Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Change needed to a system that rewards the rich at the cost of everyone else

The deal struck to avert the US deficit crisis was typical of others agreed around the world on the subject of deficit reduction. The crux of the matter being that the public services that the majority of people rely upon are to be savagely cut whilst those with massive wealth will not pay a penny more in taxes.So the poor pay, whilst the rich continue with business as usual.The super rich, who in a number of cases are responsible for the economic crisis in the first place, escape all responsibility for their actions. In the banking world where the seeds of this crisis were sown, high earners continue to operate in a bubble, seemingly oblivious to the damage they have caused. The champagne continues to flow as the latest bonuses are pocketed, some ofcourse directly paid for by the tax payers who bailed out the banks.On an individual and corporate level tax avoidance is the name of the game. Companies move their operations around the world to the area that demands the lowest tax take on their profits. They also seek areas with weak labour laws that make it difficult for trade unions to operate, so making it easier to directly exploit workers. Super rich individuals minimise tax payments.Turning to the situation in the UK, all of these processes are going on in microcosm. As Labour MP Jon Cruddas pointed out recently, the poor are being made to shoulder the £18 billion burden through the cuts imposed by the Welfare Bill whilst the tax on the banks raises just £3 billion. The government has largely been conducting a smoke and mirrors exercise with its Big Society agenda. Whilst cast in the rhetoric of charity and volunteering, the reality is that it is about people doing services either for less pay or no pay at all. The short sighted attitude to the charitable sector was recently underlined by the research group False Economy which found that 2,000 charities were being hit by funding cuts due to less money being available to local authorities. These are the very same charities, like the Citizens Advice Bureaux, whose services will be needed all the more in these times of economic austerity.The whole process of deficit reduction seems to be a giant sized con trick perpetrated by the very rich on everybody else. As public services are cut, the ultra rich continue as though nothing has changed. The capitalist media plays its role building the cult of celebrity around the rich, making excessive wealth out to be something to be admired and aspired to rather than simply the fruits of a modern day version of the robber baron. The question remains as to how long the mass of people across the world are going to continue bankrolling the lifestyle of the ultra rich. How long will those who pay tax be prepared to see their public services trashed? The politicians seem powerless to act. In the US, President Obama clearly wanted to tax the rich more but did not have the necessary support in a Congress dominated by the representatives of the ultra wealthy. Looking to individual politicians to make these changes in the modern world is just wishful thinking. The media continually portray the world as though it is all down to individuals. In reality, there is little difference between political leaders, these days, they mainly sing from the same hymn sheet of defending the wealth of the rich and powerful to the cost of everyone else.It was not coincidental that in past decades, there were higher taxes on the rich and a more equitable distribution of wealth. This was because there was a strong civil society and labour movement. Politicians in the past were just as opportunistic as those today but they had to act more equitably because the society had checks and balances to make sure this happened. Today these checks and balances seem to have disappeared, with corporate power the only deciding factor in town. None of these factors make for a functioning democracy or indeed contribute to the common good. If things continue in the direction they are going then there will be civil unrest, as the injustice on the mass of people continues to be perpetuated. Only root and branch change from the present busted neo-liberal economic system will see any progress being made toward a more just and equitable world.

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