“Envy”? That’s just nasty.

Hey, Cons,

You are obviously having some trouble understanding the people you govern; that ‘one nation” that you claim to represent. Now, I know, you don’t really give a shit about me, being as I didn’t and wouldn’t vote for you but you like to pretend that you do so I’m going to pretend that this little post will make any difference beyond its cathartic value.

The anger and frustration you are witnessing and feigning hurt feelings over, is due to the consistent gaps, in most matters, between your arrogant, clichéd, repetitive rhetoric and what you actually do and don’t do.

The tax fiasco you preside over is of your making. You are the law makers. You have had six years to draw a clear line between what is legal and what isn’t. You want to imagine that we conflate legitimate government schemes with tax evasion but it is you who keep citing aggressive avoidance as though it were not still evasion and you who use this obfuscation as an excuse to procrastinate and hinder, in order to protect a grotesque power structure. That is the wrong that David Cameron does. Just because you desperately need for us to be stupid does not mean that we are nor that you should treat us so.

This is NOT about ‘envy’; it is not about dead cat tax returns. It’s not about what you inherited or how wealthy you are. Reasonable people don’t care nearly as much as you seem to want them to. What they care about is the power that people have and how they use it, so stop insulting us with your narrow, simplistic, patronising ideas about why the People are so angry. You’re not even close.

The anger is about you trampling all over our natural and righteous desire for social justice. It’s the result of six years of enduring your relentlessly wilful socio-economic ignorance, your divisive modus operandi, your high-horse moralising and your piss-taking lip service. This anger hasn’t just happened over the last few days: it has been there and growing since the first year of your lot’s term as a coalition.

It’s about your neoliberal ideology that depends, entirely, on taking liberties at the expense of others. It’s about your unending support for gluttonous crony industry. It’s about how you think that you, alone, own OUR country because you think you are the only ones entitled, capable and worthy. You really are not. Your group mind is Britain’s nemesis.

We do not have a problem with “wealth creators” – we are your wealth creators, for gods’ sakes. And we are not the “enemies of aspiration”. We are the victims of your I’m alright Jack selfishness and gluttony. We aspire, given half a chance. We want secure, comfortable homes, livable incomes, full bellies, pensions; disposable income for, you know: savings and pleasure; we want better for our children; we want a dignified old age… Basic stuff, really and you don’t even try to get that right. No: you’re too busy aspiring to further your own good fortunes and lording it over us with your unethical and unsustainable let them eat austerity nonsense.

Anyone experiencing – even just observing – the record of your governance, cannot fail to see how you have undermined, reduced and impoverished the People and the country. You are the “low achievers”. Look at the state of our NHS, Education, public sector morale, the welfare scapegoats, the referenda, to name but a few. You sell us out and sell us short. Everywhere I look, you have created an almighty mess. You are wasting our chances and our time. Who on earth would envy you?

There are shifts in public consciousness that are, at last, reaching a critical mass. Connections are finally being made between the state we are in and your petty, demigod governance. We don’t need your nasty party’s “compassion“, we don’t deserve your contempt and we don’t need a government that doesn’t believe in its own citizens. What we need is a government with actual integrity.

This is our country, too. And we are millions.

Now go away.

Immeasurably fixed

He was panicked and embarrassed:
his us and them policies
had caught up with his privileged stock
and he found the process painful;
His shares bled,
drip by drop;
immeasurably fixed
to quake the patron’s Rock,
transparent of his tricks.
And, still,
there, from the debris of the aftershocks,
came arrogant shticks with interlocking bricks,
to repair his crumbling, patriarchal edifice.

Enough, now. Enough.

With the budgetary fiasco over benefit cuts, the junior doctors’ strikes and the steel crisis, the pressure of overdue revelatory scrutiny has been mounting, suddenly and significantly, on the Government, so that the recent release of the Panama Papers has sent the Tories and their public relations machine into full-on, damage limiting panic mode.

The Conservative Party, its crony affiliates and wannabes really need people’s outrage to be about Cameron’s dad and not the last six years of equivocation, obfuscation and deliberate hindrance of good, sound tax law. They want to cry public envy and ignorance rather than acknowledge that, by bitter experience, it is trust, sincerity and competence that the People find lacking in this government. Dave flails before a one-way mirror, transparent, now, surely, even to the most reluctant eye.

We know the real problem is a lack of integrity and political will and a desire, by those who benefit, to preserve this asymmetrical status quo; that “aggressive avoidance” should be included as evasion and its laws properly enforced; that it would also help, somewhat, if government schemes such as ISAs were not glibly called “avoidance” in the first place.

I’m fed up with being told that someone or some group has done nothing illegal when what has been done, clearly, should be. I’m sick of the hubris and easy hypocrisy that express an intent to integrity and social justice but betray our common interests, casually laying waste all that is good and vital to the cohesion and well-being of Society.

The Cons have become utterly desperate that connections are not made between their false economy mentality, their infantile understanding of the world and their casual disregard for the society they govern. They, who make the people vulnerable to snapping under the unwarranted pressure of carrying every kind of burden but power; they, whose aggressive, cynical and paranoid worldview is based on marketing feudal fancy.

What, exactly, has this sneaky, embarrassing and wholly inept government done to benefit the country and the wider world, for the list of socio-economic disasters they preside over, domestic and international, is shocking and interminably long. This is a governing party in such a state – again – that they feel they actually have to use “compassionate” as a prefix to Conservatism. We’ve had six years of this particular nonsense. As if the Thatcher and Blair years were not lessons, enough.

David Cameron needs to go, yes: he has become the story and all that he berates and preaches on is finally coming back to bite him. But, though his resignation would be a most gleeful event, it would be as insufficient as IDS’ if it is not accompanied by those of the rest of his goons because Cameron is merely the frontman for this persistent neoliberal rubbish.

Six years of making personal gains, at every opportunity, by use of patronising lip service and reckless governance are more than enough for our country. I’d cancel this stupid EU referendum that serves up little more than a circular national identity crisis and replace it with a general election on the 23rd of June. Not because Call Me’s dad might have saved himself some tax or because Dave owes his immense wealth and privilege to luck but because Cameron is a terrible PM, leading a merry mob of we’re-in-it-for-us malfeasants who are drowning, now, in hypocrisy, so deep and so wide, that their collective surrender to comeuppance would be, at last, a decent, thoughtful act.

Lowering Welfare

Low tax, low welfare‘ – because nothing shows the twisted logic of an integrity deficit better than CallmeDave’s perverse desire to make ill-being less expensive…

A “lower tax, lower welfare society”
Chillax, I’m Alright Jack decrees…
Decrease the means,
Increase the price
From which escape precarious life –
Shrink the cake and double the slice;
Raise the threshold of choice and rights
With magical beans of crony tripe –
Yeah, that’ll lower well-being, all right.

[A merry-go-round is supposed to be fun but the ones enjoying the ride are those who can most easily afford not to be on it.]

The Cons favour populism over competence

Only a political party, desperate to be popular with the blindsided, the dim and the I’m alright Jacks would introduce a law to guarantee no rises in income tax, VAT or NI over a parliamentary term. Only a fiscally incompetent political party, utterly determined to manifest its ideological obsession with shrinking the duties of State would come up such a gimmick.

Only a party that felt it needed to persuade the public of its trustworthiness would devise a law which simultaneously showed how little it trusts itself to keep a promise that, particularly with regards to income tax, it shouldn’t be making at all.

The Cons must have concluded that it’s much more important to be popular than to be fiscally competent and to serve the national interest they so love to talk up. Only a fool or a rogue would think this latest gimmick was an economically sensible act or that the Conservative Party was the least bit serious about the privilege of public office.

This is about reducing ‘the size’ of the State – a favourite trope of the neoliberal and the taking liberties type of libertarian – and reducing the size of the State, by cutting public services, depends on the Government not raising tax revenue. This is what this utterly reckless rubbish is really about. [Just as is subsidising employers to pay serf wages through the taxes of an ever dwindling pool of taxpayers and crowing about lifting people out of the income tax threshold even though they can’t live on their wages no matter how many hours of work they can find and then cutting their taxpayer-sourced top-up benefits. This way, the Cons get rid of public services and taxpayers.]

They are not fiscally responsible. They are not public servants. They are not compassionate. They are a barrier to progress and sustainability. They are a liability to every decent citizen. Their values are twisted. Vote them out.

Owning Democracy

Last week, Callme Dave Cameron raved that “the dream of a property-owning democracy was alive“. This, in spite of the fact that most people these days, are lucky just to be renting someone else’s property, let alone imagining owning some. This, in spite of the fact that, as far as assets go, the Cons seem to prefer that multinational corporations and other countries own chunks of our property than the citizens of the country they so ardently purport to love and serve.

And, too, this week, Callme has been spouting on about Britain being a ‘share-owning democracy’. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that “being able to own shares in healthy, successful banks is the sort of country we should be building” even though he has done nothing to champion us having a proper, fully publicly owned national bank – one of those people’s mutual thingies.

It’s funny, really: I, too, think that we should be the owners of shares and the holders of stakes. You know, of things like the public assets that successive governments keep selling off; the public services they outsource to the profit-first sector; the infrastructure they fragment into financial packages. But no, Callme wants us to help buy other people’s houses for them and some shares in a crummy old bank with a public/private identity crisis. Twice.

The cognitive dissonance is so stark in its irony. The Cons want us to own private property as private individuals but not to own public property as a national collective. They bang on about the principle of inheritance and proclaim concern about the future we are leaving our children but make a complete mockery of our common inheritance. They want us to have shares in private financial institutions as individuals but not in public infrastructure and services, together. They want us to look after ourselves as proud, independent private citizens or as small, non-threatening groups that they can pass off as being entrepreneurial or beacons of localism – or responsible citizens in that creepy patriotic do-the-right-thing way – but they don’t want those services and resources upon which everyone depends for their common and basic needs to be in the control and interests of the people who need and use them. They don’t want us, as a population, owning assets in common, responsibly pooling our resources for efficiency, uniformity and affordability. No, because we might push for ethics, quality and sustainability; for reliability and ease of access. We might say we want Energy, Water, Railways etc to be monopolies if we can own them, so stuff your silly notions of choice and competition. We might factor in those inconvenient externalities such as the long-term costs of environmental and social impacts into our decisions.

Besides, a property-owning, share-owning democracy requires they not only approve of the existence of the State but also recognise and concede that the State is all of us – We, the People. No, of course they don’t want us to be sharing the ownership of national assets because if that was the property our ‘democracy’ owned shares in, that might look a little too much like actual devolution.


Public versus Private

So the public sector isn’t the whole answer and the private sector is not the whole answer. And pitting the one against the other, however hard the corporatocracy tries, is not the answer either…

It is not the public sector’s fault if the private sector cannot provide reliable, affordable, decent pensions. It is not the fault of the public sector that the private sector puts profit before service.

If you work in the public sector, you are a public servant: you work for us; for the good of everybody. That should be a noble use of time and skill. It should be worthy of recognition. It should be deserving of decent working hours, pay and conditions. I want my public servants to feel fulfilled, supported and appreciated. I want them to be worthy of this and, in turn, I want to be deemed worthy of the services they administer. At the moment, for various reasons already identified by many, neither is the case.

I also want this concept of nobility in public service extended to ownership and restored to our public utilities. We understand now that although our national industries were not run perfectly, there was also a concerted effort to deliberately run them down in order to sell us the idea that only private investment held the money and solutions. As it turns out, it didn’t – at least not in any ethically sustainable way. Private, capitalist ownership of vital resources and services turned out to be wonderful for those with vested interests but rather detrimental to and very expensive for the nation’s collective needs. To add extra insult those very same corporations get subsidies – way to make a mockery of capitalism…!  Anyway, it turns out we could have just printed the dosh, made the improvements and invested in ourselves…

There is nothing wrong with having a private sector, but it is just that: private. It has notions of independence and exclusivity attached to it. By definition it is not for general public use without exception and should in no way be sold as a panacea for the efficient and egalitarian provision of essential services. Private enterprise already has its appropriate place in the capitalist market and the corporatocracy should get a hasty grip and suck it up.

Dividing the nation by private-good and public-bad is obscene, reckless and unnecessary and everyone should wise up to this and stop allowing themselves to be held to political ransom through a mainstream media mouthpiece. The one is not and should not be the enemy of the other. Workers within the private sector are also deserving of decent working hours, pay and conditions. For both the poor employee of the private sector and the denigrated public servant there is surely nothing about policy and workers’ rights that a creative, caring and courageous government can’t address with integrity. Like pensions, for example: surely we could at least sort out that awful disparity?

How can it possibly be acceptable that the private sector has for so long been so woefully accommodated that most employees have no provision at all? And what of the self-employed? Who will cover this shortfall? Why everyone else, of course! And, just as top-up benefits demonstrate the inefficiency and misery of low wages, so too does the winter fuel allowance reflect the inadequacy of the state pension. We really should do a better job of working out how much a pension needs to be to provide a comfortable retirement.

I would like some kind of automatic enrolment to be considered so that, regardless of public-, private- or self-employment, everyone contributes to their state pension and for that pension to be a realistically adequate sum on which to live; such that any privately sourced extras are a superfluous desire rather than a vital bridge over a shortfall. A proper, responsible pension system: one that does not carelessly allow people to fall through what is essentially a sensible and rational scheme, only to leave the next generation picking up the slack and plugging the gaps of consistently failing, divisive and cowardly government economics.

Both sectors are appropriate but for quite opposite reasons. The desirability in the private sector is that it recognises an individual’s independence and freedom of choice through innovation and competition; the essentiality of the public sector is that it recognises the value of access and consistency over cynicism and expedience. Yes, each can emulate the other with varying degrees of success, but neither does this perfectly nor even very naturally. Both are valuable; both have their place. The powers that be just need to catch up and learn theirs.

Lifted out of Participation

I’m no economist so I’m keeping this excursion simple.

Is it really better to lift people out of paying tax? It sounds like a desirable policy goal on the surface: of course you want to keep as much of your money as possible, but it makes no sense in the general and especially current context. Aside from the wider philosophical arguments about the responsibility and size of an ideal government and, leaving out that conveniently seldom-mentioned elephant – the ability to print a sovereign currency as necessary – isn’t the excuse for limited Government spending usually blamed on the revenue-capacity of the Treasury? That same Treasury that is so starved of income that it’s keen to also ‘lift’ the biggest and the richest out of tax?

So, lack of revenue being the narrative, how does it help the national economy if a growing number of people pay no tax because they can only find part-time, short-term, zero-hour contracts and the like? Part-time work is ideal if you only require part-time wages, but underemployment doesn’t keep the roof over your head and feed your family. It doesn’t cover your bills and it certainly doesn’t make you feel safe. It puts you in almost constant survival mode and this engenders anxiety, hopelessness and resentment because desire and effort are made to seem almost redundant. So, because the underemployed employee can’t earn enough to even cover life’s basics, we know that financial assistance is required from the State.

Suddenly, through a variety of top-up benefits, you are beholden to all the lucky, tax-paying public and, to add insult to the injurious and carelessly laid policy traps, you are generically and fatuously labelled as a ‘scrounger’ who must have some terrible moral deficiency. You are now a gratuitous drain on some fictionalised hard-working majority. Ironic considering how very few people would knock back a chance to genuinely improve their lot if real improvement was on offer.

Maybe, as some will tell you, part-time work, temporary and zero-hour contracts are sneaky economics and avoidable. I suspect this is largely true and quite curable with sufficient and appropriate investment in our common needs, such as infrastructure, public services, housing, science and technology (especially green). In such progressive and abundant circumstances, employees may even see their personal and collective value being more highly respected and rewarded – sufficiently to pay tax.

Maybe, as others will tell you, this epidemic of underemployment is just the consequence of our modern economy to which we must adjust. If this is true then we need to urgently and seriously find ways to make life affordable on minimum hours and minimum wages.

Lifting people out of tax is symptom-based popularism – a convenient way of ignoring the larger reality: we wouldn’t need so much money if it didn’t cost so damned much to live.

There is another issue around this seeming gift of tax exemption which underpins my philosophical view: that renowned concept of ‘no taxation without representation’. Tax contributions are as much a citizen’s way of participating in the running of their country as is their vote. It actually anchors the citizen’s vote by virtue of the State’s need for the contribution as a vehicle of that representation. Thus we derive our right to have a say in a democratic system.