Some things I don’t understand!!!
There’s one or two things which I still don’t understand about life…such as, why can Mark Zuckerberg reap £20 billion from the sale of Facebook whilst, simultaneously, around a billion people globally starve? Why is it that those who were least able to create the credit crisis-the marginalised and deprived-are affected most by austerity, whilst some bankers, who created the crisis, continue to take big bonuses? How is it that we subsidise our farmers so there is no economic benefit in over-producing food when 45% of the Yemen’s population starve-some 10 million people- in one of the driest, least developed countries in the World? I’d also love to know why we happily pay our footballers many thousands of pounds a week whilst our nurses and teachers command around the same sort of sums in two or three years? And whilst I’m on it, didn’t the Sci Fi comics of my youth promise us that, in the future, machines and robots would do all the work for us and we would all live luxurious lives as all the wealth was fairly distributed to us all instead of, as we can now see, they simply rob many people of work? Further, I still can’t understand why we find it perfectly acceptable to march into Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait to free the oppressed and downtrodden people but, somehow, find it unacceptable to do the same in North Korea and Zimbabwe where unspeakable atrocities are a daily occurrence, and why is it that what is a crisis and cataclysm of Biblical proportions for the indigenous people of those countries somehow becomes a business and profit-making opportunity for the West? And why, when we fight these wars of liberation do we call the accidental deaths of innocent women and children in the wake of our bombs ‘collateral damage’, whilst those who kill innocents on our own shores are ‘terrorists’? It seems, also, that we find it routine that we should be able to move to live and work in other countries, mainly sunny and opportunity-laden ones, and yet often deny or restrict the ability of people from other countries to come here to do the same? Why, oh why, is it that we acknowledge the rising tide of unemployment in our country, sometimes accepting it is a necessary economic tool for growth, and then brand the unemployed ‘benefit scroungers’? We are entitled to the Biblical ‘three score years and ten’, and yet recent studies show that the poor in our land die significantly younger than the rich. Then, why, when Bob Geldof highlighted the horror of global poverty all those years ago, do we still live in a World where the difference between rich and poor is getting ever wider, and more and more people suffer in a World of plenty? These are some of the things that I don’t understand.
But I’m beginning to understand this: that in 1980s there was a significant shift in the World to accept the theories of Milton Friedman as the basis of our economic structures. Asserting that there must be no barriers to free trade and no restrictions or accountability, the western developed countries, followed swiftly by those which wanted to develop rapidly, were urged to ‘let the tall grass grow taller’ and to ‘let the bull free’. Eschewing government interference in business, profit became the only motive and we were encouraged to believe the newly created wealth would ‘trickle down’. And so, the theories of Milton Friedman became ‘Reaganomics’. So, here we stand today in a World beset by debt crises and recession which, in turn, is a mere symptom of the greater world crisis which the ‘things I do not understand’ point us to. Yet, another thing I don’t understand is, after all this mayhem is over and the austerity has caused its suicides, family breakups and brought more people into poverty and starvation, why it is I have the lurking suspicion that some people will actually profit from this mess and the rich will continue to get richer and the poor, poorer and will live in an ever more sharply economically divided world and communities?
Is it too much to hope that, after the putative withdrawal of Greece from the Euro and after the worst has happened in Spain, and the ripples of these two disasters are felt on our own shores and throughout the globe, that we stand back and say: ‘I don’t understand why we stand for this’ and demand a new and fairer way of running the economic affairs of the World?
Shortly after the revolution in Poland which brought Lech Walesa to power with the promise of a new order he was asked what would replace the severity of Communism. he answered…’a mixture, it won’t be capitalism. It will be a system that is better than capitalism, that will reject everything that is evil in capitalism’.
I’m waiting…and I don’t understand why we are being so patient.