Strugs to Func: the case for social security and basic income

In the new reboot of Queer Eye, one of the case studies in season 1 was a gentleman by the name of Bobby Camp. Bobby lives with his wife and six kids in Georgia. Bobby’s biggest issue that the Fab Five tried to help him with was that he was struggling to function – or as Jonathan Van Ness (Mr Grooming) put it, he was “strugs to func.”

It’s a cute term, but why was Bobby doing it so tough? Because he was working 2 jobs to support his family, and consequently was living on 3-4 hours of sleep a night, and had been for quite some time.

I remember thinking (and tweeting) as I watched this episode that this lifestyle was just totally unsustainable. It’s not just about being “strugs to func” in the short term, it’s what working that hard does to you long term. It literally kills you (yes, this blog will includes references below.)

As I browsed twitter, I realised I wasn’t the only person worried about Bobby Camp’s health and longevity, and that many people were joining the same intellectual dots that I was: situations like Bobby’s are precisely why we should have social security, not just in terms of social security payments like New Start or the Family Tax Benefit, but also the broader welfare state apparatus, like universal health care, free education, protected wages that ensure a full time job is enough for a person and their family to survive, and so on.

The Fab Five did what they could to help the Camps get things together: Bobby the decor and home guy did his usual miracle worker routine and completely transformed their home into a much nicer space, and spent some time bonding with case study Bobby while planting some veggies in the garden (an activity to do with the kids, plus free food in the long run.) Jonathan (Grooming,) Tan (Wardrobe,) and Antoni (Food) took Bobby and the kids to Target to work on Bobby’s makeover and to find solutions for a time and cash poor big family. Karamo (Culture) introduced Bobby and his wife to a chore roster for the kids, and helped him plan a wedding reception reboot to make up for the disastrous original event.

They didn’t touch on the biggest problem: Bobby can’t keep working 2 jobs and only sleeping 3-4 hours a night. But the solutions to that problem are way beyond the scope of a reality tv show, even Queer Eye and its mission to make people happier.

Here’s the discussion they could have had on screen.

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Ireland Referendum – Vote Yes!

On 25 May, Irish voters are to vote on the option of repealing the 8th amendment of the Irish Constitution, which effectively banned abortion by giving foetuses the same legal rights as pregnant women. Background from the BBC here

Ireland’s Catholicism has had a large role in the historical development of strong anti-choice, anti-abortion laws, but the Church has been curiously absent from current debates. That doesn’t mean that the current debate in the lead up to the referendum has been respectful and fact based, not at all. Amnesty International Ireland has come in for strong criticism in particular from anti-choice campaigners for the ridiculous complaints that Amnesty received donations from the Soros International fund and is thus “a US abortion organisation meddling in Irish affairs.” (Never mind that Amnesty was founded in London, and has been campaigning on a range of human rights for over fifty years, and has only recently changed its internal policies on how it handles abortion rights to be a more rights-based perspective!) Disclaimer: I am an active member of Amnesty International Australia, and a former board director here. I do not bother to hide my sympathies for my Irish colleagues, nor my disdain for the utter garbage being thrown at them by opponents. 

Fake news is aplenty in the debates, with the anti-choice movement funded by donors within Ireland and overseas flooding Irish media and online with bots and misinformation presented as objective facts. This is extremely disappointing.

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Australia, racism, and the uncomfortable conversation we never seem to get around to having…

Today Pauline Hanson made her maiden speech to the Australian Senate. I’m not going to link to it, because she’s had more than enough airtime for her xenophobic hate speech.

Much of it is a carbon copy of her maiden speech to the House of Representatives, 20 years ago, when she claimed that Australia was being swamped by Asians. Today, the Asian horde has been replaced by Muslims; her supposed fear of ‘Straylians being bred out of their own country has been replaced by her supposed fear of being blown up by a bearded terrorist clad in an ISIS flag.

It makes me really sad that we’ve come so … NOT far in the last 20 years, that this overt racism hits a note with enough voting Australians that people like Hanson are being elected to our Parliament. Again.

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The philosophical underpinnings of liberalism and human rights

Last night, I went to the Liberty Victoria Voltaire dinner. The Voltaire Award winner and keynote speaker was Waleed Aly: academic, news presenter, guitar shredder and all around cool dude.

He gave a thoughtful and engaging lecture on the importance of examining the philosophical underpinnings of human rights law. It’s a topic I am very much interested in, have lots of thoughts about and have been meaning to do a blog on this area for some time. So here’s my excuse!

And because I am going to refer back to Waleed’s points, I do dedicate this blog to him. Cheers mate!

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