In a speech to students at DePauw University in Indiana (December 2016), David Cameron apparently said that western leaders must take steps to help those who feel left behind by globalisation and address the “movement of unhappiness” about the state of the world. He called for leaders to change course, ‘So you will see a greater emphasis on trying to help those who are left behind,’ through, ‘a higher minimum wage and tax cuts for low-income workers as measures aimed at helping address such concerns’.
Just as a reminder, the minimum wage is a wage below that which people actually need to live on. The minimum wage drives poverty, over half the people in poverty in the UK are working. No cut in income tax will change the lot of the dispossessed other than, perhaps, marginally slowing their descent into penury, poor health and a shorter life span.
No UK government has done more than the government under Cameron to escalate poverty and despair in the UK, he even set (via Osborne) the ‘New Living Wage’ below an actual living wage.
Cutting taxes for the poor is meaningless tokenism, it’s rather like offering people who are freezing in their homes a bigger fire grate. It does not address the fundamental problem.
A company that cannot make enough to pay for plant, resources and labour is not a viable company. If such companies declare a profit, they have done so by robbing staff. The government could pass a law that no company may declare a profit until every member of staff is paid a living wage, that no government has done so tells us all we need to know about whether poverty is systemic or not. Poverty is good for profits and the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
Capitalism, and the free market ideology that you can leave it to the markets to regulate themselves for the common good, has failed. It is written in the lives it has destroyed and continues to destroy. The myth of trickle down economics is just that, a myth, it has no bearing in reality in which the exact opposite is true.
If there is a “movement of unhappiness”, which I would contest, then Cameron is responsible for driving it in the UK. In reality it is not a movement, it is the brutality of lived experience and it is driven by policy in what is now commonly called and acknowledged as ‘the war on the poor’.
This is not a new problem, however, poor bashing and blaming is also systemic, the following is from a speech called ‘Acres of Diamonds’ (delivered over 5000 times at various times and places from 1900-1925), by Russell Conwell, in which he claims that the only thing preventing everyone from becoming millionaires is personal failing:
“I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your duty to get rich… The men who get rich may be the most honest men you find in the community. Let me say here clearly… ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is why they are rich. That is why they are trusted with money. That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work for them. It is because they are honest men…
“I sympathize with the poor, but the number of the poor who are to be sympathised with is very small. To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins… is to do wrong… let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings.”
No one can doubt the sincerity of Conwell’s belief, but that’s all it is and like many beliefs it has no basis in reality, but it neatly sums up an ideological belief that drives government policy to this day. It was precisely such fraudulent conviction on which (Lord) David Freud based his interference in Britain’s social security system, turning it into a secret penal system to punish the poor.
I despise no one’s beliefs, everyone is free to believe anything they want so long as they do not presume to inflict those beliefs on others to their detriment and cost, in which case they are to be opposed and resisted as the criminals they are no matter what high office they may hold in life.
That they know their policies and beliefs are fundamentally fraudulent is proven by the amount they spend on PR and spin doctors who are charged with making the indefensible palatable through lies and deception. The Tory mantra of ‘Making work pay’ by taking away the means of survival from those out of work, for whatever reason, is one of the most deceitful and vicious attacks on the lives of millions of ordinary people in the UK.
People are fond of adding a corollary on benefits, an acknowledgement that some do defraud the benefit system and the government even has a National Benefit Fraud hotline, but benefit fraud is so tiny as to be irrelevant and compared to the systemic fraud being perpetrated by government and corporations it’s meaningless other than as a further attempt to demonise the poor.
Deception aimed at divisiveness must be resisted. Benefit fraud is just smoke and mirrors, it isn’t worth the effort expended in even naming it as an issue of any significance. According to Forbes it is estimated that there is something like $21 Trillion sitting in offshore tax havens and if all that $21 trillion earned 3% a year and were taxed at 30%, it would raise $188 billion in revenues. Now that is something worth doing something about, instead it is the poor who are hounded to death.
Bearing in mind that driving poverty is wealth producing, it is clear where the real crime lies. It’s built into the system.
All of which will come as no surprise to regular readers, but it is important to say it and keep on saying it every which way we can. Capitalism has failed, but they are doing everything they can to shore up this failed system. It is a system that will devour itself because those who drive it and benefit most from it are too greedy to do anything about it. It is a system that must change, but that change will never come from the inside.
There can never be endless growth in a closed system. Neoliberalism is predicated on eliminating anything that stands in the way of profit, which includes those they regard and treat as useless eaters. Eliminating the poor is a heinous global crime which all people with any social conscience must fight in whatever way they can. Bearing in mind that for many the awakening is yet to happen, but it serves no one to mock, we’ve all had to learn at our own pace, many driven by the dire circumstances of our own brutalised lives. We need to win people not mock them or shun them and empower them through knowledge and understanding.
Having said that, there are those who will back the system and attack us to the bitter end with extreme prejudice. They are really not worth bothering with, they are just energy sucking vampires and really not worth a moment of our time. There are far better things to do with our time and our lives in our brief sojourn here on this little jewel of a planet in the goldilocks zone of our solar system, where the conditions for life are ‘just right’, other than in those who for whatever reason want to remove from us our right, by birth, to be here. It really is incredible that having given rise to life, there are those born on this Earth who despise it in others. They must be opposed to protect life itself which is the most incredible and beautiful gift the universe has to bestow.
KOG 09 December 2016