Increaseing poverty is bad news for us all….

Today’s report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies which predicts sharp declines in income and increasing poverty is bad news for those involved. However, and the left doesn’t make this point often enough, it is also bad news for the economy and therefore the rest of us. Even if we are not drawn into the poverty trap ourselves (which is unlikely given how wide it is currently opening its cavernous maw) then it should go without saying that we will all be hit by the economic consequences of falling spending, unemployment, falling tax revenues etc.

You would hope that the moral and democratic case for creating a more equal society is pretty much un-arguable. However, the right often retreats into pseudo-science to justify its economic positions and the left continues making the moral and democratic case, without addressing the rationalist case against unequal societies. Books like The Spirit Level outline a strong case that far from being beneficial to society, the rampant inequality that capitalism naturally creates is deeply damaging to our social fabric and well-being as individuals.

Labour needs to stop being afraid of talking about inequality and stop being afraid of talking about the obvious deficiencies of capitalism. It beggars belief that people still think ‘capitalism works’ when everything happening shows the exact opposite. It gives us unsustainable booms followed by ruinous busts – this is always has been the way and always will be the way until its replaced with a more democratically organised and therefore equitable social system. Maybe people who think capitalism works would care to enlighten the rest of us as to how it is working for those people mentioned in the IFS report today.

We should also not be constrained by what we can do nationally (though obviously, making progress on a national level is our ultimate aim). Islington Council seems to be taking some laudable measures which other Labour administrations could emulate. However, they in and of themselves show the limitations of what local authorities can achieve – nonetheless, something is better than nothing. We need to stop being shy of making radical arguments about the absolute necessity of ending inequality and we need to stop naively insisting ‘capitalism works’ – a conviction born of irrational faith rather than the product of hard, objective fact. In short, we need to complement a moral and democratic case against capitalism with a rational one which shows an alternative is not just possible, but it is also an actual necessity if we want all of society to prosper.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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5 responses to “Increaseing poverty is bad news for us all….”

  1. graham gillis says :

    If you destroy capitalism, how will you create wealth?

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  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    You can create wealth without capitalism, in any case wealth is socially produced even under capitalism, its how the wealth is distributed that is the issue…

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  3. graham gillis says :

    All attempts at state production and control have so far proved to be a social and financial disasters. You can create inefficiency and misery, but not real growth, that comes from a free market.
    Destroy capitalism and you will have no wealth to distribute.
    Reward the productive and they will be more productive, creating wealth for the dependant state.

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  4. darrellgoodliffe says :

    The comedy just keeps coming with you doesnt it. The market is ineffiecent, expensive and hampers our growth as a species. If you think the market is effiecent then talk to anybody who has the misfortune to have to rely on privitised public transport, for example.

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  5. graham gillis says :

    As I see things, you want to destroy the little good there is in a free market and have no viable alternative. Its not a question of left or right, both have a contribution to make. Tribalism or extreme views blind people to the reality of what works and what doesn’t.
    The free market built our railways, and they shrank under nationalisation.
    The half arsed attempt to re-privatise parts of the system have to my certain knowledge caused serious safety issues, resulting in deaths. There is a need for truly public transport systems, and I would be happy to contribte through taxation and fares. By your logic we would destroy the private transport which I also enjoy.
    Still no luck getting a bicycle I guess?

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