Archives for posts with tag: inequality

I haven’t written in a while. There’s been a lot of reasons. But this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24553611 has reignited my indignation. We all know it, because whether you’re in work or looking for work the wages the vast majority of us are being offered are worth less and less month-on-month, year-on-year. This has been going on for a decade, but the decline in the value of our wages has accelerated quite palpably since 2008 and the Great Bankster Robbery of bail-outs and forced austerity.

There are three key points that must remain in our minds, precisely because they are being glossed over and our attention diverted by the majority of mainstream media – that means awareness of them is a fundamental aspect of the Economic War waged against us. Remember soft war is one fought through control and corruption of information, aimed at transforming the fundamental cultural values and identities of a society. Two quotes from Thatcher sum this up to me : “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul” (see http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104475), and the famous “There is no alternative”. The first quote chills me to the bone when I look at the world created by the adherents to anti-human Washington Consensus policies that she fought for. The second has been such a powerful psychological weapon against ideas of better socio-economic models. It is also plainly wrong – there are always a myriad of alternatives in any choice or system, even if you wanted to keep a capitalist model it doesn’t have to be the corrupt crony-capitalist (some say bordering on fascist according to Mussolini’s definition) system we have today.

Key point 1: The Bankers caused the crash, the economic crash caused the huge deficits that have been the excuse for needless and recession-prolonging “austerity” – but Bankers and CEOs haven’t suffered AT ALL.

Key Point 2: Inequality is rising rapidly – and it is very highly skewed to the benefit of the highest-earning and wealthiest 1% (and when you break their incomes down you see the same distribution pattern, with the richest 0.1% far out-earning the other top 0.9%). We are very close to Victorian levels. If you’ve read any Dickens (I did under sufferance at school) that should scare the bejesus out of you.

Key Point 3: There is more than enough money, resources, food for all of us – Sitting in the off-shore tax-haven accounts of the wealthiest US citizens is more than 7 times the amount needed to eradicate all poverty across the globe. Mass poverty is a deliberate policy of these ultra-rich. They could end it with a one-off 15% tax and allowing restructuring of economies and the laws which regulate them.

The cumulative effect of the policies driven by the ultra-rich through funding and influence of politicians has been a rapid degrading of the value of our work, a rapid degrading of the rights we have as employees, and a rapid solidification of class divides. Social mobility is lower in the UK than most other developed countries – documented by the OECD in 2012 and this year. What does this mean for you and me? NO WAY OUT. Whatever lies the three main political parties will tell you, working hard is no guarantee of success. The system is designed to prevent it, and the ultra-rich are fighting hard to keep you down.

It’s time for the alternative.

It’s time to fight back.

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Wow.

It’s 2 hours since my partner and I went to see Ken Loach’s “The Spirit of ’45” at our local indy/arty/groovy picture house, The Tyneside Cinema. It’s Late. I’ve tried to sleep. I’ve got three 12-hour shifts over the next three days. I need to sleep. But I can’t. I’m too stirred up. I’m too moved, too uplifted, too angry, too heartbroken, too depressed, too motivated.

Firstly: Go and see this film. I implore you. Even if you aren’t interested in politics, or you think history is boring and stuffy, or you can’t stand the cinema. This film shows up how hollow, empty, damaging most “entertainment” is. It shows how utterly essential politics is to each of us, and how without recalling our history we are so terribly vulnerable to the invidious weapons of the economic soft war being waged against us. Have a look through some of the earlier posts if you want to see what I mean by a soft war, and what some of those weapons are. Go here: [http://www.thespiritof45.com/About-The-Film/A-Brief-Synopsis] to find out more about the film. What I want to write now is a (probably jumbled) quick reflection on what I made of it, and what I took from it. Partly as a record so I can come back to it and find out about all the issues it raised, partly as my contribution to the discussion this country needs about our futures, but mostly as a (fingers crossed) cathartic release in the desperate hope I can get some sleep once my brain has offloaded it’s over-capacity ramblings.

There’s tonnes to say about this film. I’m going to try and organise this as I go, and attempt some on-the-fly editing to avoid the danger of gigantic tangentialism.

Thought no.1: Oh my word. What an incredible political climate there was in ’45. What the hell has happened to us? The website I linked above has an amazing archive of the political manifestos from 1945 onward  How have we gone from a Labour party that stated it was “… a Socialist Party, and proud of it. Its ultimate purpose at home is the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain – free, democratic, efficient, progressive, public-spirited, its material resources organised in the service of the British people.”, and clearly states it’s intention to nationalise utilities, industries and transportation (Labour manifesto 1945) to one that accelerated the destruction of the great work of it’s predecessors through the incremental privatisation of the NHS, Universities, social services, social housing provision, policing, criminal justice system, prisons, and aided the deregulation, boom and consequent bust of the financial sector that has brought industrialised nations to their knees? How can we have sleep-walked into a political climate where a party bearing the same name as that which created the NHS and the welfare state has actively undermined, dismantled and sold-off these essential pillars of society, often whilst the individual MPs and Lords (or those that fund their private office or lobby them) have benefited financially through doing so?

Thought no.2: Everything pro-capitalists tell you is a lie. Only once in the last 100 years has there been a deliberate concerted effort to raise living standards for the masses. Only one government has over-seen a deliberate reduction in economic inequality. Only one government has actively followed measures to ensure full employment, equal access to housing, education and healthcare. That government was the government of Attlee and Bevan. It created the NHS, a welfare system that prevented the worst forms of poverty, built 200,000 – 300,000 homes a year, nationalised every essential utility and industry, raised wages, built the transport, water, communications infrastructure that industry needed. AND IT REDUCED THE COUNTRY’S DEBT BURDEN BY FOLLOWING KEYNSIAN PRINCIPLES.uk debt gdp ratioLook at this graph of UK debt as a ratio of GDP. After the war it’s around 200%. Immediately after Labour win the election and set about their grand plan what happens? it spikes up to 250%, then falls. And falls. And falls. Look at where it is in 2010 – barely 70% of GDP. Yet now we need austerity because our debt is too high? We need to sell off our schools, libraries, hospitals to give no-strings-attached handouts to failed and criminal Bankers so they can keep their bonuses? We callously cut or stop the welfare payments to our poorest and most vulnerable while the richest take home the largest share of our national wealth since  WW1?top earners income share

The government that has singularly managed both economic AND social success was overtly Socialist. Only after Thatcher came to power, and the Chicago School brand of destructive neo-liberalism was installed as the default economic model was this trend of lowering inequality and rising living standards reversed. That’s right: In the UK we have proved Socialism creates wealth for all, capitalism creates extreme wealth for a few, and impoverishes everyone else. Right now we are almost back in the economic situation we were between the two World Wars, a great depression for the vast majority of our population, with mass unemployment, appalling poverty and utter hopelessness about the future. The cause both times has been the same. This is from Labour’s 1945 election manifesto: “In the years that followed [the First World War], the “hard-faced men” and their political friends kept control of the Government. They controlled the banks, the mines, the big industries, largely the press and the cinema. They controlled the means by which the people got their living. They controlled the ways by which most of the people learned about the world outside. This happened in all the big industrialised countries.

Great economic blizzards swept the world in those years. The great inter-war slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.”

So clearly, this economic soft-war, fought by “hard-faced men” is not a new occurrence. Its results are being repeated, and WE are paying the costs of it. Right now the richest Americans have around $21tn stashed in off-shore tax havens, while only $3tn is needed to eradicate poverty across the globe (according to the World Bank). At worst a one-off tax of less than 15% on this wealth would release enough cash to end global poverty. Not doing that is a deliberate choice to impoverish the majority of the world’s population, and to hoard wealth and power earned through the work of the same population being impoverished.

Thought no.3 Yes, EVERYTHING the pro-capitalists tell you is a lie even that convincing bit about efficiency in the private sector and waste in the public sector. I’ve written a brief piece about the lies they tell us about inefficiency before: [click here] but this film highlights two other examples: before the railways were nationalised the various companies ran “clearing houses” employing hundreds of people constantly shifting invoices and receipts between each other for each use of their rails, signals, workmen, rolling stock, or whatever else. This was abolished when nationalised, and those people put to work in much more useful ways. Before Thatcher installed her internal markets in the NHS, and started contracting out aspects of hospital functions administration costs were around 6% of NHS budgets. Today they are heading toward US-level costs of 18-25%. Capitalism is more wasteful, more expensive, less efficient. Fact. And it’s pretty flippin obvious that any system with competition, duplication, litigation, and most of all vampiric shareholders sucking the money out of the organisation is going to be less effective. Capitalism might have given us iPhones, but only using the infrastructure and education largely provided or subsidised through taxation and state spending, and only to benefit the owners and shareholders. Imagine if the wealth generated by such an enterprise was collectively owned by all. And imagine how much cheaper it would be if the costs were bourne by all, but didn’t include the costs associated with competition, advertising and shareholder dividends. There is nothing stopping innovation in a collectively-owned institution. Our NHS has lead the world in creating new treatments, interventions, diagnostics, health policies.

Thought no.4 They only get away with it because we have stopped fighting for our rights. Two things made this clear to me in Loach’s film. At the beginning were memories and discussion of the mood and motivation of the nation after winning the war, summed up by Beveridge’s report identifying five “Giant Evils” and describing how they could have been defeated before WW2 as in his words ” want, as defined in the social surveys, could have been abolished in Britain before the present war. As is shown in para. 445, the income available to the British people was ample for such a purpose.“, and what measures would need to be taken. They won a landslide victory on the basis of this report and the shaping of the manifesto around it. Labour would have the same victory in 2015 if they had the same policies, as the same five giant evils afflict us once more, caused by the same few “hard-faced men” accumulating too much wealth and too much power.

Later in the film miners and dockers told of their experiences of the strikes they took part in, the police brutality and changes to Union laws that broke the power of the workers, and the loss of jobs, wages and rights that resulted (and also a huge rise in the CEO’s pay relative to his workers, and a gigantic rise in profits taken by owners and shareholders). One man called for unified general strike action, even if it breaks Union laws, to reclaim some of the rights and wage levels that have been lost. Another described how important the NHS was, and how everyone should fight in any way possible against any attempts to destroy it. Well, that’s already happening. So maybe we should heed his words.

Conclusion: We need to wise up to this economic war, we need to wise up to its history, and we need to remember how we won the battle of ’45 and take great heart from it, because in that victory lies the blueprint to winning the war once and for all.

Also, we need enough sleep if we are going to acheive this. So I’d better get to bed.

Next steps in learning about the war: what the hell happened in the 60’s & 70’s that culminated in strikes and Thatcher?

So I’ve wondered if the money-and-power-grab we are witnessing by the richest 0.1% is part of a bigger plan, or if it is an end in itself. Like I’ve said before I’m not sure if that really matters, right now there’s millions dying unnecessarily, billions having their potential crushed so a tiny minority can have it all. If we stop that we’d stop any further plan if it existed.

Americans are unique in the way they depict their own government and corporations in their popular culture. Almost always its with suspicion and fear. Just look at films such as The Manchurian Candidate.

The youtube clip I’ve linked to is a concept trailer for a film, “Gray State”, which gives a visceral hardening to the soft war people are waking up to. Whenever you delve into topics like the economic inequalities of our society, you always bump up against “conspiracy theorists”. It always makes me wonder if I’m making links between events, people, policies and consequences that aren’t actually there. I don’t think I am. The data speaks for itself. The corruption is barely hidden. The suffering is everywhere I look.

I doubt very much that the current financial crisis is a stage toward a fascist one-nation world government. I might be wrong about that. But doing whatever I can (and to be fair it ain’t gonna be much more than blogging, reading, discussing and joining demos) to slow the rise in inequality isn’t wasted either way

Is this a carefully constructed “PsyOps” strategy used in the Economic War? Or simple human delusion/dishonesty by individuals creating great suffering and trying to justify their actions? Maybe its a simple clash of Myers-Briggs personality types. Whatever it is, I’m staggered and disturbed by the fact that there exists a group who argue that inequality benefits everyone. It seems they want as much of your money as they can get, and they actually want you to love them for it.

The most ardent of these seems to be Edward Conrad. He’s a retired Bain Capital partner, and he’s not apologising for the astonishing wealth-and-power-grab he and his pals have aggressively pursued since the 80’s. You might have heard of this company before – Mitt Romney, the failed presidential candidate in last years US election was founder of Bain Capital. They made billions buying ailing US companies, “fixing them” (by sacking the US staff, outsourcing operations abroad and employing aggressive tax avoidance measures – see here for a wikipedia entry on them, here for Washington Posts critique of Bain “offshoring” jobs from US to China, India and other countries, here for a blogger’s investigation into the scale of “offshoring” jobs in the US and here for the perspective of soon-to-be sacked workers for Bain), then profiting from the share dividends and selling them on. Proper Capitalist dream stuff.

Now, It’s Mr Conrad I really want to concentrate on. Not his personal life, not his Character, but the economic argument he’s putting forward. It seems like “Soft War” stuff to me. He states in an interview given before the release of his book “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong” that he wants to change the perceptions of economists, politicians, thought-leaders. He wants MORE inequality.

His argument: That “investors” only spend a small portion of their capital on their own lifestyles. The vast majority is used to fund further development of businesses that will go on to employ people and improve the quality of life of everyone. Using the examples of computing and software innovators, the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Google etc, he estimates that for every $1 an “Investor” takes, the general populace experience $20 of “value”. He says the public don’t understand this because they are “consumers” and have no insight into the economy or the role of “Investors”. He sees the job of the “Investor” as facilitator of innovation and growth, and that the more cash they have at their disposal, the more growth there will be and the more everyone will benefit. Here’s the interview: [Click here]

This is clearly at odds with the vast majority of economists, as the interviewer points out. It’s also at odds with reality.

The IMF in 2011 released a study that showed income inequality was the most important factor in deciding how long a period of economic growth will last (under our current “capitalist” economic structure (I note that many argue what we have is anything but a free capitalist system, but it’s a convenient term for the time being)), with lower inequality providing longer periods of growth. They estimate a 10% drop in inequality produces 50% longer periods of growth. They highlight the “dangers” of extreme income inequality: Political and social instability, which discourage investment and business activities, weakening of a state’s ability to respond to external shocks, increasing debt burden on the part of the poorer members of the society as they attempt to keep pace with the cost of living while their wages stagnate. Sounds a bit like our world right now doesn’t it? Here’s the info I’m using: [Click here]

Let’s just see again what the trends are regarding income equality:Image

This is for the UK. Yeah, bad isn’t it? Well, if you’re not part of the richest 0.1% that is.

A very recent report suggests the richest 0.1% in the UK have increased their share of the UK’s wealth to 10%. Wow. That’s actually at a faster rate than the chart above, produced in 2009 by the High Pay Commission, predicted. The bottom 50% of the UK population have 18% of the wealth. That’s a smaller proportion of than before. So, Mr Conrad is getting his wish. The super rich are now even superer richer, and getting more so every day. The rest of us are measurably poorer. Middle-class included. Are we experiencing the benefits he espouses? Is there now even greater investment in business, are new start-ups exploding into being? Are we all experiencing 20 times more value in our lives than the super-rich are hoarding? No. Clearly not. The economy is stagnating, even shrinking. Businesses are constantly crying over the lack of funding streams available. Ordinary people, working families are having to rely on foodbanks to survive.

A 2005 Ohio State University study of the 50 US states found that actually the inverse of Mr C’s ideas was the case. Quelle suprise. A “more vibrant middle-class” meant long-term stable growth i.e if the super-rich don’t hoard all the money the economy grows. Here’s where I sourced this info: [Click here].

So, we can safely say the numbers don’t agree with the pro-inequality lobbyists. It’s interesting to note who makes the pro-inequality arguments: The super-rich. The people who directly benefit from the inequality they want to increase. Is it self-delusion, borne out of cognitive dissonance when the super-rich see the chaos and poverty they are producing? Is it because I’m an idealistic INFP from the Myers-Briggs way of looking at people, and these “Investors” are ISTJ? just a misunderstanding? Or is it that they fully know what they are doing, but they like it, and you know what? they’ll have more if they can persuade you to give it to them. As Nye Bevan said: “How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics in the twentieth century.” Seems to me it’s even more the case in the 21st Century, and they’re trying a multi-pronged soft war to do it. Advancing an absurd argument that making poor people poorer will “add value” to their lives, or stimulate growth by reducing demand and supply simultaneously (sacking workers, shutting firms and paying less for those left in work) is probably part of such an economic war effort. Orwellian doublethink is clearly a useful weapon in the soft-war arsenal.

Remember: just last year the richest 100 earned FOUR TIMES what would be required to eradicate extreme poverty ACROSS THE WHOLE GLOBE PERMANENTLY. Mass poverty is a deliberate policy of the very richest to increase the money and power they have, at everyone else’s cost.

There’s a couple of points I want to explore another time:

1 Is “class” really the issue? Mr C talks about a single distinction between people: “Investors” and “Consumers”. Is the “Class War” a distraction from the real economic war?
2 How these sneaky “Investors” have the majority of us fighting their battle for them without even noticing.

The media is such a valuable tool in a soft war. In the UK there are two dominant narratives constantly being used to justify policies clearly designed to transfer wealth and power (in the form of rights, legal protection and influence over policy) from the majority of not-very-well-off to the extremely wealthy few:

  1. The national debt is caused by out-of-control public spending, therefore the remedy is to cut back on public spending. I’ll come back to this another time. It’s demonstrably untrue and if we had a decent Mainstream Media this would be challenged and debunked in an instant.
  2. We face a crisis of inefficiency and uncompetitiveness, and this is why our economy isn’t growing. The solution is to “make employing people easier” and “remove barriers to business”. This translates into “Remove employment rights to make sacking people easier, and workplaces less safe”, and “Remove the regulation and safeguards that stop business trampling over the rights of consumers and the wider society in the pursuit of profit and power”.

It’s this second point that’s intriguing me. This is less obviously untrue. It’s such a pervasive idea many people accept it. But how many question it? Lets have a look at some of the facts, then think again about this point.

Are we inefficient? Here’s a graph of the changes in “productivity” per head of population between 1993-2011:Image

This shows that against even lauded economies such as Germany, we are becoming more productive faster. Compared to these countries we are actually increasing our productivity fastest. Hmmm. well that doesn’t fit the narrative does it?

Wait – that’s because of the “Euro crisis” etc right? It’s not Eurozone we’re scared of is it? it’s China. Big bad human-rights trampling, currency fixing, single-party communist dictatorship China. They’re the next big superpower. All our manufacturing is going over there isn’t it? Well let’s look at their efficiency: Here’s a link to a wikipedia page showing various international organisations’ rankings of countries by productivity per head of population. [Click this] Startling eh? UK is around 18th-24th, China somewhere between 80th-90th depending which you use. Well that’s not very efficient is it?

So if it’s not efficiency, or productivity, what is it? It’s all about how much of the profit can be taken by the richest.

Look at this graph, it’s the wages earned as a percentage of GDP in the UK:Image

I got it from this report: [Click here]

Here’s the situation in the US (Its worse): Image (click here for the original blog I took this from).

So who’s getting the benefits of all this increased productivity? Not the workers. It’s those at top. Here’s a table showing the increase in the average FTSE 100 CEO’s pay versus the average pay of workers in his or her company (probably his, sexism is rife in the boardroom): Image

And here’s the High Pay Comission’s visual depiction of the rapid increase in income share being taken by the very richest 0.1% of UK earners:

Image
Click here for the original report “Cheques With Balances”

So when you hear about a new policy to improve “Efficiency” and “Competitiveness”, ask yourself – is this really about improving already very good efficiency, or is this about redistributing my wages to the already very rich?

A few months ago the cold hard reality of our current situation hit me.

It’s something I’ve always kind of known, but never fully appreciated. Probably because the implications are very difficult to stomach.

It went like this: There’s a war going on. It’s a secret, silent, “soft” war. It’s being waged against us, without us realising.

And we’re losing.

This might sound a little OTT to many, a little fantastical. Hear me out. It’ll only take a few minutes. If you don’t agree, well fine. What have you lost? at the very least you’ll feel smug that you know better. Perhaps, if it’s not too bold, you might just start seeing your world a little differently. If you do there’s a chance you’ll start to see how you can make your world a little better.

These aren’t ground-breaking, never-before-espoused ideas. I don’t have top-secret leaked documents. I’ve just been watching what’s been happening to our society since the 2007/08 financial crash. The one you and me are paying for. The one we didn’t cause.

The first sign: Banks collapsed. They’d gambled, they’d lost. But we paid. And we’ll carry on paying for years, if not decades. And the worst part – we had to borrow money to bail them out, and we had to print more money meaning we have to deal with inflation on top of pay freezes and budget cuts. Then I realised they gambled with our money, not theirs. Debt is socialised, profit is privatised. And they did this not just in the UK, or US, but across the western world. It’s not a small scale local conflict we’re caught up in. This is global. It might well be Globalization, but I’m not sure about that yet.

The second sign: “Austerity” – Huge, swingeing cuts on public spending. Touted throughout Europe as the only solution to the financial crisis. The narrative quickly changed from “Failed banks going bust” to “Huge deficits caused by out of control spending”. I watched this open-jawed. Only months before this narrative change we were giving gigantic sums of money to keep failed banks afloat. £1.5 trillion as of 2009, probably over £2 trillion now. And the bankers kept their jobs, their salaries and their bonuses, while we lost our jobs, had our salaries cut or frozen, and our public services are starting to disappear. It wasn’t spending that bankrupted us, it was bailouts. A recent fine to the now publicly owned RBS highlighted this to me: When you rob a Bank, you go to jail. But when a Bank robs you, they get a golden handshake and a new job or even a seat in the House of Lords like the ex-Northern Rock banker Viscout Ridley. I’ll come back to the lie that the deficit is caused by out-of-control spending another time. They are deliberately overlooking the reasons spending rose, and the role of loss of tax receipts in creating deficit. The frontline in a “soft war” is the media.

The Third Sign: The staggering and increasing levels of inequality throughout the “free” world. It was the Occupy movement that opened my eyes to this. I almost wished they hadn’t because it sickens, depresses, angers and scares me all at once. But you need to know the reality of your situation if you are to have any chance of doing anything about it, right? A few interesting figures: In 2012 the income (just that year’s earnings) of the richest 100 people was enough to end extreme poverty across the globe 4 times over. To put that another way, a one-off 25% tax on the income of these 100 people would mean no more extreme poverty. For millions of people. I pay around 23% on my below-average wage. In the UK, the income of the top 0.1% rose 64% from 1996/7-2007/8, while the income of the bottom 50% rose only 7%. Inflation was averaging around 2% EACH YEAR. The wages they were paid probably just kept pace with price rises.

The fourth sign: It was all a con. They had the money all along. While we were bailing out banks who failed, and consigning ourselves to “austerity” and recession through reckless and unnecessary cutbacks, those very banks we bailed out were holding £13-21 Trillion in off-shore tax havens on behalf of their richest customers. So why did we all pay? How much did the banks themselves have stashed off-shore? This gigantic figure represents hundreds of billions of lost tax revenue each year.

The fith sign: The one that crystallised the suspicion into a chilling realisation this was probably all deliberate: big business has bought our politicians. Our own Prime Minister could be bought for £50,000 – £250,000 depending on what you wanted him to do. MPs and Lords who voted to privatise the NHS despite widespread public protest and no electoral mandate stand to benefit financially, and the companies that will benefit the most have been changing UK policy for years to one that will divert billions in taxpayers money into their tax-dodging profit-maximising companies. This is the tip of the iceberg. Right now our government is bragging about how much influence it wants businesses to have over UK policy, expanding the “Buddy Scheme” to 80 privaleged companies. I thought they represented us?

The sixth sign: The demonisation of the poorest, most vulnerable, least able to fight. And the use of racism. All designed to deflect attention from the people really taking your money and your rights. You’ve seen above some of the shocking inequalities in incomes. You’ve seen the scale of the debt we’ve taken on from bankers who are still earning millions while hiding unimaginable ammounts of money from our tax collectors, thereby increasing our deficits. the “tax gap” (ammount avoided and evaded) is estimated at £120 billion each year. EACH YEAR. But you’d be forgiven for thinking that the reason your wage has been frozen for 4 years and your hospital has been sold is because people pretend to be disabled, they refuse work, or they live in mansions and claim Housing Benefit. So here’s some figures: The UK spends £48.2 Billion on Debt Interest each year – remember the money we borrowed to give the bankers? yeah, that’s right. We pay interest on that. We pay £12.57 Billion on Disability Living Allowance, which has a fraud rate of 0.5% according to the government. That’s not even £1billion. We pay £4.91 billion on Jobseekers Allowance. Remember the tax gap? £120billion. Remember the bailouts for Bankers in Need? £1.5 trillion. So why the policies cutting public spending? cutting welfare payments? cutting services and facilities? Why do all 3 main political parties still talk about the need for “cuts”, “austerity” and “tough choices”? It’s a soft war remember, and the frontline is the media. That’s why you’ll see sensationalised stories about benefit fraud, but only a brief mention of the cost of banking fraud, tax fraud or even MP’s expense fraud. Who’s waging the war? probably those who are reaping the benefits, don’t you think? That’s right the richest 1%, and probably more accurately the richest 0.1%

What else can this be? A very small, very rich section of society is using its wealth and power to increase its own wealth and power, while the rest of us are being made poorer, having our rights removed, having less influence on our politicians or the policies they enact. Economic war is the only term I can think of to describe it. The Oxfam report I linked above about the richest 100 having an annual income four times the ammount needed to eradicate extreme poverty tells you everything about our world: Mass poverty is a deliberate policy, a deliberate choice, made by a tiny number of unimaginably wealthy people so they can hoard a few hundred billion more. JUST 25% OF THEIR INCOME FOR ONE YEAR ENDS EXTREME POVERTY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. Think about that next time you see a campaign advert asking you to relieve poverty in a third-world country, or even child poverty here in the UK. By all means do everything you can to help – but until we fight for a more equal distribution of wealth and power, what real difference can you make?