~ Rosa Luxemburg.
For centuries people have fought and died for what we have today, and it would appear people have forgotten just how lucky we are to posses what we do. Freedom of speech (the right to speak freely without censorship) and Democracy (as we know it) is a fairly modern phenomenon in human history, neither came about to us by chance. Only earlier this year people seemed hugely enthusiastic for the overthrow of Gaddafi, expressing how great it was that Libya was finally getting its own democratic revolution, that they could now experience the wonders that we have in the west. Yet I don’t see an overwhelming amount of people around me actively getting involved in our supposed democracy. It is as if, for the most part, people are blind to how powerful their voices are in making change happen. As if people genuinely believe putting a vote in the ballot box every 4 years, and voting for the same party every single time, will make a fundamental difference and will somehow enable us to get out of this mess… Personally, I’m not convinced.
So what is the cause of this apathy that has infected the nation, in hard times like these? Something that I have become increasingly aware of is how painfully normal it has become to be in debt. Borrowing and owing money is an inherent part of every day life and it is difficult to see how one can totally escape it. If you want to go to university, move out of home quickly, or buy a house for yourself, most people can only afford to do so by borrowing money through the banks. Never mind credit cards; sign up for any debit card and you have to actively ask for them not to give you an over draft. People talk about their loans as if it is their own money, but how can they when it technically belongs to someone else? How can we talk about a country’s worth without taking into consideration the money they have temporarily borrowed? I myself know people who will happily blow their student maintenance loans on luxury items (like new fashionable clothing or iphones) without any thoughts about how they’ll feel having to pay it back in the future, or how they’ll feed themselves later on in term. It is as if people are literally living in an imaginary world of riches; so long as the heatings on, food is in the fridge, and they have a place to sit in front of their 40″ TV screen, all is well.
This is all pretty ‘cushty’, but does that make it okay? Read the title of this post again. Ignorance might be bliss but I can only imagine that somewhere in the back of every debt-ridden person there is a little feeling of resentment, whether that be towards the system for allowing them to get that way, or themselves. Receiving a pay check that is sliced into shreds by taxes and debts is hardly rewarding or motivating. It is much more satisfying knowing what you have earned is your own, and not something to be taken away for a banker’s bonus. It’s easy to point the blame at the victims here, but that must be avoided. Although there is indeed people do choose to get themselves into a debt, when money makes the world go round, and things like a place to live is an unattainable luxury for most (if they can only rely on their earnings) we need to learn to stand up and look the other way. What’s the use in educating people on how to use a corrupt system? Why not get rid of the system all together?
There is a minute percentage of people in this world who control, and have their hands on, our wealth. When this minute percentage of people send the world into an economic crisis, instead of being punished for their mistakes or fired from their jobs, they are giving millions, even billions, of pounds in bonus’ instead. They are bailed out with our (the ’99 %’) taxes – taxes we are forced to pay and are unable to have any say in how they are spent. The irony of it is, as billions is spent on bailing out the bankers, billions of pounds worth of cuts are being made across education, health care, state pensions, social services, the environment, and just about every other sector in place for the people. David Cameron has rejected a tax on bank transactions (akin to the http://www.robinhoodtax.co.uk/), choosing to let us pay for their mess without any reward.
You might not be feeling the crunch so far, but that doesn’t mean nothing needs to be done just yet. Neither is this something that will can be fixed in the next election by voting for Labour; jumping back and forth between red and blue will only keep us in this loop. Even if you live comfortably enough for this never to effect you directly, think about the people around you who it will effect – our nurses, paramedics, academics, fire-fighters, the people who clean our streets, amongst many others, not to mention the people they look after and work with, or those who work in the private sector going bust. Do they deserve to pay for this all? Is that justice? I do not believe so. Our government and financial sector needs to be revolutionised if we’re ever to avoid these kinds of disasters again. Read the title of this post a third time. Unless you are willing to lay down and be walked all over, without complaining, then you better stand up and get moving. When a robber steals from a bank, they’re sent to prison; when a banker steals from you, they’re rewarded. Think about it!