Monday, 21 March 2016

Propsed Tory Cuts To Disability Benefits, Have Exposed The Self Interest at the Heart Of The Conservative Party

There are numerous issues which I have and will continue to bring up, which show this Tory government as a brutal and vindictive body, who are only out to represent the wealthy. However, one of the most important of this issues is Tory treatment of disabled. Whether it is the removal of the independent living fund, which disabled people need to live and work in their communities, or the sheer number of disabled people that have died after being found ‘fit for work’, the Tory’s always seem to find a way to shift the country’s problems onto the backs of society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people. It should come as no surprise then that in this year’s budget, amongst George Osbourne’s usual rhetoric about how he is making the economy stronger, was a plan to make sick and disabled people £30 pound a week poorer, by slashing social security payments to them by over £1,500 pound per year. While no one from any other party voted for this disgusting piece of legislation it was backed overwhelmingly by the Tory’s, who voted on masse, by 309 tory MPs, to impoverish sick and disabled people. They did this, while simultaneously deliberately wrecking a plan to conduct an impact assessment on the cuts and giving Hugh tax cuts to corporations. However, this time this are not so simple, the disability cuts have been met with a range of reactions from various parties, all of which are completely exposing the self-interest at the heart of the conservative party. 

Another failed Budget

While George Osborne’s budget contained the odd bit of glitter such as the sugar tax and cutting the cost of the Severn bridge toll, this was simply used to detract from the fact that he has once again missed every single one of his economic targets since becoming chancellor. Remember that time in 2010 when George Osborne promised to have the deficit eliminated by the end of that parliament, well the fact is that he has been chancellor for nearly six years, and the deficit has not even been halved. Surely if austerity was a feasible economic solution, we would not have to be in a situation in 2016, when we are still slashing social security for societies most vulnerable.
The fact that these cuts were proposed in the first place shows that Osborne either does not understand, or does not want to understand, that the majority of people tend to spend a greater percentage of their income on essentials, thus fuelling demand, while the rich tend to stash their money in tax havens. Nor does Osborne understand that tactical investment in infustructure has the potential to create jobs, and enable for the securing of returns on that investment. While Jeremy Corbyn is essentially right to label the budget as having ‘unfairness at his very core’, we should seek to look for and create alternatives to austerity, of which there are many. Otherwise, the conservatives will continue to persecute societies most vulnerable, in nobody’s interest but their own.

Zac Goldsmith, backbench rebels and Tory double standards

The Tory Justification for slashing social security payments to disabled people is the pathetic argument that it would somehow compel disabled people to look for and find work. Not only has this argument been completely rejected by opposition MPs and disability charities, but there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this is true. If anything, these cuts will make disabled people less likely to find work, as they will obviously have less money to pay for basic necessities, such as decent clothing and travel costs, which are requirements for anybody looking for a good job.
Amongst the conservative MPs perpetrating this myth is their candidate for London mayor Zac Goldsmith. Ironically, until very recently Goldsmith was chief patron of London based disabity charity Richmond AID. This was until, a few days following his vote he rightfully received a letter calling for his resignation. Here is the charities explanation:

“... Zac's decision is a complete conflict with our social model and ethos ... Having voted for this brutal cut we believe that Zac Goldsmiths' position as patron is no longer tenable.”

While this should act as a massive blow to Goldsmith’s credibility to lead a city, where a number of disability charities are based, the real issue here is the hypocrisy and self-interest at the heart of Goldsmith’s decision. He can talk all he likes about how much he cares about his constituents but the truth is that when he should have stood up for disabled people, he towed the party line and voted to impoverish them. The same can be said for some backbench MPs such as Kit Malthouse who was also sacked as head of a disability charity this week, for helping to push through this legislation. If you know of any MPs who voted for this cut, you should attempt to make your voice heard by telling them your thoughts and protesting their decision, so no person has to suffer as a result of their own self-interest.
While some people at this point may be compelled to point out the backbench MPs who voted against the cut, it is highly likely that this is also mostly powered by self-interest. Having seen the backlash against conservative MPs who have attempted to push through such legislation in the past, they most likely voted against the cut for the sake of retaining a relatively good reputation. Alternatively, such MPs could be attempting to support the war against the conservative leadership, which has very recently emerged from within the party itself…

Ian Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and yet more self Interest

Not only is there an inherent self-interest at the heart of the neoliberal capitalist ideology, driven by the conservative party, but there have also emerged an unrest between different factions of the conservative party, fighting to represent their views. These include divisions over the European Union referendum and divisions over who is best to lead the conservatives into the 2020 general election. However what we may be seeing at the moment by the likes of ‘old school conservatives’ like Boris Johnson is a full scale political coup.
The squabble within the conservative party first broke into the limelight when head of the department of work and pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, announced that he was resigning from the role. With the letter came an extremely (sincere or not) attack on the Tory’s austerity programme. Here is an extract from that letter:

“I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest,”

Now, considering the fact that Ian Duncan smith has been so vicious in his attacks on the disabled throughout his time in his role, it is extremely unlikely that he had a sudden attack of conscience, and decided to start advocating for their rights. As such, it is far more useful to view this resignation as a direct attack on the conservative leadership. Due to the fact that the Cameron/Osbourne wing of the conservative party have been doing all they can to campaign to stay in Europe, including smearing the Brexit backers of Boris Johnson and Ian Duncan Smith, this resignation clearly represents the start of a huge backlash. Since this development, the Tory’s have not only shelved the disability cuts, but said they are not yet prepared to introduce any cuts to replace it.

While this is good news for disabled people, it is important not to see the ideology of Boris Johnson or Ian Duncan smith as one that is in any way compassionate. While if he does become conservative leader Johnson may drop the ‘let’s cut our way to growth’ myth that we have got so used to over the past five years, it is still highly likely that a Boris led administration would seek to impose a neo Thatcherite economic order, by pursuing the large scale privatisation of public services, and keeping society in place through authoritarian policing and surveillance laws. Rather, as I have said before, we should seek to create an economy based on public control over their communities first by fighting right wing, self-interest politics at the ballot box, and more importantly by fighting it on the streets.


Overall, the Tory’s attempt to cut disability benefits have done nothing but expose the selfish nature both with pro austerity conservatives, and with those that have doubts about the conservatives leadership. Now that George Osbourne’s failed budget has utterly unravelled before our eyes, hopefully we will begin to see the wider unravelling of right wing politics. If you advocate for the rights of disabled people however, we should not just seek to scrap cuts to their benefits but to address the wider problems facing disabled people in everyday life, only then can we say that we are a caring and compassionate society.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Awful Arguments #2 - The Myth That the Unemployed Caused the Economic Crisis

We have all heard it, the idea of a growing number of lazy people scrounging of the welfare state is repeated daily with little to no regard to the causes of mass unemployment. This is a myth usually perpetrated by the middle classes, comfortable in the notion that they will not need to know what it is like to live in poverty, nor ever have to look to the real cause of the numerous social problems we face today. Society has always had its scapegoats and it seems that next to immigrants and the disabled, unemployed people are currently at the top of the list. Despite this, a basic analysis of current economics reveals why a number of reasons why this idea that unemployment is a lifestyle choice is absolutely absurd. As such let’s go through these reasons one by one in an attempt to debunk this petulant and ignorant myth.

Justification Narratives explained

A Justification narrative is a simple propaganda story aimed at reducing complex political phenome to easy digestible sound bites or memes, such as ‘unemployed people are all lazy scrounges’. As you can probably tell, justification narratives are extremely reliant on confirmation bias, meaning they mainly work on people that are significantly unlikely to critically analyse an idea that fits into their own worldview. This means that Justification narratives are an extremely useful tool in getting the poorest members of society bickering among themselves, distracting them from the people responsible for the economic meltdown of 2008.

As anyone with any sort of moral compass whatsoever knows, it is entirely natural to react negatively to perceived injustices within society. Therefore, when the idea of ‘lazy people scrounging of the welfare state, at the expense of the taxpayer’, is repeated on a regular basis, it becomes easy for it to stimulate strong emotional reaction. When this happens people become less likely to acknowledge the fact that benefit fraud only represents a small amount of the benefit system. To prove this, we can look at the evidence that the public estimate the amount of fraud in the benefits system to be £24 in every £100, when the real figure is just 70p. In addition to this, contrary to popular belief that more is spent on welfare then on pensions, we actually spend 15 times more on pensions then welfare. We all see the justification narrative used, whether we want to believe that or not. In order to avoid such blatant misrepresentations of facts, politicians and the media need to be made aware that they should be more forthright with facts and evidence rather than blurting out meaningless buzzwords and phrases.

Who is really responsible for the economic meltdown?

Largely due to a belief in free market fundamentalism and mass lobbying by the banking sector, governments and politicians during the 80’s and onwards, set about commencing a mass deregulation of the banks. In the UK, this began with Margaret thatcher’s attempt to make the British economy reliant on financial services. This was continued during the 1990s by labour chancellor Gordon Brown, when he handed over all public control of the bank of England to private companies. However this was not just limited to the UK. In America, Bill Clinton and George Bush, despite being on different ends of the so called ‘political spectrum’ both took on the Job of dismantling the economic firewalls that had been put in place In order to prevent another wall street crash. All throughout Europe and North America governments began blatantly tearing up legislation that had been put in place because of the reckless nature of the financial sector, disregarding the consequences in favour of neoliberalism.

As a result of this deregulation, banks began creating as much new debt as humanly possible, lending it out in the form of loans, presumably with the hope that the income from the loans would be more than the cost of borrowing. Due to the large amount of money in the economy house prices rose faster than wages. This meant that, people starting using more and more of their salary in order to pay for the debt. After years of banks betting on property assets the inevitable happened, and the whole western world went into economic meltdown. Despite pre crisis rhetoric about the free market, western governments immediately labelled many of the banks effected ‘too big to fail’ In order to pay off the banks monumental debt. How did they cover the cost? This was largely done through brutal cut backs on infustructure and benefits, under the guise of reducing the deficit. This in turn led to reduced demand for goods and services, making the economy even more stagnant and creating more of a debt burden. 
How helping to cause a financial crisis and then punishing the people affected, using yet more of neoliberal policies that caused the crisis in the first place is considered acceptable in modern democracies is utterly ridiculous. While you might be tempted to argue that those loans should not have been taken out in the first place, by this logic why not let financial institutions try and take advantage of people in every aspect of life?  Ultimately it was not the poor or unemployed that caused the economic crises but a vicious system of financial sector deregulation and betting.

The Tory’s won’t solve mass unemployment

As we have seen thus far, in order to justify their privatisation and austerity measures, the Tory’s, through their political discourse and propaganda, have spun the following Justification narrative:

This Country has spent too much on helping those that refuse to work for two long, leaving us with a massive deficit. Therefore, it is necessary to make cuts to reduce the deficit, and make sure people work for a living.

Despite this, evidence has shown that the Tory’s in their implementation of the austerity agenda have done more to make people unemployed than anyone. Since the conservatives first came to power in 2010, long term unemployment rose by 115,000 for those out of work for longer than one year, and by 167,000 (+58.8%) for those out of work for longer than two years. In addition to this, long term youth unemployment rose by 120,000 to 257,000 (+65.8%). In addition to this, many people on Ian Duncan smith’s illegal workfare and ATOS, schemes are excluded from unemployment statistics, meaning the situation is much worse than it is made out to be. These examples completely fly in the face of Tory rhetoric about the unemployment crisis left by the previous government, and the idea that conservatives are ending dependency on benefits. If they truly cared about being the party of economics they would acknowledge this, rather than blaming the victim.


Perhaps the most annoying thing about writing this, is that some people who red it will blatantly disregard the evidence, and continue to spew their right wing, pro establishment justification narratives. In my last blog post, I explained the problem with social democratic policies as viewing people as mindless robots that need to be incentivised to work. While we should seek policies such as investing in infustructure as short term alternatives, we should ultimately look beyond both social democracy and conservativism to having the right to manage our own communities, only then can we be free from narratives about those who ‘contribute’ to the economy and those who don’t.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Bernie Sanders: Revolutionary or Reformist?

Those of us paying attention to US Politics recently, would have noticed the ascent of Bernie Sanders to becoming the main left wing candidate in the election race. Despite Hillary Clinton currently leading in the Democrat race, Bernie Sanders is still in the race and still winning seats. Much of his support from the left in America comes from his promises to introduce a system of Universal Health Care, abolish tuition fees and levy the tax burden on the rich, policies which would admittedly make things better for working people. Despite this, as I said with the rise of Podemos in Spain and Corbyn in the UK, social democrats cannot achieve reform within the framework of a neoliberal capitalist society. As such, while we should fight conservativism at the ballot Box by voting for candidates like sanders, it is also necessary to take the fight to the streets. In addition to this, It is important that we do not see Sanders as a means to an end, and acknowledge his let-downs as a reformist.

Sanders is a ‘New Dealer’

Important to the Understanding of social Democratic policy all around the world is the understanding of them as New Deal politicians, or an old fashioned liberal. This is basically the idea layed out by President Roosevelt in 1944, that people should have the right to things such as food and employment. To anyone doubting this, Sanders admitted this himself when at his speech in Georgetown University, Sanders invoked Roosevelts’ belief that ‘individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence’.
It is also important to acknowledge here, that despite some howling from the right, President Roosevelt was heavily opposed to socialism. They saw it as economic equality taken to its extremes characterised only by Soviet Style Authoritarianism, and centralized power. So Why the association with Sanders with Democratic Socialism? Well, this is largely due to the fact that the political spectrum has dramatically swung to the right. When Ronald Reagan announced in 1981 that ‘government is the problem’ he clearly didn’t mean this in any meaningful sense, as large military spending clearly showed. However, with this statement came an ideology that free market capitalism is the answer to everything and that the only duty of government is to facilitate this. Quickly this feeling was adopted by the democrats, with a large number of democrats including Hillary Clinton voting for the authorization of military use against Iraq in 2002. This was a move echoed by the labour Party in the UK, under Tony Blair. As such, we can see from this that the whole political spectrum had shifted to the right. Roosevelt’s economic programme was left to the dust, and candidates who supported it, such as Bernie Sanders, were labelled lefties. It is the vision to revive the principles of the new deal, which Sanders carries with him in this election.

Despite this, it is also important to note the conditions in which the new deal came about. Much of it was a reaction to the massive unemployment and poverty caused by the great depression. While The New Deal, considerably bettered the lives of Americans, and was a necessary reform, such legislation tends to view people as cogs in the machine that exist for employment and wage slavery. Therefore, legislation such as the new deal is a necessary but not sufficient precursor of freedom. As such, we should seek to look outside the politics of Sanders and Roosevelt to modes of economic organisation that enable workers to have direct control over their communities.

Black Lives matter and the Politics of monologue

As it stands there are certain modes and ways of address that are inherent to statism. Politicians on both the left and the right tend to try and convince members of the public that they are the right candidate for them, viewing them as empty vessels that have yet to be converted to a certain way of thinking. Despite the fact that he is obviously more compassionate for ordinary people then most candidates in the race for the white house, Bernie Sanders is no exception to this rule.

This can be seen when Black women interrupted sanders rally in order to tell their story. While some may regard this action as rude, why shouldn’t they? after all Bernie is the one trying to reach out to African Americans for votes. Many of the white progressives who support Sanders, do not have to worry about the lives of African Americans. This is despite the fact that in America, Black people are four times more likely to die in police custody than whites. Similarly, Madison where Bernie Sanders was making his speech, despite being a largely liberal place, has also become a beacon of gentrification with the mayor vetoing proposals to make the homeless a protected class. Furthermore, African Americans are incarcerated at higher rates in Wisconsin than anywhere else in the country.  As such, why shouldn’t the people whom he tries to appeal to make their voices heard? In a similar action to this, earlier in 2015 Hillary Clinton was heckled on her horrendous record on climate change, an action which conveniently received praise from Bernie supporters. If we are to seek a true political revolution, we should not suppress the voices of those trying to make it a reality. Rather we should make all political events forums for listening to the stories of oppressed people and challenging candidates as we see fit. If Sanders or Clinton resist this, what right have they to say they are standing up for democracy?

Sanders as a Democrat

Throughout his career, as an independent candidate, sanders has often taken radically different positions from most of the politicians in the Democrats. Despite this, Americas first past the post two Party structure means that no one who is not a part of this structure has not a chance of winning an election. On the one hand, Sanders decision to stand for the democrats is a sensible and tactical decision. On the other, it does little more than demonstrate a flaw in ‘using the system to change the system’ as thanks to the large amount of corporate money in politics, candidates who declare themselves as alternatives are often wrestled into a compromise between representing ordinary people and supporting the establishment to win elections.

One of the issues which Sanders has vigorously opposed the democrats on recently is TPP – the largest free trade deal in years. Much like TTIP in Europe, the TPP has been negotiated behind closed doors, and would allow corporations to set up their own courts to override member nation’s regulations on business, if they are deemed to negatively affect corporate profits.  In his criticism of the treaty, Sanders has rightfully said that he wants to end closed off negotiations and trade deals kept secret from the public, and also criticised the very idea of corporations being given special powers to overturn bits of legislation that they don’t like. The Problem is that many democrats disagree with him, the party sanders is standing for has directly ignored his warnings by passing the deal while also completely ignoring the American public. This occurred despite the fact that the Democrats have received no guarantees on worker protection. This clearly shows that the democrats are not a party that represent Sanders ideas.
In light of this, there are a few choices Sanders should consider making. Firstly, he should recognise that if he stays within the context of the democrat Party he is going to have to convince a lot of pro-establishment politicians that his vision is the correct one. Another choice Bernie Sanders could make is the decision to go back to being an independent candidate, after all it is Sanders that most of his followers support, not the democrats. This decision despite being risky could ultimately help bring politics in America away from the money driven two party structure. Ultimately, Sanders should realise that it is not the democrats that sanders should claim to represent, but the American people themselves.


Overall, while Sanders is clearly better than Hillary Clinton or any republican, it is important to acknowledge his flaws as a white middle class, New Deal Candidate. Indeed, if Donald Trump becomes the nomination for the republicans, then Bernie Sanders might be the alternative that is needed to form an effective opposition. Ultimately, as Bernie Sanders is admittedly mobilizing many people that social movement should not die out after the general election, and should go on to form a larger movement against capitalism and tyranny. As overall, even if he becomes president, it won’t be sanders that achieves a political revolution but the people themselves.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Why Camerons EU 'renegotiation' is a Hoax

When David Cameron announced upon his return to office last year that he would attempt to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union, I was obviously sceptical. It seemed that a conservative stance on renegotiation would be the permanent barring of refugees, and a clampdown on people’s rights. This fear became especially apparent when Cameron appointed Michael Gove as his Justice Secretary, a man who has openly supported the death penalty, and repointed, Minister for manslaughter, Ian Duncan smith as head of the Department for Work and Pensions (both of these people are now conveniently backing the out campaign). Upon news of the renegotian, it became apparent that it is nothing more than an attempt to appease the right wing euro sceptics in his own party, who have already had doubts about Cameron’s leadership. Despite the BBC attempting to portray the deal as a resounding success for Cameron, it is already wreaking havoc in the conservative party, with some right wingers including Gove, saying that the deal is not legally binding. Whether the left should react to this by voting to stay or Leave Europe on June 23rd is a blogpost for another day, but for now I would like point out the very obvious flaws in Cameron’s so called renegotiation.

Sovereignty for Whom?

One of the big lies being told about Cameron’s EU renegotiation is that it will maintain sovereignty for the British people, from the EU. Despite this, pretty much the only people Cameron is hoping the deal will ensure sovereignty for is his own Party. Cameron has rushed to get the deal enshrined by international law by the UN, only a few weeks after The British Government ignored a UN ruling on the illegal detaining of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In addition this, Cameron has also ignored a declaration about the deal enshrined in the international bill off human rights which reads that;

‘Nothing in this declaration, may be interpreted as implying for any state, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to  perform any act aimed at destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein’
In other words parties could potentially partly withdraw from this agreement depending on the terms. However, Cameron has completely ignored this, instead seeing the agreement as a way of allowing his friends to do away with the human rights bill, and subject us to a British bill of rights. This act is one of the things that the UK benefits from, as part of the EU, despite this Cameron is prepared to completely regard both this and the people whom he claims to represent in favour of appeasing the right of his own party. It is extremely interesting to see how Cameron will so blatantly cherry-pick international rulings, based on whether or not they are convenient to him. This should be enough to convince people that the Tory’s are not credible on international affairs. Now let’s move on to look at some of Cameron’s ridiculous proposals.

The ‘renegotiation’ discriminates against migrants

One of Cameron’s ways to supposedly tackle immigration is restricting access to in work benefits for migrants. Despite this, Cameron has proposed this at the same time as providing absolutely no evidence that this will restrict immigration to the UK. If anything this part of the deal just highlights the bigotry, at the heart of statements like ‘immigrants are taking our jobs’.

Should David Cameron be able to push this warped piece of legislation through, migrant workers will end up living in poverty, due to the poverty wages paid by large companies in the UK. At this point a bunch of racists will probably accuse me of caring too much for migrants, and not enough for people living here. However, if you a British person who dares go to work abroad, when you return to the UK you can expect to be hit with these rules also. If other EU countries were to introduce similar rules of economically discriminating against UK workers, British people would be furious about having their right to live and work where they choose curtailed. In spite of this, David Cameron thinks it is completely fine to economically discriminate against EU migrants, when it suits much of the Tory’s anti-immigrant agenda.

It detracts attention from austerity

Just In case you have been living under a boulder for the past five and half years, this government has deflected the blame for the recession away from the bankers onto the backs of the working poor. They have done this mainly by dressing up cuts and privatisations to front line services as necessary sacrifices to cut the deficit. Of course, the problems with this country cannot be attributed to cuts or privatisations, so it has to be attributed to the main target of Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ – migrants.

As a result of austerity, The UK has been suffering a sharp decline in worker productivity compared to other developed nations, this can be illustrated by the current junior doctor’s strike. Also, household debt has soared to pre-recession levels, making another crisis almost inevitable. Perhaps most importantly, the people hardest hit by austerity have not only included migrants, but also hospital patients, many of whom have died as a result of Ian Dunken Smiths work for your benefits or starve programme, women who are to be subjected to the sexist Tampon Tax, and the elderly and disabled people who have had their Independent living Fund stripped off them. If all that matters to Cameron is securing a deal that will keep him in office for the next four years, and making sure no more of his party members leave to join the even more reactionary UKIP, Then he is not fit to be leader of anything anyway.

What the Deal Should be about

Very few people dispute that the EU needs to be reformed in some way shape or form, if done properly this could even lay the foundation for future change. However, David Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ being right wing politics with very little substance, utterly fails to mention any of the real problems with the EU that could affect people’s lives.

Despite the Tory’s constant blabbering about sovereignty, they seem increasingly silent on campaigning for us to have control over our own privatisation/nationalisation laws. Under EU law, member states cannot allow non-profit institutions, such as public services for infustructure. This directly contradicts the views of most people in the UK, 84% of whom want the National Health Service to stay Public, 68% of whom want the energy companies nationalised and 66% of whom want to see the railways nationalised. This means that should any government in the UK attempt to renationalise these, then the EU would probably impose harsh economic sanctions on us for daring to contravene their competition laws. Similarly, the deal also conveniently fails to mention TTIP which would allow unaccountable private multinational corporations to sue the UK for damages. The fact that Cameron’s deal completely bypasses these clearly undemocratic pieces of legislation not only shows his determination to secure as much corporate power over Britain as possible, but also shows that the Tory’s do not give a damn about patriotism or sovereignty. If anyone truly cares about reforming the EU it is the socialists, Trade Unionists and Anarchists who David Cameron labels terrorist sympathisers.


Although Cameron’s so called renegotiation is clearly empty posturing to the right of his party, the mainstream media in Britain have dressed up the Deal as a massive success, this has occurred despite the fact that 23 of David Cameron’s own MPs, have criticised Cameron’s deal. How ignorant would you have to be not to acknowledge the utter hypocrisy of the tabloids and the BBC when they viciously report every time Corbyn is attacked for being democratically elected as labour leader, but utterly fail to mention Cameron’s discriminatory and undemocratic deal.  Rather than addressing the real problems with the EU or UK, David Cameron has shown his contempt for the public by pandering to the right wing in his own party and in the Press. Whether you are in favour of leaving or staying in the EU, do not be convinced by this pathetic bill.