If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat everyday. Of course, if you privatise the lake, a man will hand over all the fish to the corporate overlord for paupers wages and be unable to afford the fish he just caught.
That’s basically the state of play for the UK these days. Essential services like water, power, public transportation are privately owned; the NHS is cash-starved, in crisis. Food prices are rising at a steady and alarming rate. Rents are going up. Waiting lists for social housing are up to 10 years. If, by some miracle or lottery win, you can save a deposit, house prices are still well out of the range of the first time buyer.
Energy, Water, Food, transport and Shelter; all the necessities of life are getting further out of reach for low and even middle income families. All the necessities aside from fresh air, and I’m sure they’re looking for a way to charge for that as well. (Rampant, unchecked pollution; We each have to pay for a personal air tank plus refills? Once that would have sounded far-fetched, now I’m worried I’m just giving someone ideas.)
The Tory Mantra of Privatisation is getting a lot quieter these days. Partly because so many public necessities have already privatised, partly because we are now seeing the economic carnage that rampant unregulated capitalism can wreak on a society. Privatisation was, according to the Tories, supposed to increase competition, providing better prices for the consumer.
That hasn’t happened.
In the case of the water companies, there was never any competition. The consumer couldn’t choose their water supplier, there was just the local water company. It was a bunch of monopolies. And when your local company did nothing to improve the infrastructure, allowing most water to be lost to pipe leakage and burst water mains while imposing hosepipe bans on the consumer, and all the while charging us for the privilege, what was the consumer to do? There was no ‘Elsewhere’ to take their business. Now, Britain is officially in drought, meaning there isn’t a lot of water to spare in corporate wastage. So they’ll be increasing rates due to scarcity, and then increasing them again so they can invest in the network. Not because they want to, but because the network is on the verge of collapse and they have to. But they want to do it without affecting their profit margin (god forbid they pay executives less, or lower the shareholder dividends) so the consumer has to pay for it.
And we have no choice in the matter. Everyone has to use a certain amount of water. It’s a necessity.
And then there’s the Energy companies. Theoretically, it’s a competitive market. You can choose between different energy suppliers. And they will try to entice us to switch with offers of a shopping voucher or a new toaster. Not with offers of cheaper rates, though. Now that the cap on energy prices is set to be raised on the regular basis, they’re all in a race to the top.
And don’t the justifications they offer just turn your stomach? We have to pay higher prices because of disruptions in the supply chain, Russian aggression in Ukraine. Boris Johnson said “If we’re paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood.”
WHAT’S THAT GOT TO DO WITH ANYTHING? Is he saying we should accept our suffering because other people have it worse? I have tremendous sympathy and respect for the Ukrainian people, but they’re situation has no impact on our energy prices. Our prices are going up because the energy companies, WHO POSTED RECORD PROFITS THIS YEAR, are being allowed to charge more. And if anyone actually believes that when supply prices go down, that the savings will be passed on to the consumer in lower prices…. Can I interest you in a Bridge I own?
For years, decades, centuries, the Powers-that-be have preached that the Hard-Working will achieve success. Poverty is a personal failing. A sign you didn’t work hard enough, or long enough, or you weren’t good enough. If you were poor, it was your own fault. For Years, decades, centuries, the Power-that-be have been gaslighting us. And now, they’re charging us for the gas.
It’s all reaching crisis point. Years of stagnant wages mean the meagre pay rises on offer are still a pay cut in the face of rising inflation. It’s no longer a gap between rich and poor, it’s a canyon. The upcoming fuel price increases will only widen it. The Middle class, shrinking for years, will disappear entirely, leaving only the 1% and the rest of us.
It’s been a Summer of Strikes. I expect it will be a Autumn of Protests, followed by a winter of riots, unless something is done.
Right now, the UK is a country without a leader. We should have a new PM by September 5th, either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss. Rishi Sunak plans to place a windfall tax on energy companies, which is…. something, I suppose, although the tax is not large enough or over a long enough period to truly address the problem. Liz Truss favours tax cuts. Someone needs to tell her that people have figured out the secret: Tax cuts only benefit the wealthy. They need to stop gaslighting us with tax cuts, its getting genuinely insulting. Truss has also mentioned just giving money to people, to get them through the crisis. Both policies boil down to: Hope for a mild winter.
As an aside, if Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister, I predict she will either lead her party to a crushing electoral defeat, or be the First one shot in the revolution.
The problem with all these proposals is that they are ‘Give a man a fish’ solutions. They are only meant to cover the short term and do nothing to solve the long term systemic problems. Because the Tory Leadership LIKES the system. It’s made them rich, kept them in power and insulated them from the very real hardships the rest of us are facing.
I specify the Tory Leadership, because Tory backbenchers are listening to the complaints of their constituents, and reading the poll numbers and are starting to mutter the dirtiest word in the conservative vocabulary: Renationalisation. It sounds extreme, but the Government has let the crisis get so bad that extreme solutions are necessary. Simple fixes won’t fix anything.
Everyone knows it’s going to be a hard winter. I expect protests. I expect riots. I expect we’ll be burning politicians in effigy just to stay warm. We may even start burning them in reality as well.