Tuesday 9 December 2014

Inequality, poverty, hunger - blimey, how did they happen?

One of the great achievements of capitalism is to keep the causes of inequality hidden. This is not done by literally hiding it, but by deflecting our view of these causes. It's done in hundreds of different ways, not all of them evil or malign. So, of course it's right and good to raise concern about poverty and hunger but in so doing the attention gets deflected on to charities and, as I mentioned in the previous post, into the fact that supermarkets throw away food. Or again, our attention is constantly directed towards 'great' entrepreneurs and successful business people as if they are in no way connected to low pay. Again, we are led to believe that the cause of low pay is immigration without us being asked to look at government policies designed specifically to bring about low pay, or indeed company board rooms where low pay is fixed by those people who have the power to fix it.

When I listen to radio and TV programmes about poverty and inequality, again and again I come off them thinking that the only thing I've learned is that poverty causes poverty and inequality is caused by inequality!

So, in brief - and it really isn't a mystery - inequality is caused by the very process at the heart of capitalism. If I a capitalist want to make money, I have to spend less of company funds than I get in sales. I can do that by spending very little on rent or buying property - OK but I'll probably end up in a lousy place to produce or distribute. I can do it by spending very little on 'plant'. OK but I'll probably fall behind my competitors. Or I can do it by spending as little as possible on my employees' wages. I can do this by sacking people - but I can only do that if I've got machines to replace them, probably. Or I can do it by paying them as little as I can. To help me do that I've got a government freezing wages in the public sector, and smashing up trade unions and the media keeping up a massive campaign of vilification against anyone who takes action to defend their standard of living.

This central matter of the owners of business keeping wages down in order to make profits is why there is poverty and hunger. End of.

Now, we can think this can be 'reformed' in some way. Or we can think the whole caboodle needs abolishing.

That's for another day…!