My best mate is blind. I’ve lost count of the number of people who asked me over the years whether he was blind and what benefit dodge he was on. Cops tell me of people they suspect of training their kids to show signs of attention deficit hyperactivity and other stuff to attract benefits. One study by a researcher who spent 18 months living in a deprived area found that family income being assessed as low as £4000 a year could be as high as £17000 when other,mostly black sources were included. I know several people operating scams of one form or another way beyond ‘doing foreigners’or being able to buy fags, booze and other goods through the black economy. I still find genuine poverty (don’t ask me to define this – the experts have so many I can’t keep up). Estimates of the size of the black economy differ from around 10% of GDP.
I’ve been living on the edge of a deprived estate. Some of what goes on and the authorities’ reactions to it is scandalous. We see some apparently straight-talking about it in police blogs, but much as my personal experience of having scrote moved in next door was a disaster and there is little effective work done to stop the vile networks of such people, the real problems seem to have no operational definition that would help us take proper action. It’s easy enough to say capitalism is failing, but that doesn’t help much either. There’s a need for wide debate, yet I know as an academic this has gone on for years and the problems have only got worse.
I wonder if we have ideas. One that won’t go away for me is that all the “answers” seem to involve keeping a whole wad of bureaucrats in business and what resources there are seem to be leached away by them. I wonder if gthere is some kind of model that would not lead to simply funding cops, social workers and various leeches such as lawyers in vast disproportion to spend on the actual problem? I don’t mean by this that cops and others turning up to try to do something are leeches, but I do suspect the allocated money is largely wasted.
I’d contend we have become far too corrupt to easily see what evidence is across our public affairs or even the need to understand how easily we form opinion without it. This is more than stereotyping or groupthink and we need to include concealment. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/20/saville-inquiry-killings-soldiers-troubles-northern-ireland links to a Guardian article revealing that at least 150 deaths ’caused’ by military personnel in NI were not properly investigated. My own view is that none of the NI situation was ever properly investigated. I am not partisan in this, believing soldiers have been wrongly convicted as well as not charged when they should have been. The big problem is that we have no means of working with the real evidence across our organisations. The best evidence is hidden from us more or less across the board by people with vested interest being able to choose who investigates. Factionalism prevails not because of relativism but because evidence is not produced in a manner that is truly about demonstration.
I believe our ideas on poverty and crime are equally skewed as is most of the teaching and ‘knowledge’ to which we are exposed. The evidence needed is not reliably collected and after that we are working in a world of myth. This suits many people, but it doesn’t serve us at all well. The main question on evidence may well be who the hell is hiding it?