Thursday, 6 June 2013

The graph that tells us that we are being robbed

‘Austerity’ is a lie and a trick – and the EDL are idiots. 
 People need to wise up, and realise who the REAL enemy is.

This graph shows how the Gross Domestic Product – the total amount of goods and services produced by the UK economy – has changed since 1955. It is adjusted for inflation, and it is ‘per person’ – so the graph is unaffected by changes in prices or population. It is a simple visual image showing how our wealth as a country has changed over the last six decades. 

The Messages in the Graph
The first thing that is obvious, of course, is that we are a lot wealthier than we were in the 1950s. Generally – with slight blips in the early 1980s and early 1990s – the country’s wealth grew almost inexorably until 2008.

The second thing that is obvious, of course, is just how much the financial crisis of 2008 damaged the country. You can see with your own eyes that the setback was greater and steeper than at any time in six decades.

But the third thing that you can hardly fail to notice, however, is that – since 2009 – things have not in fact got any worse. The economy has not continued to free fall. If anything it is ever-so-slightly rising. And yes it is bumping along fairly stagnant … but it is not bumping ‘along the bottom’.
In fact it is bumping along fairly much at the same level it was in 2006.

The simple truth is that - as a society - we are as wealthy now as we were in 2006.

The Great Austerity Robbery
But it doesn’t FEEL as wealthy as 2006, I hear you say, and you would be right – no it damn well does not!

We are living in a country where things FEEL at least as bad as the 1980s. We are awash with foodbanks. People are committing suicide because they cannot cope financially. Public sector wages have been frozen. Fuel poverty is on the rise. Job Seeker’s Allowance is way short of the relative level of unemployment-pay-to-wages in the 1980s. Councils are slashing services.

So why, one has to ask, if the country is as wealthy as it was in 2006, does it feel so much poorer for ordinary people like you and me?

The answer, of course, is that the graph shows the average economic product, but that is not the amount we each get.
The Gross Domestic Product is produced collectively, but it is not distributed evenly.
And since 2008 that inequity has multiplied many times.

Before 2008, the New Labour government sold us ‘trickle down’. If the rich prosper, they told us, that wealth will trickle down to you.

But ‘trickle down’ stopped in 2008. Since then, there has been instead ‘pour up’. The wealthy have multiplied their incomes many times. Bonuses have boomed. The power companies and the petrol companies and the rail companies have walloped up their prices. Profits of the multinationals have prospered. Tax havens have flowered.

We have been held to ransom. ‘If you don’t let us do this,’ the message has been, ‘we will go to China and you will all starve’. 

So our government – instead of protecting us in these difficult times – has taken fright and delivered us over to the profiteers. 
The politicians TALK the talk against tax avoidance, but they have DONE nothing.
And in the meantime, they are handing over our legal services, our rescue services, our NHS et al. to the profiteers ... to run at a profit at our expense.
They are bribing energy companies to cover our country with wind turbines by allowing them to charge triple for the electricity they produce.

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich; that's how it goes
In an economy which is flat-lining, you cannot let one group of people get obscenely richer without other people getting poorer. And everybody knows that is exactly what has happened.

Because – at the same time as it has allowed the capitalists to fleece the system – our obsequious government has stripped money away from the poor. Calling them ‘scroungers’, it has run an ‘austerity’ propaganda line which says that, because we are now poorer, we cannot afford benefits. And it has cut, cut and cut again.

But we are NOT poorer now – we are not any poorer than we were in 2006. (And don’t give me the lie that costs have risen, because the figure is inflation adjusted.)

So it is a lie … to justify the theft … and we have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

There are things worth rioting about right now
The other Saturday, Mitch Benn sang a satirical song; ‘There are things worth rioting about right now’.

When Margaret Thatcher tried to introduce the Poll Tax there were riots and civil-disobedience. She defeated the Miners only after a year’s outright war. But today, the people are simply rolling over and letting Cameron and his Eton chums mug them. In County Durham, one of the areas worst hit by the government, crime and anti-social behaviour are actually down. Here, the Cameron cuts have provoked a mass outbreak of civil submission.

Where are the violent poor when you need them? At the moment, they are marching up and down against ‘immigrants’, trashing mosques and voting UKIP.
Stupid, stupid idiots.

People need to wise up, and realise who the REAL enemy is.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

In Support Of 'Redistribution'

The word ‘redistribution’ needs to come back into our everyday vocabulary.

An outlawed concept?
Redistribution is a dirty word in Labour circles nowadays – we’re supposed to talk about ‘predistribution’ instead. ‘Redistribution’ plays to Tory prejudices about ‘scroungers’ getting something they don’t 'deserve', whereas ‘predistribution’ carries the idea of people being able to earn – and thus pay – their own way.

But what do these rich boys who form policy think neoliberal capitalism does if not ‘redistribute’ wealth?

How capitalism redistributes wealth
We have sat back and allowed our government to move us steadily to a situation where not only the high street, but then our public utilities, and now our public services have been/are being hived off to the so-called ‘wealth-creators’ (who are in reality the wealth-thieves).
Indeed, the word ‘public’ has ceased to be applicable to any of the above. The ‘Welfare State’ is all but dead – we are now living in the ‘Marketised State’. 

So we now have to buy everything from the capitalists - if not out of our pockets direct, via our taxes through public procurement exercises.
And it is in those transactions that the capitalists make their profits.

So the reality is that – hundreds of times (perhaps thousands of times) faster than taxation is ever redistributing the wealth of the wealthy down to us ‘scroungers’ at the bottom – the neoliberal capitalist economy is redistributing it up to the wealthy … indeed, out of the country into tax havens, or the overseas bank accounts of the super-rich, or the profits of faceless mega-corporations.

In this, our government has been fully complicit. Not just the Tories – whose close ties to, for example, Google were exposed in the Daily Mail (no less!) this week – but New Labour too.

And thus we have got ourselves into the situation where there is – not a continuous ‘undeserved’ flow of money into the pockets of the poor – but a continually decreasing back-flow of wealth to the poor … whilst the terms of trade (=cost of living) increasingly strip more and more out into the pockets of the rich.

Redistribution is going on apace … it is just that it is WE who are at the wrong end of the process!

And how is it, you ask, that money can continuously flow from the poor to the rich?
In a word: Wonga!
The rich have been inventing easy ways for us to borrow to buy their goods since the 1920s – from house mortgages, to hire purchase for cars and white goods … to the pay-day loans of today, where the poor are reassured that it is fine and dandy to take out loans at extortionate rates of interest just to pay the ordinary bills of everyday life.

We have been conned … and mugged.

The argument for a 'Living Income'
I refuse to believe that the gross national income of this nation is inadequate to provide a decent standard of living for all its citizens.

Labour needs to stop twittering on about ‘predistribution’ and simply promise everyone a ‘living income’. 

YES! ‘Income’ … because there will always be those amongst us who will never (for a variety of reasons) be able to support themselves. So a ‘living wage’ promise does not do it.

And the word ‘redistribution’ needs to come back into our everyday vocabulary.