Skip to main content

The truth lost in austerity; it wasn't public spending that got us into this mess.

How convenient it is for the government that the real cause of our economic woe seems to have become a distant media memory. Better it is for the government to blame the poorest for the crisis, rather than question how it was that the capitalist edifice crumbled.

The inconvenient truth is that far from it being 'social welfare' that brought us to our knees, it was middle class greed.  It wasn't the deficit; it wasn't the 'welfare dependent' poor.  It was middle class greed and a banking sector gone sour;  a banking sector willing to sell us their 'toxic' financial products pushing personal debt higher and higher, and in the UK to the highest levels in the world.

No it wasn't and isn't public debt that was or is our problem; it was personal debt. Whilst the government have been on an ever failing austerity drive of cuts that are stripping services to the bone, hitting the poorest the hardest, slashing funding to the NHS with £20 billion of cuts, and attacking those on benefits, the Bank of England have created some £275bn of new money through quantitative easing making it possible for us to live with our debts. 

Harold Wilson once said that a week is a long time in politics. Three years must be an age. But are we doing anything to prevent a repetition of capitalist failure? The answer is surely very little. The greatest hope for the coalition is that we have another boom, that house prices rise, that banks lend more money, that we stoke another furnace of unsustainable debt. 

Perhaps the logic is that it only went wrong because of the actions of 'rogues' in the banking system. This would be the triumph of hope over reality. It was the banking system that went sour. Greedy bankers, greedy shareholders, that did away with mutual building societies and turned them into banks. Banks that expanded carving out ever green territory, buying each others toxic lending: promissory notes that had little chance of being redeemed. 

Yet the government, if opinion polls are to be believed, have  persuaded the public that it is all to do with government spending and 'welfare dependency'. They have succeeded in blaming the poor. And the reason is obvious. Any other narrative is uncomfortable. We would like it all to go back to how it was; toxic and unsustainable, in the hope it will work next time. God forbid that government ever did the wisest thing and raise taxes. Yet if we were truly all in this together then surely we should all pay. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working

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