“Austerity is Working” proclaims the headline in The Sunday Times.
Why does this make me angry? Shouldn’t I be glad that this pain that we are ‘all’ going through is finally working? After all, ‘we are all in this together’ so isn’t this encouragement to keep taking the treatment?
But what does ‘working’ mean? Let’s look at some other headline news that I recall recently:
- More people in work than ever before rely on state support to feed their families
- Food banks opening and helping thousands (and bizarrely someone claimed that this was a sign of a civilized society, that a few good people try to make up for the ineptitude of the rich)
- The “lost generation”: young people struggle to find work and purpose.
Is that what we mean by ‘working’? Surely not. Let’s look further:
- 2500 bankers are going to get bonuses of over £1 million
- 11% pay rise for MPs to take their salaries over £70thousand
If I were cynical I might think that the writer must be referring to the latter two examples. But no, he is referring to the new god, “the economy”. This “thing” that we have raised above basic humanity, above compassion, above “loving our neighbour as ourself”.
And who are the priests of this new god? Not the small people. Not those who suffered from losing all their savings in the banking crisis, or those whose money bailed out the banks. Not those who have to pay the extra ‘bedroom tax’. Not those who are now going to have to work to 66 or older just to feed themselves. Not those who frequent the foodbanks and rely on state support.
The priesthood are the wealthy.
Compared to many, I am wealthy. I could pay more tax and it would be no more than a minor inconvenience. But it makes me ashamed that we have a government who would rather tax the poor than risk offending the rich. Why do we not have a government who would close the budget deficit through taxing the higher paid, or tackling obscene bonuses, and a rich class who would willingly support them?
I have not suffered at all in this economic crisis. I continue not to suffer. And neither do any of our MPs, or any of those who administer the economy. Neither does Mr Johnson, who openly advocates greed as good.
I am ashamed, but helpless. I cannot see any political party that would change things. They all worship at the same altar.
I do what I can for those around me, and I’m sure you do to – but it’s not enough. It’s time for a new politics. It’s time for another Mandela, or Gandhi; time for a statesman not a politician.
The nation waits, but where is such a leader to be found?