I read an excellent article just now.
This quote stood out for me:
The classic tools of propaganda are being used to turn the electorate against benefit recipients: demonisation; lies and distortion, appeals to fear, stereotyping and repetition. It is disturbing to discover that public opinion is being shifted towards the government’s desired ground.
Once upon a time we talked about social security. Society keeping all of us safe. It’s a good thought. Nothing to be ashamed of. One of those goes around comes around ideas, that you pay in when you can, take out when you need to. And over a lifetime, most of us pay in more than we ever get back. But that’s ok, because everyone gets by.
Now, though, there’s this idea that if you aren’t earning, it’s your own fault. That if you’re sick, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough. That you don’t need benefits keeping pace with inflation, because you can just be thriftier, and more imaginative, and live on a tin of beans and a smart price yogurt, raid the reduced shelves, walk instead of taking the bus.
People in social housing are somehow freeloading if there’s a spare bedroom. Ignore that spare has been defined by a set of guidelines. Ignore also the fact that there aren’t smaller properties. That social housing should be a safety net, that the lack of it is still not being addressed.
If you cut housing benefit to these people, cap their other benefits, squeeze their income ever further, you hurt the economy. You take away money that would have been spent, in supermarkets, on food, locally. You make people feel vulnerable and you reduce consumer confidence. And how can any of that help us as a society fight against an economic depression?
It can’t. It doesn’t. Austerity is hurting us all. Except that little group at the top, the chumocracy in Westminster, the new gentry in their insulated bubble. They are lining their nests at our expense, playing on our fears and dividing our society.
I think there is a way to fight back. If you can, when you spend money, spend it with local firms that pay decent wages. Avoid any that are taking part in workfare. Let your local council know what you think of short sighted cuts in the name of austerity, that are eroding essential services next to impossible to replace. (Ours sold our local community hospital. The mind boggles. )
Above all though, be kind. Do whatever you can to break down barriers. If you’ve an independent coffee shop that will take part in suspended coffee schemes, buy there instead of in a tax dodging corporate.
Live consciously. You only get one chance.