Saturday 25 October 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014 Posted by Jake 4 comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, October 25, 2014 with 4 comments | Labels: , , , , , , , ,

    A long game is being played on the British public by the political classes. It is a game aimed at reducing our personal expectations from life in Britain. It started with the Tories in 1979, and continued through Labour and Coalition governments since then. 

    The game was played quite subtly until the banker induced crash in 2008, but since then all the delicacy has been dropped. Not because the banker crash created a crisis, but because it created a cover.

    In recent years we have seen wage freezes, benefits cuts, and the erosion of our pensions. Our access to legal aid has been sliced. Employment protections and the right to strike are being attacked. Services from libraries and public parks to police officers and defence are being scrapped. We now get unqualified teachers in “free schools”; unqualified translators and under-qualified barristers in the legal aid system; paramedics doing what doctors used to do; reservists doing what the professional army used to do. 

    Even our expectations of being able to sit down are to be cut. The Department of Transport is buying new trains where only two in five passengers will have a seat on journeys exceeding an hour. Naturally we are told every time something is taken away it is done for our own good. A railway spokesman said about the seat reductions:
    "[It] ensures people can get on and off in under 30 seconds in central London" the inconvenience of standing for over an hour is a price well worth paying if you can get off in 30 seconds. Certainly it is worth it for the train companies, who can pack us tighter into a carriage with fewer seats and more standing room. 

    Now our expectations of family health provision are being realigned. Rather than expecting to get care from our GPs, we are being retrained to go to the chemist when we are feeling poorly. 

    Some justify this claiming there is a crisis recruiting GPs because the job is so dreadful. They assert it would be sensible for us to take the pressure off the stressed doctors, and go to a chemist instead. However, a report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (a government body) shows that in the 10 years up to 2013 the number of GPs has more than kept up with growth in the population. The report states for 2013:
    • There are 40,236 headcount General Practitioners, a decrease of 29 (0.1%) since 2012 and a rise of 6,672 (19.9%) since 2003 (an average annual increase of 1.8%).
    • This represents 36,294 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) GPs, an increase of 423 (1.2%) since 2012 and an increase of 6,209 (20.6%) since 2003 (an average annual increase of 1.9%).

    [According to the World Bank the UK population has grown by about 0.8% per year. Therefore the number of GPs has grown twice as fast as the population.]

    The real reason for pushing us out of GP surgeries into the local chemist is cost. A study by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the professional body for pharmacists, stated the cost of treating 'common ailments' was:
    • £29.30 per patient at a chemist
    • £82.34 per patient at a GP surgery
    • £147.09 per patient at a hospital A&E (who took the strain when GPs stopped out-of-hours work)
    GPs are presumably too clever to think the objective here is to reduce their workload. Once their workload is reduced, the government will reduce them.

    The Government comes up with all sorts of ruses to claim there is plenty of money in the system regardless of the cuts. The most hackneyed being unspecified 'efficiency savings'. At least Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, showed a bit more imagination helpfully pointing to billions of pounds worth of extra health services that could be had without spending a penny more, by having fewer mishaps in hospital:

    "I talked about how unsafe care is costing the NHS between £1bn and £2.5bn each year – money that could be invested in more front line staff, better training, better equipment and more time for you to care."

    Hunt even provided a helpful poster one can print and stick up - click >>here<< - just in case the doctors and nurses felt like tripping over a misplaced patient.

    The government asserts that cuts are needed to pay off the costs of rescuing the banks. However government protestations of austerity were undermined in October 2014 by their promised £7 billion tax giveaway so long as they won the next election, and by the EU's €2.1 billion surcharge imposed due to Britain's economy doing better than had been thought. Credit Suisse's annual Global Wealth Report for 2014 also shows the UK top of household wealth growth, and second only to the USA for national wealth growth. 
    Credit Suisse
    The reality is all these cuts are not a short term measure to get over a temporary problem with public debt. The cuts are a permanent removal of public services, with the objective of permanently reducing taxes. A graph from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), a body created by the government to provide independent economic forecasts, shines a light on this. The graph shows George Osborne’s current economic strategy will bring government consumption to the smallest share of GDP since before 1948 when the NHS was founded
    Office of Budget Responsibility "Economic and Fiscal Outlook December 2013"
    Those who point out the top 1% of earners pay a third of all income tax (making up about 10% of all taxes) dodge a couple of key questions:

    1) If the top 1% pay a disproportionate share of taxes, then tax cuts will disproportionately benefit the top 1%. Why should the other 99% vote for that?

    2) Why does the top 1% get such a disproportionately large share of income in the first place, that they have to pay those disproportionate taxes? You could reduce the proportion of income tax paid by the top 1% by paying them less and paying everyone else more!

    The answer to the second question is apparently that market forces set pay. The most powerful force in the market doesn't realise its strength: it is the voter.

    Public policy should have as a prime objective social justice for the general public, from the highest to the lowest. This is what provides the balance that makes Capitalism into a true success. Successful Capitalism allows even excessive pay and prices but balances that with taxation and public services. 

    Capitalism gives rewards to the strong. Voters are strong.

    It is for the voter to take the advice of Adam Smith, that Capitalist icon: Don't depend on the benevolence of others. Our polarised political parties have neglected their voters, confident that they have nowhere else to go. With UKIP in the south and the SNP in the north, things are changing.

    Let the political parties know that you will vote for the party that will look after you! And if they don't deliver what they promise, then make it evident you will punish them the next time you are at a ballot box.


    1. But it's not about Tories, Labour, or anyone else. Living standards are dropping primarily because the West no longer has a monopoly on wealth, and is no longer able to compete effectively with the rest of the world. Most of the rest of the world would say 'it's about time, too'.

    2. Anyone who says that is a traitor to Europe, to the European peoples, to the Future, to positive Evolution. This is a conspiracy. Look at the Protocols of Zion for a literary representation of it.

    3. Anonymous 1: that would be a good argument if inequality wasn't rising in Great Britain, but it is. So it's not just an issue of "losing a monopoly of wealth", it's a distribution problem, exacerbated by austerity measures.


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