Thursday, 24 June 2010

A Conservative's Wet Dream.

"When we say 'We're in this all together' we mean it." - George Osborne

As Reginald D Hunter once joked "Batman is a conservative's wet dream, fuck Batman." as he is in essence a rich-white-man who uses highly advanced technology to fight street-level crime. But he leaves supercapitalists like Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump to do "business", which of course includes much worse crimes against society and the poor. Though it would appear that Hunter's comical theory has some ground in reality. The Con-Dem Coalition have just released the "emergency budget", or perhaps more accurately, the de facto Conservative government has released their "emergency budget". They have described the budget, without irony, as a "progressive budget".  It is actually highly regressive, as predicted, as it holds the majority of society responsible for the irresponsibility of "Big Finance". So as working-class children go without free meals at school, bankers in Canary Wharf can go on as they have done since the "Big Bang" of 1986.

George Osborne, is our Batman, our "vatman", who posed for the journalists, with the "emergency budget" in hand as part of the usual media saturated ritual. Sadly, the public's understanding of the budget will come from the way it has been "spoon-fed" to them by the mass-media. So the regressive nature of the budget will be downplayed and "austerity" will be presented as a necessary evil. The increase in VAT, from 17.5% to 20%, will definitely hit working-people the hardest, as they spend a greater amount of their income than the wealthy and have less disposable income to spend. It would seem that the "There is no alternative" logic of Thatcherism has reared it's ugly head in defence of such a regressive policy - that will raise £13 billion a year, as opposed to the £20 billion that could be extracted from the financial sector with the "Robin Hood Tax". It's possible that this was done to cover the losses incurred by the tax-cuts for corporations, as well as for around 880,000 low earners.

The spending cuts, that will decimate benefits, pensions and education, are part of the assault on the working-class by the "progressive alliance". Notice the proposed cuts to the benefits system are being talked up as an "incentive" to work. But the cuts to taxes for corporations are described as "incentives" to invest, trade and generate wealth etc. The fundamental assumption being that decreasing the income of a poor person is an incentive, but increasing the income of a rich person is also an incentive. There is the clear double-standard that often goes over our heads. Making sure that the ultra-rich become even richer, while the masses get poorer, is "good" for the economy apparently. Of course, there are no jobs for the "dependency culture" to be driven to find, so firms will require exemption from national insurance to employ a greater number of workers - this has the "wonderful effects" of driving down wages for all and undermining unions.

The cuts in spending to pensions will worsen the coming 'Pensions Crisis' and harm some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society - namely, the elderly majority. The Conservatives and Liberals never proposed any method to solve the coming crisis, nor did New Labour, and it was mostly ignored during the debates. If you've been living on the moon, or just England, for the last year you might be totally unaware of the approaching crisis. But the facts are that we have an aging population, soon there will be more pensioners than people working and paying taxes to prop them up. The options to resolve this crisis include: privatisation of pensions, increase immigration or increase taxes. None of these options are particularly appealing to the average person, nor the ordinary bigot, but the latter two may be the only practical solution. As privatisation would leave pensioners largely dependent on volatile market forces that could deprive them of a future.

The cost of Gove's "free schools" will probably be supplemented with funds cut £35 million from education spending which provides free meals for the poorest of children. This as over 400,000 children are receiving free meals, though over 1 million are living below the poverty line and are not "entitled" to free meals. Gove has vetoed pilot projects aimed at expanding the number of children who receive free meals at school. The government have shelved an £85 million programme to feed 500,000 more pupils. So far these cuts are consistent with Osborne's  expressed intent to tighten fiscal policy by £40 billion a year. The way resources will be allocated under Gove could leave state schools neglected, though private schools and Gove's experiment with "free schools" will no doubt receive the best of resources and the necessary funding. This will likely ensure that the 7% of British people who attend private schools will go onto take 80% of the top jobs in the United Kingdom, as they currently do and have done for decades.

Since the release of this "emergency budget", David Cameron admitted that the freezing of child benefits over the next 3 years is effectively a cut due to inflation, the Con-Dems have announced that they are sending letters to 6 million public sector workers to find out what they would cut. This appears to be a move to appear consistent with Osborne's claims that the people will be consulted on what cuts should be made. Interestingly, during Osborne's speech he mentioned that "The British public will hear [the cuts] straight from me here at this dispatch box." So it will be interesting to see if this is just a cynical gesture that they hope may validate the cuts they'll be announcing in full detail later in the year. The cynicism rife in the coalition is evident in the publicity stunts and shallow slogans that rob language of meaning. The way in which some Liberals are now defending the VAT rise is a further sign of what British politics has lost - a principled political system that offers change.

Related Links:
UK Budget Deficit Lower than Forecasted
Regressive School Plan
Osbornese - a Glossary 
Don't Look Down

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