Wednesday, 2 February 2011

We're in this together: Yeah Right!

In promoting his “Big Society” vision, the Prime Minster of the UK, David Cameron, says we are in this together. His cry is that we need to be prepared to accept the hardship required as the government works to balance the accounts and get through the current economic crisis. I am sorry Mr Cameron but so far all the signs are that “We are not in this together.”

It can hardly be considered “in it together” when the head of the organisation I work for accepts an 11% pay rise while trying to encourage the rank and file worker to accept a 0.4% rise. When the inflation rate is less than his increase but higher than the rank and files increase, how can this be “in it together.” Nor are we in this together when bankers continue to receive huge bonuses while deposit holders are forced to accept a pittance in interest. Who really gains the benefit from these austerity measures? Strangely it is those who have the resources to get through hard times who seem to be gaining the benefit while everyone else suffers.

An excuse that I heard for continuing banker's bonuses was that if they didn't get their bonus they would move on. Is this the excuse for giving the head an 11% pay rise? My response to those excuses is that if these people were really in this with the rank and file, that would accept that they need to accept the same restrictions as the rest of us. If the only reason they are staying is the bonus or the out of proportion pay rise then are they really committed to helping put these things right? Those who I know who commit to sorting out the problems are prepared to accept the same restrictions as everyone else. They don't claim benefits 27.5 times that of the others in the organisation.

Do I feel like cooperating to resolve the problems? Certainly not with those who seem to be taking the benefits while others suffer. I have to question whether their assumptions about the problem and how to solve them are valid. It would seem that they are more interested in ensuring their own status than addressing the underlying problems. Are these people really interested in the people who struggle in society? I don't think so.

In the case of this economic crisis, I have to question why the people end up feeling the crunch as the result of rescued banks rather than the bankers. If the government wanted to rescue the situation, they should have supported the people who were likely to lose their investments because of the bank failures and not propped up the banks and then claimed that they needed to penalise the people. If they wanted to inject money into the banks, it should have been done without incurring a debt to the government accounts or the public. That is they should have injected new credit into the system and in such a way that it didn't go into the hands of the bankers.

I know this breaks all the perceived rules of the system but what is happening as governments that have now incurred additional debt now struggle to rebalance the system. Who created those rules? Are those rules valid? Are their alternative rules or ways of operating the system that puts priority on wholeness and and the needs of the cosmos? The current system puts the emphasis on balancing of some figures in books and claims that some needs can not be meet because there are no funds. The consequence is that people and nature all suffer. We justify spending on war and destruction but can't justify investment in peace and wholeness. I ask what would happen if we changed our measures and threw out the monetary focus?

For the first time in my working life, I would consider joining a strike if one was proposed by the union even though I am not part of the union. In the current situation, I simply don't see justice being done. The problem for me is that I still may not agree with the unions reason for striking.

Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I would contend that we can't solve the current economic problems with the same thinking or system practices that caused the problems. We need to be using alternative ways of thinking and exploring ideas that seem impossible. Einstein may give us another clue when he says “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

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