The last thing anyone would have expected in 1970 is for the lowest paid workers in the US, UK and Australia to have their relative positions deteriorate over the next fifty years. Yet, this is exactly what has happened. In an economy which has for many years been productive enough to end absolute poverty for good, millions of people have been left in financial hardship, for reasons rooted not in economics, but ideology.
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.
The Tory exchequer has roughly four times as much money at its disposal as it did six decades ago. Yet, Britain’s richest 1% has as much wealth as the poorest 57% combined. When Theresa May says capitalism is the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created”, what she really means is that it is the best model through which her class is able to financially enrich themselves by manipulating the institutions of society.
Ever since the Global Financial Crisis, living standards have split between those who own their own home and those who do not. Inability to find work is no longer an indicator of poverty. In fact more than half of those living in poverty come from a household where someone is in work. The property-owning democracy was meant to make people more conservative, but the rise in home ownership exacerbated the rise in inequality. What effect its reversal might have on our politics is anybody’s guess.
Are we better off today than back in the 1970s? The obvious answer would appear to be yes…but is having a lot more stuff now than back then, is that really what ‘better off’ means?