Like a growing number of people, I do not accept that capitalism is the only way to run a western economy.. I don't accept that some people always have to be poor in society.. I don't accept that every person who isn't wealthy has to do a paid job, for long hours and often to the detriment of their own health and the health of their families.. I don't think education should be reserved for rich kids, I don't think it's right that governments can sell off our beloved institutions like the NHS and I dont think it's civilised to wage blatant attacks on the unemployed, the sick and the elderly...
So what do I believe in...
Respect yourself.. respect your fellow humans and other creatures.. respect your planet... Adopt the philosophy that says ...I am as good as anyone else, and no better than anyone else...
Ethical economics, working together -
The obscenely rich need to be weaned off their addiction to capitalism, consumerism and the exploitation of human beings, other creatures and the planet for the sole purpose of satisfying their endless greed. If you can't produce it without inflicting misery on someone or something, somewhere, then we really don't need it, be that the latest iPhone, lipstick or drug to "cure depression"...
Leaders with integrity -
I'm never convinced by the anarchy argument (too many egomaniacs run anarchist groups for my liking...) so I can see that good leaders do benefit society as things stand at the moment. Many in positions of power do however seem to have a shocking lack of empathy and compassion and this can be seen in the way the coalition government has been so nonchalant about attacking the poor, the sick and the elderly, regardless of how brutally cruel most of us consider those attacks to be. Chronic lack of empathy tends to be indicative of severe personality disorders - these people are not well equipped mentally for governing others and need to be encouraged away from politics and other positions of power, for the good of mankind.
Health Service, Education and Ethical Care for the Elderly -
In a civilised society all of these things are provided to a high standard and completely free... paid for out of general taxation. What is taxation for if not to provide these essential elements of a compassionate society. Without access to health, education and elderly care there is no civilised society.
Low carbon housing available at genuinely affordable rents -
It is not civilised to live in a society where some people have 3 or 4 homes and some people have no home at all. Those with extra and 'holiday' homes they seldom live in should be encouraged to forgo these luxuries in life that society really can't sustain. New houses need to be built with sustainability in mind and also at the heart of planning needs to be consideration for people's mental wellbeing, concrete jungles contribute more to mental illness than anyone will admit.
The Citizens Income in place of inhumane means tested benefits -
Under this approach every person leaving school would get a basic monthly income - enough to meet basic needs but not enough for luxuries like holiday homes and 3 cars on the drive. This would be paid automatically and a person could then choose to top that up with a paid job, or work in a voluntary capacity for a cause they might be passionate about, they might choose to stay at home and look after their children or they might prefer to go into education or pursue other activities to enhance their sense of fulfilment in life such as art and culture. All four main parties are said to accept the Citizens Income will inevitably come in one day because, for one thing, it's more cost effective than the deeply flawed benefits system. Only the Green Party and Labour appear to have party members who openly embrace the idea at the moment, but the day will come and I'd have it sooner rather than later.
Commitment to society's mental health -
Mental health problems are on the increase again, with latest figures suggesting around one in three of us now will suffer a significant spell of psychological illness in our lifetime - so that's a similar rate to the figures for cancer. There is a relatively simple way to reverse this trend but politicians don't want to know about it, partly because terms of office are only 5 years long (so future governments may reap the rewards of a current administration's investment in mental health) and also mental illness as an industry is worth billions. But mental illness, including addiction, personality disorders, depression and anxiety could be solved, to a large degree, for future generations by ensuring that all pregnant mothers are psychologically well throughout pregnancy and in the months and years after birth. That includes support with any psychological problems, it also includes making sure these women have their physical needs met such as adequate housing, good nutrition, good social support and a general good quality of life. For so many pregnant women the exact opposite is the case and this is, in fact, the root of many of the mental health problems we see in society today - if you don't care for the mother, you are in fact neglecting her baby too. We know from studies that pregnant women who suffer prolonged stress will produce high levels of cortisol and norepinephrine and this is tranferred to her baby's blood supply and affects its developing brain - it changes the actual architecture of the fetal brain with the amygdala (the emotional centre of the brain) growing larger than normal. This will make emotions harder to manage - the child (and then adult) will physically feel negative emotions more intensely but will find it harder to register positive emotions. Children whose mothers were stressed in pregnancy have a much greater predisposition to addiction later in life and they will also struggle to form secure attachments, as babies to their care givers and as adults to their friends, partners and their own children too, so the cycle goes on. Therefore it really makes sense to look after pregnant mums, particularly those who are less well off and don't have a good support network or the love of a reliable committed partner. Society at the moment actually punishes such women for getting pregnant in the first place!
These are just a few of the relatively easy ways we could increase our individual and sense of collective health and wellbeing. They're ideas that could be quite easy to sell to the voting public - what's not to like for goodness sakes - all that is missing is the political will from those currently in control of the levers of power, those who are unfortunately all too often bankrolled by the huge corporations whose own continuing wealth relies on a large number of people having miserable lives.
Ultimately I guess it comes down to the health of millions of ordinary people versus the continuing wealth of those few big corporations...