Because we’re worth it

The credit crunch of 2007-8 should be viewed by government as a watershed in the status of the citizen on a par with the aftermath of the World Wars. The hundreds of £ billions of bailout money to the banks and quantitative easing injected into the economy is taxpayers’ sweat equity. We were volunteered by our government to increase national debt in order to prevent the collapse of the global financial system. As a consequence of this our children’s and grandchildren’s future incomes have been mortgaged to preserve the wealth of speculators and multi-national banks that owe no loyalty to any country. I hope we asked for a receipt.

The survivors of the First World War were rewarded with universal suffrage for men aged twenty-one and over and women over thirty (equalised in 1928) in return for their blood and sweat equity earned in the trenches and factories. Similarly, the Welfare State and the 1944 Education Act was the prize for surviving World War Two. Both times, the country was effectively bankrupt, yet the politicians realised that in order to keep power they would have to share some with the people.

What have we gained from the credit crunch? To help balance the books taxes have increased and government, both central and local, is cutting spending on services that we appreciate such as libraries and care of the elderly, in order to preserve or increase expenditure in areas favoured by politicians. How can £9,000 per year university fees be justified? How many people outside of the Westminster and charity bubble want international aid increased by nearly a half? To make up the shortfall in services, the big idea is the Big Society, i.e., do it yourself. Gee, thanks, that’s worth 20% VAT.

If our politicians deigned to listen to us instead of telling us what they think we want (on the basis of what most people grudgingly accept as the least worst on offer – it’s called policy triangulation), then the mechanics of politics and government would be updated to account for our changed society. What was tolerable in the still deferential 1920s and less so after in the forties and fifties after another masterclass in muddling through by our politicians and generals, is absolutely not acceptable in the twenty-first century. We are, despite the ravages of modular coursework and X-Factor, better educated and more aware of the world than previous generations. We can think for ourselves yet we are not trusted by the politicians or the judges to do so. Our opinions are derided as populist if they contradict the BBC/Guardian Weltanschauung. Consequently, there is no debate on capital punishment, the justice system, immigration, multiculturalism, defence outside of narrow bounds set by the Establishment. Possession of non-standard views without statutory victim status causes one to be labelled an “-Ist” and ignored.

What is needed in this changed society of changed citizens is a new democratic tool. The present system of parties, and quinquennial elective dictatorships is as “unfit for purpose” as the rotten boroughs and public ballots of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The tool that appears most useful is Referism, by which we the voters will have the casting vote on the Supply Process which authorises annual government spending. It includes other neo-Chartist proposals such as annual elections of proportion of parliamentary seats. It’s a great start for reforming the system and googling Referism will enable you to discover more about it (and increase google rankings).

I consider that our sweat equity has earned us a bigger say in running our country. As Tony Benn said in 2001:

“If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”

So we mush demand that we elect judges and police commissioners, as the United States has done fairly successfully for a couple of centuries (so it’s not radical or untried). And we must push open the doors and windows of power to let in sunlight and make the occupants relearn that they are there to serve us not the other way around. The balance of power will inevitably be changed. It is the choice of those presently holding the reins whether it will be peaceful or violent . Whichever, this century will be the century of the Individual.

18 comments for “Because we’re worth it

  1. June 3, 2011 at 7:18 am

    The issue is in that feeling becoming both more widespread and also voiced. I’ve a post today on an In/Out Referendum [I’m being attacked by those saying there should be no referendum] and many of the arguments above come into that issue too.

    I believe it will be forced by the tide of circumstances. It’s the Weimar Republic syndrome again and so far, there is no “cometh the man”. Yet there hasn’t been, since WW2, a more fertile climate for going against the best laid plans of the PTB. There is such a thing as pushing the British people just a bit too far.

    When it explodes, it will be nasty.

    • Jeremy Poynton
      June 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      As per Old Holborn; apparently we are governed “by our consent”. How does one withdraw one’s consent? Certainly, I am that point – none of the parties seem to have anything in common with my world view, bar UKIP and their desire to get us the hell out of the disaster that is the EU. It took me 40 years to vote Tory after a lifetime – till Iraq – of voting Labour, now I find the Tories are another limp centre left/right/shake it all about party.

      What happened to the cuts we were promised?
      What happened to the “Great Repeal Bill”.

      Meanwhile, I live on drawdown from my pension. City actuaries estimate that thanks to Gordon the Cunt Brown, that pension pot is 80% less than it would have been had he not raided it.

      So – I work out that I am paying tax as follows.

      Over 50% at source.

      20% when drawn down

      i.e. 70% tax rate.

      WTF?

  2. June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

    “How can £9,000 per year university fees be justified?”
    Those who wish to increase their own life chances and salaries in later life through further education should pay for it, not charge others for it. Bettering yourself is a noble goal but as it benefits you, the costs should be covered by you.
    Also it will help get rid of courses like ‘David Beckham studies’ that are only there to give the lazy an excuse to not get a job for a while longer at someone elses expense.

    I am interested to know why you included Bill Gates in the same sentance as Hitler and Stalin and why you would want to get rid of him?

    • June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

      @James: agreed, but I hope for a Velvet/Gentle Revolution by converting one or two cabinet ministers to the cause of Referism.

      @Bucko: £9,000 per year for about 17 hours lectures and tutorials per week. Universities are charging it because they can and have increased their costs accordingly. If they were able to charge £12,000 what do you think would they do? I do not see any “competition” in this “market”. Don’t you consider that an educated person benefit society as a whole not just him or herself? What annoys me is graduates taking £14k jobs in call centres because globalisation has spivved industry abroad to low wage countries without human rights. Money talks – four letter words. Finally, I do not wish to compare the relative utility of a David Beckham foundation degree or working in a mobile phone shop.
      I cannot answer for Tony Benn, whom I quoted verbatim. However, you will appreciate that until he steppped down from Microsoft, shareholders could question him at AGMs and vote him off if they secured a majority of the votes. Just like anyone can stay at the Ritz, if they can afford it. But how about the CEO of a private hedge fund that asset stripped to near ruin a company providing care for the elderly.

      • June 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

        £9000 per year would probably not cover the wage of the lecturer for 17 hours per week.
        An educated person does benefit society but they do it in a way that most benefits themselves. They may pick a product or service that people want or need but it will be the one that can make them the most money/success, and rightly so. You could argue that the more successful people pay more tax, but as this is taken by force it becomes a separate issue.
        If they were able to charge £12,000 I’m sure they would. Courses that get people into banking and financial services for example, would easily be worth that much. Hair & beauty on the other hand would not so they would have to charge less.
        There is competition available as there are plenty of universities and courses to choose from. Price wise, as long as the ‘market’ is so heavily regulated by the government there can be no competition.

        As to Bill Gates, I missed that you were quoting Tony Benn somehow. My fault for not reading it properly.
        The five questions to Bill Gates would receive five more positive replies than they would from Hitler or Stalin, although if the internet is to be beleived, the Yanks hold Gates in about the same esteem as the other two for reasons that escape me.

        • Jeremy Poynton
          June 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm

          Gates. Yeah, odd that isn’t it? Apple are a fasr nastier company, and Gates is an old fashioned Capitalist Philanthropist who is pouring vast sums of money into 3rd world problems.

          • June 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm

            Eye. I’d be gutted if I were gates’ kids. He’s giving away their inheritance 😆

      • PPS
        June 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

        “Don’t you consider that an educated person benefit society as a whole not just him or herself?”

        &

        If our politicians deigned to listen to us

        Politicians are, in the main, quite well educated these days, yet you deem the fruits of their labour as

        “unfit for purpose”

        Does someone really have to be formally educated to be of more benefit to society?

        • June 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

          benefits, benefits, benefits. Apologies for error.

          Politics is run for the benefit of politicians and not for the people. That is why it is not fit for purpose.

          Does someone really have to be formally educated to be of more benefit to society?

          Er, yes otherwise we would still be using the intercavepainting.
          The road sweeper and professor are equally valuable to society.

          • PPS
            June 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm

            1. If politics were run for the benefit of politicians and not society then surely society would dispose of politics and/or politicians. The fact that society (whatever that is) does not, and also members of society continue to vote is surely some indication that politics is of value to society.

            2. Education and formal education are not the same. University education no more guarantees benefits (whatever your measure) to society than informal education.

      • June 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm

        You point out the problem yourself: “What annoys me is graduates taking £14k jobs in call centres because globalisation has spivved industry abroad to low wage countries without human rights”

        Once upon a time, it was rare to have a university degree, and possession of a degree thus earnt you lots of extra cash and you paid lots of extra taxes. Nowadays, there’s no guarantee that you’ll earn a lot more, so you may not pay more taxes, so where’s the benefit to society?

        The £9,000 a year is there to make people stop and think “Do I really want this degree, or would I be better off getting a job?” The fact that it doesn’t have to be paid back until you’re on more than 21k, and that more than 90% of people won’t pay it back in full doesn’t really matter – it still makes people ask that question.

      • June 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

        Don’t you consider that an educated person benefit society as a whole not just him or herself?

        Surely that depends on the degree? Someone studying engineering or medicine is definitely going to be an asset. Someone studying PPE less so – unless we think that more career politicians is a benefit to society. 😈

        As for the graduates working in call centres, this is also a consequence of the “everyone must go to university” mentality. The qualification has become cheapened to the point where even for poor quality jobs employers are asking for degrees.

  3. Voice of Reason
    June 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    The US system sounds better, but I live here. We just went through an election where the voters (suitably mis-informed by the right-wing radio stations) put in a bunch of Tea Party loonies, who don’t understand how anything works.

    • PPS
      June 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      If the public don’t understand how it works then is it working?

    • June 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Winston Churchill, 1947.
      Would that be the same electorate who voted in Democrats the last time? As Lady Thatcher said, “It’s a funny old world.”

  4. June 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Surely if a university degree is really of value, then the new graduate, in a globalised world, will seek to maximise his future earnings potential by going overseas. Moving beyond the EU could provide an extra boost in earnings by making his student loan non-collectable. Leaving Britain with the more obscure degree holders such as David Beckham Studies all earning less than the repayment kick-in point courtesy of their employers, presumably also public bodies.

    This of course is nothing new, I know of many who trained or studied in the UK and who have hardly worked a day within the country ever since, surely we all recognise that this has been part of the country’s problem for years?

    I enjoyed the posting and must clearly look into ‘referism’

    • June 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you for your kind comment on my debut post.

  5. June 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Most jobs do not require a university degree or even A Levels or as the tasks involved can be broken down into simple procedures and protocols. But what an empty and dull life without a rounded education. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World describes how people can be custom-engineered as work units to perform particular jobs. I believe to my last breath in learning for its own sake as a means of improving and civilising the individual and society as John Henry Newman wrote in The Idea of a University. Stephen Fry puts the point forcefully.

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