The British government, hand in hand with the monarchy, has cracked the spine of fairytale books and told us time and again over the years, but never more so than recently, their favourite myth: that we should, must…will suffer together collectively for the “greater good”: austerity, pandemic, the cost of living crisis- it’s no wonder that people’s empathy has all but burned to ash in the constant pushing of the fallacious narrative that one must suffer for their fellow man: especially when the curtain obscuring the truth is gossamer thin and cobweb light: let us lift it now and talk about the great wealth heist.
The Crown Jewels of the British monarch are worth between £1 billion and £4.9 billion pounds. As his mother ailed, Charles, this year, sat solemnly on a golden throne, next to a crown made of gold and diamonds to address the British public and to say gravely that, together, my friends, we face difficult times ahead. On that, my unelected king, we agree for certain: difficult times have been here for many years for some of us but clearly there are no plans to abate this.
One imagines the heating bill for what is now Charles’ estate is astronomical in this climate: he’s very lucky that he’s one of the breakaways who does not pay his own energy bills. Or rent. Or, anything really.
Your family and friends here do. We pay for everything, from the ill gotten diamond that adorns the crown to the golden chair Charles sat upon to tell us how hard things would be, that austerity and cost of living was coming and to prepare to cut a new notch and again tighten our collective belts.
The Royals sit hand in hand with the British government, overseeing affairs of state. Now, earlier this year MPs voted on a pay rise, bringing them to £82,000 a year (their subsidised food and paid for expenses notwithstanding)- this is more than twice my own salary, almost three times: and of course people will hear this with jealousy. Yes, I would love to earn that much money, mostly because I’d have something of a shot at getting a mortgage before I’m 45. But the point is, the threshold for being in the top 5% of earners in the whole UK is £85,000. So when the government, too, tells us to prepare for austerity- Truss in her flash in the pan told us that, what she planned, she “wouldn’t call austerity”, but a rose by any other name, eh, Liz? Now Sunak prepares to draw us into another collective five to ten (or more) years of harsh cuts, rollbacks, spending halts and more, one has to remember that these people, those shot callers, the people making these “hard decisions” that we all have to live with- won’t suffer. Like fibreglass is insulation in a cold home, money is an insulation against austerity: if you already have it, you can afford not to suffer- after all, it’s literally called a cost of living crisis: the cost attached to how much you need to spend, just to live. Dystopian.
Rachel Johnson, sister of the disgraced ex PM did a radio show a few months ago, waxing painful on what luxuries she’d have to cut back on due to the cost of living crisis in some unfathomably painful attempt to appear as a woman of the people. Johnson is also a regular advocate for returning to the office rather than working from home: she described civil servants as “riding pelotons” instead of getting on with the job, as her brother (at the time still our prime minister) said working at home was “distracting” and taking about how you would just eat cheese: remember, by the way, that the prime minister lived in a flat above his workplace at the time and suddenly you realise just how horrifyingly prescient his statement, for once, was. Bear also in mind that Rachel Johnson’s opinions on anything are unfetterably only interesting because she’s related to the sex addled scandal ridden man who spent his entire tenure as prime minister, lying to the public- brexit would be simple and boost the economy, we would ignore the coronavirus and get on with it, we all had to stay separate for each other, he didn’t know Chris Pincher was a pervert… One has to wonder whether Rachel holds her brother’s dual ability to be as unfailingly, unpleasantly delusional and yet be paid as handsomely as he back when he was a journo, once describing his exorbitant second salary at a newspaper -£250,000, as “chickenfeed”. Ones sympathy for Rachel’s brave cost of living sacrifices is as limited as her ability to see under her no doubt constantly carefully maintained fringe.
Day upon day, the UK public are fed messages that are so 20 karat dystopic in nature, the cut so diamond sharp and crystal clear, that I find myself in an almost constant state of flabbergast: we, the little people, the poor, the beleaguered, must go to the office, and earn our meagre salary (but don’t worry, you’re paying less tax under the anti tax tories who raised them 15 times), putting that money aside- not for frivolity but just to afford our variable mortgages, to keep the lights on and to quietly drive to the local food bank, primark sunglasses shoved up our noses so the neighbours don’t realise it’s us because god forbid people realise for a second how dire our own and each others situations have become-because we’re all in it together, aren’t we?
Rishi Sunak, the new prime minister, is married to one of the richest people in the UK. During his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer he broke lockdown rules when he wasn’t extremely busy making sure he and his wife took full advantage of the broken tax rules to pay less than their due to the country he serves- but when he was working on the pandemic, he was a crucible for the situation we’re now in. Some will cry that he had to pull out all the stops: furlough cost money don’t you know. These armchair economists, friendly to Sunak, usually only know the value of a pound contrasted against a Freddo and have a purposeful lack of understanding when it comes to countrywide economy.
Yes, Sunak had to pull out all the stops for furlough or the hospitals would have been flooded with sick workers, death on even more of an industrial scale- because people could not afford to go to work and die, nor could they afford to sit at home for free. Naively, these same chocolate penny economists will tell you that furlough came at a cost to us: not to the landlords though. Those of us lucky enough to own property and to be paid for it- furlough covered them, because where did that money people earned for “sitting at home doing nowt” go… banks, or landlords, and energy companies. And harking back to the ineffably babbling point- missing waffling vicissitudes of Rachel Johnson, it’s funny how many rich folk wanted us back in the office- not, I believe, to ensure that hard work continued (after all, according to Truss, and Raab and Johnson, the British proletariat are lazy, idlers, prone to drink and violence over a hard days graft) but because rich people own property.
When you own eight office buildings, and none of those offices need you any more because SURPRISE, home working does work, your valuable property that accrues you money for just sitting there is suddenly useless.
During Truss’ tenure, if you didn’t blink and miss it, you may remember that she came up with what she termed as an “aggressive growth plan” to shore up the economy. Do you know the real reason that stupid, ill thought out plan didn’t work? Do you know why you should block and ignore any single person, pundit, newsreader, broadcaster or family member who for one second believed in the mythical magic wand waving of trickle down economics?
Because we’ve just lived through proof it doesn’t work.
Pandemics throughout history had been assumed by economists and historians to be a crucial crux of wealth redistribution: the rich suddenly having the onus thrust upon them to pay for the poor when the world came to a crashing halt and could not function as normal.
But this only demonstrably happened once- it was an aberration, during the Black Death, and other subsequent pandemics didn’t offer this proof. But they should be. Because wealth is accrued via the poor doing the jobs the rich pay us tiny slivers of their wealth to do, and when that stops, the rich should stop getting richer… shouldn’t they? That is when trickle down should manifest, as the rich haemorrhage money because the poor are verboten from working for them. But that didn’t happen.
Wealth accrual is not, or should not be, another form of immunisation against the pandemic: the poorer suffered from more adverse conditions than anyone during the pandemic. CEOs sat in their spare room ordering the office to continue under covid guidance, royalty broadcast remotely from chintz desks worth more than my flat’s monthly rent and bills. And so richness became an immunisation against covid too- because as with abstinence, it’s the best preventative. If you have a huge estate and you’re never exposed to another person, you won’t get sick.
The rich are in charge, the rich are in power- and so of course, they sit on their golden thrones or behind their vivid red placards, quoting three word slogans and telling us that we’re in it together. Because even in the most horrific conditions, they do not pay their fair share- and during the coronavirus pandemic, this was exemplified. The rich collectively gained a huge sum of money that the poor- us- lost. That money was not economy money, like the money that is created when people apply for mortgages or create a new business to meet demand: it was a simple transfer of wealth, from the collective poor to the privileged few. Investors in vaccines and masks, in ventilation tech or in industrial sign printing or whosoever else was “savvy” enough to spend a small sliver of their money to make huge gains right back.
So there you have it: trickle down economics doesn’t work- because during the pandemic and beyond the rich have accrued collective money at a rate never seen before in history and… it hasn’t trickled down. We’re still in a cost of living crisis, still in an energy crisis, still being told by those who benefited from existing wealth and wealth disparity that we’re all in the same boat. The difference is the boat has ten chairs, all occupied by unfathomably rich people, and the rest of us are dangling over the edge desperately paddling with both hands towards a shore we’ll never reach because the rich do not want us to.
Austerity is a choice. It is a choice, to force the poor to pay more tax proportionally. To offer temporary, sticking plaster aid to people to pay their bills, a choice to cut money to already skeletal public services when the answer is there: it’s plain to see energy companies and the rich collectively need to pay windfall taxes. Do you know what a windfall is? It is when money unexpectedly comes to you all at once. So we’ll implement half hearted windfall taxes against some energy companies sometimes as an emergency.
What about the billionaire CEOs who invested money into PPE schemes and got returns numbered in the millions, each pound or dollar measured in the flickering beep of a heart monitor attached to a COVID patient? That wasn’t smart investment, it was betting on death, insider trading on mortality. And those people get to… what, keep that money? Sit back and enjoy the spoils they, if you can lower yourself to using this word, “earned” by transferring wealth to already rich companies?
In accounts around the world, wealth sits- be it the collective wealth of companies or the accrued riches of some illusory businessman. That money could be put to use- it could pave our roads, fix our schools, hire our doctors, it could be leveraged back to its company to cheapen our bills, it could be used to democratise property ownership and prevent predatory landlordism.
Instead this money, this accrued wealth of those who could provide solutions to the problems humans face every day, goes towards vanity projects like buying social media, goes to space flights or it’s offshored where it is secreted away from the economy it came from: smaller sums go towards golden wallpaper or towards paying security to sit in one of six estates owned by a man whose claim to fame is his mother’s title, and her father’s title after that. This wealth exists to create a them and an us, and during this time, as temperatures plunge, as mortgages spiral, as windows stay dark and old people ride buses just to stay warm, we still live in a world of fools who think the them, the millionaires and billionaires, will keep feeding us the crumbs from their cakes if we just keep paddling that boat for them.
National debt is a myth. Money can just be printed. Its value is imaginary and human life is worth inconceivably more. And between a monarch under a gold and diamond hat, clutching a sceptre, and the richest PM in history whose wealth is still being accrued from a business operating out of Russia, being told we’re all in it together is not just a bitter pill to swallow: it’s a placebo.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.