Twenty first century capitalism – lies and deception

28th May 2022

Boris breaks the law – bring your own boos

In 2012 the total wealth of billionaires in the UK was estimated at £211.7bn.  By 2022 that figure had more than tripled to £653.1bn.  Over roughly the same period the New Economics Foundation, in a paper published in February 2021, found that the poorest 20% of households were worse off by £750 a year (6%) than they were in 2010, adding that,

“We’ve found that if the system inherited by the coalition government had been maintained, 1.5 million fewer people would be in poverty. Maintaining the £20 uplift in universal credit and tax credits would go some way to reversing the reduction in payments to households over the past 10 years — but even with the uplift, the poorest households will still be on average £260 a year (2%) worse off than they would have been under the 2010 system, whether in or out of paid work.” https://neweconomics.org/2021/02/social-security-2010-comparison

As we now know, the £20 universal credit uplift was not maintained, thus plunging the poorest families into deeper poverty and facing a greater struggle to tackle the cost of living crisis.

It is against this background that Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s “temporary, targeted energy profits levy”, or a windfall tax in plain English, needs to be measured.  The package includes a £650 one-off payment for families on means-tested benefits, and an extra £200 for all energy bill payers that will not have to be repaid.  All of which just about puts back the £750 a year these families have already lost, without actually addressing inflation currently at 9% and set to rise further.

So, the Tories hand back part of what they have already robbed from the poor, and dress it up as magnanimity, while the billionaire rich are able to sit back and watch the wealth pile up!

Crocodile tears poured forth from the Rich Listed Chancellor who claimed that, the public would understand that ministers could not offset all of the increase in prices but,

 “This government will never stop trying to help people.” 

What is increasingly apparent to most is that the people the government are trying to help are the rich and entitled.

With the price cap on household energy bills having risen by £700 in April energy regulator, Ofgem, expect it to rise by another £800 in October.  It is clear that Sunak’s intervention, however he tries to dress it up, is going to result in little more than small change rattling around in the pockets of Britain’s poorest families.

The one rule for the rich and entitled, while the actual law of the land applies to the rest, was underlined this week with the publication of the Sue Gray report into shenanigans in 10, Downing St, during periods of Covid restriction for the majority of the population.  Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, brushed aside any criticism of his participation in these Downing St soirees by suggesting that it was a quality of great leadership to appear at leaving parties! 

Further justification was forthcoming when Johnson addressed the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs this week and allegedly claimed that Britain wouldn’t have won the second world war if Churchill hadn’t been pissed.  Quite a lot to unpack in that one, not least the issue of who played the major role in defeating the Nazis (Battle of Stalingrad anyone?), and which particular war Johnson thinks he has won, having just presided over the highest pandemic death count in Europe.

Still, what is a little lying, cheating and deception at the heart of government? After all, this has been the Tories stock in trade for decades, Johnson is simply more flagrant than his predecessors.  He has also taken steps to ensure the bar is lowered for his successors by rewriting the Ministerial code rules.  These previously suggested that any minister breaching the code of conduct, for misleading parliament for example, should resign.  Under Johnson’s new improved version they could just apologise or temporarily lose their pay. 

A government statement justifying the new code suggested that it was,

“disproportionate to expect that any breach, however minor, should lead automatically to resignation or dismissal.”

It is surely pure coincidence that Johnson faces an inquiry by the privileges committee into whether he misled parliament over lockdown parties in Downing St…..

While the bastions of British capital continue to ensure that every aspect of the system is rigged in their favour the situation is no less alarming in the self-styled world’s greatest democracy, the United States of America.

It would be remiss not to mention the murder of 19 school children and two teachers in the city of Uvalde, Texas this week.  Sadly, in the so-called home of the brave, democracy US style does appear to emanate from the barrel of a gun.  The National Rifle Association (NRA) also held its annual meeting this week in Houston, Texas and in reflecting on the Uvalde killings suggested that the arming of more citizens to combat evil was required.

Keynote speaker, one Donald Trump suggested that,

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Trump echoed measures other Republicans had proposed at the conference including schools with a single entryway, with armed guards stationed there, and exit-only fire escapes. He also said some teachers should be allowed to carry firearms.

Republican Texas Senator, Ted Cruz, blamed a “cultural sickness,” including fatherless children and video games, for mass shootings. He said schools should have a single entry point defended by multiple armed guards.  Just in case anyone was in any doubt about the extremism of the NRA, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, in defending the constitutional second amendment which gives Americans the right to bear arms, attacked advocates of gun safety legislation, stating,

“Let me tell you the truth about the enemies of the Second Amendment. They are schooled in the ways of Marx and Lenin,” she said. 

The NRA remains a powerful lobby in US politics, effectively blocking any real attempt to legislate to introduce restraints on gun ownership.  Until that issue is addressed, the killings of innocent children as happened in Uvalde, will continue.

Twenty first century capitalism, on both side of the Atlantic, remains mired in a culture of lies and deception. The alternative, which the ruling class in all capitaist economies cannot countenance, is that working people may realise that they are the real wealth creators, that they are the mainstay of the communities in which we live and that, one day, they realise that they should be the ones who are in control.

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