“Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.“
- Noam Chomsky
Daily, we see adverts on the Television encouraging all of us to tell the
Nazi’s authorities if you know a Jew benefit cheat. Suspect everyone. Don’t talk to your neighbours unless you’re questioning them, under an intense light, around a table, with a one sided window. Hide in your attic, writing a diary, if you happen to be Anne Frank a single mum obtaining a few extra pounds in benefits to help feed your kids, because you’re apparently an evil stain on the fabric of British society. The papers are talking about it, the Tories are constantly talking about it, the Welfare state is coming under attack from everywhere. And yet, we’re conveniently encouraged to ignore, just forget, put to the back of our minds, as if it isn’t important, the issue of Corporate tax evasion and avoidance, that cost us all an absolute fortune in lost revenue, but happily enrich those at the top. I wonder who’s behind this little Media scam.
The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, today told the BBC that he intends to force those who are out of work, back into work. Whilst the sentiment is indeed welcomed, I cannot help but feel it’s a little short sighted. Firstly, it is my (perhaps flawed) understanding of Conservatism, that only the elites, the wealthy and the well educated deserve jobs they actually desire. It speaks to my anti-Tory side when I hear such simplistic statements from Right Wing stating that they wish to get people back into work as quickly as possible. What these sort of statements suggest, is that a bunch of people who are currently claiming benefits, will be shoved into jobs that completely disintegrate any form of individuality they had left. Forced into largely fatuous jobs in Tesco, or McDonalds, to further enrich the guys at the top, seems to me to be nothing more than transferring dependency from the State, to hugely influential Execs. It is hardly ideal. It certainly isn’t the answer.
Surely a system that allows those at the top to reap massive wealth, hide their taxable wealth in offshore accounts, and keep wages low whilst they themselves reward themselves with huge salaries and bonuses, which in turn seemingly fails to “trickle down” as promised, is merely perpetuating the need for a strong welfare state? If we are truly to tackle unemployment and a State dependency, it would be my (perhaps flawed) suggestion that we start at the top, and revamp the entire system. It may be a great place to start, from a non-Tory perspective (given that they appear to have completely ignored this issue, choosing instead to focus on a full out attack – designed to please those voters who have a home and a car and a safe job – on those on benefits) to bring up the subject of the most costly benefit and tax abuses to the UK economy – Corporate tax avoidance.
According to his interview in The Sun, David Cameron has set out his ten goals for a new Tory Britain. The “Progressive Conservative” (as he previously described himself), has set out plans to drastically cut public spending, give tax breaks to the rich, Corporate tax cuts, and force people to work for whomever the Tories wish them to work for. I’m not sure a Tory politician could be any more regressive than that. So that’s the “progressive Conservative” label dead and buried. It also strikes me as rather punitive, that a man who along with progressive, labelled the Tories “the party for the Environment” has not once mentioned an environmental policy as one of his main policies. Apparently, tax breaks for Corporations is far more important.
He also fails to mention that whilst benefit claimants certainly do impact our economy, it is such a minuscule level in comparison to Corporate tax avoidance schemes. The Commons public accounts committee estimated that Corporate tax loopholes cost the UK up to £13bn a year in lost revenues. The National Audit Office, in 2006 released a document showing that of Britain’s top 700 Companies, 60% paid far less than £10m in Tax, which accounts for less than 2% of what they actually owe. If I started to do the same, I guarantee middle class England would demand I be put straight into prison for cheating the system.
According to The Guardian:
“The UK-based drinks giant Diageo plc has transferred ownership of brands worth billions of pounds, including Johnnie Walker, J&B and Gilbey’s gin, to a subsidiary in the Netherlands where profits accrued virtually tax-free. Despite average profits of £2bn a year, it paid an average of £43m a year in UK tax – little more than 2% of its overall profits.“
Meanwhile, bailed out British Bank, Lloyds Group, after receiving £17bn of taxpayer money, is being investigated for encouraging tax avoidance with an undercover Panorama investigator posing as a wealthy customer. The Lloyds banker refers to income that is paid through Hong Kong, to clients in order to “get around the European Savings Tax Directive” is caught on film saying:
“It’s of no interest to us whether you tell the taxman or not. It is not our business.” It stands to reason then, that when Lloyds (who I bank with) tell me they’re committed to responsible banking, they’re lying, quite pathetically too. Whilst Lloyds Group cut wages, cut jobs, forcing more onto the benefit system in the process; their execs are enjoying hugely inflated salaries and bonuses. The……system…..is……wrong!
Surely if you’re going to punish those who cost the system relatively nothing, you also have to seriously punish those who cost the system an absolute fortune, as is the case with Corporate tax avoidance. Yet, The Tories haven’t said a word on the subject. Not only that, but the end product of extreme tax avoidance across the UK economy, works only to pour extra fuel on the fire of dependency. The more a firm profits and the little it gives back, or “trickles down” the less wealth there is in circulation, the more unemployment rises. Corporate Stalinism, as I like to refer to it as, is the real stain on the fabric of British society. No politician will address it though, because our wondrous democracy relies on these Corporations, to fund it.
For me, the only way to really solve this mess of unemployment, would first be to refuse to cut public spending, until the economy picks up (which it is doing, but would not be doing, if the Tories had their way and just did nothing). Secondly, I would insist on strong penalties toward Companies dedicated to tax avoidance. Close loopholes. Once loopholes are closed, i’d cut our Trident fleet from four Nuclear Subs, to one Nuclear sub. The money saved, would then be used to to slowly ween claimants off such dependency and onto a ladder they actually wish to be climbing, to train them and put them into work they wish to be doing, work they are enthusiastic about, which the state funds for a certain amount of time until they’re employable in the sector they wish to be employed, rather than saying “okay, your benefits are gone, go get a job shovelling shit for the rest of your life”. Eighteen years of Thatcherite economics, “forcing” people back into work, did little but force the homeless rate to triple, whilst suicide rates reached their ultimate peak. It didn’t work. You cannot perpetuate the myth in people’s minds, that they are largely worthless, and only useful when Burger King toilets need cleaning. It will never work. Educating people away from the desire to consume, to out-do your neighbour, or to be a good little Corporate bitch, and toward the desire to be individual, to realise what it is you’re good at, what it is you want to do, how you wish to achieve it, is the course that education needs to take. Educating generation after generation to think the same, act the same, talk the same, like grooming them before a race where the finish line is covered in an illusion of “wants“, is a complete failure. Moreover, it will never solve the debt crises, which will continue to loom over us for decade after decade. It is never going to solve the issue of those who can work, not working. We then get a Tory government who slash benefits, and the homeless rate mysteriously doubles, suicide rates shoot up, riots take place. We then get a Labour government and unemployment sky rockets. No one thinks outside the box. The same tired policies, over and over again. Failed ideologies. We need something new.
Let’s also be clear, it isn’t the public sector that failed us all, it was the private sector. This idea of course, is unheard of, if you’re a Tory.