John Berger – on poverty

It’s beyond astonishing that the government views benefits as a cost cutting exercise. The Tories are ideologically opposed to social security and so they have made the benefits system as punitive and dismal as possible, treating being poor, out of work, sick or disabled as moral failings.

The world of finance is awash with money, tax havens are havens of luxury for obscene wealth,

Amazingly, Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, has made $131 billion from exploiting people. He’s so wealthy he doesn’t know what to do with it and recently said, “The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it.” [1]. His winnings? And the only thing he can think to do with his ‘winnings’ is to piss them into space? Whilst his drivers are forced to piss in bottles, delivering up to 200 parcels a day, which can only mean that their pay is so bad they are left with no choice and still earn less than the minimum wage. [2]. Bezos is an insult to humanity and he’s only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s shocking to watch Amber Rudd, who is secretary of state for Work and Pensions, answering questions in parliament. She displays what seems to be a very personal indignation and anger when faced with questions or criticism. She recently attacked a report by Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, saying, “I have seen the report by the rapporteur and I must say I was disappointed to say the least by the extraordinary political nature of his language.” [3]. Poverty is violence and entirely a political issue and the current levels of poverty in the UK are state violence in action.

Britain is suffering its worst poverty crisis since WWII, with 14 million people, including 4.5 million children, living in poverty. [4]. That hasn’t happened in a vacuum, 14 million people do not choose to live below the breadline and the parents of 4.5 million children are not somehow mentally deficient or so neglectful that they don’t care that their children are suffering.

In 2008/9 there were 29 Trussell Trust food banks in Britain, that rose year on year to 445 in 2014/15. [5]. Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) revealed that in 2017 there were ‘more than 2,024 food banks’ operating across Britain, including independent food banks. [6]. Such a rise is catastrophic, people are literally being blasted into poverty and thus into crisis. Where is Amber Rudd’s anger and indignation over that? Poor people cannot magic money out of thin air, but the government can. There really is a magic money tree, but it’s only for the wealthy.

The Bank of England has given the financial markets £445 billion in Quantitative Easing since 2010. [7]. In 2015 the Guardian reported that businesses were being given £93 billion a year in subsidies that amount to £3,500 for every household in the UK. [8].

Whatever the Tories say about austerity, welfare caps, wage freezes, making work pay and supporting people into work, it’s horse shit.

Over the five years 2013 – 2018, the Equality Trust reported that the richest 1,000 people in the UK have increased their wealth by £274 billion to a total of £724 billion, which is more than the poorest 40% of households combined on £567 billion. [9]. That’s comparing the wealth of 1,000 people with 26.48 million of the poorest people in Britain.

That degree of inequality is an obscenity. That is extreme violence. Children are scavenging for food from skips, school pupils are going through the school bins searching for food, clothing and basic supplies. [10] And Amber Rudd is disappointed by the extraordinary political nature of the language in a report on poverty in Britain! She shouldn’t be disappointed, she should be in prison along with the rest of her vile and wilfully cruel government.

The catastrophic poverty in Britain today is the direct result of eight years of economic warfare waged against the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain by the Conservative government for which there are no possible excuses. Whilst MPs and peers have £17,000 written off for unpaid bills in their subsidised restaurants and bars, children starve. [11].

They mock us.

“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation.” Aneurin Bevan.

How right he was, and now we’re headed back to the days prior to the NHS and the social contract under Labour which the Tories always detested!

The Tories must go!

KOG. 12 January 2019.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/30/jeff-bezos-says-this-is-how-he-plans-to-spend-the-bulk-of-his-fortune.html

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/amazon-delivery-drivers-parcels-online-orders-website-toilet-breaks-minimum-wage-a8102386.html

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/amber-rudd-un-poverty-work-pensions-secretary-dwp-department-commons-a8641501.html

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/16/new-study-finds-45-million-uk-children-living-in-poverty

[5] http://www.futureoffood.ox.ac.uk/blog/food-bank-use-rise-austerity-clear-culprit

[6] https://www.bigissue.com/latest/2000-food-banks-now-operating-across-uk/

[7] https://positivemoney.org/videos/introduction/waste-375-billion-failure-quantitative-easing-video/

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/07/corporate-welfare-a-93bn-handshake

[9] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/wealth-tracker-18

[10] https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/2018-children-liverpool-rooting-through-15331823

[11] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/12/31/house-commons-writes-17000-unpaid-food-drink-bills-mps-peers/

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