Wednesday, 2 January 2019
The Company Store
Money. It’s a funny old thing isn’t it? In an ideal world we would all have work which suited us, paid enough to allow us to spend our non-working time as we wished and have enough left over to fund the nicer things in life. Free, world-class healthcare for all, decent roads, affordable public transport , a legal system accessible and fair to everybody and an education system which produced balanced, thoughtful, useful future contributors to this blissful status quo, whether academically gifted or not.
But we don’t live in such a world and money, well it’s a tricky blighter, isn’t it? Where does it come from, for a start? And who does it ultimately belong to? This, I believe was the crack into which the otherwise sane and grounded Labour MP, Jess Philips, inserted her crowbar in a late entry to the most stupid tweet of the year competition.
Now, such a statement is not only factually incorrect in so many ways, it is also laughably naïve and ordinarily, you would expect the masses to descend, hooting and laughing, but an alarming number of players leapt in to defend her. She was trying to say – I generously think – that we all put in and we all take out and that it is entirely fair that some put in much more than others and some, deservedly, take out more, but that only works in the imaginary world of the first paragraph. David Vance challenged her assertion and was offered this myopic explanation by somebody else who clearly doesn’t grasp his brief:
It is an entirely rosy view of socialist style economics whereby the failings are hidden behind flowery words and peace and love and all the stuff you just can’t make a profit on, yet sound like the sort of lovely things we should all say to each other. But here’s the thing: If all that you receive is paid from the state coffers – not just benefit claimants but every single public sector employee – including MPs like Jess – then anything you pay back out of that makes literally zero contribution to the coffers.
Let’s do that in simple numbers. I give you a hundred pounds, you give me £30 back in tax and National Insurance, then after you spend the rest I get back another £14 in VAT. You have contributed literally nothing to my stash of cash (I’m £56 down) but Jess and Jonathan will thank you for your £44 contribution. This is the Ponzi system on which our society exists, but we don’t seem academically equipped to challenge; ‘we all pay tax’, my arse.
The thread carried on into the new year with this lucid but incorrect appraisal by the newly minted economist Jess and my reply to it – much as outlined above - attracted all the opprobrium you would expect from the similarly deluded.
I particularly enjoyed Mark’s contribution, for which I am truly grateful – it can be tricky keeping up the small minded prick persona.
Now, I quite like Jess Phillips. She is down to earth, clearly concerned and engaged and is absolutely a force for good in the world. But the politics she espouses are where it all grinds to a shuddering halt. Labour – under any leader – is a recipe for economic cataclysm. Begin pretending that we are all contributors and it is but a short step to conclude we must also all be entitled to receive. Which brings us back to this: where does the money actually come from and whose does it belong to, really? Go on, ask yourself...
The ones who got rich from the gold rush were those who sold blankets and shovels. In many economies especially that of the EU-run UK, the appearance of success is created by churn, a steady recirculating of cash. We only possess it for a while and we only have the illusion of control over it. So, unless you have savings - real, they-can’t-touch-it-or-devalue-it savings - the reality is that the company store owns it all; in the biggest gamble of your life, the house always wins. It has taken me over forty years of full-time work to finally appreciate the truism that work is, indeed, its own reward. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.