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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

I think the people most impacted by the current government’s completely inexplicable austerity drive are the people who rely on state money, whether as benefits or because the state pays their wages. I am in the very fortunate position to be privately paid, and in a high-skill, high demand area.

Even so, I’ve found that the austerity measures are having an impact.

I guess the first thing I’ve noticed is that my money isn’t worth as much, and my time isn’t worth as much. Wage rises are very low, generally less than inflation; and the rate of interest you get on any money you can afford to save is actually laughable. (My “interest paying current account” was demoted to “current account” when it stopped paying interest, and I recently saw a poster advertising an actual ISA with 3% interest which only a few years ago would have been miserly for instant access savings.)

At the same time, the public discourse is highly demotivational and depressing. “Do more with less”. Services being cut at every turn. Tabloids turning on the unemployed, the sick, and the disabled, as though the tiny fraction of GDP which represents benefits for the genuinely needy is anything to do with the size of our defecit. On a personal level, individuals have to stretch their money to pay for their own higher education, their own retirement, childcare for any children, their day-to-day living expenses, the astronomical cost of housing… It’s depressing to feel like your time is not worth as much and at the same time to know that you have to pay for your past, present and future (and that of any dependants) out of a shrinking pool of income at a time of high inflation.

And of course by cutting benefits the government is telling me in no uncertain terms that if I fall sick or lose my job, I’m on my own. And I actually can’t save up for that possibility because I’m too busy saving for home repairs, pensions, student loans and you know, actual living expenses.

The thing is, if you’ve always had money you won’t see that. If you are in the fortunate position of having always had a little bit put by either by your parents or through some other means then you’ll never see cost as an ultimate problem. Similarly if you bought your house in the early days of the boom and sailed up the housing ladder on equity then you won’t appreciate how different it looks when you stretched yourself to the limit at the end of the boom to buy your house and watched its value fall through no fault of your own. The rich don’t see money as a problem, it’s always there when they need it. It’s more a way of keeping score.

Any household which covers its debts by letting its members starve and die is doing something wrong. That’s what this government’s austerity politics are doing, as disabled people are villified by their neighbours for the pittance we spare them. The government is letting us down; failing in its duty of care to its own citizens.

It sounds like socialism, and it is. Because how can it be bad for the resources of the many to be used to help those with nothing? You can only villify socialism if you genuinely believe we all have equal opportunity to be rich. And you can only believe that if you walk around with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears.

(For context, I just read this. Alongside some other things I’ve read, the whole thing really worries me. I have worries about the independence debate, most notably regarding how little information seems to be available about what the former Great Britain might look like after independence, but this government would drive me to a YES vote on the grounds that at least Scotland might not have to face the worst. And if it’s impacting me, the picture of the squeezed middle, how much more must it be hitting the genuinely poor?)

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