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Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Slippery Slope to Fascism?

The NHS has been opened up to competition, the modern parlance for privatisation. Mr. Gove, the education secretary, expects the majority of schools to become Academies and given the figure is roughly 40% now, he is clearly not mistaken. Academies are the effective privatisation of education where millions of pounds of public assets are given away to private organisations. Welfare reforms are likely to mean that those under the age of twenty-five are not entitled to housing benefit, and since as a group they are significantly more likely to suffer from unemployment, they have been condemned to destitution. If a person is in this situation, they are then told they must work for free in order to receive any financial assistance at all. So the young people of Britain have the following to look forward to: a life with few prospects since their school will be an Academy, teaching pointless courses in order to make their results look good, while the government bring in a qualification which is not open to them and is the only thing that employers and education providers will take seriously; they will have vastly reduced healthcare should they need it since private companies will not provide that which is not profitable (don’t believe me? 225 previously widely available treatments have already been rationed or withdrawn since the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill due to cost-effectiveness); they will have to live with their parents (or on the streets) until they are at least 25 since housing prices have been inflated by the irresponsible financial sector and they no longer qualify for any kind of help; But more than that, since they don’t qualify for the elitest vision of education or employment on offer they will be forced to work for free. Although, perhaps or government will develop some sort of compund where they can stay and contribute to society? "Work Camps" perhaps?

All of this is apparently justified by our flagging economy which is only flagging because bankers, who did have access to these benefits, wrote too many cheques they couldn’t cash. They created money that didn’t exist and lent it to people that couldn’t pay it back. Why? Because they wanted to improve their share prices and increase their already monstrous bonuses. Our government decided that the banks who had been allowed to grow to gargantuan sizes in a rush of de-regulation since 1979 were so big that their failure would damage our economy beyond repair. Money was poured in to save the ailing institutions (the government has so far borrowed £124bn according to the Guardian) and it is the poor who will be footing the bill. Schemes like Jimmy Carr’s K2 and non-domicile status favoured by Tory donors costs HMRC £70bn annually according to the New Statesman.  Meanwhile the increase in ‘stealth taxes’, such as VAT and duty, hit the poorest disproportionately hard since the extra money on the things they pay for make up a larger percentage of their income. For the same reason it is this group who will be hit hardest by cuts to public services since if they were more affluent they would be able to demand the higher quality provisions on offer to the wealthy few. But even these figures are a distraction, a smoke screen to obscure the true intentions of our ruling elites. Ideologically they are opposed to the idea of a public sector. They are now doing whatever they can to ensure that money that has been earmarked to ensure we all have a minimum basic standard of living ends up in the hands of the wealthy few.

So, what is the economic case for these cuts? Those few will tell us that they are necessary for the prosperity of our nation, and that the prosperity of our nation benefits all of us. The Tories will tell us that the growth of business is critical to kick-starting our stalled economy. Well let’s examine that idea. I have talked in the past about the US where 93% of economic growth feeds only the wealthiest 1% of the population, and indeed record corporate profits of $1.97tn were accompanied by real wage falls and rising unemployment during the third quarter of 2011. In Britain there has been a 21% increase in corporate profits since the third quarter of 2009. “But what about the trickle-down effect?”I hear you say. Frankly, it no longer exists, if it ever did. Unemployment here too has been steadily rising although this is a side issue in that employee compensation only accounts for 54% of GDP (down from 65% in the mid 1970’s) with the rest going to you-know-where. In short, although the situation is getting worse for employees in that their real pay has fallen by approximately 2% since mid 2010 according to the TUC, they haven’t been getting a fair deal since the 70s. Still we are given platitudes, small business growth - the endeavours of entrepreneurs - will save us. Sadly small businesses are currently in decline too, with over 50 failing every day according to the Mail on-line, this is strictly a corporate zone. If the government were genuinely serious about encouraging growth in small businesses it would be using a progressive taxation system where larger businesses pay a higher percentage of tax on their profits so that smaller businesses have more income to invest and develop, instead of the flat rate corporation tax currently in place. This flat rate system benefits the larger organisations - who already have advantages in terms of large scale efficiencies - because of their ability to transfer money beyond the tax system. Some even manage broker deals to avoid paying at all. Vodafone for example, which according to Forbes saw UK profits grow from £1.2bn to £1.3bn while it’s tax bill fell from £140m to zero in the same period.

As further rebuttal to the justifications for austerity , the UK is currently in debt to the tune of 66% of GDP. This sounds a lot until you consider the fact that our national debt was over 100% of GDP [continuously] between 1912 and 1961, a period which saw the birth of our welfare state. Indeed for only 50 of the last 300 years has our national debt been lower as a percentage of GDP than it is today. So then, we are being asked to sacrifice critical services and social mobility in the name of economic problems and promised progress which are at best ill-considered and at worst outright lies. Very quickly we have to start cutting through the spin and propaganda. If your life chances are determined by the economic situation of your parents, you are not free. If you are forced to work for nothing and a company profits from that, you are not free. If the actions of an unelected government acting without a mandate and outside of the written promises upon which its election campaign was based can destroy your life without consultation or remorse, then you are a slave to their whim. This is not hyperbole; 32 people die every week in our country having been declared fit to work. They die from cancer, from heart disease and from any other number of illnesses that our government’s system routinely ignores since it views its citizens only in the light of their value to the economy.

Culturally we are unwilling or unable to oppose this tyranny.  Not because we think it’s fair, and not because we are happy about it. But because we have a proud sense of responsibility and a strong moral compass. Teachers will say they don’t want to harm the prospects of their students, doctors will say any action they take will hurt patients. Private sector employees will not want to harm the companies they work for, and the media will tell us industrial action won’t work because this is the only way out of our economic mess. In response to that I would argue how quickly alternative ideas are generated when the wealth of the elite is threatened, as has been the case in the past. Teachers, your students will be better served by the creation of a fairer society within which they can both contribute and benefit through hard work, rather than being locked out on the day of their birth. Doctors and nurses, how many more people will suffer and die as a result of the stripping of the NHS, one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world? If we do not do something, that is if we allow this pattern to continue, how many more rights will we lose? How much more will our real wages fall as corporate profits continue to rise? How long will we accept being second class citizens in a society that profits from our toil, before we demand the right to guaranteed reasonable living standards and the opportunity to affect our own futures? How long before we demand to be free and equal members of a democratic society again?

Fascism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:
extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices
This regime is right-wing, authoritarian and intolerant of the needs of the vast majority of our populace. We are clearly short of anything seen in Nazi Germany, but if we do nothing, how long will it take for this creeping elitism to morph into fully fledged fascism. And will we ever manage to change it back?

7 comments:

  1. I think the apathy of much of the general public to this is a result of the managerialism, unaccountability and in some instances mismanagement and corruption of the public sector under Blair/Brown.
    Whilst I fully believe in a strong supportive role for the public sector, there is a strong hostility from many private-sector taxpayers towards towards what seemed like a paralell universe of frivolous highly paid public sector jobs - armies of statisticians, PR-gurus, managers with no experience of the services they're managing (particularly in the NHS). Granted some of this is Daily Mail hyperbole, but as a council employee of 19 yrs, I've seen a definite increase of pointless non-productive roles.
    Until Labour acknowledge and address these failings, a lot of voters will see the cuts agenda as the lesser of two evils.

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  2. Top piece, with some fascinating stats.
    I think the Jimmy Carr situation that emerged last week will actually help continue the current trend of the rich benefiting at the expense of the poor.
    While Mr Carr has handled himself brilliantly in my opinion (his remorse on 8 out of 10 cats last week was seemingly genuine), his fellow tax-avoiders will now be trying even harder to protect their wealth now that they have seen so many others caught out.
    That will see the £70 billion that escapes HMRC annually either rise or at least remain at the same level. And as you say, that means it is the poorest who will have to make up the shortfall with higher VAT and other stealth taxes.
    So unfortunately the events of last week may only have served as a warning to tax dodgers. And it is the rest of us who'll pay the price...

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  3. I congratulate you on this brilliant piece of writting, all of which is true. One of these days bloggers like yourself will be leading the way to bring the truth to the poeple out there. It is our responsibility to do so in what ever way we can. You deserve the recognition you are getting at the moment. We need more people like yourself. As you well know I have followed you since the start and will continue to do so, wishing you all the best for the future, and all our futures I should say.

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  4. your last paragraph is wrong - this did all happen under the nazi's, before the war even started, this is how these evil people get into power and then change the laws so they can stay there indefinately, the next thing will be putting the sick and disabled into 'care centres' and then say the cost of caring for these useless people who have nothing to offer is too high as they are not putting anything back into the country just being a burden, then they'll say "well they are in pain, we wouldn't let animals suffer like this, it's inhumain - we should do them (and ourselves) a kind turn and put them down - it's cheaper in the long run - the people will support us in this and if they don't then they are cruel, over-emotional, selfish people (who should be bullied and beaten down til they agree) who just want to drain the life out of thoae of us who are paying for this, us the taxpayers (as if any of the MP's actually pay tax!!)" for an example of what i mean watch "torchwood - miracle day" it's like the writers saw this coming and just added a bit of sci-fi to it.

    i'm disabled and have been fighting to get ANY DLA for 19 months now (claim entered 22.2.2011 and i have yet to recieve a penny) all because the great god Atos says i'm perfectly healthy even though i'm in constant agonising pain, pain that requires 2 diffrent types of morphine to try and ease and even that still doesn't make the pain abate at all most of the time, i'm unable to walk around my very small flat without becoming dizzy, nauseous and breathless due to the pain, i can't hold a pen, sit up for more than 5-10 minutes and can't open a cola bottle or can, i can't get into a bath and bathlifts cost £700 upwards, so i haven't had a bath or washed my hair in 3 months - just a wash with a flannel, which really doesn't help much - so i hate to think what they think disabled is if this is perfect health - and that is what the 'dr' put on my medical exam form, and what he wrote has more weight than what my GP, rhuematologist, pain management specialist (head of anaesthesia at local hospital), my partner/carer, my benefit law lawyer, my representative (who is a QC), 2 witnesses and me say - all 9 of us must be lying after all, a dr from atos wouldn't lie!!

    this whole country and system is all screwed and it's not going to get any better, it's not just bent out of shape it's broken and it can't be fixed

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  5. non domiciled

    Save thousands of pounds in tax by using your unique Non Domiciled tax status to pay no tax on your foreign income.A Non Domicile has very big UK tax advantages.

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    Replies
    1. I published this for comedy value, but I'm really not sure you'vr bothered to read a word. Surprise surprise....

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  6. Good piece of writing but rantish, drifted a little, and was too reliant on the single piece of information that the UK has had a lower national debt in only 50 of the last 300 years. More detail needed on the arguments made in support of austerity, potential dangers around interest rates, and systematic dispelling of these arguments, if possible. Otherwise it seems more like political opinion/side-taking, rather than actual, structurally-sound argumentation.
    If you're interested in danger of fascism, then there was a good piece on drones in the US in the Guardian today.
    Also, in terms of looking at the politics of the UK, account must be made between the nature of Britain's place as a servant to US global hegemony, and especially as its role as a center of world finance/capitalism, and transpose this to national politics. One is reflective of the other. How can it be any other way in neo-liberalism's second largest vipers' nest?
    Britain must be evaluated by looking at its entire place within the global political economy/neoliberal empire/US-led hegemony. By seeing it's international role as being center to international finance, and US hegemony, then when looking at internal politics any illusions will be lifted. Miliband is not a leftist. There is no left. It is all right-wing. At least in the UK, the future will always be fascism, unfortunately. In saying all of this however, my own argument in this mini-rant has been far more inconsistent.

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