The Budget and the Capitalist Way of Life…

…no woman with a shred of self-respect is going to ally herself with a movement that has systematically and purposely set out to LIE to her in order to recruit her into its ranks. Diluting one’s politics, denying one’s principles, gutting one’s ideology to seem more ‘appealing’ are all ways of LYING…. Any woman who really wants a different life for herself doesn’t want essentially the same life with a few superficial frills here and there. She wants something other than what she has, or she isn’t going to bother (Penelope, 1985:26-87).

Whilst I missed the budget, catching up on the details only confirms my earlier disbelief as LibDems’ baaaaaed (sheep noise) in support of a budget that employs symbolic announcements which effects ‘luxury’ items such as private jets that are typical of capitalist excess; hiding the deceitful, arrogant and socially, political and economically regressive nature of the budget.

Even though the quote above refers to feminist debates, the central meaning of abandoning what you believe, lying in order to meet hegemonic constructions whilst ignoring the need to radically change the power relations that construct so much inequality in society can be adequately applied to the Coalition and Labour. Labour will have their leader speaking at the TUC march this Saturday arguing for an alternative. Caroline Lucas, despite letters and #whyisntcarolinespeaking pleas to the TUC, will not. Currently, let’s remember, Labour would be initiating similar cuts, this year, to the Tories’; Darling reconfirmed this today. They wouldn’t be challenging the neoliberal foundations that shape our society. They would be reinforcing them. Ed is lying to himself and the public if he believes that Labour offer an alternative. If you are thinking about making a banner for the TUC march, maybe a blunt pair of scissors with the caption “Labour’s alternative”, might be a good idea.

We are told that the budget is fair, when the government is cutting corporation tax by 5% over the next three years. Corporation tax is already too low, and banks avoid paying for it through offsetting their loses through the tax whilst paying themselves big bonuses anyway. Any levy that the banks come under is offset through the gains such a reduction will provide them, a change to the deferred tax assets to undermine their ability to offset corporation tax would have hit the banks; but no, let’s hit the poor, instead. Apparently, we are told that Osborne has ‘raided’ the banks; given that other measures such as limiting the deferred tax assets and more importantly, a robin hood tax, were ignored it is safe to say the banks, as always, have their greedy pig bellies full once again. The income threshold has been raised again; the LibDems convince themselves such a move is ‘progressive’ when actually, such a move is highly regressive with it mainly benefiting the middle class. The raise is apparently to be paid through clamping down on tax avoidance, given Gideon and co.’s friends are at stake here, I think an eye on results is key. It is more likely the rise will be paid for through extra cuts, making the regressive measure even more regressive.

Apparently, the corporation cut is to be funded through green taxes (which are hardly that helpful, as to be discussed). How ironic. Environmental degradation has considerable links with the current global neoliberal political relations. As it stands, environmental degradation is accounted as ‘growth’ in GDP, companies in a bid to prevent a ‘falling rate of profit’ lay off workers as they offset the costs of more and more technology – eventually, the resources such as oil will run out; they look for new natural resources to burn out and destroy – the capitalist profit motive of endless production is environmentally destructive. The consequences of not weaning ourselves off oil and nuclear have been demonstrated rather clearly with the recent events in Japan and the Middle East. However, we will choose to look over this, utilise “it can’t happen to us” line and precede with this damaging neoliberal logic of endless greed and senseless production without a consideration of the use values, instead of the exchange. Even the increased tax on production of oil in the North Sea is likely to only offset our reliance upon exports to imports, not extremely stable given the ruptures in the Middle East.

What’s more, the budget is nothing like green. The ‘Green’ Investment Bank won’t be able to borrow until 2015, rather undermining the point of the bank helping the economy recover alongside restructuring political, economic and social relations that influence the environment. However, I often doubt the effects such a bank would have given the corporate voices jumping on board criticising the limited lending/borrowing power of the bank. Capitalist answers to an environmental crisis are doubtful, and as it stands, the Green Bank is just another capitalist abject. The Green Taxes have been criticised by environmentalist campaigners as stealth taxes that only perpetuate the negative views around being green, which will essentially encourage the production of nuclear power instead of renewables. The carbon taxes will be passed onto the consumer (something Green Capitalists actually support to reflect the true price of natural ‘resources’), undermining any argument that corporation tax will be offset through the carbon taxes.

The problem with such a pro-capitalist budget is that the foundations such a political economy is based upon will eventually crumble. We are witnessing that with the Middle East; arm trades, oil deals and general corruption have sustained and continue to sustain this way of life. We are made to think that things have been done for the better, but underneath those shiny foreheads are brains poised to maintain the status quo and damaging relations that help sustain this capitalist way of life. Token gestures are mere facades of an economic programme set to overload.

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