Skip to main content

We need social solutions for social objectives.

We need social solution to social problems. For too long society has been regarded as simply an aggregate of self-interested individuals. I would say the rot was established in the 1980s. The then British prime minister, Mrs Thatcher, famously said there was no such thing as society. We hold personal success more highly than we view social endeavour. Our attitudes to people has been dominated by consideration of financial success; we measure worth in money terms rather than the benefit others may give or receive from others; making a fast buck over social vocation. In truth we have found social excuses for the excesses of selfishness. Some even suggested that excessive selfish behaviour benefits all by some miraculous trickle-down to the poorest. Someone forgot to wave the wand because it didn't trickle down. The poor got poorer; the rich got richer.

The argument was that the rich getting richer was good because it provided jobs and opportunities for others. This has all come crashing down to earth. One thing the financial crisis has led to is a questioning or how some were able to make so much money without really doing very much. And now we know that some of these people pay little or no tax; they give little back to the society they exploit. Many of them are greedy takers.

Not long ago if I was to say all this, the response was that this was the politics of envy. This of course was another smokescreen for the rich to exploit others and often poorly paid workers. Quite frankly it stank but so many of us were involved in creating the stink we failed to smell it.

Companies failing to pay tax in the UK is not new.  It didn't suddenly appear since, say, 2010. Companies like Starbucks, paying its workers poverty wages and paying no corporation tax, didn't suddenly appear. They have been a part of the financial game in the UK for a long time. We just chose not to question it. We turned a blind eye to it. If it is a disgrace now when austerity is hurting, it was always so even in the good times. How could the parliamentary select committee have been so surprised by it; why did they not question it before?  It was a disgrace, just as it was always a disgrace that bankers paid themselves excessive bonuses. They were ripping us off.  It couldn't last because it was unsustainable. It was a mirage. It had no foundation; debt, bad debt was being created and sold on. The banks were acting like pimps. Selling the sin of ever more debt.  Public debt became private debt as more were encouraged to over-mortgage themselves to buy houses. Meanwhile the social stock of housing was sold off and we stopped building. Cars, televisions, computers, mobile phones, a consumer bonanza fuelled by debt. We were selling our future; or more correctly we were selling the future of our children.

These companies were ripping off Britain, libraries are now closing, services are being cut, benefits slashed, the unemployed treated a 'scroungers' and even the disabled attacked for being work shy. This is an appalling state of affairs. Our salvation won't come from get-rich-quick buccaneers. It will come from steady investment in growth. It will come from social solutions to the need for housing, health and welfare. But the government will blame almost everyone other than the wretched people who got us into this mess in the first place. We need to establish social objectives and we must consider how best these objectives can be achieved. The poor must not get poorer; it must be an objective that they fairly share in the wealth they are helping to create. We must create a fairer society. We must no longer assume that growth for growth's sake is sufficient.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns? There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp. But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As