This post is in response to Owen Jones “Agenda for Hope”
The alarm goes off. It’s dark outside, and Mary wakes to get ready for work at the checkout of a local supermarket. Like most of Britain’s poor, she has a job that leaves her and her children trapped below the poverty line. She finds herself competing with colleagues for overtime, just to earn a few more pounds to spend on her kids. Her employer couldn’t care because he knows it is the taxpayer who has to step in and subsidise those poverty wages to give Mary a chance to pay the bills and feed her children.
Mary had a rough night’s sleep because it’s nearly time to pay the rent. She would love nothing more than a secure, affordable home for her family but, like 5 million others, she’s stuck on a council housing waiting list where the taxpayer will once again subsidise her lifestyle. Her beloved Government keeps her rent high by handing out billions to landlords in “housing benefit” safe in the knowledge they will recover it via the taxation system to once again “redistribute” to the “needy”.
On her way downstairs, 35 year old Mary knocks on the door of her 19-year-old son, Tyrone. He is one of nearly a million unemployed young people. Tyrone sends in biro scrawled CV after CV, to supermarkets and call centres, and often does not even get a response. The odds are that being unemployed at such a young age will leave him with a lower wage, and an increased risk of being out of work, for the rest of his life. Her beloved Government has spent trillions installing an “equal” education system that means he is just as qualified in media studies as the downs syndrome kid who spent all day disrupting the class and stopping anyone actually learning anything of value to an employer.
As she approaches the front door, Mary glimpses another reason for her sleepless night: an unopened energy bill lying on her kitchen table. As the bills have soared, so the hot meals she eats have declined in number. Her beloved Government has pumped billions into the banking sector to hold up corrupt and bankrupt banks via quantitative easing thus reducing the value of the Pound. No wonder everything costs more, the pound is worth less. And so Mary leaves for a grueling shift at the supermarket, working hard to earn her poverty.
Mary isn’t a real person, but there are millions of people in this country who share aspects of their lives with someone like her. We all have to pay, literally, as poverty-paying bosses, layabouts, scroungers and rip-off landlords milk our ridiculously bloated welfare state whilst politicians laugh in our faces.
The beloved Government and much of the media have answers for people like Mary. “Instead of being angry at your situation,” Mary is told, “be angry at unemployed people, immigrants, the EU.” It is an Agenda of Fear. The bankers who plunged Britain into disaster, the politicians in the pockets of the wealthiest bankers and Union leaders, the fat cat public servants and corporate lobbyists – all are let off the hook. The Agenda of Fear makes sure that the real solutions to the problems faced by someone like Mary – and the nation as a whole – are never even discussed.
It’s time for Old Holborn to step in. I give you:
Old Holborn’s Agenda for Hope.
1. Minimum wage has to go. Never mind a living wage, if your labour is not worth what some titled Lord in Westminster decides it should be, you’re on the scrap heap. Forever. If you are naturally too stupid to earn £7 an hour, you are denied the chance to earn £5. The state has to stop setting the price of labour – your labour, your market, your needs – not being forced by law to sit on the sofa on state benefits.
2. Scrap housing benefit – completely. The only reason rents are so high is that Landlords and councils know damn well that some Mandarin in Whitehall will send the housing benefit bill straight back to the taxpayers. If you can’t afford to live in Mayfair, don’t live in Mayfair. Don’t demand I pay your rent whilst the State inflates the housing market.
3. Income tax is barbaric. It is forced theft and the penalties for refusing pay are equally as abhorrent as anything the Mafia could come up with. Set it flat and simple at 10% for everyone, regardless of income and leave money where it belongs -in the pockets of those who earned it. We have up to 80% marginal tax rates in this country, purely so it can redistributed according to the whims of politicians who after 100 years of promises have still not lifted the poor out of poverty. As agents, the State is worse than useless merely creating more clients for its never ending schemes of poverty reduction whilst doing the exact opposite.
4. Slash corporation tax to 10%. Before you scream, please try to understand that every single penny paid in corporation tax to the State is taken from you – either by lower wages or higher prices. Corporations don’t print money, it comes from the consumer via profits or the employees via lower wages. Slash the tax on success and watch competition drive down prices and increase wages.
5. Let bad banks fail. I can’t say it enough. Just one bank failing would send the vital message that the magic money tree no longer exists and it is not the role of the State to prop up bad investments and corrupt practices.
6. Stop the vanity projects. HS2, huge airports, sports stadiums and all the rest are only possible because some poor sod on minimum wage is being forced to pay for it. If business wants it, business can build it. Worked for the railways and the canals, didn’t it? We have commuters traveling 100’s of miles a day to do jobs that can be done locally, whilst the taxpayer subsidises their rail tickets. Local enterprise zones and low taxation will bring jobs to where the people are, not the other way around.
7. The Welfare State. Where do I begin? The population is addicted to free handouts financed by the population via duplicious politicians – utter madness. Poverty inflicted through excess taxation sees working families going begging cap in hand to the very people who grabbed half their earnings in the first place. Scrap it, reform it, do whatever, but do something before we are all slaves to it.
8. Reduce the role of the State to upholding the law and protecting the borders. I see no reason for a State run health service, a state run education service or a state run Hip Hop dance troupe on a State run television service. Decentralise down to local communities with a local taxation for any extra services the community demands – the Swiss do. Any problems there and you go and slog it out with the mayor in a bar on Sunday mornings over a pint – not some gigantic quango in Glasgow with a call centre in Bombay and a chairman on a golden public sector pension payoff.
9. Just leave us alone. Stop meddling, legislating, interfering, measuring, regulating, monitoring, commentating, studying and spying on us. We are grown ups, not children. No one can better represent us than us and I’m amazed that in the 21st century we are still forced to rely on minority representatives to vote on our behalf. For crying out loud, we have the internet now!