Integration and Segregation.  What tribe are you?

Integration and Segregation. What tribe are you?

Depending on the context, tribes and tribalism are sometimes something to be celebrated and at other times regarded as primitive and inferior.

Sometimes when I can’t get to sleep I don’t count sheep but instead I go through an alphabetical list of Native American tribes.  It usually starts well; Apache, Arapaho, Apsaroke, Assininboine…I falter on the B’s; Brulé Sioux…but the C’s are quite easy; Creek, Cree, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Comanche, and Crow (though that’s cheating a bit because the Crow are the Apsaroke).

I’m usually asleep long before I get to zzzzzz…Zuni

Several decades ago I read a couple of dozen books about Native Americans:

*Forrest Carter also wrote The Outlaw Josey Wales which was made into a successful film starring Clint Eastwood and Chief Dan George.

A small charity based in Leeds called The Onaway Trust acted as a focal point for those of us concerned with the plight of modern day Native Americans and when the pay packet allowed I would send off a small cheque.

In return they supplied journals containing articles about the continuing struggles most notably the (at the time) recent armed siege at Wounded Knee in 1973.  From these we learned about the American Indian Movement (AIM) and of people like Dennis Banks and Russell Means.

In about 1980 Russell Means came over to the UK to give a few talks to small audiences at universities and colleges and I jumped at the chance to attend.  He was accompanied by Floyd Red Crow Westerman who opened the proceedings by singing some songs. After the interval we listened in respectful silence while Means gave his talk on the ongoing struggles of Native Americans in a world of injustice and hostility.

We have reservations about our reservations

Recently the world has witnessed how the many Native American tribes and others have gathered together on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in a way not see for generations to protest the threat to clean water and the encroachment on ancient tribal lands of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

With a hugely impressive display of dignity, forbearance, and non-violent protest in the face of extreme provocation (tear gas, dogs, rubber bullets, water canon, tasers) they appear to have been successful in halting the progress of the black snake.

The pride felt by these people for their cultural identity is self evident.  At the same time Europeans think less of tribalism and more about a homogeneous whole: a multicultural, border-less utopia in which diversity is celebrated and everyone is equal (but not the same).

European Tribes

Come with me to the winged isle
Northern father’s western child
Where the dance of ages is playing still
Through far marches of acres wild

~ Jethro Tull

European tribes have been confined to the controlled spaces of folklore and historical study lest they stir up feelings of patriotism and (horror of horrors) national pride.  Reveal your interest in Norse gods outside academia and sport a tribal tattoo and you’re likely to be viewed with some suspicion as some kind of racial supremacist.

We’ve learned to mock or even fear our own heritage.  King Arthur didn’t exist!  St.George was Turk! Faery Lore is dangerous!  How sophisticated we have become in our modern multicultural mish-mash.

We love to learn about other tribes and agree to respect their culture and traditions, but we’re less celebratory and even a bit embarrassed about our own ancestry and tribal heritage.

According to many the Europeans screwed up the world and created all the problems inherited by the current generations.  When it’s pointed out that our ancestors behaved arguably much better and certainly no worse than many other civilizations past and present these simple facts falls on deaf ears.  One should never let the facts of history interfere with the current trend for hand-wringing apologies.

It’s all in your genes

If you’re a white Briton the likelihood is that your DNA contains a combination of Western European, Scandinavian, Ancient Briton, and Mediterranean, with traces from further like the Near East or North Africa.  We know this because DNA testing proves what the history books have taught us about successive invasions and migrations.

The blood of the British contains elements inherited from over twenty different tribes, Celts, Romans, Vikings, Jutes, Angles, Saxons, and Normans etc as well as any slaves and camp followers that came with them.

It’s all there in your DNA, like a dormant software program ready to be brought to life with the right combination of circumstances, or perhaps it will remain asleep and you’ll simply pass on the heritage to your children.

How did it get there?  

Whether it was military invasion or waves of migration the melting pot of DNA was created through procreation.

Integration came about through intermingling and intermarriage.

Our ancestors got along (eventually) because they got it on with each other.

Integration versus Segregation

So when we consider that in 2005 Trevor Phillips warned that the UK was sleepwalking into segregation and that the recently published Casey Review confirms that segregation is now at ‘worrying levels’ it raises all kinds of questions that as yet have no answers.

For integration to occur people have to relax, keep and open mind, and respect differences but if your culture suggests that you are superior to others then that will never happen.

You will continue to see yourself as better than them.  You are highly unlikely to celebrate your son’s betrothal to an outsider or to marry off your daughters to someone of a difference culture and religion.  Your cultural beliefs may prohibit same sex relationships and condemn all kinds of lifestyles that are accepted within other tribes.

For some generations to come Europe will continue to be divided along cultural and tribal lines.  We are long way off from being fully integrated.  The only way to make any progress towards integration (assuming that is the goal and not everyone agrees that it is the desirable outcome) is to drop the orthodoxy and conservatism that isolates one tribe from all others.

Tribes and cultures that have a live and let live attitude with a little intermingling and marriage at the edges are the best hope for Europe.

Can we talk of integration until there is integration of hearts and minds? Unless you have this, you only have a physical presence, and the walls between us are as high as the mountain range.

~ Chief Dan George

The NHS Wasted Billions – Where Does All Our Money Go?

The NHS Wasted Billions – Where Does All Our Money Go?

The NHS Wasted Billions - Where Does All Our Money Go?Hardly a day goes by without one politician or another banging the NHS drum.  The political ping-pong often revolves around the NHS wasted billions.

In July of this year the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 covered the anniversary of the death of Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the National Health Service.  I wonder what Mr Bevan would make of today’s NHS.

During the program Jeremy Vine interviewed an Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in an NHS hospital.  She was born on the 5th July 1948 at Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire.

She, her three sisters, and her daughter have all spent years working in the NHS in a variety of roles. As you can imagine she is a champion for the Health Service and is very proud of her connection to it.

However, when Jeremy Vine asked her what was the single biggest cause of waste in the NHS here answer was surprising.  As I recall (and you can correct me if I’m wrong) she didn’t use the opportunity to knock the Tories or blame Conservative policies.  Instead, she seemed to draw attention to the waste within middle management.

During the preceding weeks I had seen numerous stories in the press about the amount of waste in the NHS.  It began to look as if the NHS is a huge bucket with so many holes in it that every time the budget is increased a lot of it escapes through the holes.

The NHS Wasted Billions

For 2015/16, the overall NHS budget was around £116.4 billion.  It’s the second biggest slice of the tax payers’ pie after pensions.  Defence spending for example is a third of health care.

If you work in the NHS you will probably have your own opinion so feel free to add your comments below this post.  I’d be interested to know what truth there is for each of these examples of the holes in the bucket.

  1. Consultants paid thousands for weekend work (NHS paying locums up to £4,000 for a day’s work, The Times, February 2017)
  2. Agency nurses paid excessive daily rates
  3. The protectionism of middle managers who take a salary but contribute nothing
  4. Paying fortunes for drugs that should cost a fraction of the cost
  5. Outright and deliberate fraud
  6. Health tourism (accounts for £1.8 billion alone)
  7. Failed IT projects
  8. Over-treatment and over-diagnosis
  9. Contracting management consultants who give no value for money
  10. Perks, expenses, and bonuses paid to staff well in excess of their productivity
  11. Theft from hospitals and other medical centres
  12. Self-inflicted conditions and associated illnesses e.g. obesity and illnesses it causes like diabetes, drinking to oblivion (I’m not including alcoholism, just the binge drinkers who blog up A&E) – (No excuse for eating junk food because healthy meals are cheaper, report finds)
  13. Six figure ‘golden handshakes’ for departing executives and consultants
  14. 1990 Courts And Legal Services Act (Section 58) which creates an annual legal bill of £1.5 billion
  15. Bills for private finance NHS hospitals under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).  All but one of these deals was signed for under the Labour government between 1997 and 2010.
  16. Loss of equipment lent to patients that is not collected or returned
  17. Money sent abroad to fund anti-smoking projects in other countries
  18. Missed appointments by time wasters.  “Patients missing their appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year” – The Guardian, 2nd January 2018

Are these all valid?  Can you think of any others?

More on this (May/June 2018)

i.  NHS guilty of ‘ridiculous waste of resources’ and could improve care without spending a penny more, top medic says – Daily Telegraph, 28th May 2018

ii. 70 ideas to save the NHS: part one – Daily Telegraph, 28th May 2018

iii.  70 ideas to save the NHS: part two – Daily Telegraph, 4th June 2018

iv.  70 ideas to save the NHS: part three – Daily Telegraph, 11th June 2018

Hospital Parking Charges

Hospital parking charges are a contentious issue.  Over £120,000,000 was collected in 2015/16 according to a report published by the Press Association.

On the one hand there are the hospitals justifying parking charges as an important revenue source that offset the budget cuts.  While on the other the patients, their families, and their visitors are angry about paying for every visit.

If just some of the waste in the list above was addressed perhaps many hospitals could waive or at least reduce the parking charges.

Further Reading

Why can’t we admit to ourselves that the NHS is one of the most overrated, inefficient systems in the world? – The Independent, April 14th 2017