"Money, It's a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. New car, caviar, four-star daydream. Think I'll buy me a football team" - Pink Floyd - 'Money'
The global financial elites are hiding 18 trillion dollars in offshore accounts for the purpose of tax avoidance, a perfectly legal caper because of easily-exploited loopholes in tax laws. The corporations, banks and very rich currently see no reason to invest and are simply sitting on their cash until something juicy comes along. When it does come along, they will become even richer, and will of course sit on the gains until, erm...something juicy again hoves into view; a clear demonstration of their priorities: namely, themselves.
18 trillion dollars in the right hands and used wisely would solve just about every serious social issue on this planet. One can argue, of course, that it is their money so they can do what they wish with it. However, that argument requires one to also believe that financial elites avoiding tax, legally or not, is acceptable.
For nations which depend significantly on the private sector for their vital public services, this reluctance to invest presents a serious concern. The UK has Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party to thank for the massive wave of privatization of its industries and services, ably abetted by Tony Blair's New Labour. In this must-read article by Richard Seymour, we see how this was brought about via political calculation against widespread public opposition.
33 years on, what kind of society have these policies brought about?
The Sunday Times today released its 2012 Rich List. In it we see that the wealth of the richest people in the UK has soared to record levels, this against the backdrop of the economic crisis and austerity policies of the UK coalition government.
At the same time, income inequality in the UK is growing faster than in any other rich country. That might be OK if the people wanted it to be that way, but they don't: 65% say that inequality is too high. Yet more evidence, as if it were needed, that the rulers of the UK, supposedly democratically elected servants of their populace, represent only the interests of themselves and the rich.
Massive privatization from 1979 coincides with huge inequality now.
Deborah Orr of the Guardian wrote a fine piece on the evils of only valuing work that generates profit. This kind of thinking is relentlessly reinforced throughout the media and in every walk of life, profoundly influencing the philosophies of ordinary people living in such an atmosphere, particularly the younger generations who have no experience of anything else and therefore know of no other way to think.
This vicious philosophy has to be combated at all costs. The idea that profit trumps all other aspects of life such as volunteer work, charity, self-improvement, spiritual fulfillment and so on can only lead to a truly shallow world, one which places value on image and financial gain at the cost of all else, even human dignity. One needs only to behold the obscene entity known as the Olympics to see how something that once stood for human unity and endeavor can be corrupted. The modern Olympics is simply a marketing vehicle for giant corporations like McDonald's and Coca Cola, entities as far removed from the true spirit of the human struggle as can be envisaged.
What lies at the root of all this? The first-past-the-post electoral system of the UK has been instrumental in creating a society that does not accurately represent the values of its people. This system, more than any other, encourages tactical voting, where people vote not for a candidate who represents their views, but for one most likely to defeat a candidate who holds opposing views. Democracy is simply not meant to be like this, and the monster known as vast inequality is the result.
There are better systems available, and the most ideal is direct democracy, which is perfectly viable in the internet age. In order to reverse this deadly trend toward societies lying throats exposed to trans-national corporations, the banks and the very rich, who have demonstrated repeatedly that they have no interest in helping anyone but themselves, a grassroots movement toward direct democracy is absolutely vital.
Far too many media commentators simply moan on and on about these issues. It is not enough to fume at home and do nothing about it. We have seen from what has happened to the Occupy movement that thanks to corporate media ownership and police brutality, traditional protest as a means of effectively changing society is dead, and even if it does bring about some change, it will be short-lived because the underlying system is rotten. Going out onto the streets certainly raises public awareness, but you can be sure the elites will never allow anyone to change the status quo in any way that will threaten their dominance. The only way to defeat them is via a grassroots movement, which is completely beyond their power to prevent. My free book (see below) sets out how this can be brought about.
There is no question that things can be fixed. The problem is that for the entities in power, those voted in by people in demonstrably unfair and unrepresentative electoral systems, there is nothing to fix. Things are exactly as they want them to be, and that will not change until we do something about it.
'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.