Benefits payments and abuse

Benefits payments are not just made to lazy cheats who refuse to work. For some, benefits can mean the difference between barely managing to survive and suicide.

Before the new Pope was inaugurated media headlines seemed full of stories about children who were sexually abused by priests. Of course, priests aren’t the only abusers and sexual abuse isn’t the only way in which children are damaged. Physical and emotional abuse take their toll. And abuse is far more prevalent than we like to admit.

Disability isn’t restricted to physical damage and deformity. One the most depressing aspect of abuse is that abused children often become socially withdrawn adults incapable of living a normal life; abuse can result in apparently normal people being unable to function within society because of their experiences.

Some are so damaged that they find it impossible to trust anyone. They cannot work, they cannot join clubs or societies. They survive by isolating themselves from society, some receiving therapy, some surviving by their own devices because therapy has been unable to help them.

Some can be seen shuffling down the road, unwashed, unkempt. Some manage to keep themselves clean and tidy but as soon as they are faced with having to interact with other people immediately withdraw into their shells.

Of course, some victims can put their abuse behind them and function normally. They can hold down a job, maintain relationships, have families and bring up their own children. Others cannot. For them, benefits aren’t a lifestyle; they are necessary for their very survival.

By lumping everyone on benefits as shirkers, by labelling abuse victims as benefits cheats, politicians like David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are causing the suffering of abuse victims to continue, indeed to become far worse. Ans all those who are jumping on the bandwagon and ranting that they shouldn’t have to pay benefits from their taxes are just as culpable, just as guilty as those who committed the original abuse.

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Is Adaptation the only Driver of Evolution?

Is Adaptation the only Driver of Evolution?

If evolution is driven by something that allows life to change over mere thousands, or even just hundreds, of years why are species not even more diverse than they are now? What eventually restricts the diversity of life on Earth?

Whether sexual preference selection, autonomous genetic change, temporary epigenetic adaptation eventually influencing long-term genetic adaptation, a combination of all these or something else allows species to evolve, what stops them from evolving beyond a certain point?

Fact is, nothing can survive unless its environment allows it. A human cannot live unsupported in the Antarctic or in the bubbling caldera of a volcano; it is not adapted to survive in such environments. In the end, adaptations that allow species to survive in their natural environment is the endgame.

Asking whether there are influences on evolution other than adaptation by natural selection is just tweaking. Darwin was right about the ultimate influence on evolution: it is the natural environment.

Except for one species, as far as we know, unless individuals of a species fit into their natural environment they are destined for failure. Unless a species can adapt to a changing environment it is destined for extinction. In evolution, the environment is king.

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