The sales pitch that is always used when bidding for the Olympics is that the legacy of the games will regenerate a part of the host country. This sounds wonderful in theory but in practice is the best policy for urban renewal to pay for expensive custom built sporting venues that are only used a handful of times? If not, we ask: who are the real Olympic winners?
In the UK, the Tories have slashed NHS funding, public housing and social care, policing, libraries, arts – even school dinners – on the grounds it was unaffordable. But it was comfortable spending £142 million per year subsidising the defence force (including the promotion of arms exports), and another £18 billion in corporate tax cuts for the private sector, and £120bn building a bloody great bridge to France.
The principal objective of the UK tax system, in which the poor pay a higher proportion of tax than the rich, is not to improve the collective well-being of society, but to funnel cash – largely through tax cuts – to the corporate elite. This isn’t free-market capitalism in the formal sense, but socialism for the rich – a form of state capitalism – no different in principle to the old statist economies of the former Soviet Union.
Social problems cannot be hacked. The popularisation of ‘Hack Days’ is simply the privatisation of poverty. Technology will never be a supplement for good government. Around the world, elected leaders have abdicated their responsibility for their citizens to the private sector. The only thing worth hacking are parties themselves.