyone leaps up and down, I know there are many wonderful examples of selfless altruism in the voluntary sector…just not enough, in my humble opinion, to effectively take responsibility for important community services. Because I give of my own free time, I don’t feel so guilty about taking it away from time to time. Another concern is accountability. It’s hard enough to keep tabs on services under public control- how much harder to oversee the work of many different independent groups?

    Do you think there will be a ton of jobs created in a new body to ensure standards in the ‘Big Society’? OFSOC, perhaps…

  25. jonbirch says:

    i’m pretty sure that anyone with responsibility in or for the voluntary sector would agree with you entirely carole. i know people who’ve already said the same whose work involves the input of volunteers in a big way. + i’ve seen enough worried people on my tv now to know it’s a big problem… not complainy type people, but people who have been responsible for voluntary delivery for years. bad days.

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