Austerity – ‘We’re All In This Together’
While we have had austerity poured on us, the 1% have profited at a rate quicker than pre-2008.
The UK has seen record numbers of people on low pay, most people classed as ‘in poverty’ are in work, 3.5 million children live below the poverty line (and this is expected to grow to 5 million by 2020) and homelessness has risen 55% since the coalition came to power (79% in London). Education is putting more students in long-term debt. 1 million people have come to need food banks. Poverty benefit payments are being cut through reforms and the bedroom tax. These are ‘tough decisions’ say the government that we must face because ‘we’re all in it together.’
Corporations have received tax cuts, and the top rate of tax has been cut from 50% to 45%. The richest 1000 people have increased their wealth by 50% since 2008. Bankers have paid themselves bonuses of over £80bn since 2008. The richest 400 billionaires increased their wealth by $92bn in 2014. Tax avoidance and evasion has seen the tax gap between what should have been paid and was actually paid last year as £119bn and this is expected to rise.
Further, as this money has been cut from our society the debt has increased 100%.
We are clearly not in this together.
Poverty is a removed term which does not point to the cause of the problem but instead is presented as a constant inevitability in society.
This is why we never hear discussions about the wealth gap in news or by politicians.
The wealth gap demonstrates the control and injustice of the system and plays the most important and active role in poverty and inequality. The wealth gap explains where money is going and shows the political decisions involved in choosing to resign millions more children to life of poverty while continuing to shift money to the already rich.
The wealthy elite would like you to believe that poverty is a personal failure, when in fact a removal of public money and wealth from our society, into the private pockets of a few, is the one true economic policy that has been remained on track for years.
The rate at which the 1% increase their wealth is still increasing. Oxfam reported that with current trends, the 1% will own more than the 99% by 2016.
‘The Rich Don’t Affect You’
“It does affect you, because the more money that leeches out of the state in avoidance, the more you have to pay. Britain’s most affluent determine where most of their earnings go, while we ordinary taxpayers often pour a much larger chunk of our cash into the communal pot. Nicholas Shaxon puts it brilliantly in his book, Treasure Islands:
“Imagine you are in a supermarket and you see well-dressed individuals passing through a special checkout. There is also a large item added to your bill, extra expenses, which subsidises their purchases. Sorry, says the Supermarket manager, if we didn’t charge you more they would shop elsewhere. Now, pay up.”
Frankie Boyle put it more succinctly on Twitter this morning:
“If you’re rich, don’t look at it as tax avoidance, look at it as a children’s hospital buying you a pool table.”
It’s a Free Market – The Rich Earned It
‘The free market is a lie. We are told it because this is the society by which we, the public live. A world of cut throat business and ‘on your own.’ This is not the case for some of the biggest businesses in the world.’
Corporations and the 1% are in fact being propped up by us and receive more in welfare than the poor who need it. Here are some examples:
- Bank bailout – made the banks the largest benefit claimant in the UK, and unlike the unemployed who have to navigate a system of punishment, bureaucracy, cuts and suspicion, banks were given no regulation, and instead public money was given to the same people who engaged in risky, corrupt and fraudulent acts.
- Subsidising big business profits – government grants are given to big businesses that do not need them. The fossil fuel industry is given money while green energy funds are cut, and yet these companies are some of the richest and most dangerous in the world. We are paying to prop them up and become more dependent on a fuel that is destroying the planet and our existence. At least £85bn of public money is paid to big businesses each year in government grants, subsidies and discounts. In 2013, Amazon paid less in tax than was given to them in government grants. In the same year, the bedroom tax was enforced on benefit claimants, with two thirds of those affected being disabled.
- Working tax credits are used by some of Britain’s biggest companies to top up pay. This allows them to make savings on staff wages, and forces us to pick up the bill. In 2015, it was revealed we paid £11bn to supermarket workers alone. That’s £11bn supermarkets have saved in staff costs, directly adding to supermarket profits.
- Tax avoidance – laws written by financiers to allow for loopholes for their clients allows companies and individuals to avoid tax in a way not available to the rest of us.
- Many of these rich individuals are able to pay themselves what they like, it is not ‘earned’ or decided by some sort of market agreement.
Equality For More Of Us?
The meaning of equality is NOT everyone except a few people.
It has recently been argued that there is more equality amongst the 99%.
The reason for this increased ‘equality’ is because the 1%’s increasing wealth is making everyone else far poorer. The 99% is becoming closer as a result of the greed of the 1% – indeed, the results of an ever more unequal society.
Equality Before The Law – Conditionality and Punishment
Tax avoidance and evasion costs us £119bn a year and is rising. If you work a regular job, you have no choice over paying tax, but if you are rich enough you may avoid doing so by exploiting loopholes in tax laws, written by the same accountants you employ.
While this £119bn is allowed to escape the public conscience, the media and government run a smear campaign against the poor, decrying the £0.7bn lost to fraud each year from the welfare budget. After months of front page tabloid spreads invoking suspicion of benefit claimants, and the creation of a new genre of ‘poverty porn’, the government increased the maximum penalty for benefit fraud to 10 years in jail.
Meanwhile, numerous fraudulent financial scandals affecting trillions of dollars of money, like PPI, Libor and Forex, do not see one sentencing.
Immigration is the problem (or the poor)
Politicians like Farage claim they are discussing the issues the public wants to speak about when tackling immigration, as do media and news outlets.
However, more people want the government to close the gap between rich and poor than any other issue. Yet while government are quick to push through discriminatory restrictions on immigrants, the wealth gap hardly enters public discourse. It does not feature like welfare or immigration on the manifestos of political parties.
Instead, the coalition has widened the wealth gap, and other politicians collude in this by failing to challenge or highlight it. Immigration works as a useful cover to avoid the issue.
Politicians are not working for us. If they claim to speak about immigration because that’s what the public want then why aren’t they speaking openly about the drastic action needed to stem the flow of wealth to the 1%? Consider for a moment what it would be like to see the wealth gap covered by our press and politicians in the same manner as immigration.
Where politicians do not tackle the wealth gap, it can be assumed that private interests are being protected, and issues such as immigration, presented as ‘people’s’ issues, are in fact, a convenient cover.
‘There is not enough’
Oliver Letwin, Conservative Minister wrote a book in 1988 called ‘Privatising The World.’ In it, Letwin describes potential opposition to privatisation and how to overcome it. One technique is to run down and remove funding from services you want to privatise, making the service look as though it is ‘in need.’
We are fed this idea that there is not enough through media and politics, to justify the suffering imposed on certain groups in society. Benefit claimants are some of the poorest in society, and they are getting the greatest cuts, while there is plenty for tax cuts for the rich, for corporate welfare totalling 85bn, for tax evasion and avoidance without it ever becoming a presence in political discourse.
We have enough money and resources to end much of the suffering immediately. We have enough houses to home everyone. We have enough food to feed everyone. And yet, in the last few years, we have still bore witness to the rise of the food bank.
The cost is in fact greater not to help people. 5 million children are expected to live below the poverty line by 2020. The risks of malnutrition, hunger’s effect on education and the ability to get on in life, will be damaging to our society and the public purse. Similarly, cuts to public services such as domestic abuse support, allows attacks to rise without preventative or support measures. Hestia, domestic abuse charity, claim that women are being restricted from being able to start life again, meaning more remain in abusive and violent situations.
The 1% will own more than the 99% next year if current trends continue. Does this sound like wealth creation? Or wealth hoarding?
Time to give up the ghost.