What we are up against – Part 2

Posted: May 6, 2015 in Bricolage
Tags: , , , , , ,

More wise words from others on our current, sad predicament:

The term ‘REFORM’ in bogus. What we are talking about is privatisation – pure and simple. We’ve already seen privatised care for the disabled, the elderly and those in special need, in action – The billionaire venture capitalists and private equity concerns will walk away with the accumulated wealth of generations of tax payers – they will then sell off all that is worth selling – variation on the sell and rent back scams – making billions through unparalleled public-private wealth transfer. And as surely as night follows day, they’ll come knocking on taxpayers’ door a few years down the line demanding subsidies on the pretext of unforeseen costs (I believe one recent pathetic example was the inability to meet the rent burden), thereby effectively holding the taxpayer to ransom. This is not about frustrating entrepreneurship. It is not about interfering with the virtuous operation of the market. This is not about undermining real creativity translated into world beating products – its not about the Dysons. It is about a cabal of parasitic racketeers with no compunction, no humanity and no sense of belonging. This is about a bunch of ruthless people who would jump over my dead mother’s body to pick my pocket as I’m mourning her. Whether backed or sacked, lets not have any illusions about what’s on the table and what it is we’re dealing with.

There was once a time when corporations balanced the interests of their customers, shareholders and employees. They delivered value to their customers and shareholders and fair pay and pensions to their employees. Then Margaret Thatcher deregulated the markets. Thus began a race for market share and profit at any cost. For private sector employees, this was a race to the bottom.
Companies that posted profits in billions and paid executives seven figure salaries and six figure pensions suddenly discovered that they could no longer afford final salary pensions for ordinary employees. They closed their final salary schemes and replaced them with defined contribution schemes which transferred the market risk to the employees.
It would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge that Gordon Brown’s 1997 removal of tax credits on share dividends for pension schemes accelerated this pension landslip. Its effect, along with that of market deregulation, has been to rob most private sector workers of fair and secure pensions.
And having robbed their own employees, corporate interests are, quite shamelessly, using their mouthpieces to turn those employees against their public sector brothers and sisters. “You don’t enjoy gold-plated pensions”, their argument goes, “so why should these feather-bedded public employees enjoy them at your expense?”. The worrying thing is that, instead of condemning their hypocrisy and demanding a return to fair pensions, ordinary working people seem inclined to listen to these siren voices and demand that the unfairness be extended to nurses, teachers and firefighters.
People are living longer and pensions need to be reformed. Working lives need to be extended and employee contributions will have to rise. But Labour rejects the argument of the Coalition government that final salary pensions are unaffordable. Even in the depths of recession, Britain remains a wealthy nation. There is no excuse for impoverishing our pensioners. A longer life need not be a life of penury.

I’ll exchange one millionaire for 100 welfare recipients. Actually, all the welfare recipients can join you in Canada. Sadly, welfare recipients are expensive. Millionaires pay all our bills.
There is a wealth of research out there that shows that a decent welfare state can actually allow economic growth. Recently an economist was being interviewed on Sky tv and gave the presenter ( a total murdochite right winger) a real telling off when he started going on about ‘benefits recipients’. He said that the UK has had one of the most strict benefits regimes for years and it actually COSTS us more money. Why? Well in the UK you get nothing more than £67 a week for six months if you lose your job. Then nothing (unless by this point you’re destitute). He said that immediately plunges people into poverty. It also means they take any job, often part time jobs that are insecure – meaning they end up signing back on over and over again.
He then compared us to Germany, France and Norway. All countries with (despite some changes) still much more generous welfare than us. In countries where people get between 12 and 24 months of generous payments the long term unemployed are a much smaller group, as are repeat claimants. Why? Because they can afford to re-train or to set up a business or even to (gasp) wait until they get a more secure job that will mean they are back in employment that can cover their outgoings.
Welfare recipients aren’t some ‘other’. They’re not a class of people that just exist, they’re you, me, our family and friends, people who lose their jobs. The fact is, even in the UK, the majority of those seeking JSA are not long term claimants – they are people who’ve paid taxes and NI stamps for years and are now being told they’ll only get a paltry, paltry amount back for that, for six months, hardly any help with their mortgage and other outgoings – and for that paltry bit of help constant bullying.
How much do you think it costs to assess these people after six months of contributions based JSA? A lot more I imagine than paying them a couple of years dole. How much does it cost to keep paying useless third party providers like A4E to bully people into taking shit jobs that will only last a few weeks at best? A fortune. And how much does it cost us when people keep signing back on after a few weeks or months of insecure work. All this bureaucracy is extremely expensive.
It’s like in the past – the poor house cost way more than the outdoor poor relief that had gone before it. But the idea of the deserving and undeserving poor led policy makers to believe if they made conditions for those in poverty bad enough then poverty would cease to exist. It never did. The poor actually increased. The poor houses cost the country way more than outdoor relief would have and they ruined millions of lives. Good job all-round – but thats right wing ideology for you. It’s ideological not based on any logic or facts. Or any real analysis of history.

Roll up for the grand old Etonian led Big Society hoedown!
Monday afternoon riots.
Sirens all over London, skys full of choppers.
Section 60 in effect.
Tories – clueless. Police – purposefully useless. Army -in the barracks awaiting ‘Kensington & Chelsea’ to come up on a Blackberry. Youth, fucking thousands of them – shopping. They don’t give a fuck. Guess you can’t ignore them anymore, anyway.
Cameron still on a Tuscan sojourn, Osborne in fucking Disneyland! The oaf mayor may have fallen asleep in his soup.
Have you sen the world at 17? No money no job 9k a year education, 250k 1 bed flat, war + war +war, over population, pollution, violence, knife crime, corrupt police, surveillance media, dirty millionaire Tories in a effective one Tory party state. If you’ve no family money you’re fucked.
I hope these kids rip the corporate bastards for as much as possible. Nobody want to see fires, homes or small businesses targeted, corporations though, are the supreme thieves. I’m NOT of course advocating the targeting of corporate premises and the removal of good from within. I’m unlikely to shed a tear over it though. Corporations kill community, fear makes profit, community reduces fear and opposes predatory profiteering.
Take Brixton, infact if every corporate operation in the place went due to relentless attacks it would be a big improvement, and I doubt many in the area would disagree.
Also worth noting the effective of previous ‘disobedience’ in introducing reform versus other means – legal ignored protest, corrupt Parliamentary nonsense. Direct action regardless of intention , works. It’s the raw reality of politics without the window dressing. So to speak…
Tonight I remember what I thought when I saw on TV the fall of the Berlin Wall and knew that Soviet-style communism was pronounced dead.
And I knew that the government of the UK had, from that point on, had no use for the immigrant population. That’s right. Because I knew that their invitation to these shores had been stimulated by this country’s fear of working class solidarity. In short, an influx of workers from the empire was needed to break up the working class communities and put an abrupt stop to their tendencies towards Marxism. But after the fall of the communist threat, these people and their descendants were now considered superfluous. Now the leaders of our state could afford to be racist again.
I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be a non-white Briton for all the wealth of the world. You’ve done the job: the English proles didn’t become a Stalinist mob. The powers that be in this country will hound you out now.
Am I a sick fantasist?
Not impressed I’m afraid.
A more interesting angle would be to ask why, most of the time, people don’t riot and what’s changed now.
Poverty, absolute or relative, has existed ever since agrarian societies first created storable food surpluses and gained a hereditary structure of leadership. The second event probably being dependent on the first. Inequality is equally as old; I understand(?) that Britain currently has greater social inequality than at any time since the Edwardian period, but a comment referred to food riots of the 19th century, and the gulf between peasantry and nobility in the medieval period would have been unimaginable.
So if poverty isn’t necessarily the trigger, and nor is inequality, what’s left? The author’s focus on the emotions aroused by not having possessions so fetishised by society, and the driving impulse being to gratify such a longing, is a huge over simplification. The trigger is in fact the perception of legitimacy. It is insufficient that I don’t have stuff, or that I am conditioned to want the stuff I can’t have, or even that other people do have the stuff I want. The tipping point comes with the perception that not only do the wealthy not deserve their wealth, but firstly that they are lording it over others as if it were the only measure of their worth (and therefore other’s lack of worth); secondly that they generally have not earned it; and thirdly that they are employing deliberate tactics to maintain their relative advantage by engineering social, political and economic conditions whereby their wealth is made and protected not just at the expense of others, but also at the expense of any opportunity others might have to improve their situation.
Again some historical comparisons: throughout much of history the wealthy and powerful gained and maintained their wealth through direct force or threat thereof. Without the impartial rule of law the powerful could take what they wanted and keep it by preventing others from accumulating wealth, or from becoming powerful enough to present a threat to the established order. Under these circumstances, wealth is a zero-sum game, and in order to become rich, others must be made (and kept) poor. Alternatively, another “justification” for inequality was that the rich and powerful were just better people; in many cases anointed by God, made powerful by direct Divine intervention in the way of pre-revolutionary monarchs. More recently, inequality has been justified by the claim that wealth is just reward for talent and effort, and that the deserving and hard working will in turn be rewarded. This last undermines the resentment of the poor, and is an incredibly powerful force in the USA, if not Britain. Finally, in times of crisis it is possible to temporarily put aside the problem of unfair inequality with a rallying “were all in this together” attitude.
So do any these possible mechanisms of control still hold sway now? Clearly not, as evidenced by the wave of rioting. Social mobility is at it’s lowest for decades, the global financial crisis has adversely affected many people’s savings/job/pension/education and with it any hope of a better future. At the same time a ruling elite drawn almost exclusively from the nation’s top public schools; the cosy relationships between the political, financial and media sectors, and the rewards dished out to and the favours traded amongst them, clearly demonstrate that concepts of meritocracy and financial probity (not to mention legality) do not apply to those in power.
The masses have long since been disabused of the myth that the rich and powerful are better people. Merely in the last few years we have seen an MP’s expenses scandal; a major banking crisis triggered by development of financial instruments almost guaranteed directly to harm the poor, and a crisis in the print media which has highlighted the highly dubious nature of relationships between politicians, police and the press.
Additionally, the rescue of the financial system using taxpayer’s money without any reform of the system or indeed sanction against those that created the crisis. Which lead in turn to a destructive recession which, like all recessions, hit the poorest hardest, and increased social inequality. Whether one assumes that the people in charge were incompetent, corrupt or actually evil; it looks suspiciously as if the western capitalist system has been corrupted to the point that it has returned to a zero-sum game and the best way to make money is to take it from someone else.
Having undermined any sense of the “deserving” rich; finally destroyed the illusion of opportunity; clearly demonstrated that we aren’t all in this together; and made it impossible, in a world of imbecilic football millionaires, vacuous celebrities and the discovery that a surprising number of the great and good have their hand in the till at every opportunity, to argue that many of the wealthy are in any way worthy people. The only remaining means of justifying the economic subjugation of the majority is through the deployment of force, either physical or legal.
There have never been sufficient police to enforce authority against the will of the people, and in a democracy there never should be. The police exercise their authority through an accepted sense of shared legitimacy. Recent examples of incitement and entrapment to undermine legitimate protest, kettling and violence to the point of murder towards peaceful demonstrations, the continued racial issues associated with stop and search powers targeting young ethnic minority men, a huge increase in the number of criminal offences, and the exposure of bribe taking, corruption and collusion with the media powers have all served to undermine the legitimacy of the police and the law.
Without respect for law and the police, without a belief in opportunity, without an expectation that hard work will be rewarded, with an economic and political system which has strayed from democratic capitalism to kleptocracy, in a society where everything has been undermined except the value of money, and with clear evidence that those in power are not just in it for themselves, but are actively colluding against the majority with anti-competitive financial systems, economic exploitation and crony capitalism, is it any wonder that there are riots on the streets?
It is not that people are poor or disenfranchised and cannot participate in the commoditisation of existence; it is that they are being actively excluded from the only game in town. If there was a coherent political argument behind it there would be revolution on the streets, as it is there disorder and rioting without any political agenda. This has been used as a means to criticise the rioters, but any appreciation of all the above would leave the clear impression that the political game was fixed. In which case it’s hardly surprising that the rioters are refusing to play that game, and have retreated to the only course of action left to them; a (self)destructive nihilism.

It’s a lot easier to put in that work when you are born into a privileged class, and have good parents who teach you the ropes, provide a descent education for you, don’t beat you, etc…
I get really tired of people advocating the meritocracy and responsibility and all that, when they started the race way ahead of others, and can’t figure out why the rest can’t catch up.

(that) is the real issue – generally people do not mind if some individuals are wealthy, while other remain poorer – If a person manages to accumulate a large fortune as a consequence of hard work, their intelligence and inventiveness and own productivity it is to be applauded – it is aspirational, is something each strives to emulate. What folk really detest is those parasitic leeching looting mooching wealthy elites that gain by nepotism, cronyism, corruption and moral bankruptcy – those that retain and grow their fortune despite their incompetence and failure! Each knows it is a form of theft, a legally sanctioned form of robbery – and it is evil to predicate a society on such criminal activity.
This government represents the Ruling Class. It is rather more blatant about it than most, but basically all British governments do. Credit card interest is set so high because it is profitable to set it that high. To our rulers, profit is vastly more important than people. ( If they have a religion it is Mammonolatry.)
Why was a welfare state set up in 1945? There were a lot of recently demobilised men coming home having been radicalised by the Education Corps and the War. The ruling class were afraid of a revolution if they tried to force these men back into the sort of society that had existed before the War. There was also the USSR to compete with. They have never been happy about the working people having so much, but they were afraid to dismantle it too quickly.
Since the USSR was destroyed, they no longer have this fear and they have set about dismantling the welfare state with ever increasing vigour.
Don’t believe for a moment that they are stupid. Evil they are, stupid they are not.

Is this the same capitalism which required (at peak) a GBP1.16 trillion bailout from UK taxpayers, and is still owes about GBP500 billion to us?
Is this the same capitalism which has fed us a constant stream of financial mis-selling over the last 10 year, from endowment mortgages to Payment Protection Insurance?
Is this the same capitalism which gave us (to quote Warren Buffettt) “financial weapons of mass destruction”?
Is this the same capitalism where FTSE executive pay rose 55% last year when average salaries barely increased?
Is this the same capitalism where FTSE CEO earn 434 times the National Minimum Wage and 233 times the 2010 UK median earnings? With little correlation between increased executive remuneration and increased company productivity?
I don’t think the Occupy groups are talking about smashing capitalism, just modifying the existing model to make it work fairer for more people.
Do you believe the current model is working fine?
@MrBrit
The problems we are now in are because of government overspending not just here but all over Europe and the US.
Really? How did government overspending cause the bank crisis?
The financial industry destroyed the economy through greed in the pursuit of short-term profits, as acknowledged by everyone from Alan Greenspan to Eddie George and Warren Buffett.
I’m happy to consider alternatives but if we all worked on communal farms would there be enough work for all?

Capitalism can work. It can and has generated wealth for all in the past. The current version is broken and needs fixing. This does not mean we all have to live on communal farms. There are shades of grey between black & white..
The current system we have has brought good prosperity to the people of western Europe even if it is having a hiccup at the moment

A HICCUP! We’re looking at a Japanese-like lost decade and you call it a hiccup.
Are you in the 1%? Do you feel threatened?
Why do so many people protest against capitalism when the system we live under is nothing of the sort?
We live in a debt-based corporate kleptocracy where bad investments are bailed out by the public and markets are manipulated – not free.
Capitalism needs free markets and does not permit some organizations to be ‘too big to fail’.
I wholeheartedly support the Occupy movement, however I feel capitalism itself has been wrongly targeted instead of the real enemy –
Worthless debt-based currency backed by nothing, created to allow a financial elite to steal the wealth from everyone else.
It’s a problem, Ken is an old fashioned socialist and the present Labour Party is made up of new fashioned……what?
The working class are now called hardworking families, as a species the working class don’t exist anymore – they think.
But the Tory Party recognise them, and treat them as the working class whom their class control.
In the past, because there was a class of people who were proud to be working class regardless of what their job was, they were ready to defend themselves by voting Labour and joining unions
But New Labour peddles the notion that we’re all middle-class now, and as a result leaves ordinary working class people with nowhere to hang their hats.
The media, with the help of all the political parties, have managed to create the image of all working class people being benefit scroungers, who don’t deserve anyone to represent them.
The Tories love that, they’ve got this bunch of suckers who think they are middle class, but as no one seems to recognise them as a species they don’t vote.
Result, Tory Power, even if it’s via a coalition.
I’m a foreigner – with dual nationality.
I welcome the leavening that migrants have brought to Britain, and would like to think, in all modesty, I’ve contributed a little myself…
However, Britain has been wildly over-populated for decades, and cannot feed itself let alone provide quality education and health for all the people.
A long-term population of 30m, say, would allow a high standard of living for all – and aid abroad.
At present, the characteristic generosity of the English is trumped by an ideological mish-mash of meritocratic and inherited entitlement. The unresolved issues of this quasi-democracy could avoid dealing with this matter for some time…
The link between population growth and economic growth is tenuous at best, and has been manufactured by waste and inefficiency. And the planet cannot afford growth in the traditional exploitative manner – ripping-off cheap labour and cheap resources.
The country can choose – quality of life or a continued downward spiral where privilege for the few lies alongside poverty for the many. Until the crunch – listen to Occupy!
The Labour movement should resist unchecked population growth and migration – they are tools of the capitalist class to maintain or increase demand while reducing real incomes.
The problem with having a disproportionately large financial sector is that it has implicit government guarantees, unlike other industries. This means that unlike metal bashing as you put it, financial services transfer risk to the taxpayer. If they did not they would not care about the banking reforms.

Now pre crash FS was about 11% of our economy and contributed about 11% of our tax revenue all told (that is, payroll plus corporate). But the crash wiped out its corporation tax contribution for the previous 10 years and gave it losses to offset future profits against for 4 to 5 years. That is, it has been a real, material drain on the economy since 2007, will continue to be so for the next few years and has not made a net contribution since around 2007.

Stick that real world data in your statistical pipe and smoke it, and stop pretending financial services pays for all our welfare when it clearly does no such thing. It parasitises our economy.

Cameron has betrayed us, no one other than the 1% social elite would have voted for the privatisation of the welfare state, the Authorities and councils them selves wouldnt have. So what has happened Cameron has starved them of funding so they have no opportunity/option other than to bail out.
Now privatisation by the back door, we will suffer because they will not give us enough to meet our needs, just like the failed community care. Yet another joke voucher system, people will be falling ill and dying because of lack of funds, whilst the 1% to fine thank you very much. The collapse of society as we know it is imminent. Cameron and his 1% will walk away without a care in the world with bulging pockets. How on earth are we going to repair this mess?
.and KPMG are one of the companies benefiting from selling their services to councils in order to implement the cuts they advised the government on! I think I have that right, the web of government mates, contacts, financial advisors, donors, paid lobbyists and all the rest of the pond life we are being governed by is both extensive and complex, hard to always follow the money.

Private-Good. Public-Bad. (Repeat with increasing intensity)
Everyone knows that these new privatised services will cost the tax payer far more than if they were provided by public service providers – How many more examples of this will we have to witness in the coming years?
Both Marx and David Harvey warn about the creative destruction which takes place during economic crises as private investors experience surplus capital absorption problems due to a diminishing rate of profit – with the structural problems in the economy there simply aren’t enough profitable opportunities for the vast swathes of private and financial capital to continue to grow at 3% PA exponentially.
Over the past 15 years the role of national and local government has become steadily transformed away from providing municipal and socal services for citizens to facilitating further investment opportunities for private capital – look at the profits made by G4S, A4E and other large scale private providers through taking over services that were previously the responsibilty of the state at a far greater financial and social cost to ordinary citizens.
The Government has made it clear that they are determined to take on the public sector unions in one last great conflict with organised labour. This drive toward privatisation has also made clear by their refusal to negotiate with unions on the viability of public sector pensions in the education and health sectors and their point blank refusal to subject the fund to an independent audit to properly assess its economic viabilty.
This is because the main obstacle to any private sector investment into health and education is that investors are completely unwilling to meet the financial obligations of present public sector pension arrangements. The ultimate aim is thus to radically restructure public sector conditions of employment – Schools run by Carphonewarehouse and hospitals run by care assistants on short term, insecure private employment style contracts.
That’s why it is vitally important that we continue to undertake industrial action and that the trade unions stand firm and resist the destruction of our public services currently taking place through their costly and un-necessary privatisation plans. Otherwise in years to come when private providers and insurance companies are sucking up billiions in public money, we will bitterly regret allowing these changes to happen so easily without putting up a serious fight to defend such hard won gains as the right to free health care.

To be continued…

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