In the monetary maelstrom that informs the current financial apocalypse talk of remedies is cheap. It’s the action that is costly. When all is of cuts, financial realignment, belt-tightening; hard choices and payback for the past – there is one statistic that has flown under the radar.
One statistic of a trend that has the possibility of ramifications as long-term and damaging to this country as anything being tossed grenade like into the parliamentary mix under the guise of austerity. An insidious and deeply significant black cloud for anyone with even a passing fondness for the concept of functioning democracy and a meritocracy.
One in Seven £££££££ earned in this country now disappears into the pockets of the top One Per Cent.
That’s approximately 620,000 people…
The size of a medium UK city…
Somewhere between the populations of Leeds and Sheffield…
The reality is that a large proportion of this 620,000 don’t live between Leeds and Sheffield. Nor do they live full time anywhere else in this country. They’re likely to have multiple homes; perhaps nominally to satisfy tax and residency issues. Or they might live permanently abroad. The One Per Cent influence the laws beyond all proportion despite belonging to a rootless international community that knows no boundaries to making money but routinely decide those that stifle your life chances.
Your chances of meeting one of these people is in the maths. Probably statistically even greater if you’re not one of them. Maybe he’s the CEO of that multinational company that your company is a subsidiary of – you know; the one whose picture graces the annual report: the one you’ve never seen in person who employs a corporate communications company to tell you it’s been a great fiscal year globally despite market conditions – then cuts your pay back. Perhaps she’s the business woman in the new gated community at the top of the fashionable hill on the outskirts of town who deals in restructuring companies and redundancy. It could be the fleeting face in the shiny chauffeur-driven BMW or Merc that sweeps past in a hurry and splashes you on your lunch hour in the West End. Or he’s the Chairman of Governors of your failing inner city school – who sends his kids to somewhere nice in the country.
Outskirts, select, elite, patronage, fleeting, photo opportunity only, disengagement…. It’s in the language as well as the maths. Units, budgets, markets, outsourcing, retrenchment, downsize, relocation, global pressures…
Here are people with little connection to your life as you live it. You’re simply an economic attachment: an app to a balance sheet. They typically make those decisions that hit you seemingly out of the ether. The bandwagon rolls on regardless… the agenda continues without moral or geographic restriction; the trend seemingly entrenched: in 1979 – prior to Margaret Thatcher’s ascent to becoming prime minister – the contrasting figure was one in every twenty ££££££££££££££££££££. Free markets and globalisation have put yokes around many necks and restricted horizons accordingly. Contentiously described as wealth creators this One Per Cent create wealth for themselves and spend time retaining it. These are the people who know how to side step tax considerations and employ people to do so – even though they are habitually prone to remind and legislate the other 99% on their obligations with the don’t do what I do-do what I say moral authority of Great War generals.
What to make of people who talk routinely of opportunity, rigour, discipline, education, entrepreneurship, invention and innovation while increasingly keeping these and their fruits close to their chests – or more often for the members of their families? What chance have you, your spouse; your daughter or son got of obtaining a decent sustaining job; let alone a career? There is effectively little point in subscribing to the odds of joining this elite anymore than winning the lottery. It could be you? Maybe… but being the UK there are inevitably more elements than just money involved.
Listen to the less shadowy members… recalcitrant star actors who revel in their man of the people status and take the roles that reinforce this perception but who ultimately shudder at contributing toward the lives of these real people they purport to empathise with: promising to fly out on the first available plane when the subject of raising extra tax revenue occurs. The inventor/entrepreneurs whose loyalty to the flag that drapes their products extends to bemoaning the cost of labour here while grabbing incentives abroad. Or those who routinely complain the country has gone to the dogs while sitting in the Isle of Dogs contemplating the best methods of taking it all with them to some freer market.
This all has serious repercussions regardless of any political affiliations. To routinely stamp on the hopes and dreams of the vast majority of people in a ruthless demonstration of trickle-up economics is to flirt with dangerous forces for the future health of this country. It is as important for there to be a belief in the ladder of social mobility as for it to actually exist. To pull up the rope behind you is to stamp on the fingertips of the many who know this is their only chance given that they could never gatecrash the class-rooted old money club of the tie and the crest.
For social cohesion it’s disastrous. For endeavour and innovation a dead ceiling. The energy is sucked from those seeking to get on – aspiration withered on the vine – like thieves stripping a church roof. It’s a poisonous disregard that iniquitously pervades every aspect of our society ultimately affecting everyone’s quality of life. It’s been easy to accuse those who highlight such inequalities as being guilty of the politics of envy when this is increasingly an example of that rarity in public life – the politics of common sense. More likely to be despair at the perceived lack of opportunity. And in this poverty of opportunity – the hand maiden of social corrosion – it suggests that we are going back to the future.
It begs the question… why is it that those at the very top make claim to exclusive rights to incentives at work while the rest of us are expected to turn up and work hard effectively with none other than an absurd gratitude just to have some sort of job; any motivations remaining fuelled by an increasingly blind hope that it’s a stepping stone to something better?
Where are we headed when an elite group of monetary Dyson’ s hoover up all the cash and the rest of us are spare parts for broom heads – broom heads that are ultimately cheaper abroad?
It doesn’t matter what ism you subscribe to, be it – communism, Thatcherism, socialism or social Darwinism…
Whether you are socialite, luddite or simply too tight…
Whether deserving or undeserving poor; leader or led; middlebrow or high maintenance; job-seeker or plain seeker of truth… you should make no allowances for a situation that should be a concern for everyone. Hell – even if you’re a free market obsessive with explicit get rich quick tendencies, no social conscience and Satan on your heels this is ultimately no good for you either – though I appreciate it’s not an argument that immediately cuts into your success with any clarity.
Morality, conscience, hope, common sense, fair play, moral compass; respect for your fellow man and woman. Sounds good doesn’t it? Is that all it is though – a sound bite? Is it only to be something that people in history aspired to? Old-fashioned in these financial fast times… Whether yours is a shoulder-shrugging acceptance of the systemic or you think that this blog is a pile of over-cooked polemic – it matters.
That a majority of the population has hope for a better life – be it false prophecy or not – it’s what keeps people on side; buying into the whole: on track and contributing… sane even. The One Per Cent club… these people have expectations. To meet these expectations too often means extinguishing the hope of the rest of us. Is that really worth the price we pay?