The Problem Is Bigger Than The Bedroom Tax

Here’s an excellent article from Gerry Hassan in which he takes our politicians and media to task for failing to address the real problems in our society. He argues that the debate on the UK government’s welfare reforms is so narrow and shallow that it completely misses the point: we have a chronic poverty/hardship/welfare/finance problem that will never be solved by tinkering with things like the bedroom tax.

He gives us a list of priorities for reforms that would improve social justice (gleaned from research for a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation). They include: the distribution of democratic control;  changes to the tax system; whole life education; assessment of government policy and business legislation against social justice parameters.

He argues that nobody in the mainstream is proposing anything to address these priorities in any way that could be described as holistic or comprehensive. We get random chunks of disconnected policy that are reduced to little more than slogans, which are batted back and forth between opposing sides doing precisely nothing to solve the underlying problems.

I can’t fault his argument but there’s something missing from his list that’s more important than everything else put together because if we don’t fix it nothing else will have a chance of working properly.

Our financial system has serious design flaws which result in an ever-increasing pile of debt. At some point (which may not be far away) the obligations to repay this mountain of debt will overwhelm the rest of the economy, causing financial chaos on a scale that is far and beyond anything we’ve ever experienced.

Wherever you sit on the political spectrum (right, left, middle, indy, unionist, apathetic, rich or poor) you are going to get badly bitten by this. At best, the comfort and security that you currently enjoy from having and using money will be severely diminished. At worst, there will be widespread riots as we compete for scarce supplies of food and fuel.

The people at Positive Money have practical, detailed proposals that will fix most of the fundamental flaws in the system, but their ideas fall short in a couple of important ways.

Firstly, the productive economy – where all the stuff happens that keeps us fed, clothed, housed, and happy – could easily become starved of investment under Positive Money’s system.

Secondly, there is nothing in Positive Money’s proposals that tackles the problem of money becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, which means we’ll still have the impossible hardship/welfare/finance issue to deal with.

My own book, Our Money, suggests ways to adapt Positive Money’s ideas so that money is continuously being recycled throughout the economy, ensuring there’s plenty available for investment and everyone is able pay their way without the need for government welfare.

Our ideas may not be perfect but as far as I can see they are the only serious proposals on offer that address the roots of our economic dysfunction rather than fiddling about with little bits of the machinery of welfare, or banking, or taxation.

If you’re frustrated by petty squabbling over ideas that don’t even begin to acknowledge the real extent of the problems that we face then please read what we’re proposing and help to move the debate out of the politicians’ playground and into the grown-up world.

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