Tuesday, October 12, 2010

today : same old same old

I was talking to a long-time friend the other day. She said that she had a reunion with some people from her Uni days and everyone (now in their early 40s) was having some kind of mid-life crisis.
"None of them were happy," she said.

I would include myself in that category. My 'crisis' has been inspired my medical issues : suddenly not being able to walk has made me have to resign myself to the things I'll never do and regret many of the chances I didn't take. For example, disability travel, while not impossible, is much more daunting and expensive than able-bodied travel. Disabled employment is problematic and restricted. My ambit of my choices has been narrowed somewhat.

So for me it is not really a crisis of 'mid-life' as such. The timing is a kind of coincidence. But qualitatively, the effects are the same. Someone who has reached a stage of career boredom, feels stuck in a marriage and bound by children. someone who counts the grey in their hair. They feel trapped by circumstance. The fact that the circumstance is solely the result of choices they made when younger doesn't really make a difference.

I am wondering if some of it is triggered by the nostalgia of living under a Tory government. I became politicised in the 80s when we had to suffer what felt like a hundred years of Thatcher. In many ways Britain really was an unpleasant, divided and pretty dour place to be during those years. People forget.

I've noticed a similar feeling hanging around recently. It gets stronger and stronger. Every time I hear a Tory minister bluster out the same old Tory nonsense, I feel a mixture of annoyance and despair that reminds me of when I was younger and just getting to grips with the complexity and unfairness of the world.

In those days it was the knowledge that people were being punished for being poor and working class. Nowadays it is the fact that...erm...people are being punished for being poor and working class. It might not seem that way on the surface, but cuts never affect the rich, because they are rich. Taxes affect the rich, which is why the Tories are so against taxes.

I am a little confused as to the basis of the 2010 Tory economic vision. I suspect that they have embraced Canadian style balanced book ideas, whereas before it was all about Friedman. But as any Canadian who is about to suffer the collapse of their property bubble will tell you, balancing the budget was not the answer.

But then again, it also looks like the deficit is an excellent excuse to continue prosecuting the same old free-market ideology that has proved so successful at making the rich richer and the poor poorer over the past 30 years. Under the guise of essential deficit reductions they are poised to make 25% cuts over four years. I don't really think the average voter has any idea how much of our economy relies on the collective and what this will do. Sitting in a castle, the average old-money rich person will see little difference. They don't use public health, education, social support etc, so for them it won't matter. For the rest of us things are going to be quite different.

In one way I was wrong about the Cameron Tories. I thought they might be a little more easy going than the Thatcherites. But no. From day one there seems to be a determination to roll back everything that Labour did in the last 13 years, whether it is good or bad, useful or not. A 'market' in the health service, check, returning higher education into the hands of the wealthy, check. Constantly attacking vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled. Check.

The nub of how they haven't changed can be seen in their PR. The recession, that everyone in the world knows was caused by irresponsibility in the global banking system, was 'Brown and Darling's recession' in the lead up to the election. Not unexpectedly they conflated the meanings of recession in the UK economy caused by mismanagement in the UK system, as in Brown wishing to abolish boom and bust, with the meaning of global recession caused by global issues and actually sparked by Bush spending on 2 wars, tax breaks for the rich and lowering interest rates to 1% to create a false boom in property. It all became the same thing in order to sell a simple narrative to the electorate. But since getting in they have carried this on. It is their way of avoiding any blame for what might happen in the economy and a nice convenient cover for their unnecessary and ideologically driven public spending cuts.

A side effect is that the banks no longer caused any problems. It was all Brown and Darling. So no need to reign in their friends in the City.

It's the same old simpletons' view of the world. Stuck in an ideological rut.

Next week we'll get the cuts. They won't be quite as savage as we've been led to believe. There'll be some sweeteners. Something like Winter fuel payments or social care will be spared to make them look cuddly.

But they are the same moronic selfish bastards that they always were.

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