Capitalism worked better for the low paid over a century ago. We must look to history to understand ethical commercialism and how we can solve problems and do even better now.
Yes, making such a statement is certain to raise the heckles of both those on the left who believe that they have workers’ rights completely nailed, and those on the right who think that the money-comes-easy lives that they have are an economic miracle that is shared by all.
Sat on either end of the supposed spectrum which is the political divide, those with such refined and apparently generous world views share ignorance of the laws of consequence in common. They have little if no appreciation of the effects that such self-righteousness and outright selfishness actually have.
It is little wonder that many of those who are on the arse end of all this are feeling real pain. With rights gone mad and the part they are forced to play in a cultural system that is so obsessed with monetary and material wealth, normal people have no idea what a balanced, fair and just model of society would actually look like. Just as they have no real appreciation of what good has looked like at any time before.
The painful truth that underpins the history of humanity – and particularly the two or three hundred years since the industrial age began, is that the strong have always had the ability to abuse the weak.
More often than not, they have done so.
But whereas strength was once based on physical or military strength with both the threat and action that too often followed it, the phenomenon that is the strength abused today is a money, wealth, influence and power-crazed age that only misuses physicality at the intranational level, whilst the governments themselves smile nicely at their people and bully them with the misuse and manipulation of money and ‘the markets’ instead.
Our politicians quite literally do not understand nor appreciate the role and the neglected responsibility they have for creating and continuing to evolve a world where a basic self-sustainable life without debt or help, is something that those on a weekly minimum wage simply cannot afford.
Business has also lost sight of its role in supporting not only its own employees, but the obligation it has every member of society too.
First, the focus on service and quality for customers was replaced by the obsession with profit, efficiency and the overall bottom line. Then, the dwindling value of the low amounts of money and benefits that the lowest earners were once paid were pulled back so extensively, that systems of mutual benefit that worked for both the employer and the employed have been at best completely obscured from view.
Over a Century ago, great industrialists like Cadbury and Rowntree had the sense to build homes and infrastructure to support both workers and their families.
Farms, the Police, utility services and even Council Highways provided their staff with similar (and in rare cases still do), and those who have followed such TV Dramas as Downton Abbey will recall how the staff of great houses and estates were all accommodated.
Yes, lower-paid staff may have literally lived below stairs and the wages may have seemed very low. But all of the needs of those who worked were considered as a responsibility of the employer. People worked hard, but they were also genuinely happy too, because the relationship between everyone wasn’t just about the cost or what people are being paid.
Greed, selfishness and the obsession with one-sided rights that never had their true consequences thought through, have conspired to make basic life and the ability to live happily and free, a concept that is now neither possible, nor something that anyone on a low or even average wage can afford. And that affordability is heading quickly towards the top.
The introduction of the FIAT money system that has allowed politicians and bankers to live the myth that they can just print whatever money they want, because its true value isn’t actually anchored to anything, has literally allowed cash to be fire hosed at all those who have more money and wealth that they could ever need.
Meanwhile, the increase in the amount of money available has meant that the small amounts earned and in the possession of those with less are continually being devalued. Wage rises never keep up with out-of-control inflation and we are now experiencing retail price rises that even well-paid people are struggling to afford.
The real tragedy is that few can even see the mechanics of what those who have abused their power have actually done to us all. Many of those being hurt the most, wouldn’t even believe you if you could take all the time necessary and use every too possible to show them how it all works.
There really is little or no understanding of the role that the obsession with profit at all costs has had.
For instance, the pub and hospitality industry has always required long hours, but historically paid those taking the risks and responsibility very well. It has been broadsided – not only by the government response to covid, as many publicans believe – but by an industry that is predominantly owned by profit-obsessed capitalists who have used 80’s legislation to appease the EU to take all the fat from every part of the publicans pie that is possible. A process that has often led to many who would have previously thrived as great landlords not having the financial wiggle room to operate in challenging times and therefore going broke.
It doesn’t have to be like this. For any of us. It never did.
The reason that people cannot afford to live on a basic wage and small businesses that should be thriving are closing at a rate that society can ill afford is greed and the selfishness that underpins it. Nothing more.
It doesn’t matter what value is placed on the size of the cake, which is everything in an economy combined.
If anyone is playing that system and creating value that doesn’t exist, so that they themselves can profit, or get themselves out of a problem that their gaming helped to create, it is inevitable that those who do not have that control will be hurt.
Those who are furthest away from that power and influence will always be the ones to be hit by the consequences of this deranged behaviour. It is inevitable that they will feel the pain first.
Those at the top of this system’s hierarchy are too far away from the pain that their bad decisions will cause, to be insulated from the rose-tinted view of life they have for everyone outside their spere of contact.
Exposure to real life might otherwise prevent them from believing – as they now so clearly do – that they are the new gods and can do no wrong.
We can no longer rely on trusting that the good amongst those who lead us will be able to maintain any change in standards that they might be able to impose.
It has happened before, too many times, that devices and rules installed to protect the weak and innocent from the self-serving actions of the few within public policy have been overturned or removed. Often under the watch of leaders too weak or out of touch to know or understand why they were there.
We must return power to the most local level possible.
Where power must be shared regionally, nationally or at a world level, our representatives must come from and be recognisable amongst us at the most local level.
The local level is where every politician’s real power must remain. And that power must never be given away again to people who will forever be distant from us and out of touch.