The question is how we react to this great prejudice against women. The rule of law and social activism certainly are crucial. But no matter how...”
As the UK’s leading experts on social policy and the welfare state, we urge the government to reconsider the benefit cuts scheduled for 1 April and to ensure that no further public spending cuts are targeted on the poorest in our society. We have two major concerns.
First, as the government’s own impact assessment has demonstrated, the 1% uprating in the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Act will have a disproportionate effect on the poorest. Families with children will be particularly hard hit, pushing a further 200,000 children into poverty. In addition, those with low to middle earnings and single-earner households will be caught by the 1% limit on tax credit rates. These new cuts come on top of the cumulative impact of previous tax, benefit and public expenditure cuts which have already meant the equivalent to a loss of around 38% of net income for the poorest tenth of households and only 5% for the richest tenth.
Second, the welfare state is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society. All developed countries have them and the less developed ones are striving to establish their own. Welfare states depend on a fair collection and redistribution of resources, which in turn rests upon the maintenance of trust between different sections of society and across generations. Misleading rhetoric concerning those who have to seek support from the welfare state, such as the contrast between “strivers” and “shirkers”, risks undermining that trust and, with it, one of the key foundations of modern Britain.
In fact the divisions are not so simple. For example, the borderline between low and no pay is fluid. Families move in and out of work and in and out of poverty. Around one in six of economically active people have claimed jobseeker’s allowance at least once in the last two years (almost 5 million people). The record level of youth unemployment accounts for most of those households where no one has ever worked. Around 6.5 million people are underemployed and want to work more. The 50% rise in families receiving working tax credits since 2003 reflects the 20% increase in the working poor, as one in five women and one in seven men earn less than £7 per hour. Now the majority of children and working-age adults in poverty live in working, not workless, households.
In the interests of fairness and to protect the poorest, as well as to avoid the risk of undermining the consensus on the British welfare state, the government should increase taxation progressively on the better off, those who can afford to pay (including ourselves), rather than cutting benefits for the poorest.
Stephen Graham - Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (via effusionofbiopower)
this is Trinidad/Port of Spain and Eastern Corridor right now
The ‘politics of envy’ is a cliche of Thatcherite ‘meritocratic’ ideology. Mrs Thatcher, in a 1975 speech debunking the post-war consensus, attributed a saying to the Mid-West: “Don’t cut down the tall poppies. Let them rather grow tall.” If this doesn’t sound very much like a Mid-West homily, it is because it is derived from Herodotus. But the idea that this encompasses a folksy wisdom, a ‘common sense’ if you will, is important to Thatcherite and neoliberal ideology. It means, don’t cut down those who excel out of envy; encourage them, fertilise them, let them excel all the more. The idea is that people who succeed in markets deserve their success: their success is ‘meritocratic’. In this, she was not innovating: she merely gave fresh expression to an old conservative trope, present in Nietzsche as much as Rand. But its staying power as a free market fable is acc0unted for by its political uses.
The more sophisticated ideologists of neoliberalism, such as Hayek, recognised the danger in attributing merit to market outcomes: it was a thinly veiled social Darwinism that distorted the real justification for free markets, that being their superior productive capacity. But reactionaries like Thatcher understood that people do care about social justice, and are not enthralled by GDP figures. She thus took the logical step of binding the argument for free markets to a mawkish, simplistic morality fable, in which egalitarianism is a conspiracy against excellence. And to this day, Tory ideologues such as Jenkins, when in need of a quick social justice fix,alight on the old chestnut about the ‘politics of envy’.
Last May, one of the largest hedge funds in the world paid me $100 to eat gourmet popcorn and explain why I wasn’t applying for one of its (lucrative!) jobs. As I sat in a hotel suite with six other Yale students – musicians, biologists, dramatists, other-ists – and answered questions about my future plans, I got this uneasy feeling that the man in the beautiful suit was going to take my Hopes and Dreams back to some lab to figure out the best way to crush them.
And indeed, they have it down to a science. Each fall, our country’s top-tier banks and consulting firms cram New Haven’s best hotels with the best and brightest to lure them with a series of superlatives: the greatest job, the most money, the easiest application, the fanciest popcorn.
They’re good at it. They’re unbelievably, remarkably, terrifyingly good at it. Every year around 25 percent of employed Yale graduates enter the consulting and finance industries. At Harvard and Stanford, the numbers are even higher.
It has been amply demonstrated in interdisciplinary scholarship (Davis 2009, Krippner 2011, Ott 2011) that the undue influence of dominant finance, which has singularly privileged short-term shareholder value and large-scale gambling, has actually diverted, transferred, and extracted wealth from productive enterprises, workers, houses, and communities, generating rampant socioeconomic inequality not seen since the Great Depression. And yet, in explicitly non-ironic terms, Wall Street actors and advocates continually naturalize and make direct claims about their connection to social purpose through production. For example, a quick survey of the recent statements from Wall Street executives and spokespeople are telling:
1. In the Wall Street Journal article, “Finance Overhaul Casts Long Shadow on the Plains,” Michael Phillips used the specter of Midwestern farmers’ productivity and ability to hedge against crop price risks to cast a shadow on the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Specifically, Phillips hinted and worried that derivatives regulation would impact such crucial risk mitigation techniques.
2. In a New York Times report on what Wall Street bankers’ think of Occupy Wall Street, Nelson Schwartz and Eric Dash showed that although a few Wall Streeters are sympathetic to the movement, most presume protestors to be “unsophisticated,” and wish that people would “show some gratitude.” A longtime money manager explains, “Who do you think pays the taxes? Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”
3. And, of course, a year after September 2008, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, restated his case for investment banking to The Times of London:
I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer, [but] [w]e’re very important… We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle… We have a social purpose (Arlidge 2009).
The above discussions and analyses illustrate what I would call “official” representations of elite financial actors, which are deeply believed and understood, despite their contradictions or how they are belied through their own cultural practices.