Choose Life?

Some months ago I took  a walk through the huge Stratford Shopping Mall that lies just beyond the Stratford Train Station, in London. I was really really impressed; not only could you shop to your heart’s content there, you could eat and drink to your heart’s content too. Imagine that! A shopping mall that gives you all you could desire and has its own social cleansing mechanisms as well! I kid you not, if your face don’t fit the security team will make sure you’re not coming in (again). I was told this with much pride by a frequent shopper there. The holistic shopping centre experience, one of those markers that tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that the economy is on the turn around. Now we’re back to never having had it so good!

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Low wages for extortionate hours of work are a side issue next to the opportunity to shop till you drop. Zero contracts? Irrelevant next to the ability to buy Louis Vuitton, Burberry and the latest Tommy Hillfiger products. A lot of people (roughly) are on minimum wage and zero hour contracts, so how you may ask, do they afford to ‘shop till you drop’. How indeed, working for money grabbing organisations, issuing draconian contracts of employment, with lop-sided sickness and holiday entitlements (in many cases). Think about it, if they are earning barely enough to pay for any financial outgoings (minus food), how are they going to obtain the means to live David Cameron’s dream?

Talk to many people who have entered Britain from within Europe in order to find work, and you will hear the same old, same old. They know they came to England to generate a substantive income they can’t generate back home. They know that the work they’re getting in England isn’t really paying significant amounts. They see politicians who have well and truly never ever had it so good. So they don’t see why they shouldn’t enjoy some of what they see unscrupulous business people and politicians having. So let us ask the question again, how are these people making the money from the jobs they have managed to obtain? It’s a bit of an enigma isn’t it?

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Ah, but the attitude of the government towards the poor and the wealthy isn’t. The poor we are told must learn not to presume on the largesse of the state, meanwhile the affluent may presume all they want. The closure of public libraries all over England, the prolific sanctioning of benefits claimants, the reallocation of single parent mothers to neighbourhoods they don’t know, the withholding of benefits to disabled claimants on spurious grounds, the proliferation of food banks for the working poor, the closure of youth centres and child care centres, the culture of pay day loans and pawn shops, all these things have made the presumptions of the rich possible.

It is possible to manipulate the morality of the whole situation but in the end we all know the truth. If I am unscrupulous, lacking in morality, cut throat and ruthless in business and contemptuous of my workers to the point of making a bumper profit, I will get a clap on the back from the government in the form of a back door pay rise. If I’m honest enough to claim the benefits I myself paid into the system when I am unemployed or worse still ill, I will have my benefits frozen for two years and hence receive a slap in the face.

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