Escalated Thatcherism in Britain
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed Thatcherism. It’s Chicago School fundamentalism writ large. It’s financial terrorism. It’s hugely exploitative.
It’s forced-fed austerity. It’s corporate welfare. It’s mass privatizations. It benefits business and society’s wealthy. It’s government of, by, and for privileged elites alone.
It’s fundamentally unfair. It’s cutthroat predatory capitalism. It’s one-sidedly pro-business. It’s ruthlessly anti-democratic, anti-populist, and anti-labor.
It’s cruel and unusual punishment. It’s humanity’s scourge. It’s business as usual in America. It’s policy in other Western societies. It’s merciless.
In modern times, inequality’s greater than ever. Unprecedented wealth disparity reflects it.
It’s transforming Western nations into ruler/serf societies. It’s thirdworldizing them. It’s making them unfit to live in.
Young people have no futures. An entire generation’s lost. It feels hopeless. Children suffer most. Britain’s perhaps Exhibit A for what’s wrong.
On July 21, London’s Independent headlined “Government’s welfare benefits and tax changes amount to ‘speeded-up Thatcherism.’ ” Escalated social benefit cuts are planned.
“Research for the Fabian Society claims cuts to benefits and tax credits, particularly for working-age families with children, will amount to a ‘speeded-up replay of Thatcherism.’ “
By 2015, inequality will increase twice as fast as now. Howard Reed heads Landman Economics. Previously he was Institute for Public Policy Research chief economist.
His report is titled “The Inequality Boom.” Britain’s poorest households will lose over 12% more of their net income on average, he says. It compares to 3% for UK’s second most wealthy income bracket.
Regressive tax and benefit policies bear full responsibility. Britain’s Council tax is one of many examples. It charges low to middle income families much more than wealthy households.
According to Reed:
It’s “quite possible that the impact of the coalition’s tax and benefit measures would be as bad for inequality as the Thatcher government’s record, despite the fact that, by 2015, David Cameron will have been Prime Minister for less than half as long as Margaret (she) was.”
“Looked at in this way, the coalition government’s tax and benefit reforms are like a speeded-up action replay of Thatcherism.”
“This may come as a particular shock to Liberal Democrats in the government, many of whom spent the 1980s railing against (this) kind of increase in inequality.”
Fabian Society’s Andrew Harrop says:
“This research reveals that income inequality is set to rise sharply in this parliament.”
“But since 2010, barely a word has been heard from the Labour Party on equality, certainly compared to past generations.”
It shares equal guilt with Torries. So do most other parliamentarians. They’re self-serving. They don’t care.
“Faced with a Thatcher-style inequality boom, Labour (and other parliamentarians) must rediscover (their) egalitarian core and never forget that redistribution must be part of the answer,” said Reed.
He named two major sources of inequality:
(1) “Distribution of gross market incomes” before taxes or transfer payments; its largest component is earnings; investments, private pensions and property income are also important.
(2) Government redistribution through taxes and transfer payments.
Inequality’s rising because of “increasing dispersion of gross incomes, a reduction in the extent of redistribution, or both,” said Reed.
Thatcher escalated inequality. She launched a corporatist revolution. She headed Britain down a slippery slope. Unfettered predatory capitalism became policy.
She transferred public wealth to private hands. She privatized British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways, British Steel and other state enterprises.
She force-fed deregulation. She cut social benefits. She enacted corporate-friendly tax cuts. She favored Britain’s elites. She cracked down hard on non-believers. She waged war on labor. She means-tested benefits.
In 1984, she unleashed thousands of truncheon-wielding riot police against striking coal miners. Doing so sent a message. Worker rights no longer mattered. “New realism” became code language. Free market fundamentalism was policy.
David Cameron’s government is worse. He twisted truth saying:
“Margaret Thatcher’s government was defined by taking the side of the people against the powerful, the vested interests – those whose survival depended on keeping things as they were.”
According to John Pilger:
Her “government was defined by overseeing the greatest ever transfer of wealth from the bottom of society to the top.”
“In the name of little people, she handed billions to the richest in tax cuts and de-regulation, a theft from which Britain has never recovered.”
Millions of ordinary Brits today are worse off than ever in modern times. What Thatcher began, Tories and New Labour continue. Robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul is policy.
Incomes are eroding. Benefits and tax credits are slashed. Working age households are hit hardest. Government of, by, and for privileged Brits alone matters.
It’s ideologically harsh. It’s uncaring. It’s socially destructive. It’s out-of-control. Thatcherism writ large is policy. Britain’s becoming a wasteland. Economic freedom reflects wage and benefit slavery.
Escalated harshness is planned. Tory chairman Grant Shapps wants benefits unemployed parents get cut sharply. He wants lower amounts for two children only.
Unemployed parents should “know that welfare is not going to fund (larger family) choice(s),” he said.
He wants households headed by under-25-year olds excluded from rent subsidies. Hundreds of thousands are potentially affected. He claims welfare incentivizes unemployment.
Welfare caps are hitting hard. They’ll hit harder ahead. Britain’s heading toward ending welfare entirely. Tories and New Labor won’t admit what they plan.
In June, 11.5 billion pounds in cuts were instituted. They followed 155 billion pounds eliminated since 2010. Currently, unemployed households receive no more than 26,000 pounds a year (about $39,000) in benefits and other entitlements.
Further cuts are planned. Major ones are coming. UK’s most disadvantaged will be hit hardest. According to Britain’s Children’s Society, they’re seven times more vulnerable than adults.
CS’s Mathew Reed said they’ll “pay the price as parents have less to spend on food, clothing and rent.”
Britain’s waging war on fairness. What Thatcher began is worse than ever. On July 5, Russia Today headlined “One-third of British children consider suicide by age 16 – report.”
It’s titled “Alone with my thoughts.” It “shed light on the ‘shocking statistics’ of suicide in Britain.” It was conducted for the MindFull mental health charity.
It showed one in five young Brits suffer depression. Another 32% contemplate suicide. Nearly as many (29%) young adults harmed themselves as children.
Almost 40% found it hard to leave home when under 16. They felt too depressed to do so. Over 10% of under-16-year olds call themselves failures. They’ve given up.
Issues involve anxiety, stress and self-image. Emotional well-being is jeopardized. Children can’t cope. Disadvantaged ones are least able. Household despair affects them. Longterm mental illness may follow.
According to YoungMinds policy director Lucie Russell:
“These shocking statistics highlight what YoungMinds has been saying for many years – that children and young people’s mental health is a vital issue that must be prioritised.”
“Children and young people are growing up in a toxic climateâ€¦” Things are getting worse, not better.
MindFull warned about “failing a generation of young people.” Major change is needed. Current policies afford no chance. An entire generation is being lost.
Thousands of young Brits commit suicide annually. From 2007 – 2011, numbers rose 50%. Poverty, unemployment and dismissive governance bears much responsibility.
UK coalition officials don’t care. They reflect attitudes across Europe and America. Ownership society rules alone matter. Others are increasingly on their own sink or swim.
On July 21, The New York Times headlined “Obama Plans to Unveil His Agenda for Economy.” He’s planning a speaking tour to do so. He’s selling snake oil.
He’ll tell people austerity is good. Trillions more domestic spending cuts are planned. He’s in lockstep with Republicans. So are most Democrats. They pretend otherwise.
Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposes slashing $630 billion from Medicare and Social Security. It follows hundreds of billions of earlier cuts.
Major corporate tax reductions are coming. They’re not announced. They’re coming later this year or early 2014.
Business will pay around 20% less. On average they’re paying 12% of profits. It’s the lowest developed economy rate. It’s half what they paid from 1989 – 2008.
Ordinary Americans will pay more. It’s happening during hard times. Conditions are getting worse, not better. Britain’s doing the same thing. So are other Western societies.
A race to the bottom’s increasing. It’s a slippery slope to oblivion. Nations are becoming dystopian backwaters. Neoliberalism’s a failed experiment.
It doesn’t matter. It’s prioritized. It’s intensifying. It’s escalated. It’s causing unconscionable harm to growing millions.
They bear the burden. Corporate favorites benefit. So do Western elites. It’s the new normal. It’s a slippery slope to disaster.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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