Excuse me miss, have you heard about the economy?

Welcome to the third and final instalment of ‘The economy is APESHIT’ (Carter and Knowles-Carter, 2018). Where the topic of discussion will be Global Wealth Inequality.

In my blog post on inequality between nations I briefly touched on the work of Thomas Piketty. His book, Capital in the Twenty-First century is perhaps one the most important economic text in the 21st century. Paul Krugman a distinguished professor of economics famously named Capital in the Twenty-First Century as the most important economics book of the decade. 

Piketty’s central argument is that when the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth, over time this leads to a greater and greater concentration of wealth. He also contends that when the concentration of wealth becomes too unequal, we get social and economic instability (Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A., 2017).

Tunisian Protest

Of course, I believe it cannot be argued that extreme inequality does not lead to economic instability. Indeed, I would argue that every major revolution in history has primarily been caused by inequality between the elites and the mass of ordinary people. Take the revolutions that occurred in the Arab world at the start of this century. They were kicked off by revolution in Tunisia which was ignited by the leaking of details of the lives of Tunisia’s President and his family (Leaked by WikiLeaks, in particular it was the life of the President’s son and daughter in law that sparked the most outrage) (WikiLeaks, 2008). The people, suffering from high unemployment, inflation and poor living conditions revolted. And they were right to, this was a complete abuse of power, that failed its own people.

It is no doubt true that the richest in our society derive their wealth from the ownership of assets (stocks, bonds, land, property etc). Focusing primarily on income while ignoring wealth in analysing inequality would completely miss this. It also logically follows that wage increases are determined primarily by increase in economic activity. So, if asset prices rise faster than wage increase people who rely on a wage to live find themselves increasingly locked out of owning property. We are seeing this in the U.K at a massive scale, particularly with regards to land and home ownership. House prices have risen substantially in the past 30 years, even including the devasting effect of the recent Corona Virus Crisis, a clear upward trend can be observed throughout the years (UK House Price Index, 2020). Benefiting those who own property while punishing those who do not. 

Piketty’s suggestion for remedying this is to create a global system of progressive wealth taxation. The aim is to avoid wealth coming under the control of a tiny minority. This is where my thinking diverges from Piketty. He has correctly identified a real problem in our economy. If we allow property/asset ownership to only be accessible to a smaller and smaller group of people, our economies will stagnate. It is the ownership of property that allows people to take risks, to innovate, to start businesses and to propel economic growth. However, in a world of nation states Piketty’s suggestion is politically unachievable. And even if it were, we go down a dangerous road if we too excessively infringe on property rights. It is all a balancing act; the question is finding the sweet medium. 

It is worth noting that the U.K has had in reason years its own flirtations with the idea of increased wealth taxation, notably the idea of a mansion tax which has been a Liberal Democrat policy (adopted by Labour in recent years also). 

To conclude this third and final post, we can observe wealth inequality as a serious issue, the most important work on this in recent times was that of Piketty (and his colleague Emmanuel Suez). And while he identifies and articulates the problem brilliantly, we don’t as of yet have workable solutions. In my view we must seek market-based solutions that do not infringe of property rights, in a bid to provide compromised resolution. On the topic of inequality in general it is something that will always be inevitable, however the task remains to implement and adopt measures in a bid to shrink the size of the inequality gap between the rich and poor.

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Bibliography

O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2016) Global Political Economy Evolution and Dynamics. England: Palgrave.

Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A. (2015) The economics of inequality. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A. (2017) Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

UK House Price Index (2020) House Price Statistics. Available at: https://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ukhpi/browse?from=1960-01-01&location=http%3A%2F%2Flandregistry.data.gov.uk%2Fid%2Fregion%2Funited-kingdom&to=2020-02-01   (Accessed: 26 March 2020).

WikiLeaks (2008) Corruption in Tunisia: What’s yours is mine. Available at: https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08TUNIS679_a.html  (Accessed: 26 March 2020).

Economy State of Mind

Welcome back to ‘The economy is APESHIT’ (Carter and Knowles-Carter, 2018). For our second instalment the subject of focus will be inequality between nations.

Inequality between nations is a fact universally acknowledged since the beginning of time. Arguably, the most famous economist to write about this issue in detail was the Economist Thomas Malthus. Malthus hypothesized technological progress increased the availability of resources, but the advance also comes with an increase in population and thus causing per capita income to remain broadly the same. As a result, economies stay at the same level of the global stage all converging to different steady states. Famously dubbed the Malthusian trap (Kenny, C., 2010). 

For a long time, many economists used the persistence of extreme poverty to argue the case that Malthus was right and that attempts to alleviate poverty were ultimately doomed with a constant increase in population. However, recent times have spectacularly debunked Malthus’s hypothesis. With the rise of China and India we are seeing 100’s of millions of people being lifted out of poverty at a very fast rate. Figures from the world bank data base reinforce this idea; China’s poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population) has dropped from 8.5 in 2013 to 5.7 in 2015.  In the case of India’s figures, we can see an even more drastic reduction, the earliest figure provided being 37.2 in 2004, in comparison to its most recent figure of 21.9 in 2011 (The World Bank, 2015). Although India still has a higher figure than china and the last known figure is more dated, the trend of decline can definitely be seen.

These massive changes are going to make great transformations to the established world order, and we are now at the beginning stages of “the invisible hand” (Smith, A. 1966). We have seen that between nations inequality is falling mainly due to the fact that these countries are now major producers on the world stage; this can be seen through comparing the annual GDP growth (The World Bank, 2015). The western world with its strong labour laws cannot compete on cost of production for labour intensive goods and services. And although this would mean that inequality within nations is likely to be increasing this has turned out not to be the case, because of the western world’s strong welfare systems. This differs greatly from looking at income inequality where we see the divide between the rich and the poor expanding.

These changes towards more economic growth should broadly be welcomed if we evaluate the world in terms of human development, as more economic growth can mean greater investments in areas such as healthcare and education amongst other areas. More of us now in all parts of the world are able to live fuller, more complete lives, freed from the drudgery of poverty. These transformations do bring challenges, it will remain to be seen whether western nations can maintain strong welfare systems where capital flows are becoming ever easier. It is by no means inevitable that inequality within nations in the west won’t go backwards as blue-collar jobs shift to the far east (O’Brien, R. and Williams, M., 2016).

Of course, the above paragraphs focus on income and the global income gap, we must also consider wealth inequality. The most famous work of recent times on this subject is Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21stCentury. The research conducted in the analysis paints a much gloomier image. 

Piketty notes that the ratio of wealth to income in developed nations is growing bigger at an alarmingly fast rate. He notes that the very wealthy derive their wealth from the ownership of capital, i.e. opposed to labour and that they get richer as asset prices continue to rise. Piketty then goes on to advocate for the politically unachievable idea of global taxes on wealth. In a world of nation states, the incentives for each individual nation not to go down this road are too strong for this to come into fruition. Nevertheless, Piketty’s research in its scope was and is ground-breaking (Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A., 2017).

It is a fact that asset prices in recent decades have risen faster than GDP and wages, but I tend not to be so gloomy when thinking about Piketty’s work. Although there are instances where this should be of real concern, house prices in the U.K for instance are growing at an alarming rate, locking more and more people out of property ownership (UK House Price Index, 2020). There are also classes of assets which do represent progress and increases in overall economic output. Share prices for tech companies for example, a big chunk of these companies have come into being the last two decades from entrepreneurs and innovators who have produced things that have massively improved our lives; a specific example is the design of hyper-personalised medicine (Temple, J., 2020). Furthermore, any of us can start a tech company, the barriers to entry are now very low. 

It is also worth noting even with inherited wealth, inheritance will dilute accumulated wealth through the economy. A couple who have four children will normally pass on their property to be split four ways. These two factors combined mean we must look not just at the rate of growth on asset prices, but also at what is driving these figures and the overall numbers for ownership of assets. Most of us own assets in the form of pension funds, these tend to be the biggest institutional investors for the big public companies. 

To conclude this week’s post, we see a fall in the divide between the nations, which has come partly with the rise of the BRIC countries. However, upon looking more into changes in income inequality between nations and wealth inequality we see a different picture. With regards to income inequality there seems to be a negative trend, with the analysis of figures showing the divide expanding between the rich and the poor. Wealth inequality, however, remains a much more complicated topic of which there is much study still to be done. This shows wealth inequality playing a much larger role in inequality on the global stage in order for it to offset the negative effects of income inequality.

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Bibliography

CrashCourse (2014) Population, Sustainability, and Malthus: Crash Course World History 215. 8 November. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAkW_i0bDpQ (Accessed: 25 March 2020).

Kenny, C. (2010) ‘Is Anywhere Stuck in a Malthusian Trap?, Wiley Online Library, 63(2), pp192-205. Available at: https://onlinelibrary-wiley com.ezproxy.mdx.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2010.00469.x?sid=vendor%3Adatabase  (Accessed: 25 March 2020).

O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2016) Global Political Economy: Evolution & Dynamics. Fifth Edition. London: Palgrave.

Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A. (2015) The economics of inequality. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Piketty, T. and Goldhammer, A. (2017) Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Smith, A. (1966) The theory of moral sentiments. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.

Temple, J. (2020) 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2020. Available at:https://www.technologyreview.com/lists/technologies/2020/#hyper-personalized-medicine  (Accessed: 25 March 2020).

The World Bank (2015) ‘World Development Indicators’. Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC/1ff4a498/Popular-Indicators  (Accessed: 25 March 2020).

The World Bank (2015) ‘World Development Indicators’. Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG/1ff4a498/Popular-Indicators (Accessed: 25 March 2020).

UK House Price Index (2020) House Price Statistics. Available at: https://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ukhpi/browse?from=1960-01-01&location=http%3A%2F%2Flandregistry.data.gov.uk%2Fid%2Fregion%2Funited-kingdom&to=2020-02-01   (Accessed: 26 March 2020).

now they see us

Now they see us

Prisoners tend to be the forgotten group in society. Actions should have consequences and time served should be enough but, in many situations that not the case. Rehabilitated individuals deserve a chance at redemption an opportunity to have a normal life. However, it clear that the United States is constructed in a manner which hinders these aspirations. People of colour have also had always been disproportionally targeted and what you’re about to read shows no different.
Probation and parole have been a very contentious topic over the last couple years, although it was put in place to keep individual’s out of prison it has the alternative effect as now 45% of criminals that a present within state prisons nationwide are the result of individuals that violated probation and parole. So why is the government spending a staggering 9.3 billion dollars a year on an unequivocally flawed system (Greenblatt, 2019)? In many instances, it done to keep control of and shackle individuals as being on probation is equivalent to selling your freedom away. Imagine having to ask for permission every time you want to live the city or not being able to spend time with a family member who was an ex-felon as that could be a breach or parole, these are the conditions that many people that are in probation go through. Politicians have put forth legislation that has become so unrealistic that its investable for individuals that are caught up in to fail. The probation and parole race divide are very similar to that of the incarceration rate, black Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be supervised than their white counterparts and account for an overwhelming 30% of those under supervision (Horowitz, 2018). Revocation of those on probation further emphasises this notion as white probationers had an 18 to 39 percent lower revocation than there blacks nationwide (JANNETTA, 2014). Why is government spending 2.8 billion dollars on locking individuals up for technical violations, don’t they have any better to spend their money on?
History has not been kind in hiding the innate prejudice perpetrated towards African Americans throughout the centuries. America in many cases has been built on the backs of African slaves whose descendants are still being subjugated till this day in a different manner. Overt racism is not very common nowadays however, through the words uttered by Politian’s it clear to see that is still rife within society as well as the political sphere. In the case of Donald Trump his history of racism is well documented, however his play in the case of the central park five is one that still rings bells today. The central park five was a group of teenagers age between 14 and 16 were wrongly convicted and sent to prison for the rape of a white women in New York. Donald Trump and business mogul at the time spent money out of his pocket to print out an ad on daily news to bring back the death penalty (Laughland, 2019). These were teenage kids were talking about, who were innocent. If they were to die and the truth came to light what would be the excuse this time? Thankfully, all the individuals in the central park five case were later exonerated sadly all serving between 6 and 13 years in prison. They received $41 million combined in settlement fees for the ordeal that they had to go through and all tried to rebuild their lives. False imprisonment is an uncomfortable topic to speak on however, for many individuals it’s the reality that they live in. When it comes to African Americas, they are 50% more likely of being innocent than other criminals and still end up having a longer prison sentence before eventually being exonerated, according to reports co-edited Renee Knake a law professor at Michigan state university (Knake, 2017). From this, it is evident that race is still a defining factor as to whether your seen as innocent in the eyes of the law and Politian’s need to do better to even out these problems.
According to pew research conducted in 2011 43.3 percent ex-offenders that leave state prison end up eventually reoffending and from the individuals that remain as law abiding citizens approximately 60 percent stay unemployed within the first year of coming out (Urahn, 2011). Movements such as “ban the box” have tried to even out the playing field and government have not done much to provide an opportunity for these individuals to assimilate into society. The unemployment rate in America is at 3.5 percent but when it comes to the amounts individuals with prior offences the unemployment rate skyrocket to 27 percent, a figure greater than 25 percent rate of the at the hights of the great depression which shook the foundations of the country. This figure is greatly shocking as prison policy initiative states that they are more inclined to find work. Black ex-offenders are affected the greatest, as almost a 3rd of men and half of women are unemployed (Couloute, 2018). The United States government need to do better as these individuals in providing them with better opportunities as they can become valuable assets to society as tax paying citizens.


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Bibliography

1) Couloute, L. (2018). Out of Prison & Out of Work. [online] Prisonpolicy.org. Available at: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
2) Greenblatt, A. (2019). States Spend $2.8 Billion a Year Incarcerating People for Minor Parole, Probation Violations. [online] Governing.com. Available at: https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-parole-probation-report-criminal-justice.html [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
3) Horowitz, J. (2018). Probation and Parole Systems Marked by High Stakes, Missed Opportunities. [online] Pewtrusts.org. Available at: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2018/09/probation-and-parole-systems-marked-by-high-stakes-missed-opportunities [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
4) JANNETTA, J. (2014). [online] Urban.org. Available at: https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/22746/413174-Examining-Racial-and-Ethnic-Disparities-in-Probation-Revocation.PDF [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
5) Knake, R. (2017). Innocent African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted. [online] Phys.org. Available at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-innocent-african-americans-wrongfully-convicted.html [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
6) Laughland, O. (2019). Donald Trump and the Central Park Five: the racially charged rise of a demagogue. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/17/central-park-five-donald-trump-jogger-rape-case-new-york [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
7) Urahn, S. (2011). [online] Pewtrusts.org. Available at: https://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2011/pewstateofrecidivismpdf.pdf [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].

To what extent does Portugal’s Decriminalisation of drugs set a potential precedent for the UK (and Europe)?

In 1999, Portugal adopted the ‘National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs’, which included doubling public spending efforts on drug prevention. Then, in July 2001, Cavaco Silva, the prime minister of Portugal made an ambitious leap in drug policy reform, stepping into the unknown and passing a law to decriminalise ALL drugs. This was a reaction to a social drug crisis that was left behind in the remnants of Salazar’s dictatorship; Joao Goulao of the Service of Intervention of Addictive Behaviours is quoted saying, “every family had an addict”, which highlights the expansiveness of the issue at the time. The aim with decriminalisation was to aid addiction through treatment (specifically Mephedrone as a heroin replacement) and dealing with infectious diseases (HIV etc.). This led to the prison population falling from 75% to 45%, as the law no longer saw addicts as criminals but instead treated them as patients. 

The UK on the other hand, only spends 8% of its drug prevention budget on medically assisting those struggling with addiction – and a concerning 54% on dealing with drug-related crime. On top of this, 1/3 of all drug overdoses in Europe occur in the UK. In the UK you can get up to 7 years for mere possession of ANY amount of a Class-A substance – bare in mind, it costs an average of £37,000 a year to house a prisoner; when compared to Portugal’s approach of addiction treatment the benefits become apparent, as it costs just €10,800 (£9007) per year to treat an addict. Not only can the UK not afford to keep funding imprisonment at such an alarming rate, but the benefits of treating drug addiction far outway the proven-ineffective penalisation of users. Forcing drug users underground and away from society increases the rate of criminal activity and discourages them from seeking help. Alternatively, Portugal chooses to be punitive in a remedial sense I.E. Offering information on addiction or sending offenders to mandatory recovery programmes.

But doesn’t decriminalising drugs lead to a rise in substance abuse?

Ironically, the evidence suggests otherwise. Last year the EMCDDA (European Drug report) published that Cocaine and MDMA in the UK was 4% and 2.6%, whereas in Portugal, it was as low as 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively. This implies that either criminalisation actually increases the likelihood of drug use OR, at the very least, it is doing nothing to lower/prevent them. As of June 2018, Portugal’s drug mortality rate was the lowest in Western Europe (EMCDDA). So not only are Portugal reportedly more moderate with their drug usage, the population is far less likely to become addicted or die as a result of addiction – pretty impressive for a country that had one of the worst Heroin epidemics in Europe which, at its worst recorded 104 cases per million of HIV infections in drug users. By 2009, it had fallen to 13.4 cases per million (against a European average of 2.85 cases per million) then going on to reduce the number to 4.2 cases per million in 2015. This a remarkable turnaround in what was a huge social problem in a developing economy. 

Not prohibiting drug use is NOT the same as legalising or liberalising drugs. What Portugal accomplished is a result of responding to addiction with tolerance as opposed to utilising public spending to incarcerate users – drug trafficking and avoiding treatment are still met with legal penalty in Portugal. By enacting a tolerance-based response to addiction, police resources have pressure taken off of them to focus on more serious crimes like drug trafficking.

A study of Italy, Portugal and Spain (Hughes and Stevens, 2010)  between 2001 to 2007, showed that general drug use rose, but in Portugal, problematic drug use (addiction/crime) diminished – especially with intravenous drugs. The general drug trends of the three countries were parallel, yet only Portugal saw a decline in their problematic drug use. In the UK, there has been slight evidence pointing towards following in Portugal’s footsteps, with Durham and Derbyshire being two notable counties to cut public funding towards minor Marijuana offences, such as growing and consumption of small amounts for personal use (Damien Gayle, July 2015). However this is no way even close to the drastic policy of Portugal and the benefits much smaller than decriminalising ALL drugs.

In summary, it is more than fair to say that Portugal’s tolerant, humane approach towards drug abusers produces witnessable results in lowering problematic drug use and treating drug related diseases. The UK would benefit from implementing similar strategies to treat addiction (alcohol as well as illicit drugs) that, for Portugal, have been used and useful since the start of the century.

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Bibliography

  1. Policy forum: The UK drug strategy. (2007). Drugs and Alcohol Today, 7(4), pp.5-13.
  2. BBC Three. (2019). Drugs policy: The UK versus Portugal – BBC Three. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/clip/b9697f02-caae-49f0-add5-b6c425b6ebc9 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  3. Statista. (2019). Public expenditure on prisons 2009-2019 statistic | Statista. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/298654/united-kingdom-uk-public-sector-expenditure-prisons/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  4. Gayle, D. (2019). Police won’t target pot smokers and small-scale growers, say commissioners. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/22/police-wont-target-pot-smokers-small-scale-growers-commissioners [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  5. Relatório Anual • 2017 – A Situação do País em Matéria de Drogas e Toxicodependencias. (2017). SERVIÇO DE INTERVENÇÃO NOS COMPORTAMENTOS ADITIVOS E NAS DEPENDÊNCIAS.
  6. Hughes, C. and Stevens,      A. (2010) What can we learn from the portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drugs? British Journal of Criminology no.50, p. 999-1022 

Why did the Labour Party lose the 2019 general election?

On Friday the 13th the results of the general election in the UK highlighted one of the best nights for the Conservative party winning 365 seats in parliament and gaining a majority whereas, this was one of the worst results Labour party have seen with only 203 seats in parliament. This had resulted in Boris Johnson having the mandate to continue as the Prime Minister and was also announced that Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the labour party was going to step down from his position. (Kommenda, Clarke and Hulley-Jones, 2019). 

To understand why the Labour Party had lost this election looking into the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Back in 2017 Member of Parliament for Leeds Central Hilary Benn described Mr Corbyn as a good man but emphasised that he wasn’t a leader (BBC News, 2019). Another Labour member of parliament Jess Philips explains in an interview with sky news that she agrees with replacing Jeremy as the labour leader. From this was can suggest that many people did not believe in Jeremy Corbyn as a leader and were one of the major reason people did not vote for the labour party as they did not see him as a natural leader.There were also many media coverage slandering Corbyn and highlighting Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism however “Some of his allies say that the anti-Semitism row is a plot to undermine his leadership.” (BBC News, 2019).

Another reason why The Labour Party could have potentially lost this general election was their stance on Brexit. In 2016 we had a referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union or not, with 51% voting to leave and 48% voting to remain. As this has been one of the biggest issues the country has been dealing with for three years now. The conservative party manifesto indicated that they would “Get Brexit done” (Vote.conservatives.com, 2019). 

We also had the Liberal Democrats who pledged in their manifesto that they would try to stop Brexit and became supporters of the remain campaign. However, the issue was that the Labour party did not have a clear stance on whether they were leave or remain but offered the public a second referendum, however, this was seen as unpopular amongst voters as many people just wanted the country to sort out Brexit as soon as possible. Something the conservative party was offering. We also saw the outcome of this as Labour had lost traditionally Labour constituencies such as the Bolsover seat which labour had for over 49 years which the conservatives gained. This was because “the fact that these losses are overwhelmingly in Leave areas, while Remain areas stood firm or even were added to Labour’s collection” (The Independent, 2019). Labour had lost 24 constituencies that had been a strong labour hold for over a decade for the first time. 

Moreover, it can be argued that the media bias against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party had a major impact on people’s views which was then expressed in the results of the general election and many labour safe seats also knows as the “red wall” where labours main demographic working-class people turned away from party loyalty and voted against labour. It has been reported that Jeremy Corbyn is the most smeared Politian in history with over “75% of Jeremy Corbyn’s media coverage factually misrepresents him” which was gathered by the independent. Jeremy Corbyn is constantly being degraded by getting called an “Anti-sematic”, “Terrorist sympathizer”. It was also reported that “The London Economic reported that over £2m taxpayers’ cash was spent by the Conservative Government Funding and Inflowars unit which smeared Corbyn and Labour” (McAninch, 2019). This just emphasises the idea that the media coverage on Jeremy Corbyn could have hindered his chances at becoming the next prime minister. A non-profit organisation which aims to expose fake misleading information called First Draft had run investigations into the advertisements of the main political parties, including the conservatives and labour and found an astonishing 88% of the conservative media adverts to be misleading and also found that 0% of labours advertisements were false (Reid and Dotto, 2019). This news was a huge eyeopener to the public to see that parties were using propaganda to push their political agendas even though they were potentially misinforming the public/voters. 

To conclude, after analysing some of the main reasons to why the labour party may have lost the 2019 general election, we can see that these issues had a huge impact on the public perception of the party and lead them astray from voting for labour. The Labour Party will now need to find a solution to how they can bring back the voters they had lost especially the working-class voters who are labours main demographic. It seems that Jeremy Corbyn’s “Socialist” manifesto which included universally popular beliefs such as free healthcare, free education etc did not entice voters as is seemed that the people were more focused on Brexit and the uncertainties around it rather than focusing on the policies the parties were trying to bring in and implement. It seems that a new labour leader will have to shift the perception of labour for them to become a major party in this country again and in possibly next elections. 

Bibliography 

  1. BBC News. (2019). The Labour anti-Semitism row explained. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-43893791 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  2. BBC News. (2019). Then and now: Corbyn critics in quotes. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40276892 [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  3. Kommenda, N., Clarke, S. and Hulley-Jones, F. (2019). UK election results 2019: Boris Johnson returned as PM with all constituencies declared. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2019/dec/12/uk-general-election-2019-full-results-live-labour-conservatives-tories [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  4. McAninch, O. (2019). Jeremy Corbyn is the most smeared politician in history. [online] The London Economic. Available at: https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/opinion/jeremy-corbyn-is-the-most-smeared-politician-in-history/18/07/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  5. The Independent. (2019). How Labour really lost seats in Leave-voting areas. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tactical-voting-blog/labour-general-election-brexit-leave-corbyn-voting-a9244931.html [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  6. Vote.conservatives.com. (2019). Conservative Manifesto 2019 | Vote Conservative. [online] Available at: https://vote.conservatives.com/our-plan [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
  7. Reid, A. and Dotto, C. (2019). Thousands of misleading Conservative ads side-step scrutiny thanks to Facebook policy. [online] First Draft. Available at: https://firstdraftnews.org/latest/thousands-of-misleading-conservative-ads-side-step-scrutiny-thanks-to-facebook-policy/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

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Where do we go from here? // Postcolonial Neoliberal Europe

In regards to the ideological version of a neoliberal state, there are certain conditions that should be met. These characteristics include: private property rights, rule of law, freely functioning markets and free trade, individualism; and finally, a market separate from state. However, the reality strongly differs. As argued by critics, there is a dark side to neoliberalism, and that dark side is the reality is that its a system of trickle down economics. Politicians and governments promise us that their policy changes will help all of us, but truly they only make things better for those whom are already better off.
The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, visited the UK almost ten years after austerity was introduced. He published a report in May, which without restraint, accused the government of overlooking any human rights obligations simply in order to secure a budget surplus, seeking results that would have made no economic sense. Even more shockingly, in July of this year, the UN rapporteur criticised the pledges made by both Conservative contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, which entailed promises to introduce tax cuts that would restrict economic growth and “dramatically increase inequality”.
Politicians that are entirely unempathetic, whom seek to implement such modern neoliberal policies have no care for the effects that will be felt by the vast majority, as these men tend to have a preference to those who already are in possession of a lot. These kinds of policies mean workers will lack rights e.g. to join unions, or to be employed without their employment being swayed by their membership to a union.
One of neoliberalisms key elements is the sheer eagerness to expand towards global trade and investment, through policies such as the dismantling of tariffs (e.g.Theresa May’s UK Tariffs No Deal that is supposedly supposed to last for 12 months after we leave the European Union) and the elimination of capital controls. However, this approach is clearly not working too well. At present, it doesn’t appear as though our exiting from the EU will be too idealistic or amicable, so its difficult to imagine coming to an agreement in which imports and exports will be free from extra taxation.
Neoliberal policy makers intend to use measures of economic globalisation such as foreign trade and investment flows, claiming that they will help improve the flow of money and the state of the economy. However, such policies neglect to actually have the effect of economic openness. What this supposed openness results in is – as mentioned before – lack of worker rights and protection that can be protected by things such as unions. Neoliberalists attack all facets with one approach – the privatisation of public sectors. There have been many examples of this in the UK’s recent political history. For example, the privatisation of railways, despite experts expressing how this would not improve our transport system at all, and they were correct. Similarly, the privatisation of university finance after 2010. Experts once again insisted that this would not improve the sector of higher education as private ownership and proxies could negatively affect teaching quality by distorting institutional priorities.
More than neoliberalism, we are in an era of targeted ‘disaster capitalism’ (Naomi Klein, 2007). Naomi talks about this in her book ‘ The Shock Therapy’. She talks about how certain things are calculated by governments in order to incite certain reactions that support their cause. By this, I mean that people in power are utilising disaster in order to profit. Today, this ‘shock doctrine’ is most frequently seen being wielded by Donald Trump, in the way he utilises things such as terror attacks, conflict in war-torn countries, or even help to push an issue to the surface. In the shock of the moment, he will put out a suggestion that in normal circumstances could not be so easily overlooked. It is a manipulative tactic.
It is imperative that we move away from neoliberalism. No governmental party has been 100 percent committed to it, and quite frankly none should as it breeds insensitivity and complete disregard for morality. We need to realise that less privatisation can also work in our favour. Rights for workers can and will encourage economic competitiveness. Unnecessary gaps in wealth is not the way. We need to find the compromise, and neoliberalism isn’t it. It is a flawed approach, not only in its favour of the wealthy, but its fatal flaw lies purely in the bad economics.

Jesmina Uruci M00742113

Bibliography

Mark Herkenrath and Volker Bornschie (2008) ‘Transnational Corporations in World Development,’ in Mitchell A. Seligson and John T Passe-Smith (eds.) Development and Under-development: The Political Economy of Global Inequality Edition 4 (Lynne Rienner), pp. 303 – 316.

Klein, Naomi. (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada, .

Robert Hunter Wade (2003) ‘What strategies are available for developing countries today? The World Trade Organisation and the shrinking of ‘development space’’ Review of International Political Economy Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 621-644.

David Harvey (2007) ’The Neoliberal State’ A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press) pp. 64 – 86

Dominic Webber, Oliver Mann, (6 June 2019) Persistent poverty in the UK and EU: 2017. Office for National Statistics

Paul Cammack (2004) ‘What the World Bank Means by Poverty Reduction and Why it Matters’ New Political Economy 9:2, pp. 189-211

O’brien, R. and Williams, M., (2013). Global political economy: Evolution and dynamics. Macmillan.

Woods, N., (2001). International political economy in an age of globalization. The globalization of world politics, 2.

Howard Hotson., (July 2016) Disaster capitalism: the shocking doctrine Tories can’t wait to unleash (The Guardian)

3rd Blog Entry – Well some of us ordered breakfast, not brexit, so what do we have to choose from?

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Well some of us ordered breakfast, not brexit, so what do we have to choose from?

It is no lie that there will be a substantial impact on the UK’s economy and its relationship with once previous confidants, the european countries. However this could also give Britain a shot in directly negotiating trade deals with non- eu member countries, an opportunity they were not permitted to take advantage of before due to European Union laws. Of Course economic studies have been carried out to gain a forecast of the long term impact of Brexit on UK economies.

Prior to the referendum, the treasury had estimated that an all majority vote for Brexit would create an immediate recession, this forecast was proved wrong. However this does not reject the fact that there is still an element of uncertainty, meaning that no matter the predictions of the UK’s economic state, as the world is uncertain. Within this blog we will be discussing the UK’s options if they wish to negotiate a deal.

Bilateral Institutional arrangements are allowed between the UK and EU after Brexit, if Britain favours to take that route. These arrangements consist of; ‘Norwegian’ option, Norway is not a member but they still have access to the European Economic Area (EEA), the ‘Swiss’ option, an accumulation of bilateral agreements with the EU, the ‘Turkish’ option a customs union between the UK and the EU (free tariffs) and lastly the ‘World Trade Organisation (WTO) option whereby trade relations will be followed through by the MFN principle.

Norwegian Option

If the UK was to select this option and join the EEA, there may be lengthy measures such as have to endure a challenging application process. In addition, countries within the EEA also have to follow the rules of the Internal Market within the EU, which is not free of charge and they do not have an influence in the creation of these rules or the European Parliament. The fact that there will be higher trade costs, as this is not the customs union the UK would have some reserved funds for post brexit in the case of choosing a Norwegian option. From 2009 to 2014 the financial obligations of Norway had to adhere to totalled to 1.7 billion euros, the population in the UK is much larger to the point that its looking like the access to the common market would sum to 3.4 billion euros per year.

Swiss option
An advantage of the Swiss option for the UK would be that there is longer rule of having to adhere to the social and employment regulations that are set out by the European Union and not needing to be involved with policies such as the regional policy and the Common Agricultural policy (CAP). In addition, there is also the advantage of not having to do a regular financial contribution towards EU budgets.
However a limitation would be that British companies would have to consider the euro. Switzerland is sovereign when it comes to bilateral agreements within the EU, for example regulatory issues. However, the same as the “Norweigan” option, they do not have a say when it comes to the EU decision makings, instead have to conform to regulations that were made if it is related with their bilateral agreements. There are some agreements that you can’t get out of and you have to abide by such as the actual EU law and the Schengen act. This option is not necessarily the most favourable within the EU since Swiss voting in February 2014 against the free movement of persons. Would the EU accept this from UK? We don’t know, Britain has its fair shares of migration issues also.
Turkish option
The “Turkish” option shines a great advantage for the UK, as it has quality thats most desired such as the free movement of goods, this however does not include services. This can take a toll on the UK as it rules out the financial and service sectors, since the are not part of the internal market. In order to make this work the UK would have to have a separate discussion on the agreement of the freedom of services and capital within the EU, which is separate to the customs union. This is very important as the UK depends on these financial industries. It is unlikely to have a definite answer on whether the relations between the UK and the EU on an economical scale would be processed with a customs union or not, whether the EU would even accept the customs union as an excuse to depart is questionable. This was permitted with Turkey, as they are negotiating with the hopes of joining the European Union one day.
WTO option
This option is considered as a back up in the case of a hard brexit, as it’s membership has limited access to the EU market, depending on the most-favoured-nation treatment. MFN protects the right that the UK would not have to pay a higher tariff compared to other WTO member states importing the same product. Yes, if the british companies wishing to export their goods to the EU they would have to pay the price of the EU import tariffs, but the costs are usually very low at a respectable 4.2 percent, but if the UK desires export goods such as food the rate can rise to 15%. This option can give the UK the very element they voted for more so than others, sovereignty, no longer would the UK have to face the burden of paying and chipping into the EU budget anymore.
It is important to note the UK can’t just have a pick and mix at which bilateral agreement they like the look of, or choose the one they believe would be more cost effective. These terms have to be negotiated which can understandably be time consuming. When the time comes to negotiate, it could go either way, on hand the EU may permit UK’s access by offering desirable conditions in to the EU market. In return many EU countries would trade their surplus in merchandise with the UK, maintaining a relationship, that could be put to beneficial political benefit. The downfall would be that the UK would seem like its relying more on the market than the EU would on us, so neither side wants to look like the weaker one, which is where the negotiation tactics kick in. The fear within the European Union would be that other EU countries would want to follow in the footsteps of the UK by leaving, the EU may turn out not to be very negotiable possibly as a lesson for other countries if they ever wish to leave.
Bibliography:

Busch, Berthold, Matthes and Jurgen (2016). Brexit – the economic impact: A meta-analysis. German Economic Institute (IW), Cologne, (10).

Tetlow, G. and Stojanovic, A. (2019). Understanding the economic impact of Brexit. [online] The Institute for Government. Available at: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/understanding-economic-impact-brexit

The land of the free! Are you having a laugh?

The land of the free! Are you having a laugh?
America has always had a problem but yet not many tend to speak about it. Mass incarceration of millions of African American males has been an issue that’s been swept under the rug. A very contentious topic that many try an afford, it is very clear to all the blatant injustices that have been going of decades. In truth, more black males now are in hands of the American so called ‘justice’ system than in the gruesome slave trade.
Being black in American to several people is already seen as a crime, the systematic prejudices towards black individuals have left a sour taste in the mouths of many. The incarceration rates in America provide a glimpse of this great disparity between the races as on average blacks are 5 times more likely to be in state prison in comparison to their white counterparts (Strauss, 2017). The American government are seen by countless individuals as the antagonist, a bunch of backwards politicians that haven’t done much in help level out these odds, rather the contrary. The crime bill put in place in 1994 was one political decision that drastically hurt the communities of colour. The largest crime bill in the history of the united states at 30 billion dollars, it amplified the mass incarnation of African Americans at a level never seen before. 9.7 billion dollars was funnelled into prisons moreover, a three-strike rule as implemented which led to mandatory life sentence for repeat offenders. This greatly affects black males who had a higher likelihood of police contact (Lussenhop, 2016). The crime bill was unfairly misconstrued to garner the votes of the African Americas citizens however, when demands in spreading power to underdeveloped and economically deprived communities were put by the same voters, it fell on deaf ears.
Rehabilitation is one of the 4 main purposes of prisons. Idealistically prisons are put in place to transform criminals and gear them into becoming law abiding citizen once they come out, through the use of educational courses, work skill workshops and phycological counselling (Stoptheaca.org, 2009). However, a new phenome private prison has been sweeping the nation and have been used differently to conventional prisons. Private prisons have become a lucrative industry since their introduction in Texas in 1985. Firms bidding for the sole responsibility of inmates which the government cannot hold has led to the state profiting of the selling of prisoners. Since the year 2000 the vast number of individuals in private prisons rose by 39.3% in comparison to only a 7.8 % percent rise in population prisons, this grave contrast shows the traction this industry has been gaining (The Sentencing Project, 2019). Non-profit prison policies initiative has highlighted that on average a convict within private prisons receive crumbs in terms of compensation for their maintenance work. 14 cent and hour, how is that even acceptable? Private prisons have been likened to modern day slavery as major cooperation’s and the government seem to profit of the manual labour of thousands of people every year without any repercussions (Sawyer, 2017). With 37% percent of the prisoners being black in proportion to them only making up 12.1 % of the population, we can see that these events greatly affect the African American community more than any other. Even though the abolition of slavery took place in 1865, African Americans have been subjected to a different form of slavery, as the shackles on their ancestor’s hands have now been transferred to handcuff on them.
Enforcing marijuana laws has cost the United States over 3.6 billion dollars per annum however, the consumption of it and its regular availability has failed to diminish. The scale of marijuana arrests has been staggering as between 2001 and 2010 over 8 million cannabis related arrested, breaking that down to one arrest every 37 seconds. It is even more startling once you see that grave racial prejudices that are going on as black individuals are 3.73 more likely to be arrested for the possession of marijuana than there whites even though the use of the drug is roughly even between the both (Edwards, 2013). It comes as no surprise that black individuals are the ones that are constantly targeted once you take a peep at the state of America prisons. The disproportion amounts of African Americas stuck in jail for minor crimes which have now become legalised shines a light on the failures of the American justice system, which to many are seen as outdated and not in favour of them. Both Colorado and Washington state were the first pit stops in the legalisation of marijuana in 2012. State taxes on both the use recreational and medical marijuana were put at an astronomical 15%, however, that did not stunt the growth of the marijuana as businesses started to flourish leading to many other states following the trend of making the drug legal. In 2018 over 11 states now sell marijuana to individuals over the age of 21 making the government over 10.4 billion dollars (DePietro, 2018). This mass shift in ideals posed a moral conundrum, is it okay to for the government to start benefiting from the legalisation of a drug which for many years has led to Africa Americas spending time in prison. And if these drugs are legal now why aren’t these individuals being set free. It’s okay now because the government is taking its share.

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Bibliography
1) DePietro, A. (2018). Here’s How Much Money States Are Raking In From Legal Marijuana Sales. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewdepietro/2018/05/04/how-much-money-states-make-cannabis-sales/#15d38bd9f181 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
2) Edwards, E. (2013). Report: The War on Marijuana in Black and White. [online] American Civil Liberties Union. Available at: https://www.aclu.org/report/report-war-marijuana-black-and-white?redirect=criminal-law-reform/war-marijuana-black-and-white [Accessed 03 Dec. 2019].
3) Gopnik, A. (2012). [online] Thebuddhasaidiamawake.com. Available at: http://www.thebuddhasaidiamawake.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Mass-Incarceration-and-Criminal-Justice-in-America-The-New-Yorker.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
4) Lussenhop, J. (2016). Why is Clinton crime bill so controversial?. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36020717 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
5) Sawyer, W. (2017). How much do incarcerated people earn in each state?. [online] Prisonpolicy.org. Available at: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/04/10/wages/ [Accessed 03 Dec. 2019].
6) Stoptheaca.org. (2009). Purposes of prisons. Stop the Crime.. [online] Available at: http://www.stoptheaca.org/purpose.html [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
7) Strauss, V. (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/03/15/mass-incarceration-of-african-americans-affects-the-racial-achievement-gap-report/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].
8) The Sentencing Project. (2019). Private Prisons in the United States | The Sentencing Project. [online] Available at: https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/private-prisons-united-states/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019].

To what extent has ‘Modern Feminism’ failed us?

Over the course of this blog post I will deconstruct what is meant by ‘Modern Feminism’, evaluating the ways in which it has either failed or succeeded – with regards to the progression of equality. One definition of Feminism is ‘the belief in the equality of the sexes: economically, socially and politically.’ (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). I will explore the evolution of Feminism, from female-centric rights advocacy to where it stands in a modern society.

I will use the term modern Feminism to encompass the popularisation of Intersectional Feminism (IF) in the mainstream media. over the last decade – in particular – the last 5 years. IF as defined by Kimberlé Crenshaw (the originator of the term Intersectionality) is ‘the collision of two overlapping dynamics of oppression’ (Crenshaw, 1989). She further explores the interdynamics of power and oppression in her work looking at how women of colour have mostly been marginalised both by the Feminist movement and the Civil Rights movement, rather than included as someone who experiences life through both sides. 

The first wave of Feminism, was mostly dedicated to the right to vote and for women’s political involvement, and the feminists of the time were called Suffragettes (a feminisation of the word suffrage), but at the time that only rang true for white women – for black women the vote came much later. 

The second wave of Feminism, in the 1960s, became very focused on women’s sexual liberation, we saw a huge exposure of how common sexual violence was in marriages, more sexual freedom and of course the push for birth control. Because there was so much gender violence being uncovered at the time, feminists were very adamant in revolting against the chains and the violence of patriarchy, and these women by today’s standards could be deemed radical; black women were still not really included in the movement at the time, but shortly after in the 80s and 90s we see an arrival of black and latina feminist perspectives. Not only from the likes of Crenshaw but Bell Hooks and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. 

This paved the way for the perspectives and experiences of WOC (Women Of Colour) to be included in the movement and discussions going forward. Speaking personally, I believe modern Feminism – often dubbed ‘Third wave’ –  has borrowed from Crenshaw with the recent introduction of the term ‘Intersectionality’. Today’s feminism recognises the array of experiences and their interactions with a patriarchal society. It presented a deeper view of power dynamics in society, and how different aspects of someone’s identity can overlap to create a personal experience. I believe this has reinforced the movement, making it more cohesive and inclusive, and as a result, more powerful.

Having explained modern, intersectional feminism as a force for potential good, I must do the same for its potential drawbacks and dangers in a contemporary society. For instance, the internet brought us a new means of communicating, at anytime anyone can broadcast thoughts into the world and have it reach thousands of people – a recent study (Martin, 2019) even suggesting 65% of people receive their news through Social Media. Initially, this appeared positive for feminism, it would become a platform to spread feminist ideals and widen information spread on the topic, to do so, it targeted young women; the demographic most present online and susceptible to the Feminist ideas of: Empowerment, Body ownership and Equality.

Like many, I was introduced to feminist ideas through short and catchy captions and images on social media, that were used to market the movement to a wider audience. Using these slogans to spread messages meant that a lot of important information and context were lost in making these ideas more palatable. 

We see this becoming harmful with, for instance, the ideas of sexual liberation and the freedoms that were conquered. These ideals were misappropriated by a male dominated culture and abused for profit, this can be observed in a study from the University of Georgia, that witnessed a rise in adverts using sex to sell. From 1983 to 2003, respectively, percentage of sexual content in marketing rose from 15% to 27% (Mulvey, 2019). This is something young women are still subject to the idea of being empowered by oversexualising ourselves from a young age, is in no way liberating. We have banalised the female body, in the name of feminism and liberation, to the point that young women put themselves in really dangerous situations online, in the name of their own sexual liberty and empowerment(Graham-McLay, 2019). This has also influenced how we view sex work today, with new and safer ways to sell sex on the internet, we now see a community of white, middle class women battling for legalisation with general support from feminism. This erases experiences of women of colour and women in poverty, that are pushed or even trafficked into the trade that don’t benefit from this liberalisation at all. 

In conclusion, Feminism has brought us immense progress and freedom, feminist theory and ability to organise communication has been helpful to other social movements as well – and today more than ever, we are able to borrow and learn from each other. We should continue focusing on inclusion of varying experiences in feminism, and reinforce teaching where oppression comes from; never forgetting that there is no space for capitalist notions in social movements due to capitalism’s exploitative nature. There needs to be a clearer idea of what feminism is and how we can use it to achieve a more inclusive and peaceful world. 

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Bibliography

  1. Bigman, F. (2019). Has Popular Feminism Failed Us All?.

 [online] Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists. Available at: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/has-popular-feminism-failed-us-all/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Badham, V. (2019). That’s patriarchy: how female sexual liberation led to male sexual entitlement 

| Van Badham. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/thats-patriarchy-how-female-sexual-liberation-led-to-male-sexual-entitlement [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). feminism

 | Definition, History, & Examples. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/feminism [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.

 University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1).

  1. Graham-McLay, C. (2019). Grace Millane murder trial: New Zealand court hears details of how UK backpacker died.

 [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/06/grace-millane-trial-new-zealand-court-uk-backpacker-tinder-date [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Grant, M. (2019). Liberal Feminism Has a Sex Work Problem.

 [online] The New Republic. Available at: https://newrepublic.com/article/155481/liberal-feminism-sex-work-problem [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Martin, N. (2019). How Social Media Has Changed How We Consume News.

 [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolemartin1/2018/11/30/how-social-media-has-changed-how-we-consume-news/#2e7abb3c3c3c [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

  1. Mulvey, J. (2019). Sex in Advertising Statistics – Why Sex Sells – BusinessNewsDaily

[online] Business News Daily. Available at: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2649-sex-sells-more.html [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].

1st Blog Entry- Yemen Famine: The Harrowing Reality

Now they see us

Prisoners tend to be the forgotten group in society. Actions should have consequences and time served should be enough but, in many situations that not the case. Rehabilitated individuals deserve a chance at redemption an opportunity to have a normal life. However, it clear that the United States is constructed in a manner which hinders these aspirations. People of colour have also had always been disproportionally targeted and what you’re about to read shows no different.

Probation and parole have been a very contentious topic over the last couple years, although it was put in place to keep individual’s out of prison it has the alternative effect as now 45% of criminals that a present within state prisons nationwide are the result of individuals that violated probation and parole. So why is the government spending a staggering 9.3 billion dollars a year on an unequivocally flawed system (Greenblatt, 2019)? In many instances, it done to keep control of and shackle individuals as being on probation is equivalent to selling your freedom away. Imagine having to ask for permission every time you want to live the city or not being able to spend time with a family member who was an ex-felon as that could be a breach or parole, these are the conditions that many people that are in probation go through. Politicians have put forth legislation that has become so unrealistic that its investable for individuals that are caught up in to fail. The probation and parole race divide are very similar to that of the incarceration rate, black Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be supervised than their white counterparts and account for an overwhelming 30% of those under supervision (Horowitz, 2018). Revocation of those on probation further emphasises this notion as white probationers had an 18 to 39 percent lower revocation than there blacks nationwide (JANNETTA, 2014). Why is government spending 2.8 billion dollars on locking individuals up for technical violations, don’t they have any better to spend their money on?

History has not been kind in hiding the innate prejudice perpetrated towards African Americans throughout the centuries. America in many cases has been built on the backs of African slaves whose descendants are still being subjugated till this day in a different manner. Overt racism is not very common nowadays however, through the words uttered by Politian’s it clear to see that is still rife within society as well as the political sphere. In the case of Donald Trump his history of racism is well documented, however his play in the case of the central park five is one that still rings bells today. The central park five was a group of teenagers age between 14 and 16 were wrongly convicted and sent to prison for the rape of a white women in New York. Donald Trump and business mogul at the time spent money out of his pocket to print out an ad on daily news to bring back the death penalty (Laughland, 2019). These were teenage kids were talking about, who were innocent. If they were to die and the truth came to light what would be the excuse this time? Thankfully, all the individuals in the central park five case were later exonerated sadly all serving between 6 and 13 years in prison. They received $41 million combined in settlement fees for the ordeal that they had to go through and all tried to rebuild their lives. False imprisonment is an uncomfortable topic to speak on however, for many individuals it’s the reality that they live in. When it comes to African Americas, they are 50% more likely of being innocent than other criminals and still end up having a longer prison sentence before eventually being exonerated, according to reports co-edited Renee Knake a law professor at Michigan state university (Knake, 2017). From this, it is evident that race is still a defining factor as to whether your seen as innocent in the eyes of the law and Politian’s need to do better to even out these problems.

According to pew research conducted in 2011 43.3 percent ex-offenders that leave state prison end up eventually reoffending and from the individuals that remain as law abiding citizens approximately 60 percent stay unemployed within the first year of coming out (Urahn, 2011). Movements such as “ban the box” have tried to even out the playing field and government have not done much to provide an opportunity for these individuals to assimilate into society. The unemployment rate in America is at 3.5 percent but when it comes to the amounts individuals with prior offences the unemployment rate skyrocket to 27 percent, a figure greater than 25 percent rate of the at the hights of the great depression which shook the foundations of the country. This figure is greatly shocking as prison policy initiative states that they are more inclined to find work. Black ex-offenders are affected the greatest, as almost a 3rd of men and half of women are unemployed (Couloute, 2018). The United States government need to do better as these individuals in providing them with better opportunities as they can become valuable assets to society as tax paying citizens.

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Bibliography

1) Couloute, L. (2018). Out of Prison & Out of Work. [online] Prisonpolicy.org. Available at: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
2) Greenblatt, A. (2019). States Spend $2.8 Billion a Year Incarcerating People for Minor Parole, Probation Violations. [online] Governing.com. Available at: https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-parole-probation-report-criminal-justice.html [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019].
3) Horowitz, J. (2018). Probation and Parole Systems Marked by High Stakes, Missed Opportunities. [online] Pewtrusts.org. Available at: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2018/09/probation-and-parole-systems-marked-by-high-stakes-missed-opportunities [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
4) JANNETTA, J. (2014). [online] Urban.org. Available at: https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/22746/413174-Examining-Racial-and-Ethnic-Disparities-in-Probation-Revocation.PDF [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
5) Knake, R. (2017). Innocent African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted. [online] Phys.org. Available at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-innocent-african-americans-wrongfully-convicted.html [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
6) Laughland, O. (2019). Donald Trump and the Central Park Five: the racially charged rise of a demagogue. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/17/central-park-five-donald-trump-jogger-rape-case-new-york [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
7) Urahn, S. (2011). [online] Pewtrusts.org. Available at: https://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2011/pewstateofrecidivismpdf.pdf [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].