There was a posh turd, dressed in a business suit, aged about 12, speaking like a 17th Century elocution tutor, on Question Time this week. He suggested that there is “no money left” because of Labour. This was in response to the whole question of rape sentencing that has plagued the British media like a bad theatre production all week.
Firstly, he is of course wrong.
For many many ignorant, typically Tory reasons.
The money to keep the prison population, was adequately provided for in the budget. A little spotty, sweaty Tory twat spouting “omg no money!!!! The Cameron man told me so!!!” doesn’t change that.
I don’t want to keep dragging up these comparative graphs to prove a point, but in this case, it is justified. The scare mongering again by those on the Right is becoming ingrained in our national psyche that it seems almost natural to talk of cuts as if they are absolutely necessary. People start their questions with “I understand there needs to be cuts, but…..”. The discourse is entirely provided for, by the Right wing. It needs to change.
This first chart, is how the Coalition would like us to always view the public debt. Just in terms of how much it is. It looks huge. It isn’t huge.
The reason it isn’t huge, is because the above graph doesn’t place the debt against how well the economy is doing at the time. If I have a debt of £200, and i’m only earning £220 a week, then yes, it looks huge. If i’m earning £3000 a week, then it’s not so bad.
Debt as a percentage of GDP, in the 20th Century, has been far far higher than it is now. It is simply ideological on the part of the right wing (which includes the Labour Party) to speak of this, as a great catastrophe and dire cuts needed immediately.
If there was no money left, it would surely be incredibly poor economic management to state on the Tory Party Website that their plan is: “Tough but fair – ensuring the richest shoulder the greatest burden“, whilst at the same time offering to….
So, that effectively means a company like Diageo PLC, who earned over £2bn in 2009, yet paid just £43mn in taxes now only have to pay 24%, instead of……………2%. So, whilst Diageo continue to tax avoid, whilst the employees who make the money for the company use the publicly funded roads, and have used publicly funded schools when they were young and publicly funded healthcare when they’re sick, to get them fit to get back to work and make Diageo even richer, other companies will fill that gap in public revenue,………. by paying less. So where does the money the little Tory shit want, come from?
Ken Clarke has an idea! Though he insists this policy isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving the dignity of the victim. Tories love the most vulnerable, as we’re all well aware.
The Justice Secretary is considering offering discounted sentences of 50% off, to rapists who plead guilty straight the way. His defence is, “Well, Labour set it at 1/3 off!!!”. A typical party political logical fallacy of the worst kind. His argument is it encourage rapists to admit their guilt early on, saving the victim the ordeal of going to trial. The reality is, it’s a cost cutting measure. Less prisoners in the system, less money being spent on prisons. This cost saving exercise goes hand in hand with the scheme to build more private prisons to house the prison population out of the hands of the State. It is already failing. According to a Freedom of Information request by More4, four out of ten private prisons scored incredibly low on the Prison Performance Assessment Tool. Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust said:
The evidence doesn’t suggest that it [use of private prisons] has driven up standards by providing good models.
- So, privatising doesn’t improve anything. Just like privatisation of the gas and electric companies didn’t improve competition, didn’t bring down prices, and actually caused greater problems especially among the poorer, older sections of society who now can’t afford to heat their homes at night.
Privatisation of prisons has a more sinister product. For the private prisons, crime is good. Crime pays. Crime means profit.
Public institutions are not worthless to the people who need it. There is no moral hazard in public institutions, to the people who live it. They act to meet the interests of the public, whose interests certainly aren’t being met by a neoliberal doctrine that is working to increase homelessness, destroy the planet, and impose its own interests on our democracies. The public sphere should be a sphere for debate on morality away from the ethics of the private sector, without it we are in danger of rationalising and justifying the unjustifiable simply because we believe the system is natural, unchangable, and those who are on the outside (be them criminals, the homeless, the mentally ill, or anyone who doesn’t fit into the neoliberal scope of reward) are to be locked away and ignored, because they are of no use to McJobs. By using the motive of profit, as the one defining ethical value within all of societies institutions, we lose what it is that makes us human, because we transfer all energy away from our empathy, our morality, and our compassion and onto our economic interests. That, is a problem.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of “Liberty” (human rights pressure group) and quite hypocritically, on the board of directors of London School of Economics when it accepted a donation from the Gaddafi family, said:
It costs £40,000 to put someone in prison. Is it so wrong to ask questions about whether that is the best way to rehabilitate someone?
- Yes. It is wrong. For two reasons. Firstly, because that is not what the Justice Secretary is proposing. If Shami Chakrabarti thinks letting a rapist out of jail 50% earlier than his sentence demands, just because he said “yeah, it was me”, is a good attempt at rehabilitating a rapist, she’s a disaster. Secondly, she started the sentence on the premise of cost. Cost is the first issue she considered, when uttering that sentence. If there is plenty of money to offer £6.1mn signing on fees to bankers at partly tax payer owned UK banks, and if we have enough money to bail out Ireland and back the bail out of Portugal, if we have enough money to replace trident and allow Vodaphone to get away with its £6bn tax bill, whilst shrinking their tax obligations from 28% to 24% and the cutting of the 50p top rate of tax, if we have enough money to spend on a pointless Royal Wedding and a war in Libya, then it is futile, ignorant, and actually immoral to start to discuss the criminal justice system in terms of cost to the tax payer.
Fighting crime is impossible when you are a government that is committed to increasing inequality. Like mass migration, the main cause of crime, is economic inequality. It is the old battle against poverty and against hunger. We cannot see the country through privileged middle class tinted sun glasses. Economic violence will always breed crime. University of Chicago’s Department of Sociology in the 1930s and 40s found that criminal activity on average, came from all races, all religions, from ordinary backgrounds who were deeply affected by changing economic conditions, and who were left behind.
Robert Reiner, in his book “Law and Order: An honest citizen’s guide to law and order” argues that developed nations such as America and Britain, saw a crime boom matching almost identically to the onset of Neoliberalism. Wage disparity across the board, increased inequality, a huge increase in low paid, insecure jobs, a new “me me me” society, ethics being replaced by ruthlessness, and harsh public spending cuts, actually increased crime beyond recognition. Those left behind, will almost always turn to crime.
People aren’t born criminals. Lower classes do not have criminal behaviour hard wired into their minds at birth. And given that the vase majority of crime, is crime of acquisition, by those from lower socio economic areas, one has to raise the quite simply observation, that economics is a problem. Of course, Libertarians refuse to accept that their system could possibly be the cause of such problems. Their perverse logic and ability to turn their heads to Occam’s razor, is enshrined in some of their most prolific writers. Libertarian writer Charles Murray claimed that there is an underclass who are pathologically and genetically criminal. It is therefore, the fault of biology, and conveniently absolves neoliberal economics of all the blame. He further suggested that Britain should refrain from offering child benefit to our lower classes, to take the incentive away to breed. Rather than face the reality that neoliberalism breeds material deprivation whilst encouraging an incessant and ruthless chase and brawl for material wealth, and so crime is inevitably going to increase in such an atmosphere, Murray and others like him prefer to turn the other way, and blame everything but their failure of a system.
The politics and economics of division, is responsible for the increase in crime rates. To divide people up, into categories based on income, based on race, or gender, and then to say “why aren’t you conforming? The man in the Rolls Royce is happy to conform, why aren’t you? Go to prison!” is deeply irresponsible, and quite prehistoric in its thinking. Transferring the good of community, with the disinterest in community and strength of the individually is a great moral hazard in itself.
It is rather a paradox that the school system aims only at producing good little workers, for the private sector to suck up. We teach our kids the same things, in the same rooms, with the same books, on the very limited same few subjects. We are creating a mass of people who think the same, and they inevitably rebel because they don’t think the same. We are trying to standardise the mindset of a generation, into believing that true happiness is acquired through the process of acquiring. It is unsuprising that those left behind, find other means to fill that gap that doesn’t actually exist, but has been instilled into their minds for decades.
The pro-neoliberal lobby have always refused to accept the criticism thrown at it. Those of us who dislike the model, must be communists. Yet the critiques are essential to understanding. Neoliberalism cannot explain, it can only enrich a select few. It brings with it deep divisions and inherent flaws that may seem like a droplet on an entire ocean, but can create a tsunami if they aren’t understood properly.