Society’s Not Working

Over recent years we have all been led to believe that we are living under the best possible political system – Democracy – combined with the best possible economic system – Free Market Capitalism. However since the Economic Crisis five years ago it has become increasingly clear that this is actually untrue, and that our society is riven with problems, and in particular the gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots ‘ is growing ever wider. The evidence of all the things that are going so very wrong is plain for all to see, including some of the following shocking facts:

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More people than ever before are being forced to use foodbanks.
Picture © Sterling Communications

Poverty – We’re the 6th richest country in the world, capitalism is supposed to bring us untold wealth, and yet for some reason 13 million people (20% of the population) still live in poverty, including 2.3 million children.

Food Banks – Again we’re the 6th richest country in the world, and yet charities report that they are having to set up more and more food banks as in our prosperous society ever-higher numbers of people can’t afford to eat. Last year no fewer than 500,000 people visited food banks.

Unemployment – This has remained stubbornly high, and even during the ‘boom’ years before the 2008 financial crash, 1.5 million people were unable to find a job. It then rapidly rose to 2.7 million and even now, as we are being told the economy is growing again, there are still nearly 2.2 million people out of work.

Benefits – People know about benefits being paid to the 2.2 million unemployed. What is less well known is that almost another 1 million people who are in work are also on benefits because their wages are so low (meaning taxpayers are in effect increasing the profits of large corporates by subsidising low wages).

The Banking Crisis – How can we all forget that in 2008 the financial sector, which is supposed to be such a great generator of wealth for all, led us into the worst economic crisis for 80 years, the results of which we are all still reeling from. And now, while the City gets back into business-as-usual, with another round of huge bonuses, the rest of society still undergoes austerity, and will for at least another 5 years apparently.

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City Traders – For them all traces of the recession are now gone, so it’s back to business-as-usual.
Picture © Hoshiljones

Cost of Living: Top earners continue to enjoy above-inflation pay increases, which they justify by saying that in order to get the right people you have to pay a ‘market salary’; but at the same time ordinary people are told they will have to continue to endure below inflation pay-rises (and in some cases pay freezes or even pay-cuts) because Austerity is the price we all must pay for the economic crisis. We’re supposed to be ‘all in this together’, though quite clearly we aren’t.

Tax Avoidance – Not a day goes by without us hearing about how much we are losing to tax avoidance, but the government, despite a lot of talking about it, in reality does little. It’s worth noting that while £1.2bn/year is lost to benefit fraud and £5bn is paid out as job-seekers allowance,  £95bn a year is lost to tax avoidance. Rich tax avoiders are the real financial burden on this country.

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Soaring energy prices are becoming a major political issue.
Picture © Yummifruitbat

Energy Prices – Privatisation was supposed to deliver cheaper fuel bills, and yet our bills are now higher than ever (even though oil prices are stable), many people can’t afford to heat their homes properly, and last year 31,000 people died from the cold (an increase of 29% from the previous year).

Water Bills – Again privatisation was supposed to lead to greater efficiencies and cheaper bills, but in reality our bills have climbed inexorably higher (doubling since privatisation), while the owners of the water companies become ever richer and use tax avoidance schemes to increase their wealth further.

Transport Costs – Our rail fares are now the most expensive in Europe, again a complete failure of the promises of privatisation, while on the Underground in London ever-greater cutbacks, and compromises to health and safety are threatened due to shortage of funds.

House Prices – House ownership has become the preserve of the rich, with property prices now at such astronomical levels that most ordinary people will never be able to afford a deposit, let alone buy their own home. The only winners nowadays are property investors and the profusion of buy-to-let landlords.

Homelessness – At the other end of society 185,000 people in this country are homeless, and yet at the same time there are also 635,000 empty properties in the UK.

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Stafford Hospital – The site of one of several recent NHS scandals. Picture © Alistair Rose

NHS – Created after the Second World War this is one of the things that British people are most proud of, and yet it now seems to be in crisis with falling standards, hospitals closing, increased waiting times, allegations of managerial incompetence and corruption, and frequent talk of an impending financial crisis.

MP’s Expenses – Recent scandals with MP’s pay and expenses reveal that many of our leaders, far from being inspirational people who have our best intentions at heart, are simply careerists whose main objective is to line their own pockets.

Voting – The disillusionment with our political process is no more starkly demonstrated than by ever-falling numbers of people voting, as people recognise that whichever party they vote for, nothing changes, as all the main parties are virtually indistinguishable. Alternative parties with alternative views are unable to break through as the system is fixed against them.

Cronyism – Almost every day we hear in the news of the latest scandal where people in high office are given vast bonuses or pay-offs, often as a reward for being incompetent or facing dismissal. Some of the worst offenders are public services, such as the NHS, BBC and the Civil Service, where top officials give themselves vast sums of money, while at the same time telling us services must be cut due to lack of funds.

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Immigration: Despite 2.2 million unemployed the country is still a magnet for jobseekers.
Picture © Wikimediacommons/Dannyman

Immigration: We are told that immigrants are essential for the economy to carry out crucial jobs and fuel economic growth, while at the same time 2.2 million people already in the country don’t seem to be able to get a job.

This is a very long list, and there’s plenty more not included here. We are now allegedly experiencing a recovery, and yet at the same time the government is telling us that  Austerity will continue for at least another 5 years. How can that be? And what is going so very wrong with society?

This website attempts to explain the flaws in our economic and political systems, how if nothing is done things will continue getting worse, and why only when ordinary people stand up and say they’ve had enough will it be possible to change things for the better.

To get started with an overview of why everything has gone so wrong, click here.

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11 thoughts on “Society’s Not Working

  1. This is a great website Peter, you have done very well in explaining in detail but yet very simply about the various issues Britain is facing. Like Christopher Judges I am no longer in the UK, left last year but while I lived there and as I grew up I have seen many worrying changes and it is simply getting worse and worse. My family live in London and I am constantly discussing with them the situation and it is very close to my heart. I am still a member of various organisations such as 38 Degrees and it has got to a point where protests and petitions are being ignored and the powers that be carry on regardless. My mother was at the Anti-austerity protest two Saturdays ago and she said 50,000 people marched and yet hardly any media coverage. Our rights and our voices are being eroded. Good luck with everything Sir I wish you all the best as you continue your noble work.

  2. My interpretation of SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

    We have come to realize how important it is for businesses and enterprises to be encouraged in order to promote growth by way of exports as well as for internal consumption, as no country or business can constantly borrow to keep itself afloat unless output and exports match or exceed consumption and imports.

    Where a business has potential but is not actually able to take full advantage of it then it should be helped by reduced taxation (and in certain circumstances government financial investment) until it has attained its full potential and then the matter should be considered again at that stage.

    When it comes to matters of taxation and benefits then the following should be considered if every man, woman and child are to be allowed the chance of a reasonable standard of living:

    There has been and still is far too much talk by the Conservative Government, by way of propaganda, intimating that the majority of people on Social Security and Sickness Benefit are scroungers. This may appear to be true but is far from true in reality and the majority of decent people on benefits hate being branded as shirkers and cheats and I believe the statistics indicate that about 3% are cheaters.

    There will always be a few who try to cheat the system but these apparently are only a small minority and as to whether or not the cost of trying to catch these frauds is worth the cost is a debatable point, but no doubt (as with the new benefit revisions) the private firms employed by the Conservative government to carry out these inspections will make a good profit.

    All men are NOT equal. Some are born with greater ability than others and I quote as examples: Elgar, Handel, Verdi, and Beethoven to name just a few with unique minds capable of composing wonderful music. Then there are others, such as John Logie Baird and Louis Pasteur who made equally marvellous scientific and medical breakthroughs for the benefit of mankind in general. These wonderful people were gifted and many were not entrepreneurs. In a similar way successful entrepreneurs are also gifted as not every man has the ability to be successful in such a manner and usually it is the Mentor who takes advantage of the skills of a craftsman and who makes the actual profits.

    Such people should be admired and congratulated on being successful and for creating employment as well as making a very good living for themselves. HOWEVER, a very successful person, be he rich through striving to succeed or though having luck or inheritance, should bear in mind that he is FORTUNATE to be in his position and not look down on nor seek to exploit those less fortunate, less clever or less gifted.

    A successful man should have a moral duty to pay taxes in order to help those less fortunate. In this day a man who keeps an annual income of say £150,000 AFTER he has paid tax at the standard rates should not mind paying 50% tax on all earnings above such figure; not a philosophy of the existing Conservative Government who seem to delight in cutting back on housing and disability benefits to those who have so little (in most cases through no fault of their own) in order to be able to enable the super rich to become even richer.

    I am all for the rich becoming richer providing they are not encouraged to do so at the expense of their moral duty to pay a higher rate of tax in order to help those less fortunate; after all an income of say £3000.00 per week after tax is a pretty good income and any additional could justifiably attract a 50% tax.

    If one looks at all the marinas that surround our coasts one will see many thousands of luxury yachts which are rich men’s TOYS. If one looks at the hugely luxurious homes and second and sometimes third homes of the super rich together with their TOYS I say good luck to them, but a responsible decent government should arrange taxation accordingly and see to it that there are no loopholes for them to escape paying a fair proportion of their good luck (and that includes those who have worked hard and succeeded for many have worked hard and not succeeded) rather than deprive those who are so very much less fortunate.

    Our current society is sick with avarice and disregard for fellow human beings and this needs to be addressed by a fair minded government which is NOT being done by the Conservative party. The current financial ills of the country are not being addressed in a fair and decent way by insisting that those who can afford to help do so, but by penalizing those who cannot afford to and thereby furthering the aspirations of the super rich.

    I realize that the above comments are likely to go down like the proverbial lead balloon with the majority of the more fortunate but I fear that unless the Labour Party moves in this direction the result will be that the potential electorate will also take a similar view and it is time to encourage decent Labour voters back into the fold rather than have a repeat performance by the Conservative Party or a hung parliament next time.

    I wish the Labour Party well and hope that it will not forget its route Aims and Policies as I should be happy to see a much greater leaning towards equalizing the fortunes of all mankind than I perceive is presently being indicated.

    1. Hi Rupert, I agree with all you say, though feel the Labour party is beyond hope and so the only chance for ordinary people must now come from elsewhere. Peter

      1. Thank you Peter for a really great website and I really haven’t found any contradiction or disagreement with your comments; and you certainly present your views far more eloquently than I am able to.

        I am frustrated by the lack of recognition on the part of any government (and in particular the current Tory Party) to take heed of public opinion and feel that this may have to eventually lead to civil disobedience if not rectified.

        My first priority is to get rid of the current incumbents who are clearly only interested in furthering the greed of the almighty rich at the expense of the underprivileged, and to do this inhibits me from voting for my preferred party at this stage. I intend to vote for the “MY next best” which has a very good chance of being elected whereas my preferred party has little chance at this stage; “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day!”

        My only further comment, at this stage, is to ask what you mean by “elsewhere”?

        Thank you again for giving us all the opportunity to express our views and, hopefully, to expand our outlooks from other’s comments.

        Sincerely, Rupert Mitchell

        1. I mean that the two main parties both support our undemocratic ‘first-past-the-post’ constituency system of elections, and also both support free market capitalism, so if we want systemic change neither of them are going to provide it. Consequently if we want our votes to have any chance of making any difference at all, we have to put our support elsewhere, and I’ll leave that to individuals to choose whether that means voting UKIP, the Lib-Dems, the Greens or whoever. Regards, Peter

  3. dear Peter, i think your site is brilliant, simple and spot on. i have devoted my life to helping others find happiness within themselves. i had an awakening 10 years back when deep hidden childhood horrors came out in one go at 35 years of age. im one of the ones who made it, married 17 years, a master craftsman respected homeowner, with £200k equity and worth £500k on paper! i never even lived, because i was conditioned from a young age to see things differently. only when i let it out did i wake up, and see who i was , what the world was really like and what i could do with my success. scott neeson set up the cambodia childrens fund which is not unlike the model of brand new start. i created a space where absolutley no abuse was tolerated and we did creative things. i was the happiest man alive. ten years on , the struggles in freeing myself from an abusive wife, breaking my broken family further by my revelations. today i am committed to not let that ignorance continue, to help others see they have a choice, and to highlight abuse of humans has been the way of history and now we can communicate globally we can share this and rise up, to stop the system that allows this to go on in developing countries by corporates, governments, wealthy families etc while we supposedly live in civilised modern cities. i would love to do what i can to unite all those like you and many others who also have the intelligence power and belief we the 99% have the power if we take it. yours sincerely jonny rogers

  4. Great website, Peter. Really well written. I hope that everyone in the UK reads it. Don’t say it too loud but I think people are starting to take notice of what’s really going on. I’ve only really noticed this in the past few months. Maybe all the electioneering has heightened awareness of the terrible situation we (the 99%) are in. I’m liking the way that OBS simplifies things. Brilliant. Nige (greedtherockopera)

  5. Hi there, I am originally from London and ran away to LA, USA years back – I am living in Ventura California. I believe I am on the same political page as you.
    Your problems there are the same kinda problems we have here. I think there are so many problems humming along to the obliteration of the human race it is hard to know what to do or where to start. I am about to edit my book on the subject of destruction of human values, seeing corporate fascism as a psychopathic machine designed to turn us all hamburger meat.
    Subversion in all things.

    Christopher judges

    1. Glad to see this out there, so I’m just dropping a line to express solidarity. There will be up to 1.5 million people on strike on July 10th. I sincerely hope that it marks the begging of a fightback against austerity.

      In solidarity,

      Dave

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