Tuesday, 31 May 2016

It's so slow

How long will it take politicians to realise that inequality is bad? That poverty, the measure of inequality, is making everyone poorer?

A very long time, judging by what is going on now.

In a 2007 article the prescient George Monbiot gave us a brief history of the politics of inequality - the political movement that began just after World War II and that was supported by 'American oligarchs and their foundations.' Monbiot makes clear that this movement - we now call it neoliberalism - was specifically in the interests of the rich. The combination of government austerity and the privatisation of anything that was not core government business meant a 'massive shift of wealth, not just to the top 1% [of the population] but to the top 0.1%', returning us to levels of poverty and inequality not seen since the 1920s.

In March George Kerevan, writing about the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith in The National,  wrote about the 'social upheaval' caused by the many years of austerity, of shrinking the state, and said that the 'SNP needs to press on with a radical alternative to the failed neo-liberal agenda'

And this week an article by the International Monetary Fund, highlighted in Saturday's Financial Times, admits that 'increased inequality ... hurts the level and sustainability of growth.' The article picks on two neoliberal policies - free movement of capital across borders, and government austerity. On the first, it advocates some controls to stop short-term rushes of capital into and out of countries. And on the second it says that 'austerity policies not only generate substantial welfare costs..., they also hurt demand—and thus worsen employment and unemployment.'The hot news (for the FT) is that the article uses the word 'neoliberalism' to define these politics; 'the use of the term "neoliberalism" is provocative,' storms the FT. 

How long will it take Cameron and Osborne to wake up and listen to the mood music? How much more poverty, how many more cuts, how many more people sanctioned by the 'benefits' system? How many more wars that drive millions out of their homes and into abject poverty? 

When will they learn that poverty is bad, for all of us? When?

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