Those who know me personally, or who follow my torrent of verbal diarrhoea on twitter, are probably extremely used to the line of argument I will be presenting in this piece. In fact, I myself am tired of thinking and talking in uniform down this well-worn mental track.
The issue that allures me down this road however, despite the deep grooves of evidence from its plough, despite the real economic and cultural impact on the global landscape, remains ignored by most. Thus I take it as my duty to keep battering this gong upon the unholy spire of One Canada Square.
At its crux my argument is simple. The general populace’s ire, even considering the 2008 global market crash, is misplaced. This misfiring has had a real life impact on the course capitalism has and will take post-banking crisis. As a working class person, I have grown up and seen many things first hand supporting and/or contrary to popular perception. One such example, and I think few people disagree, is the splintering or perhaps even the disintegration of local community/union both literally and as an ideal.
I can accept my natural bias against the Tories, and I have often maligned the Tories’ flagship ideal of ‘The Big Society’. Yet, my issue was not with the idea of placing a greater onus onto the role of a strong community in educating and supplying itself. A decentralised approach to almost all things provides a more tailor made solution to regional and/or personal problems. My disdain for the idea lies in a subtle hypocrisy and lack of realism that pervades the Conservative party in other levels of its policy.
The Big Society has been a quiet flop for a swathe of reasons. The aforementioned ‘subtle hypocrisy’ is rooted in the cultural influence of the city, and more broadly, the free market. Since the market’s liberation there has been an international shift culturally to the US pedalled brand of consumerism. We need only look at our terminally ill high streets for a mural of this change; Bluewater, Westfield, Meadowhall, Lakeside and many more are halcyons of this seismic shift. And the thing is, this change is a recent one, all of this has occurred within just three decades.
It is my belief that this shift is manifest in the loss of ‘community’, which shockingly has coincided with the rise of the ‘individual’. This to me, is the working example of the subtle hypocrisy. All but the wealthiest can afford to, or decide on, reviving a semblance of community. In my own local area, as well as many similar, surrounding towns, community centres are flecked with the same pockmarked stains and cobwebs as they were decades ago, either shut down or abandoned by all but a few of the local community.
If we are honest, the rise of the city’s skyscrapers has been an emblem of our insatiable, modern greed for goods and, perhaps even for the sake of remuneration. Today, our politicians encourage us not to ‘bash the bankers’ or ‘sneer at starbucks’ for levels of irresponsibility and tax theft (respectively) that boggle the noggin. It beggars belief that such an attitude can be promulgated by OUR representatives. Since Starbucks’ token tax gesture Google and Amazon have been eerily quiet, why? They are not on the high street and are almost ubiquitous with the internet.
In comparison, if an average earner dodged his tax in earnest for Starbucks’ decade, what would happen?
Counter to government propaganda, we SHOULD sneer at starbucks and bash the bankers because our government should be doing much more to keep them in tow. In reality, our society has simply acquiesced to the will and advice of an unflinchingly callous government. Parcel to the government’s ambitions is the bashing of the poor. The irony of the frenzy that they have managed to drum up within the working and lower middle class is a tragic travesty. ‘Scroungers’ are bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the banker’s sins for being feckless and all that terrible stuff.
Lazy people aren’t profitable, nor are they desirable but does anyone really need to be educated on the role one’s community has in raising children that aren’t feckless? I don’t think I need to mine statistics to show that the biggest welfare wankers are from – you guessed it – poorer backgrounds, from worse schools etc. ad nauseum. We do want a solution for those who are lazy and who do not truly want to find a job but we already do have fairly robust hurdles for JSA (I would know, I was on the thing for the better part of a year). The problem is, in this recession, as has been well documented, people struggled to get jobs. In short, the anti-scroungers spirit is misplaced, if only because the total welfare bill (off-head) is a smudge in comparison to the combined tax dodging of Google, Amazon and Starbucks (as an example).
Regardless, the truth is that the misuse of welfare bills is merely a reflection of a common cultural strand that runs through our class system.