Finance Friday | Monetarist mayhem
The town that I live in used to be run by the town clerk from the town hall. Now we have a new civic centre miles away, they didn’t even put it in a central location. Social Housing used to be council housing and people paid their rent and that included rates, water rates and sewage.
Since the days of Thatcherism in Britain when council rates were replaced with a community charge in a monetarist experiment, things have gone badly wrong. We now have a council tax that is unfair on people who are less well off and favours the rich. Water companies were privatised along with other important government assets like electricity and gas. The biggest problem has been a housing shortage that has been engineered so that property values have soared. This is great for the rich landowners, but not so good for poor people on council housing estates. Councils re-valued council homes and decided to charge ‘economic rents’ based on the new values. That made rents unaffordable for many people, especially those on benefits and so they introduced ‘housing benefit’. Council tax went up with rising ‘values’ and so did council tax benefit. The so called housing bubble also made housing benefit and council tax benefit a bubble too. It was a bubble the government couldn’t afford. The monetarist experiments turned into monetarist mayhem. The economies of the world are out of control.
What happened to all the money that councils got in from the increased rents and council tax. Where I live I can see the chief executive and his staff that replaced the town clerk getting salaries of over £100,000 a year. I can see glossy leaflets in a dozen different languages being sent out to tell me all about people’s rights. I see mini roundabouts and speed humps; schools getting bigger and bigger with little improvement in education. If I went out this afternoon, I would see traffic jams. Who are all these people on the road on a Friday afternoon starting the weekend early? You can blame the country’s problems on some guy on a council estate who suffers from depression and struggles to get out of bed before lunch or you can put the blame where it really belongs. There are people in authority that can take responsibility, they are the skivers sloping off early on a Friday afternoon to their second home in the countryside. There are people in the countryside that would like that home to live in all the bloody time.
How can we cope with these bureaucratic leeches? How do we survive the return to monetarism and people like Iain Duncan Smith telling us that the unemployed can live on fifty odd quid a week when he has a five acre garden and a swimming pool? Do we let them divide and conquer the people?
I think we can survive by being realistic. I’m not really struggling financially, but I understand that if the rich have all the money, trade between the rest of us will get difficult. Look at Japan, prices have been dropping there and they have deflation, competition has been fierce and so companies have had to drop prices. There economy has been in recession for over a decade because of right-wing dogmatic monetarist policies. Now they are going to print money and invest in infrastructure. I’m not sure if it will work. They need to invest in something the people need, not investment for investment sake. They also need to think about sustainability, not growth. It’s no good building new hospitals without maintaining the ones that you already have. Nice new trains and roads are not a great idea if the ones you have are falling apart from lack of maintenance. We also need to build things to last more than five minutes. The throw away society is too wasteful.
What do you think? How can we survive this right wing attack on our economy, our values and our way of life? Please comment and share you views. If you’re outside of the UK, your country might have similar problems. We are in a global economy, how can it be fixed?
- Council tax benefit cuts: the expense of getting people with no money to pay up | Alan Stanley (guardian.co.uk)
- The hard realities of Bedroom and Council Taxes cause by coalition (gordonlyew.wordpress.com)