I don’t know whether you have noticed, but things aren’t too good at the moment for the majority of ordinary people, you know those who are the white working class, black people, Asians, the disabled, immigrants, the poor in the North, the South, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in fact the greater majority of us who do the low paid jobs, the zero hours contract jobs, the temporary dead end jobs, and even when working can’t afford sometimes to pay our bills, struggle to pay gas and electricity rates, water rates, council tax, food, let alone thinking about buying a house or starting a business or even getting a degree. To save time, you might call us the ‘economic’ working class because we live in the fifth wealthiest country in the world, but we certainly have not benefitted from that. Social mobility for many of the economic working class is now basically a thing of the past, and all it seems many of us are doing is run to standstill with no thought for the future or what pension we might live on. For some people of course, things seem to get better and better, whilst for many of us not rich, privileged or connected things seem to stay depressingly bad or they actually get worse. Unsurprisingly, the very wealthiest and some of the affluent middle class seem never to have had it so good, because obviously someone is voting in again and again the Conservatives, whose sole purpose seems to be to create division and class animosity between all kinds of different groups, and then to redistribute wealth from the poorest to the richest and the middle classes. Not much more than that. I believe the majority of us not sharing in any way the vast wealth and prosperity of the world’s fifth biggest economy are fed up with this. I certainly am. I suspect all of us not benefiting and being told austerity must be imposed to balance the books, which has amounted to basically giving tax breaks to massively wealthy corporations and the very wealthy and affluent middle class people, and in one case, and only when Iain Duncan Smith resigned claiming the Conservative government was against the poor, almost taking money directly off the Disabled budget and giving it in tax breaks to the middle class and the very wealthy, with nary a murmur from anyone.
You may say, often as people do reading such a diatribe ‘well yes, you’ve told us what is wrong, why can’t you mention something positive, like a solution?’ Well thank you, because that is what I am going to do at the end of this. If you are rich and have had it good for nearly 40 years you probably won’t like it, but if you are one of the many who have been propping up the rich particularly and some of the affluent middle classes, you are probably going to feel energised, to some degree, by what is coming next. There has been a sea change since Jeremy Corbyn came along and opened the debate that very badly needed opening, even though this is not technically a political rant. It is primarily an economic one. We all need to understand that until there is more equality and fairness in the economy for more people, and not just the relative few, we will continue to regress as a society, with all the dysfunction, crime, violence, growing chaos, intolerance and dystopia that that involves. May I add, that there is a moral, or if you like immoral question to all of this as well. If it is acceptable to you that the poor, in some cases the very poorest and most vulnerable in society, are stripped of whatever money and dignity they have, and also at times being demonised in the mainstream media as if they were to blame for the growing poverty that was created by the greed and incompetence, this time around anyway, of bankers in an unregulated and lax banking system, then you are saying this is all ok, that sending people into despair and even suicide in some extreme cases is fine by you. It isn’t fine by me or millions like me either. There is another way. And we do need an effective opposition in power and we do need checks and balances and strong regulations on capitalism for it to work for everyone, and not just a privileged few.
It is not capitalism that offends me, but corporate greed and the very wealthy not paying even token amounts of tax anymore. Anyone can see that this is simply not sustainable. The wheels are now coming off the rickety neo liberal, free market, laissez faire economy, call it what you will, gravy train already, just because people everywhere see the writing on the wall. It is when millions had no future in the 1920s and 1930s that extreme left and right wing ideologies threw up two of the world’s worst dictators, Hitler and Stalin, and lesser ones like Mussolini and Franco. We know what this led to: The worst war the world has ever seen, genocide against the Jews and other oppressed people, millions of soldiers and civilians killed, chaos, horror and bloodshed everywhere and a Europe that was laid waste and bankrupt. I don’t think personally that will happen again just because of ultra right wing economics, but I do think quite simply that if the rich continue to get much richer and everyone else gets poorer or continues to struggle, knowing that the poverty they are enduring is primarily because the rich have it and won’t give it up or even be taxed what they should morally pay, there may be civil disturbances. This is already happening in places, and has already happened in the Arab Spring and the Turkey coup, and so on. I write this not because I want to see that, but because I desperately don’t want it to happen. But it is your choice, and I say this to the poor who are more and more left out of the affluence and life opportunities the wealthy and many of the middle class have, and also to the wealthy and the middle class. If we don’t compromise, and ultimately the best democracy is merely compromise and working together for genuine common goals, things will get worse. I believe it is as simple, and as brutally honest as that. But you may disagree. I hope I am wrong, sincerely.
To the rich and the affluent I say this: you have to accept a fairer taxation system, and not one where you are using all the amenities of a modern state like street lighting, fire services, the police patrolling your neighbourhoods, ambulances coming to take you to hospital, motorways and roads and all those things that taxes pay, and not contribute anymore. You are rich already, you won’t miss the tax. To the affluent middle classes I say this. You see the writing on the wall. Some of you may already see that as the working class have been economically and politically disenfranchised, that if they have little money to pay taxes, and the rich and the wealthy corporations just simply won’t pay tax, you are going to take the shortfall. There is also the little question of social mobility. A healthy democracy is one where there is an expanding middle class, and where at the extremes above and below there isn’t too much wealth or too much poverty. At the moment, there is too much concentrated wealth in too few hands, and far too many people living on the cusps of poverty, and in real poverty, and/or struggling in low paid jobs or in unemployment.
This is now to those of us who are of the ‘economic’ working class, be that white people, black people, Asians, immigrants, those who are disabled or suffering ill health and those who are unemployed, or just those who are despairing and feel left behind. You are not alone. Many of us have seen that this present right wing economic system in Britain is simply not working for the majority. It just isn’t. If it was why are so many of us struggling even in work, why can’t people afford to buy houses, why can’t people plan for any kind of future, why is higher education purposely being priced out of ordinary people’s means, why are the working class in general taking the brunt of a banking crisis we didn’t create and being further disenfranchised by an economic and political system that has abandoned us?
Equality movements now have to be more than stating poverty statistics from academics in universities, or simply telling us what we on the frontline of poverty, economic struggle and lack of decent good paying work already know, they have to be actively pursuing solutions to poverty by campaigning for a living minimum wage, or they have to say they are not going to do that. I also suggest that equality movements now need far more people at the executive level who have lived in and experienced the sharp end of poverty, and not just filled with mostly white middle class people to whom any kind of poverty is merely second hand or academic. It may be that we, the economic working class, have to set up a working class led and guided equality movement that is filled mostly with working class people who desire progress and the economic betterment and advancement of working class people. This is a possible option. Yes, there can be middle class people in this movement, but they have to agree with all the major proposals, that of pursuing economic equality for all working class people, and not playing at identity politics or anything else which is merely designed quite frankly to divide working class people up against each other. This is not acceptable anymore.
We who are the economic working class, those of us who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by challenging the rigged economic system that works for the few, almost directly at the expense of the many, need to organise and demand better lives economically and in other ways. At the moment, working class people get the austerity when things are bad and the rich and affluent get the money, opportunities and better life chances when things are good. Is that acceptable to you anymore? Do you want to live in poverty even when you are working 40 hours plus a week? Do you want an unsure future, or a more right wing society and economy that benefits the few against the many?
The present incumbent government under the Conservatives have simply gone too far, and the Labour party is not good enough to be an opposition we can believe in. Ask yourself what you can do to challenge this. We need to debate it, even if the mainstream media has really become a lame stream media that reports on what the rich and the establishment wants and doesn’t report on poverty or injustice or the rigged economic system that works for a relative few. My personal fight back starts with me believing I have the same right as any one of those privileged people to get on and have a better life, but with one proviso, and this to me as a Christian is the most important of all, and that is to get on and move up but not at the expense of anyone else. It’s often that those who are on the receiving end of poverty or limited life opportunities are naturally expected to be good and kind, whilst those born to wealth and privilege never have to justify their selfishness and greed and naked ambition. Well, two wrongs don’t make a right. If we want to live in a fairer world, we have to act fairly and with justice towards others, even if the world at large is cruel, vindictive and filled with selfish and self serving people. There is no reason to emulate such people, even if sometimes they seem to be in the ascendant and those in power and who make the rules and all the money. There is more to life than money, after all. We as ordinary people have to be the alternative to the selfish, greedy, self serving and those who care only for money and themselves, and find ways to challenge in every way possible unfettered greed and capitalism and make it work for all of us.
Here are some ideas you could think about:
A living minimum wage for all. A wage that you can live on and plan a future on.
Boycotting businesses, as much as is practicable, that don’t pay a decent wage and/or dodge taxes.
Lobbying local MPs about what they are going to do about the economic inequality in the UK.
The whole idea of ‘Slow Cities’ and the end of obsessive consumerism for its own sake.
That most working class jobs are vital to keeping society running. They need us, not the other way around.
People power. United we stand. Either that or disunity and low wages.
Community isn’t a dirty word. Neither is individualism.
Capitalism combined with left wing principles and checks and balances work for the majority. You’ve seen unfettered capitalism ‘working’ for 40 or so years. Want more of that?
Starting workers co operatives. Profits go directly to the workers and cut out the ‘self made entrepreneur’ getting paid 300 times more than anyone else for sitting at a desk looking important and smoking an expensive cigar that is probably more than he pays his low paid workers in a day.
This is not really about politics or left and right. It is about right and wrong.
This is about an economic reality, not so much politics and tit for tat arguments that go nowhere.
Equality is more than cheap talk and sloganeering. It is campaigning for more economic justice for the economic working class.
Anything which divides the economic working class, as in identity politics, playing off black against white, or obsessing over this ‘ism’ and that ‘ism’ should be downplayed.
Equality means all, not just selected groups acceptable to middle class metropolitan elites.
Equal rights, not special rights. We are not asking for privileges, but better life chances, primarily economically, but also socially, educationally and so on.
A return to decency, compassion, concern for others might just save our nation from turning into a ‘little America.’ A little Christian compassion, too.