Income Inequality in Britain
Below is a selection from my friend, Jason Michael McCann’s, blog, Random Public Journal’s, latest offering, Westminster’s Power is Unjustified.
Power in the state is justified only by the state’s ability to protect the people over which it asserts that power. British rule over the whole of the United Kingdom has been self-serving to the point of criminal inequality. Its power is no longer justified.
If you want power over me then you had better be ready to prove to me that you deserve that power. The sole justification of the state’s power over the lives of people is its ability to provide for the freedom, security, and the welfare of those people. Britain is currently ranked as the twenty-third wealthiest nation in the world, and yet, staggeringly, it is the six most unequal in the developed world in terms of income. After four decades of unchecked Thatcherite neoliberalism, with money being sucked up to the top of the economy, no less than twenty percent of the population are trapped below the poverty line. Income inequality in Britain is greater today than it was when Charles Dicken wrote Hard Times.
I believe that income inequality here in the United States as well as in Great Britain and Ireland have a moral component. There is something unseeemly in the economic benefits of a society flowing to a handful of its members while much of the population loses ground and becomes more insecure.
If you watch the actors in 1960’s television programs like Gunsmoke, you’ll often seen the stuntmen playing small parts as members of crowds, parties, jurors, etc. In the episodes where there were no stunts to be performed it was customary to make sure they still had some income. And it wasn’t just in Hollywood that this kind of kindness was practiced, there was an expectation that there would be human decency in all walks of life.
But somehow, somewhere, the accountants took over and the world of business began to focus not on human beings, making a product, or even some modicum of service to the nation, but on pure profit. And that profit is realized more and more by turning away from investment and from making products to stock manipulation chiefly by stock buy backs – companies buying their own stock instead of looking toward the future or anywhere else.
Human decency, compassion, and kindness are outmoded models of conduct in the modern business world. In fact, they are often considered gateway “drugs” to the theft of monies from the shareholders. Pensions, disaster relief, scholarships, etc; are all stealing from the worthy investor and giving to the undeserving fellow citizens like our children.
Morality and citizenship are key factors in the success of modern civilizations. What can become of us in a land where greed is the only rationale for every action? We’ll get what’s happening now, a loss of faith in our basic institutions, the perception that every politician, every pundit, every newspaper, every television station are bought and paid for, and that playing by the rules is a game for suckers.
We are seeing the breakdown of this society and quite possibly the end of our civilization.