Thursday, 18 April 2013

It's A Sin

For once, i want to explain the title.  I was just thinking along the lines of "it's been two days since my last blog post", which made me think of the Roman Catholic version of confession, so here we are.

So the last three days then.  First of all, this:

Click to tweet: . It's hard not to be trite about death, which is one reason this is delayed.  Obviously my thoughts are with everyone involved right now, as are my prayers.  The Boston Marathon was bombed last night and three people died, at the last count.  There were two explosions and possibly also a fire, though that may not have been connected.

People reacted by trying to fit it into our world views in various ways, for instance as a form of terrorism, part of a conspiracy or by blaming particular groups, and it was also observed that events with similar death tolls occur all the time in the Middle East, often in connection with NATO activity.  All of these things need attention, to be sure, but the fact that other equally serious events are not given the attention they deserve shouldn't be allowed to detract from the seriousness of what has happened in Boston.  When someone dies, their whole world dies with them, and that world is infinite.  Therefore, when one person dies, someone of infinite value is lost.  Two people of infinite value are still infinite, and other people of infinite value dying elsewhere don't subtract from that loss either.  In fact, the idea that a death toll being high makes something worse is true in a sense because of the suffering of those left behind, but if taken too far, this is similar to the kind of quantitative approach taken by those who would commit violence themselves - the more people dead the better.  This is one of many flaws in utilitarianism as commonly understood.

This can also be applied to the death of Margaret Thatcher.  As i've said before, that death has been personalised by both left and right, but in politics individuals are not significant because the forces of history, as it were, act through them.  Nevertheless people are important for their own sake as such.

Martin Heidegger expressed this in his existentialist philosophy of Sein vs. Seiende.  He believed that Western Philosophy mistook the question of being for the question of beings within existence, and this is rather similar.

I was rather uncomfortable about this video because it seems like i'm cashing in, but the fact is that i care and it was occupying my mind, so i vlogged about it.  I also uploaded a male pregnancy vlog:

There should by rights be a corresponding vlog for the Other Channel with this one but to be honest it was a bizarre unboxing and not very visually impressive, so i'm not going to bother with it, although i may put together the endless "What would really happen?" idea for it soon because it's relatively easy.  Incidentally, it turned out that the massage made things a whole lot more comfortable, which is going to make my plans for the pregnancy vlog quite a bit easier.  My abdomen seems to grow during this video, which is rather odd.

Then there's yesterday's:
Click to tweet: . I see myself as "self-underemployed".  That is, there are psychological factors which keep me poor.  What those are is another question.  I think this is relevant to Thatcher's funeral because of the sense of self-reliance her rhetoric sought to sell.

Although i have applied for literally thousands of jobs in my life, i have had a handful of interviews.  This is in spite of professional HR people looking at my application process and being unable to see what i'm doing wrong.  Therefore i have had little choice but to pursue self-employment.  The difference between the two is that getting a job with an employer involves selling yourself once or a few times to an expert, and self-employment involves selling yourself many times to amateurs.  This ignores the important fact that people are expected to evaluate their work and re-apply for jobs, or pursue a career involving promotion, but it is similar to the real situation.

The question of false consciousness also arises.  Marxists claim that false consciousness exists where a member of a class is misled by capitalism into what is in their interests.  I find this idea patronising because i see it as saying that a self-appointed "expert" will have a better idea about someone's life than the person actually living it.  However, there is a similar right wing concept found in the ideas of idleness and an exaggerated sense of entitlement keeping people unemployed, which is similarly imposed by people who don't always have similar experiences to the people concerned.

The changes in welfare policy inevitably will lead to an increase in suicides and deaths from other causes among the poor, and I may choose to kill myself if it proves impossible to live a virtuous life under the new system.  This could be seen as a manifestation of depression, but there can be honour in suicide.  Moving on from that grim view, it can also be a mistake to medicalise one's experience in such terms as depression, as this can be an abrogation of responsibility.

This didn't really go in the desired direction.  I hoped for a more involved and perhaps productive analysis of our situation.  The thing is, i'm trying to nail something which i think has features in common with mental illness but isn't one exactly, and to distinguish between internalised self-repression and other things.  This video really should've mentioned FGM but didn't, for example.  I was also concerned about annoying people.  However, i stand by the idea that there can be honour in suicide, although there would probably be none in mine (see the ebook stories, for instance, if you happen to be of that contingent).  There would of course be no honour if i did myself in anyway, because of Sarada, Sleepoversweet and Theintrostealer.

Incidentally, after yesterday's events i'll be needing to edit this and in fact you might even see the edited version by the time you read this as it needs attention - i'm going to have to read up on Michael Foot and Ted Heath first though.

Finally, there's this, which is today's and not the one i originally planned:

Click to tweet: . I'm a healthcare professional who helps people with appeals against what used to be called DLA (Disability Living Allowance), now known as PIP or Personal Independence Payment.  Although my professional body advises that i be paid for the assessments i do, i don't accept payment for them as this would in my view introduce a suspicion of bias.  Clearly there will in any case be a bias towards the patient due to the very nature of medical ethics.  However, on the other side, ATOS assessments are paid for by the government via ATOS itself, which automatically biasses them against the client.  Moreover, those who work for ATOS do not use their own professional ethics but are governed by guidelines imposed by ATOS or the government.  As a result, their assessment is not firmly based on meaningful evidence in a medical sense.

A second problem is the length of time spent assessing a client.  I generally spend forty-five minutes to an hour and a half per patient doing an assessment.  During this period, i often find that disabilities become manifest which would not have been clear over a shorter interval, for instance due to fatigue.  In any case, doing a proper job takes at least three quarters of an hour of interviewing, medical history-taking and examination.  There are also conditions which may not be apparent on only one occasion.  This is reflected, for instance, in the method used to diagnose hypertension which involves three separate measurements of blood pressure. This means that each client would need to spend up to about four and a half hours in an interview with staff assessing them for their disabilities to be evaluated accurately.

It has been suggested, perhaps accurately, that a medical model of disability is not appropriate.  Whereas this may be so, because society is indeed disabling in my opinion, the cost of the measures taken would be much higher than the cost of providing Personal Independence Payment.  There may be an issue of depression preventing a person from finding work, but this is again a medical problem and needs to be dealt with in that way.  Medical ethics also require the patient and her needs to be at the centre of the practitioner's attention, which is in any case the appropriate approach for anyone, not just a medic, to take.

There is a clear solution to this problem which accords with the espoused political philosophy of the Conservative Party, namely the Big Society:  assessments for disability should be undertaken by unpaid volunteers, who do not receive renumeration even for expenses.  This would reduce the inevitable bias resulting from payment from any source and is the socially responsible thing to do.

As it happens, i think PIP and ATOS are evidence of a discrepancy between the stated aims of the Conservative Party and what they're actually doing, because it would absolutely be in accordance with the idea of the Big Society and right wing communitarianism for there to be an assessment body staffed by volunteer professionals.  What's actually going on there?