The War On Jobs

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Current affairs, The economy

For the past two years, our political masters have drummed it into us that we are going through a severe economic recession, that we’re all in it together and that we must batten down the hatches, tighten the old belts, and see out the coming storm. But as most of now realise, this recession hasn’t come courtesy of the usual economic cycle. It has come about because of a fundamental principal of capitalism, immortalised in the movie Wall Street (1987): that “Greed is good!”  

What fascinates me, though, is that most of us know this and we refuse to be taken in by the propaganda of recession. Talk to anyone about it and the reference point is the banking system and the light touch regulation that allowed that system to run out of control and wreck the economy. Of course, it was a bit late in the day for us to realise. Up until then we were seduced by the consumer boom. We took out the big mortgage, the finance deals on the swanky car and the wall mounted plasma TV we’d no real need for. We ran up two or three credit cards and generally lived beyond our means. So we have to take some responsibility for the current mess we’re in.

The biggest culprits though, are the banks and because the government had to step in to save them in 2008/09, it’s the public sector that must pay a very heavy public debt – not the banks that warn us every day that we must keep up our mortgage or credit card payments or we lose our house. Now we’re told that we must repay not just our own debt but the bank’s debt as well. Meanwhile they carry on as usual, making huge profits on “the markets” and awarding their executives obscene bonuses.  

But if the banks were bailed out with money from the public purse, from our taxes, that in effect makes us all shareholders. Therefore, we should have a say on how the banks are run and we should get a dividend from their annual profits. I thought that’s how it works anyway but it seems I was wrong. It wasn’t a public loan to the banking system, it was a gift, and to fund it the government will have to take the axe to the public sector, though I suspect the Tories will enjoy that. Weird isn’t it? They bail out the banks from the public purse and then cut down the public sector to pay the debt the banks themselves are simply not going to repay.

I still can’t get my head around it but I will have to soon if this BBC news report is anything to go by:


“Some 600,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the public sector over the next six years, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said.

“The OBR has forecasted 490,000 job losses by 2015 and 610,000 by 2016.” (BBC News, 30 June)

The Office for Budget Responsibility. Don’t you just love these Orwellian monikers?  This is the Office that will oversee the savage cuts to come in the public sector and it will keep on doing so until the last drop. It’s a war against the public sector and it’s a war against jobs. And while it’s one thing realising it and seeing through the propaganda of recession and the “markets”,  taking action to prevent it is another thing. So what do we do? Just say “Non!” like the French? Take to the streets like the Greeks? More about that in my next post.

  1. Rabelais says:

    First they came for my job and I said nothing.
    Then they came for my home and I said nothing.
    Then the took my car and still I said nothing.
    But when they came for my 42 inch plasma screen TV, well, that was just a bloody liberty.

  2. Rabelais says:

    I heard the loathsome Polly Toynbee on Radio 4’s Today programme, commenting on the Labour leadership contest. She sounded relieved that Labour hadn’t swung to the the left as some had predicted and delighted that we weren’t to see the emergence of a Derek Hatton figure and the rise of Militant again, or something like them (as if). Well, that’s fair enough perhaps but then she went on to sound please that Labour would elect someone who ‘wouldn’t scare the horses’.

    What horses? The electorate. As you say, AA, I think the proverbial dogs in the street are a little pissed off at the whole financial debacle and the way their public services are going to have to pay for it. So obviously Poly wasn’t referring to those those ‘horses’ then. So who? Well, probably Poly’s drinking buddies on the street of shame, the commentariat, ‘opinion formers’ and crucially the rich proprietors of powerful media organisations. Fuck the voters, just make sure that you keep Murdoch on side. Well, isn’t that exactly what we need right now, Polly. More pandering to the sort of dinosaurs that presided over and profited from the rise of neo-liberalism and now look like they’re going to do very well after its discrediting in the eyes of all us ordinary little people.

    Me, I’d be delighted to see someone scare the horses. I think it’s whacking-time.

    Communique 1. Commandant Rabelais. Belfast Red Brigade

  3. Yeah. And Martin Kettle just spent his whole column talking about what a charming guy David Cameron is compared to his predecessor and so many other Westminster politicians (“A Man of Grace, Cameron has been good for Britain”, Guardian, 8 July). And guess what, Rab? According to Kettle, Cameron is great because he doesn’t scare the EU or G20 horses either.

    Where’s this all going to stop? Will we wake up one day to read in the Guardian that aside from the Holocaust and a rather naff moustache, that Adolf had the right idea about how to dig a country out of a severe depression.

    Which reminds me, if we get sacked in the next year or so (10,000 academic jobs to go, according to the UCU), we can always enlist for public works. Then I can wear the overalls and carry the red flag with a bit of credibility.

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