The poor cannot afford those who get rich on their backs


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,513

Friday 05 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

It is expensive being poor. Being poor comes at a premium cost, whether it is food, health, essential services, transport, life expectancy, being exploited as cheap labour, lack of choice, mental health and quality of life, the poor pay more.

Michael Gove is reported as saying that families were visiting food banks “often as a result of some decisions taken … which mean that they’re not best able to manage their finances.”

Others, like Baroness Jenkin, claim the poor don’t know how to cook.

It is an age old myth that the poor are responsible for poverty as if there are no structural causes that create and drive poverty.

It is 2016 and we still have a minimum wage, that is a wage less than the minimum required to live on. The minimum wage has been exploited ruthlessly as a cheap standard of pay regardless of an ability to pay more and, of course, the motive for that is simply greed, boosting profits. That makes cheap labour an assault on people’s lives. It means that poor people create wealth but are denied any share of that real wealth. Labour comes at a cost but the cost should be borne by the value workers add in the work they perform, if they did not add value the business would not be viable. Yet workers are routinely denied the value of their labour, denied even a minimum on which it is actually possible to live.

The scandal over Mike Ashley and Sports Direct is a case in point. Ashley is a billionaire and Britain’s 22nd richest man. There is no magic involved, he’s a billionaire through ruthless and brutal exploitation. Instead of treating those who work for him with dignity and respect, he despises them, treating them like dirt. Workers are the wealth creators of the nation, were that not true Ashley would have no billions, no life of luxury and no football club. Philip Green is just the same, just another robber baron who has utterly betrayed those who have faithfully laboured to create his wealth.

There are no excuses, no exceptions, the poor cannot afford those who get rich on their backs and it is your duty to end this historic, systemic and obscene exploitation and brutality. That’s not socialism, that’s justice.

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