Gordon Brown’s announcement today that he will be trying to sell off £16bn worth of government-owned assets is another worrying sign of the people in power using the current economic crisis to push through any old policy that they want, all in the name of saving our economy.
Echoing the MO illustrated so thoroughly in Naomi Klein’s excellent book, The Shock Doctrine, the chaos of last year’s banks and business collapse has already seen the mass plundering of the welfare state by our governments in order to needlessly bail-out the rich. Now, with the public’s coffers completely depleted through the expense of all these bailouts (and the continuing funding of two seemingly never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) we are seeing phase two of disaster capitalism at work: the manufactured claim that the welfare state – no longer financially solvent – cannot, therefore, be afforded.
The money isn’t there, we are told.
The country is in terrible debt.
Things will have to change.
But instead of raising the taxes of the rich business-owners and bonus-claiming bankers who created this economic mess in the first place, and who have benefitted tremendously from the daylight-robbery of the bailouts, we are told that the only solution to our financial problems is to make cuts in public spending for the poor; to enact drastic pay freezes for public sector workers; to enforce cost-cutting redundancies all across the workforce; and now, to sell off yet more of the public’s collective assets to private businesses so that they can use them for private profit.
These are not the only solutions, but the sheer shock of the the scale of economic disaster – or at least the perception of such a disaster, as was sold to us in the press – has made us vulnerable and bewildered. In the wake of all this trauma, we’re too stunned and confused to question the policies are leaders continue to insist are “good” for us, or “vital” for economic recovery, but by the time we wake up from the numbness of our stupor, it will already be too late and the theft will be complete.
Our benefits axed, our assets sold, our pensions stripped and our jobs lost forever; we will finally come to our senses and find that, in its sleep, the country has been robbed.