A Happy New Year?
"No wonder we (the Country) is in so much debt if they are spending it all on these fireworks!"I can see why he is confused. On the one hand we are all bombarded with messages telling us the Country is broke and we cannot afford libraries, youth centres, reduced travel for children, decent care for the elderly, support for the disabled etc etc but on the other hand money magically appears to open free schools and for fireworks amongst other things.
This year London will host the Olympic Games and we will celebrate another Jubilee. So will 2012 be a year of hope? I wish I could say that would be so.
The current Government like to compare the Country to a household claiming their policies are "prudent", that we have to "live within our means"that we need to "tighten our belts" and other such things. If that is so then I wonder what the neighbours would think of a family that couldn't afford to send its children to college or look after their elderly relative but held a big party with fireworks on New Year's Eve?
But actually it is worse than even the neighbours think. For this family isn't broke at all. It could afford to pay for the children to travel to college, look after its elderly AND have money left for a party. It deliberately chose not to.
And that, sadly, is what is happening in Britian right now. A comment on Poly Toynbee's Guardian article sums it up better than she did or I could. It is long but I will quote it in full as it is well worth reading.
But Polly, they are all in it together. We have had over 30 years of this shit. Nothing short of a revolution is going to save this country.
For the last 40 years, Neo-Liberalism has been a bankrupt ideology that has utterly failed 90% of the population. The only thing it has created is the huge myth that 'we've never had it so good'. There hasn't been any increase in wealth for the great majority of people, it's been a giant con trick. Virtually all the wealth created since the 80's has gone to the top 10%, and the wealthiest 1% are now vastly richer than they were 30 years ago, whilst the rest have had to work ever harder just to stand still. Disposable household income is now actually less than it was 40 years ago, when there was usually only 1 wage earner per family, whereas today we have 2,3,4 family members working, especially amongst middle earners.
This deterioration in earnings has been masked by two factors. Peoples lifestyles have been fuelled by easy credit and an insane housing bubble, neither having anything to do with capitalism having created more wealth. Huge debt and inflating house prices have funded the façade of prosperity for decades. However, with the collapse of the giant Ponzi scheme that was the financial markets, this illusion has now been shattered. We are deep in shit. Average household debt now stands at nearly £60,000. Total personal debt stands at over £1.5 Trillion, a figure which will be increased as a whole generation leaves University/college already heavily in debt. They've got us by the balls, because they own us. If the banks decided tomorrow to call in every penny they are owed, most of Britain would be homeless and destitute. Some prosperity, and so much for never having it so good.
And it gets worse. We now have a Government which has begun a systematic assault on it's own people, under the pretext that the country is bankrupt. They are making it easier to sack us, making us work longer hours for less pay, forcing our kids to work for nothing, raising the retirement age whilst cutting our pensions and weakening our health and safety laws. They are attacking the weak, the poor and the disabled, slashing welfare budgets, forcing people off benefits and removing every support structure a civilised society should provide. Meanwhile? The wealthy avoid paying billions in taxes, and hide billions more away in tax havens.The very people who are paying the biggest price are the very people who have been screwed for the last 30 years, whilst the ruling elite, the very people who have gained the most from the last 30 years, are immune to the mess they have created. Executive pay has increased by 50% in the last year alone. That one fact tells you all you need to know about who is in this 'all together' And all the while, no-one sees the irony in millionaire politicians telling us 'we must all tighten our belts'.
So this is where 30 years of neo-liberalism, supported by every successive Government since Thatcher, has brought us. Massive debt and worse living standards for the many, immense wealth for the few. We have been shafted, big time. But it's never enough. They already own our politicians, our media and our Police.They already have our land, gas, electricity, railways and water. But these greedy bastards still want more. They keep taking, and like fools we keep giving. So now, they are coming for our pensions, our NHS, our schools, our green spaces, and, if you're old, our houses, after all, you should pay for your own care, shouldn't you?
And we stand and watch them do all this because we believe the lies they tell us, the lies that we'd never had it so good, the lies about the country being bankrupt and the lie that 'we are all in this together'. They keep telling us these lies because they believe we are all idiots, and will fall for any shit they feed us. And most of the time, they are right. We do. But not always.
To paraphrase Lloyd George whilst talking about the Great War:
"If the people really knew the truth about what was happening, it would be ended tomorrow, but they must never know."
Well, one day, they will know. And that's when the shit will really hit the fan.
This sounds a little bleak and not very hopeful for a start to the New Year. I don't personally think 2012 will be the year that the "shit hits the fan". It will, sadly, take longer and there will I fear be millions more real people damaged in the process. Lives ruined. Hopes shattered.
But all is not lost. Back in January 2011 I open my laptop in an angry mood and typed the article "Sack Suffolk's overpaid CEO and Save our Libraries". By the end of 2011 this had actually happened. The CEO of Suffok County Council resigned and the County had to back down from its closure plan and keep all libraries open.
It's true that not all of the battles fought were won. 2011 has seen the youth services close in Suffolk, withdrawal of discounted travel for young people and slashing of many jobs in education. Free schools are opening seemingly all around us, some to be run incredibly by Swedish companies for profit.
So 2012 will be, I think, another year of fight. Another year we have to campaign and try and support and save our local services from closure or being handed to "the market" to make money rather than provide service. Another year we will fight to make sure the truth of what is happening gets out there rather than the self-serving half-truths of much of the mainstream media.
So a Happy New Year to everyone!