Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Will Hope, Like a Soufflé, Rises Only Once

According to the BBC, a report by The Resolution Foundation argues that millions of poor and middle-income households may be bypassed by any economic recovery, should there be one, and that their living standards could stagnate for the next 10 years, ending no higher in 2020 than they were in 2000.

This is bad news for the government, for these poor and middle-income households are not the condemned unemployed or benefit cheats, they are those who are following the government’s advice and are working hard to succeed during these difficult times.

It is bad news in the sense that the majority of these people have no hope of improving their standard of living, the primary purpose of life in an acutely materialistic society, but they also represent a great many votes of people who are unlikely to be supportive of any party that does not offer some hope of improvement.

The findings of the Foundations are hardly surprising, predictions of years of austerity measures and the experiences of the majority have already created a sense of hopelessness and the measures the Foundation have put forward are obviously little more than ‘sticking plaster’ remedies. For hope to rise, clearly there needs to be a major shift in approach, something that none of the main parties are likely to offer.

When the Coalition came to power, there was a chance that the nation would come together in an attempt to save a bankrupt nation – a crisis that was rightly blamed on the previous Labour administration that had tried to deny that the dreadful state of the nation’s finances – making no attempt to reduce expenditure – in the hope of winning the general election. As with most of the problems arising from the activities of government, the desperate desire to remain in office often creates a madness which leads to appalling decisions being taken.

This goodwill towards the incoming Coalition began to be lost when, despite correctly allocating the blame on the previous government, Cameron decided to pick on the unemployed – implying that they were not trying hard enough to get the few jobs that did exist. Whereas employers must be delighted to have thousands of job applications for the few jobs available and being able to apply harsh terms on those selected, it was obvious that this frantic effort by the unemployed would not create jobs – merely add to their misery as they were rejected time and time again.

Coupled to this wrongly attributed blame, was the clear intent to ensure that the pain did not fall evenly across society. The corporation tax rate was reduced, as was the tax rate for the highest earners and, perhaps most galling, the global corporations who had been allowed to buy up so many traditionally British companies, were allowed to take advantage of the tax laws and pay a fraction of the rate of tax that would be paid by a small or medium sized British business.

Virtually all large corporations, including those of the UK, were shown to be using tax havens to reduce their tax liability and whilst public services were being reduced and privatised the very need for these measures was being accentuated by the failure to collect tax from these global giants – who are to be the beneficiaries of the program of privatisation!

Net immigration, that was promised to be cut to the tens of thousands, by Cameron, is probably still running at more than 200,000 each year – and incredibly the true amount is not known. At times of high unemployment, this influx of additional workers is infuriating, particularly to those who cannot get a job – disregarding the additional pressures placed on already over-stretched housing, education, health and other public services.

Most people are aware that many of those who migrate to the UK cannot be stopped because we are a member of the EU which allows free movement of EU citizens between member states. However, it is obvious that there are many here who come from beyond the EU and although the majority in the UK wish for us to leave the EU, so that our borders can be reclaimed – none of the main parties are offering an ‘in’ or ‘out’ referendum.

The Coalition did have a golden opportunity to put many things right on assuming office, but it has been clear the measures taken have followed Tory ideology, giving every advantage to the wealthiest and big business at the expense of the people, that Cameron has almost ensured the return of Labour at the next election – something that even the most optimistic Labour supporter could not have contemplated less than three years ago. It does not matter what the Coalition does now – their chance has gone – for hope, like a soufflé, rises only once.

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