Sack the Rich: There is No Alternative

February 12, 2010

Peter Mandelson has been doing what he does best – spinning a savage program of cuts into a brave attempt to reform the unreformable. As he has been lecturing the lecturers, university employees “think they have a right to be set in aspic in what they do” and “are using the argument about spending reductions as a screen or a cloak behind which resistance to any sort of change and reform can be conducted.”

What a bunch of crooks! Mandelson and co. are trying to push through much needed reform of Britain’s academic institutions to make them better, more dynamic, and modern, and stuffy old eggheads are throwing it right back in their faces.

Apparently, lecturers don’t seem to think that shifting undergraduates wholesale onto 2 year courses will provide a higher standard of education. Mandelson now bleats that such changes “had to happen anyway” recession or no recession, while in his view, publicly stated and with a straight face, it’s perfectly fine for universities to pay for RBS bonuses and keeping the derivatives trade flowing in the Shitty of London.

As he put it at a meeting to “commemorate” the architect of tuition fees, “Public funding cuts are the regrettable cost to the UK of saving the banking sector and getting the country through the recession.”

Not many people in Britain would agree with that assertion, which is handy for Peter as he will never be running for election again. He’d probably be lynched if he went for a pint in Hartlepool, the constituency that he used to represent until heading to Europe to be its trade representative.

Now, as the unelected Business Minister, Mandelson is seeking to outsource the enormous debts run up by multinational financial companies onto Britain’s public services. The Brown government has put £53 billion alone into propping up Royal Bank of Scotland – making it the largest bank bailout anywhere in history. Added to Britain’s budget deficit, the bill for maintaining the value of the assets owned by the wealthiest in society, is now rebounding on the public sector – on schools, hospitals, councils and universities.

The British nation is being asked to foot the bill for the sins of a tiny elite of criminals and the politicians who shield them. Is this not unconscionable in a country which calls itself a democracy? Of course it is, but who stands up to protect the vestiges of British “democracy”? Well, you’ll look hard and in vain for criticisms of the bail outs and the policies which necessitated them in the manifesto of the “opposition” come the election.

What this means is that the children of the many will now see their chances of benefiting from higher education diminishing, so that the few can maintain their lifestyles. Even government funded research shows that Britain has become one of the most unequal economies in the world – even before the financial crisis hit. The top 10 percent of society now earns over 100 times as much as the bottom 10 percent – a horrific state of unequal life chances. Under Gordon Brown, life for the poor has regressed to that of the 1960s. Instead of halving the 3.4 million children living in poverty by 2010, the New Labour government has seen it fall by only 500,000 – with those in poverty rising every week.

Life remains miserable for huge numbers of those who depend on public services to improve their lives. A report this week found that “disability free life expectancy” for the poorest is 17 years lower than for the richest, while the lives of the poorest are likely to be foreshortened by 7 years. This too is unconscionable. It’s disgusting.

In reality, the only way that these trends can be reversed and public services protected is if a large share of the country’s wealth is taken from those who do not deserve it, or need it, and redistributed to those who do. Hiding behind the hypocrisy of liberal economics – that it is somehow an outrage to require of the very rich that they should provide for the poor – is the grossest insult to democracy at a time when social need is growing every faster. Instead, it is the ordinary and poor who will be asked to fund the lifestyles of the rich – as has been the norm ever since tax rates on the rich were slashed under the Tories in the 1980s.

There is no alternative. TINA. Now where have I heard that one before?


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