Saturday, 14 February 2015

The politics of social justice

The poor pay disproportionately more to defend the rich.   The UK spends £36.4bn per year on defence.  The cost of tax evasion is £22 bn (Treasury estimate).  It seems the rich don't want to pay to defend Britain, or for British forces to play the world-wide role they do.  Yet, the rich will expect it and indeed they depend on it.  It is another example of the lack of a moral compass.  Whilst austerity hits the poorest, the wealthiest continue to benefit.  The poor subsidise the rich.  There is a dreadful dependency of the wealthiest on the poorest.  'Welfare dependency' is nothing compared to the dependency of the rich on keeping the poorest poor.

But why is there no political representation of this unfairness? Where is the anger and the movement for change? For all its benefits, New Labour brought into the wealth prospectus. It brought into the false notion that with wealth would come social justice. It shook hands with the wealthy elite. The rich get a bigger say in government.  They are the paymasters to major political parties.  Who dares challenge them?  And yet they must and should be challenged.

We are told we cannot afford a national living wage.  What that says is that we cannot (will not) pay a wage to the poorest workers on which they will be able to live.  The reason is because it will cut into the profit margin and the rich won't get as rich so quickly.  Their wealth is dependent on low wages. It is depended on exploitation.

Meanwhile the rich executives pay themselves immoral bonuses for 'success'.  There is nothing like 'success' to create 'success'.

I hope that when the next 'rich list' is published it will create shame for those listed. But I doubt it will. Some, no doubt, will be disappointed they didn't make the cut.

Why have we become so reluctant to attack the rich, to bring them to justify what they do? They make decisions that affect the lives of millions as that of any government. I think part of the answer to that is psychological.  We are told it is the 'politics of envy'.  We would all like to be stinking rich wouldn't we?

So this politics of 'envy' is turned on its head.  Instead we are expected to applaud success measured by wealth.  But success should not be measured by wealth, or at least not by wealth alone.  A successful society is not simply one that is 'rich'.  It is one where there is a reasonable balance in the distribution of wealth and privilege and where all have the opportunity to share in its success.   It is called social justice.  And that is the point. It isn't the politics of envy that leads us to question excesses in wealth. It is the politics of social justice.

I believe that entrepreneurship is vital to human development. I think it is vital to the creation of wealth and opportunity. But there is a difference between entrepreneurship and exploitation of others. There is a difference between entrepreneurship and making a quick buck at the expense of others. There is a difference between entrepreneurship and tax evasion.

Entrepreneurship should not be predicated on losing a moral compass.  Yes, I have no doubt that ethical decisions cost money.  There is a price for ethics. If entrepreneurs are not wiling to factor in that cost then they cannot be said to understand ethics or morality, or indeed business.

The point of business, of trade, of growth and development is not the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few.  The purpose of it is so that we can create a society where no child goes hungry; where every child has a decent chance of education; where every person has a chance of a decent job with a decent wage so they can feed their families.  This is not the world in which we live. Too many people are poor.  Success should not be measured by how many more we can add to the 'rich list'.  It should be measured by how well we treat the poorest and how well we can lift them out of poverty.

Success should be measured by wellbeing and not by wealth alone.


 

Read Ray'a Novel: It wasn't always late summer 

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