Austerity is Working?

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?


About Minimalist Christian

Phil Hemsley is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. He works for a multinational company in the power industry, has presented technical papers at international conferences and holds many patents. He has published two books, the most recent is "The Big Picture, an Honest Examination of God Science and Purpose". He has lived on both sides of the faith fence. He is married, with two daughters.
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7 Responses to Austerity is Working?

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  5. eddigoodwin says:

    Thanks Phil. I’m afraid that the people who are hit by ‘austerity’ are those least able to organise and protest, and the least likely to vote for this lot. The working poor (zero contracts, low wages), the sick, the disabled, the lonely, the disheartened, and people on the margins of society. Jesus’ people. We have a society that works for the strong and the rich. But we can’t all be strong, go-getting entrepreneurs, and for some to be rich others have to be poor. The gap between the richest and the poorest continues to widen in the UK. It is this gap which makes room for all of the bad stuff – jealousy, envy, greed, crime, desperation, civil unrest. We ignore it at our peril.

    Liked by 1 person

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