Osborne’s Dream of the Continuation of Neoclassical Economics
Is “A Boot Stamping On Human Face Forever”
By Bryan Gould and George Tait Edwards
1 The record of the Coalition Government beggars belief
In economic terms George Osborne’s record is appalling. The so-called
recovery has been delayed unnecessarily for more than half a decade and
means that a return to pre-2008 living standards is still many years away.
Median GDP is still 3% below 2007 levels, and since the population has
increased by 3%, that means an average fall in individual incomes of 6%. The
decline of the productive sector and particularly of manufacturing has meant that only 10% of our GDP is now accounted for by manufacturing — the lowest proportion of any major developed economy — and our share of world trade has fallen to just 2.7%.
2 The disastrous fall in family incomes
Coalition polices have resulted in the sharpest fall in living standards in more than 60 years. According to data from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, average wages have fallen by over £1,600 since 2010, at an average rate of over £530 a year. The pre-Coalition reduction in median income (not the same as average wages, but an acceptable proxy), can be calculated at about £5,400 over thirty years (1980 to 2010) — about £180 a year — so that the Coalition has produced a reduction in worker incomes of almost three times the previous trend. But these figures relate only to the working population, and take no account of the reduction in unemployment and disability benefits, the denial of benefits to mothers seeking work because they have not been employed during the previous two years, and the exclusion from the data for both the employed and unemployed of the growing practice of zero-hours contracts, all of which mean that the real extent of income cuts is much larger than official figures indicate.
The burden imposed on working people has not of course been shared by the wealthiest people in our society. According to an Oxfam report  , the richest 5 families in Britain have more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population. That level of inequality is unprecedented since records began in the UK. In a more recent report  , Oxfam tells us that the Coalition’s welfare cuts have pushed 1.75 million of the UK’s poorest households deeper into poverty, suffering an absolute cut in their income in the past three years and leaving them struggling to cover food and energy bills.
And all the attendant evils of this unprecedented decline in working-class
living standards are now manifest in Coalition Britain. The national scandal
that millions of children in the UK are going to bed hungry is not some
accidental by-product of Coalition policy. It is the inevitable and deliberate
consequence of policies pursued by a government that is “of the privileged,
by the privileged, for the privileged”.
2 Coalition Targeting of the Disadvantaged and Women
The disadvantaged poor — the disabled, the sick and the unemployed — have
suffered, through cuts in their benefits, the greatest burdens in dealing with
the recession. SCOPE, the charity supporting disabled people, have shown,
for example, that 600,000 people in the UK lost a total of £2.62 billion pounds a year from Monday 8 April 2013 as a result of the Coalition Government abolishing the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and introducing the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), with tighter eligibility criteria and a controversial new assessment. The purpose of that change is not to improve service or to make things more fair but simply to save money. The lack of concern for the most disadvantaged in our society was compounded by the amazingly (and deliberately) inaccurate statements about incapacity benefit made by Ian Duncan Smith.
Coalition policies have disproportionately affected women, who are
disproportionately found in lower-paid occupations and in the caring
professions. An analysis of Treasury data by House of Commons Library
researchers in 2012 showed that £11.1bn of the £14.9bn raised from the five
spending reviews since 2010 comes from women even though they earn less
than men on average. Planned changes to tax credits, child benefits and
public sector pensions were largely to blame. They came shortly after the
government announced plans to cut the 50p top rate of tax for all those
earning over £150,000. Guardian research has shown that the Conservative Party is 84% funded by 15 very rich people, 14 of them based in the City of London. The Conservative Party are proposing to stun the British electorate with that money in order to try to win an election they deserve to lose. If the person who pays the piper calls the tune, how can we ever expect the Conservative Party to run Britain in the interests of most of its people, and not just in the interests of the already rich and privileged? Could that funding explain why the Coalition Government have behaved as they have?
3 All of the Coalition’s “Greatest Achievements” are Malign
What is the greatest achievement of the Conservative-led Coalition?
Destroying the health service by setting NHS budgets well below the level of
need? The creation of millions of starving families and children in Britain?
Destroying the future prospects of a decent life for our children? The
destruction of the social fabric by setting the budget for social benefits so low that many benefit entitlements cannot be paid? Training DWP staff to mislead the unemployed about the availability and the rights to benefits so as to stay within the reduced DWP allocated budget? Making the the poorest pay for the credit crunch caused by the banks and government economic incompetence? Prioritising tax cuts for the rich and creating an economic recovery with lower median incomes? All of these things they have done, and they promise much more of the same, only worse, if they are re-elected to power.
4 Neoclassical Economics Has No Future
The budget day picture painted by Gilbert George Osborne of Britain’s future is totally bleak. A Britain without an NHS, a future in which the credit squeeze chases real living standards further down indefinitely in order to reduce taxes for his paymasters, the already stinking rich. Does anyone except Osborne and Cameron believe they can cut median incomes, already down by £7,000 since 1980, by further thousands of pounds in all the years to come? Do they imagine the British will put up with declining living standards and interminable attacks on the poor and underprivileged indefinitely? The compliant British media have ignored street protests against the government, but the levels of repression that would be needed to enforce further steep reductions in British living standards have not so far featured in, or been proposed by, any government programme.
Osborne’s vision of the future of Britain is “A boot stamping on a human face forever.”
That’s what he wants to do, and what neoclassical economics justifies.
Nobody sensible should vote for that.