Analysing The Political Economy

The Age Of Private Affluence Amid Public Squalor

By Graham Vanbergen: Back in the 1950s, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith referred to “private affluence amid public squalor”. It’s a phrase that needs little explanation in an era where public services are breaking down all around us, whilst the super-rich buy football clubs in the £billions for something to amuse them. But it’s not that – that angers us the most.

What really gets us biting our fingernails is the scale of injustice and rule-breaking by those that are supposed to set an example. It’s impossible not to look at the constant unfolding corruption scandal within this government – with paid lobbying, dodgy contracts and cash for peerages, to name but a few.

David Cameron’s involvement in Greensill Capital, given he reportedly made up to $10m (£7m) was bad enough. It was made worse that he simply walked away Scott-free. Affluence at this level does that. Of course, that was nothing compared to the taxpayer-funded sex fest that Boris Johnson was involved in with Jennifer Arcuri whilst his wife was battling cancer. But when Johnson got into No10 – he seemed to gear up for it as if somehow, there were no rules. The Downing Street flat refurbishment was a scandal, and so were his undeclared donor-paid holidays, Covid VIP contracts and many others. So immersed in immorality is Johnson that we seem to have forgotten the Sue Grey report, the Russia report and the fact that the Priveledges Commission is yet to decide if he lied to parliament over Parygate.

Right in front of us, normal members of the public are dealing with the challenges of daily life. Something like 7 to 8 million are now on NHS waiting lists. Many are suffering. There are another 1.4 million of our very elderly, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – found not to be receiving the care and support they need.

New figures show that more people are depending on food banks than ever before in Britain as “ever-increasing” numbers of households – including pensioners, NHS staff and teachers – seek help amid the cost of living crisis. It shouldn’t be forgotten that average household disposable income will fall by 4.3% this year, the largest drop since comparable records began in 1956. It also shouldn’t be forgotten amongst all this noise that an astonishing rate of what is known as ‘absolute poverty’ is now set to rise from 17.2 per cent in 2021-22 to 18.3 per cent in 2023-24.

The numbers are frightening. Three-quarters of all households are cutting back on expenses to cope. Forty-five per cent are worried about household finances, another nineteen per cent think they will fall into debt and twenty-eight per cent are now not eating properly – with many skipping meals altogether. This all adds up to another problem. Forty-seven per cent of people are now suffering from emotional distress. This is up seven per cent in one year. In 2027/28, inequality in the UK will reach a new record.

You would think that those walking the corridors of power would be shocked and appalled at reading the statistics of the sixth wealthiest nation on earth. But no, we’ve had to endure Chris Pinchers groping, an unnamed Tory MP accused of rape, porn-watching Neil Parish, Imran Khan’s assault of a 15-year-old boy, the sexual assault and cocaine habits of David Warburton, the rape conviction of Andrew Griffiths and egregious breach of lobbying rules by Own Paterson. I could go on – Hancock, Elphicke, Cummings and more.

The devastation of British life is made far more vivid by the contrast between the fabulous wealth of those at the very top and everyone else that social media promotes and journalists expose.

Take for instance Rishi Sunak. He was part of a three-man team of hedge fund bosses who shared nearly £100m after an audacious stock market bet that lit the touchpaper on the 2008 financial crisis. Yes – Britain’s Prime Minister set fire to the economy and now lectures us on financial prudence in the face of public sector strikes because we can’t afford it. Public debt rose from £800bn to £1.6trillion as a direct result of the financial crisis.

You only have to mention the name Zahawi – to understand the general theme of abuse of office. This is a chancellor- who demands our taxes be paid then refuses to pay them himself. Worse, he threatened those who had the knowledge to expose him by using his wealth!

Five Tory Prime Ministers have seemingly enjoyed a game of pass-the-national-parcel in recent years. This self and sex-obsessed, cocaine-snorting drunken mob of incompetents are mismanaging everything into the ground. One only has to take a glancing peep at the ultimate economic disaster show of the last 80 years called Brexit to see that. And does anyone really think that the United Kingdom can get back on a path to match its global peers with people like Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson or the likes of Suells Braverman at the helm?

The toxic realm in which these people inhabit is now so apparent that they have become the new norm. And that’s the problem. The other new norm is that millions are slipping between the cracks and descending into squalor as the services they rely on completely disintegrate.

It is inevitable that the continued corrosion of public life – if left unchecked as it is, will only lead to more breakdown.

There is a point of no return. The national debt has now reached 99 per cent of GDP – yet we need hundreds of billions to invest in public services to sustain the economy (like education, policing and public health) in the years ahead. Then we need more to cope with the ever-growing elderly care crisis that is evidently exploding in our faces.

Whilst they party and throw billions of taxpayers’ money at their donors and mates – it’s like living in a modern-day episode of the Fall of Rome. The affluent are rubbing the faces in the dirt of those who keep the country working whilst they steal our future prospects through lies and promises they will never fulfil.

The public is becoming much angrier at the ever-increasing scale of affluence versus squalor than I’ve ever known. It’s about time too!




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