This War on the Poor Hurts us all

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Warren Buffet

Whether the issue is tax avoidance, welfare cuts, or general economic policy, a war is being waged in the UK (and abroad) by the wealthiest in society on the poorest. And the war on the poor is undoubtedly being won by the rich. Just take the latest round of welfare & tax credit cuts which are about to be implemented and defended on grounds so ridiculous even IDS can’t possibly believe what he’s saying.

Tax credits have been credited (there must be a better way of phrasing that, but I’ll be damned if I can think of it) with lowering child poverty, making work pay and have helped prop up the poverty wages millions of people have had to put up with for the last couple of decades.

An attack on tax credits isn’t a meaningful way of lowering the deficit, improving the economy, rewarding hard work or helping those striving to improve themselves. It is an attack on those on the lowest of incomes, those with families and those who have already had to pay the price of capitalism’s errors and this Tory government’s callousness.

And this in the wake of tax cuts for the wealthiest, for the biggest companies and after tax avoidance was so neatly swept under the carpet.

But the war on the poor goes further than that. As Richard Murphy @ Tax Research UK explains; the government’s Universal Credit, cuts to library services and proposals from one Tory council to dock benefits from obese people feel like a concerted effort to deprive benefits from those entitled to and in need of them:

“Of course obesity and poverty are not perfectly correlated: far from it. But surely anyone with any sense realises that poor diet that can lead to obesity is often related to poverty? In that case, aren’t this (Conservative) council entirely missing the point?

Or is it deliberate? After all, universal credit is now only going to be available to those with internet access. The poorest have the lowest access, and unsurprisingly the lowest IT literacy. And councils are closing libraries that might give those without a computer the access they need.

And now they’re saying because you reveal the symptoms of poverty you may be denied the benefits you’re entitled to.”

And contrary to portrayals the Daily Mail et al like to display of those in receipt of benefits as living it up off the hard work and taxes of others, the reality for the vast, vast majority of those dependent on benefits, or working on low wages is a harder time and greater financial burden simply to make ends meet than someone on a higher income. Factors like having to rely on (often expensive ) public transport, not being able to buy in bulk, lacking access to the internet and price comparison websites all add up to making being a poor an expensive situation to be in as Robert Nielsen details in his blog:

“Being poor is expensive. Not only do you have less money to get by with but everything also costs more. The secret to getting rich is in economies of scale and bulk buying, something the poor simply can’t afford. As they’re stuck trying to make ends meet day-to-day, they can’t invest in the future and so are stuck with false economies that cost them more in the long run. This is the source of the counter-intuitive saying that “You have to be rich to be poor.”

 The poor pay more for groceries and food. This is because the poor are concentrated in urban areas where rent is higher so businesses have to charge more. The cheapest grocery stores are the ones who can use economies of scale and market power to push down prices (think of Wal-Mart). These are located in the suburbs where there is the most space and cheapest land. However if you are too poor to afford a car or it is too far to get public transport, then you are stuck with the expensive city shops. These shops are too small to buy in bulk, but instead have to buy from wholesalers and middle men, which pushes prices up.

This leads to additional problems like poor health. The cheapest food is usually the worst quality, while healthy food is usually the most expensive. The poor are forced to buy the cheapest food that costs them in the long run through poor health.”

So you can understand why docking money from the obese can seem counter intuitive to anyone with… well, a brain…

And this is just on a national scale to us. There’s a big world out there, where tax evasion by major corporations is preventing developing countries from raising the funds they need to grow out of poverty. Billionaires are growing out of countries like China and India, whilst the majority of those countries populations live in squalor, working impossible hours for next to nothing.  Our position here in Britain, and in the western developed world may be a comparatively snug one, but anyone who believes poverty doesn’t exist in Britain today is deluding themselves or so far up an ivory tower that they can’t see the ground.

Child poverty is set to rise under this Parliament, and the longer this government keeps up their end of the class war on the poor the worse it will get. With higher child poverty will come poorer educational prospects, poorer health, higher costs to the state, higher crime rates and a poorer economy and society for it.

Therefore it is no stretch of the imagination to call the class war being perpetrated by the rich on the poor, a war on all of us but those rich enough to remove themselves from society in general. Society will feel the pains of a depressed economy, the pains of higher crime, riots on the street, higher unemployment, higher taxes, lower benefits, poorer education and healthcare. As such, anyone who believes in society must believe in ending the war on the poor and turning the tide of this class struggle once and for all.


Useful Links:

In Class Warfare, Guess which side is winning? – NY Times


About iwastoldtheredbegin

Politics of the Left Wing and Liberal variety, plus gin!
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