Fairness? I don’t see that in the Spending Review

I remember reading something on a pro-free market website a few years ago where a neoliberal apologist  claimed that “capitalism is a moral system” and that it was “the greatest system ever invented”. I am not quite sure what he meant by the word “moral” nor am I certain if capitalism is the “greatest system ever invented”. In terms of its apparent ‘morals’, this is something of a chimera: morality is subjective: the legendary libertinous activities of the Marquis de Sade, for example, would be described as immoral, possibly amoral by many. That would be a majoritarian position. Others would describe de Sade as an extreme libertarian; a libertine in every sense of the word. They may argue that de Sade had his own morality but it was not a morality that any of us would understand but it was a morality nonetheless.

Today the Hon Gid announced the long-awaited Comprehensive Spending Review. There were no surprises: we knew that the Tory-led coalition was going to punish the poor. We also knew that they had laid, at least partial blame for the recession (and by extension the banking crisis that led to the recession), at the door of those on benefits, who have all been tacitly accused of ‘dragging the country down’. The Guardian said this,

To gasps from the Labour benches, the chancellor announced “tough but fair” reforms that will lead to extra changes for housing benefit and on the rules for the mobility and care arrangements for disability living allowance.

There’s that word “fair” again; this time tied to the word “tough”. Changes to Housing Benefit will result in more homelessness. Many families will not be able to afford to live in places like London and will be forced to leave their communities behind.  Yesterday the the media announced that the government was going to end “council house tenancies for life”. What I’ve read so far doesn’t suggest that this is going to happen…yet…they’re just going to make more difficult to afford. However, because of the 60% cut in the social housing budget,

…new tenants will be offered intermediate rents at around 80% of the market rent. The age at which people are allowed to claim housing benefit for a flat, rather than only a room in a shared house, will rise from 25 to 35, “so that housing benefit rules reflect the housing expectations of people of a similar age not on benefits”, said Osborne

So that’s more people out on the street then? Who is going to be able to afford 80% of a market rent in a place like the Tories’ model Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham? This article from Inside Housing tells us that social landlords will be able to increase their rents in line with local market rents,

The CSR document is less explicit, stating: ‘Social landlords will be able to offer a growing proportion of new social tenants new intermediate rental contracts that are more flexible, at rent levels between current market and social rents.’

It adds: ‘The government wants to make social housing more responsive, flexible and fair so that more people can access social housing in ways that better reflect their needs.’

This means that a social landlord like Peabody (they dropped the word “Trust” from their name some time ago to reflect their new neoliberal direction) will now be able to force out tenants in the more well-heeled boroughs -like Hammersmith & Fulham –  by increasing their rents. This is ironic given that the Peabody Trust was originally created to house London’s poor.

Also announced was the predicted loss of 500,000 public sector jobs. Hon Gid and the Hole-in-the Wall Gang tell us that jobs will be created in the private sector but where will these jobs actually come from?

The Marquis de Sade lent his name to the practice of sadism and is with a sadistic pleasure that this government has announced these swingeing cuts. We have been told on an almost daily basis that ‘”we are all in this together” but it is clear from what has been announced that rich are not standing shoulder to shoulder in a Spirit-of-the-Blitz fashion. The neoliberalism that began in Pinochet’s Chile was imported to Britain in the 1980’s by Margaret Thatcher. Privatizations, cuts and a reduction in the size of the state (its repressive apparatuses were left intact, of course) were all part of the drive for ‘greater efficiency’. Under this new regime, working class Chileans suffered terribly and the anti-working class policies of the Pinochet regime continue to this day. The Latin American Herald Tribune says that today, 80,000 public sector employees went on a one day strike,

President Sebastian Piñera’s right-wing government has dismissed more than 2,500 public sector workers since taking office in March, Raul de la Puente said.

The ANEF protest enjoys support from Chile’s biggest labor organization, the CUT, as well as from teachers and associations representing high school and college students.

Contrary to what the government says, the layoffs have affected not just positions traditionally filled by political appointees, but people at all levels, including “clerks, messengers, drivers, technicians and professionals,” De la Puente said.

Sebastian Piñera visited Britain this week to take tea with Lord Snooty. He brought with him a few lumps of rock from the San Jose mine as gifts. He was also here to give a speech to the London School of Economics on “The Chilean Way of Development”.

There is no question that this government is using the budget deficit as an excuse to further socially engineer Britain. The sadism of its anti-working class policies are designed to destroy communities and associations under the guise of fiscal prudence.

UPDATE:

I remember who said “capitalism is a moral system”. It was Ayn Rand. In fact, she said it was “the only moral system”.  She also took a lot of amphetamines.

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Filed under Comprehensive Spending Review, Government & politics, Neoliberalism

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