Why we need morality included in our public policy

In today’s guest post author of Morality and public policy, which publishes this month, Clem Henricson demands we put the discussion and inclusion of moral issues back into government decision making and law formation…

ClemWith an increasingly bitter secular religious divide we need a radical shift in our take on morality – not a breast beating on the state of morals, but an enhanced understanding of the nature of morality and a way forward to remedy what is a seriously defective relationship with public policy.

Have you ever questioned why the moral sphere is segregated from core public policy? Why in the gestation of policy is morality hived off as the provenance of private conscience and the clerisy?

We have separate development with the relegation of moral issues to some zone outside the mainstream of governmental concerns. Are governments too cowardly or ill equipped to address these matters?

Legislation and change

It emphatically should not take so long for legislation to keep up with changes in social mores – changes in attitudes to matters such as abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and that issue that has exercised us so much recently- assisted dying – with its haunting images of campaigners such as Tony Nicklinson and Terry Pratchett.

Why does government hide behind the private member’s bill, judicial rulings, loud protracted campaigns and flouting of the law that are so often the necessary prelude to change? Why is government dilatory and evasive, instead of embracing the essence of human relations – handling fluctuations and tensions head on?

“..an illusory dividing line drawn between […] public policy and conventional ‘morality’”

Continue reading ‘Why we need morality included in our public policy’

Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare

The union of personal experience and professional knowledge has informed Peter Beresford’s latest book All our welfare which publishes today. In his guest post he reflects on a life lived in parallel with the development of the welfare state and suggests greater involvement of participants in the process of welfare could be the key to an enduring future…

Beresford imageWriting All Our Welfare has really made me realize just how much the welfare state has impacted on my life – personally as well as professionally.

At a time when we are encouraged to think of ‘welfare’ as for ‘other’ people, particularly stigmatized and devalued other people, this goes against the grain of received wisdom.

I realize that I may have had more contact than most people, with state services – including so-called heavy end ones, like ‘benefits’, psychiatric system, environmental health, rent officers and so on. But this increasingly feels like a strength rather than a weakness in exploring social policy.

Lived experience

I wanted my book to include and value lived experience as well as traditional ‘expert’ knowledge. As part of this I included comments from many members of my family in the book. What was interesting was that all of them could speak from direct experience about the welfare state, from age three to 91 and most did so enthusiastically (Charlie (aged 11) and Poppy (aged 9) weren’t too keen on some aspects of school!).
Continue reading ‘Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare’

Why Race Policy must include Multiracial Americans

Today’s guest blog by Kathleen Odell Korgen, whose book Race policy and multi-racial Americans published this month, examines the much overlooked issue of including multiracial Americans in policy making and explains why this oversight must stop.

Kathleen Korgen OdellAmericans who identify as multiracial comprise approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population. With a growth rate three times that the rest of the population, this percentage will rise quickly (U.S. Census Bureau 2012; Frey 2014; Pew Research Center 2015).

One would never know this, however, by viewing the nation’s race policies. A look at policies across a variety of areas, including public school curricula, health policy, and prison regulations, reveals little trace of the existence of growing numbers of Americans who identify as multiracial.

Acknowledgement

Despite the reality that 10 percent of babies born in 2013 had parents of different races (Pew Research Center 2015), multiracial children still attend schools with teachers and curricula that tend not to acknowledge the existence of multiracial people (Williams 2013; Williams and Chilungu 2016).

Health data on multiracial Americans and how to service this population is also hard to find (Bratter and Mason 2016). Moreover, multiracial people have neither protection against nor acknowledgement of discrimination based on their identity as multi- rather than mono-racial (Botts 2016).

“The fallacies of the colorblind ideology…have become harder to swallow.”

With the steady release of videos documenting police violence against Black citizens and the public vitriol of Republican presidential candidates against immigrants seen as non-White and/or Muslim, increasing numbers of Americans of all racial backgrounds acknowledge that race still matters.
Continue reading ‘Why Race Policy must include Multiracial Americans’

Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery

Today sees the launch of the Women’s Independent Alcohol Support helpline which author of Women and alcohol: Social perspectives Patsy Staddon has been instrumental in setting up. In today’s guest post Staddon shares insights from both her research and experience on the complexities of  alcoholism and why it needs to be better understood as a social issue, not a personal failure.

Patsy’s book, Women and alcohol: Social perspectives is on offer until the end of January for just £9.99  (RRP £24.99).

Patsy blogI have never been an ivory tower academic—I gained my doctorate in 2009 at the age of 65 so it’s not surprising that most of my life, whether in the period it was governed by alcohol (from the mid-‘seventies to November 1988) or while I have been researching and practising alternative approaches for women with alcohol issues, has centred on what could be called fieldwork.

As soon as Women and alcohol: social perspectives had been completed I was back out in Bristol, as chair and co-ordinator for Women’s Independent Alcohol Support (WIAS), advertising and running alternative groups for women with alcohol issues and (as of January 20th 2016) a weekly helpline—0117-9428077.

Helpline launch

This January seems to be a particularly apt time to launch such a helpline: not only are many people attempting (and perhaps failing?) to keep to a ‘dry January’, but the government chose this month to launch new guidelines, recommending that both women and men should limit their alcohol use to 14 units a week, and stating in addition that there was NO completely ‘safe’ level of alcohol use, as only a small amount increased the risk of cancer and other health conditions.

This increased risk (for moderate alcohol use) does, however, appear to be very small.

“…‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure…”

One of the things we hope to do is to counter some of the more hysterical media reports. The WIAS ‘telephone team’ possesses experience and professional expertise in the areas of alcohol recovery itself, mental health, domestic abuse and physical abuse, and has also received training from SISH (Self-Injury Self-Help), a national organisation based in Bristol.

We are taking forward in practice the ideals embedded in the book: ‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure. It is a consequence of social disasters at least as much as a cause of them. It is certainly not inevitably permanent, but can be managed and ultimately overcome.
Continue reading ‘Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery’

Public service outsourcing: criminal ignorance?

Outsourcing of prisons has been happening for almost 25 years, plenty of time to gather in the data and get a clear picture of the pros and cons of public vs private right? Not according to today’s guest blogger, Julian Le Vay, who worked at different times on both sides of the fence…

This article was first published on Public Finance – News & insight for Public Finance professionals on Tuesday 5th January 2016.

JulianEnthusiasm for the outsourcing of public services is growing, despite the absence of reliable evidence about the implications for costs and quality

Outsourcing of public services has been a dominant feature of UK political life for three decades, under all governments – and is accelerating. Outsourcing doubled under the coalition government and has been forecast to extend to one third of all service by value under the current one.

Comparative cost

We should, then, surely know a great deal about the comparative cost and quality of publicly and privately provided services, about their respective strengths and weaknesses, and how to get best value out of outsourcing. Research in my own field, detention services, shows that this is absolutely not the case. We know, and government itself knows, remarkably little.

That is all the more astonishing because competition to run prisons has been going on longer than for any other complex public service (a quarter of a century now), remains highly controversial and involves direct commercial competition between sectors. Yet the last full comprehensive comparative study was carried out 15 years ago – and was limited and unsatisfactory even then.

“The evidence is that neither the private nor the public sector has consistently outperformed the other”

Continue reading ‘Public service outsourcing: criminal ignorance?’

5 free articles on the impact of alcohol

bottlesThe season of excess is over and many of us are saying ‘cheers’ to booze – at least for the month of ‘Dry January‘ – whether to save pounds, lbs or our livers.

In terms of health, new guidelines issued by the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies suggests there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ level of drinking and that we should look to replace a glass of wine or beer after work with an alternative such as tea.

Alcohol consumption continues to be a much debated subject both at a policy level and within the media. Concerns over industry lobbying in UK alcohol policy, how alcohol is priced and the extent to which evidence is used (and how) in forming policy and practice are items that have been discussed in our journals.

From a more personal perspective how do you talk to your children about grandparents or other close relatives who have a problem with alcohol? And how does our experience of alcohol in our environment as children affect us as we become adults and parents ourselves? Fascinating research on both those topics is covered in Families, Relationships and Societies.

So, with a cuppa in hand, we invite you to read some sobering research on the wider political and personal impacts of alcohol in our society… Continue reading ‘5 free articles on the impact of alcohol’

Free extract: All our welfare – foreword by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, journalist and author, has written an impassioned foreword to Peter Beresford’s forthcoming book All our welfare and you can read the full extract of the book in full for free here!

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – Credit: Wikipedia

Ours is an age of rage, miserliness, crudity and startling ignorance. Seventy years ago, although Britons were exhausted and depleted by barbarous world wars, they were generous, idealistic, hungry for education and collectivist. That past and our present didn’t just happen. Politics, policies and national conversations make, change and manipulate public attitudes, sometimes to prepare the ground for major ideological or economic remodelling.

After the two world wars, the poor and working classes would, in time, have wearily returned to the old, unjust status quo. In 1945, before this fatalism set in, while the wounds and horrifying memories were still fresh, the Labour government tapped into and drew on the nation’s anguish and insecurities as it embarked on reconstruction and radical change. The people were primed, made ready for the welfare state. It, was, in effect, a quiet, very British, revolution. Without the pain of war, without astute politicking there would have been no gain.

Margaret Thatcher’s counter revolution aimed to incapacitate this welfare state. Men and women, she believed, had obligations only to their own families. She wanted this nation to be like the USA, ultra competitive, avaricious, selfishly Darwinist. It took longer than…Read the full extract for free here

#Allourwelfare

You can also follow Yasmin Alibhai-Brown @y_alibhai and Peter Beresford @BeresfordPeter on Twitter.

All our welfare [FC]All our welfare publishes on 29th January and is available to pre-order here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 


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