Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Cuts Both Ways

It's not as easy as you might think to keep an updated blog. Not that it is difficult to find the words. I could waffle for England. I never write 10 words where 100 will do. The problem is finding the time for it. When I come home from my boring job if I'm not working on my expanding rugby league writings all I really want to do is eat, watch Eggheads and one of the several mildly diverting dramas I've managed to get hooked on recently, and then go to bed.

So all of this is an explanation for why there has been nothing on these pages since January 29. That's fully 53 days ago. Another explanation is that, truth be told, I get a bit sick of myself. This column is supposed to be about living with a disability. Loosely at any rate. It is always likely to stray off onto the odd tangent. But driving home from work one day last week I was thinking about the lack of recent material in Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard and the reasons for that. The thought occurred to me that I'm actually sick of bollocking on about disability. It seemed to me that actually the more columns like this one complain about disability issues the less the writers of said columns are actually out there doing something to address them. They become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Wouldn't we all be better off if people like me just got on with living with a disability instead of barfing on about its injustices all of the time?

Easier to say than do. Even if I'm not writing about disability there is someone on social media who is. How many posts have you seen on your Facebook timeline recently, for example, telling you which politicians voted for the £30 reduction in some disability benefit? It's got to the point now when it would be quicker for me to tell you which politicians didn't vote for it. Generally speaking, and as you might expect, I'm not in favour of cuts to disability benefit. But the way in which politicians who voted for the cuts are being routinely demonised does make me think that the issue is being rather over-simplified. If you think that disabled people should have lower benefit entitlement then you're evil and that's an end to the matter.

But is it that simple? To presume that it is that simple is to fall into the trap of thinking that all disabled people are the same. Helpless victims who can't provide for themselves or their families and who are having the food snatched from their mouths by cruel policy making. I've no doubt this is true in some circumstances. Except for the bit about families, that is. How are you having a family if you're a social pariah who can't get it up? There I go... falling into the same trap the rest of society does. I apologise.

I apologise because we're all different. I was at the rugby club the other day when the subject of benefits was brought up. Someone turned to me and said that I must be really angry about losing my £30. Not especially, I replied. It isn't going to make a huge difference to me because I have a job. Even if it is a boring one. I'm against the cuts because they might seriously impact on people less fortunate than I. But what I am more at odds with is the lazy notion that all disabled people sit at home relying on government handouts. I know people who do, and I did it myself years ago. That was because if anything I was paid too much to stay out of work. I was disincentivised right up until the point that both mine and Emma's names went on the mortgage. If there are disabled people who can't provide for themselves it is not always because their physical limitations dictate it. It's often because of this disincentivisation, and because up until my generation most disabled people were denied the right to quality education and training and have become all but unemployable as a result. And so the good people in society still want the state to provide for the lot of us as if we are as one. It's well meaning, but what it actually serves to accomplish is to keep us all in our little disability victim box, the intended effect of which is so that socially inept fucktards won't have to engage with us in their working lives. We'll be out of harms way, but it would be fine if only the state would look after us. And some disabled people are happy to accept that idea, and actively perpetuate it. But it's not fine. Not by a long chalk. We can't scream about inequality if we're not prepared to get in amongst them and force the workers of this country to integrate with us daily.

So I don't really care who voted for cuts to disability benefit. What I want to know is whether there is anyone in government offering anything above and beyond the standard level of lip service to try and help those disabled people who are physically fit enough to enrich their lives by going to a boring job every day.