“This is what it feels like to be young now. Not only are we screwed, but we have to listen to lectures about our laziness..."
Today, a polemical rant. We’ve wanted to get this off our moronic chests for some time now as a cathartic exercise. Why? Well, have you heard of England? We sure have! We’ve lived here since 1984.
Sure enough, we don’t normally get political on this blog. But when your government conspires against the vast majority you discuss it. This is what we’re doing here today – whilst every nation has its issues, we want to highlight the UK’s as we live here, we’ve lived through it over the last decade, and we think it’s about time this horrible situation changed. We also think it’s a warning to the world on how to screw things up beyond belief.
To the outside world, this may seem weird – hadn’t heard of these issues, right? Funny little place, isn’t it, Great Britain? Quirky. Posh. Awkward. Brits love a cup of tea, pint of lager, football riot, and worshipping the Queen, yes? Stiff upper lip, old bean! It’s all marvellous there…. isn’t it?
The Age of Austerity
After the recession in late 2008 triggered off an employment crisis (some 27,000 businesses shut down – obviously, they weren’t working hard enough), the right wing Conservative political party managed to take control from a floundering Labour party (the loony lefties, as it were). That was 2010.
The Tories were back in, having previously been ousted after grey, moribund, funny voice act John Major waffled his way out of control in 1997. That went to Tony Blair for Labour in a landslide victory. He promptly sent us to war in 2003, and generally did a pretty crap job of things.
With Labour farting about, in came the Tory party again for 2010. Shortly after, it introduced austerity in an attempt to stabilise the economy.
Almost a decade later, austerity is still very much with us. Additionally, there’s been a decade of wage stagnation that’s complemented by a housing crisis so severe many people lose over half their monthly wage to it.
Nine years of Tory rule has exacerbated, enormously so, longstanding issues of inequality. In England:
- 53% of younger people don’t have any savings (as they’re lazy, obviously)
- The cost of housing is three times what it was for previous generations (probably somebody not working hard enough)
- At least 4.5 million children live in extreme poverty (lazy parents not working hard enough)
- There’s a homelessness crisis (and at least 440 homeless people died in the last year – over one a day – but that’s because they’re, you know, lacking the capacity to work hard)
- The British government is doing nothing to improve any of the above (too busy working hard on messing everything up, you see)
Frightening statistics and a revelation right there. So, we thought it was about time to highlight reeling off the tired old “If you’re poor, you should work harder” maxim doesn’t make up for the colossal failings of modern capitalism.
“A bold statement, you loony lefty socialist scumbags!” you screech. Well, austerity aside (it’s only a tax hike, after all) let’s have a look at the…
This nightmare, the worst housing crisis in decades, primarily affects young people. By young, we mean anyone below 40. But it principally hits the early 30s and below range the hardest.
The reality is most young people (mainly those in their early 20s) can’t afford to move into a flat. The concept of owning a home isn’t a possibility. From the rental side, this isn’t just because most flats now cost in excess of £700+ per month for a 15ft by 15ft hovel.
There are also “agency fees”. This is where an estate agent charges an exorbitant fee for a credit check. This amount, in the North of England, is usually around £300. For a credit check that should cost less than £50. In London, agency fees are often £1,000+.
It’s pure capitalistic greed. Everyone knows the estate agents are lying to bag a profit, but the Tory’s plan to ban this has, and try to contain your amazement, not come to fruition.
Coupled with the various ongoing economic disasters (principally the atrocious wages after a decade of wage stagnation), this means a lot of people can’t afford to rent anywhere. Or are trapped in a flat and unable to move.
This is particularly a problem if a landlord asks someone to move out (which any landlord can do for any tenant, who then has to be out within two months), as many people can’t afford to pay the agency fees, a deposit, and a month’s rent in advance.
The result? Some landlords are sending their loyal tenants into homelessness so they can, often, sell the property off and get richer.
It’s no surprise the term “generation rent” has sprung up to define two dispossessed generations of younger people. Most of whom already know they’ll never own a home.
It’s also no surprise there’s a homelessness crisis. We have to walk past many of those SCUMBAGS each morning on our way through Manchester. Can we spare any change? No. We can’t.
You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Budget
Oh wait… there’s more. The Tory’s crippling budget cuts have shifted 21,000 police officers off the streets. Prior to the move, Prime Minister Theresa May said this wouldn’t affect anything. Crime rates had dropped enormously, you see.
So, bye bye to 21,000 hard working coppers. The result? England is now in the grips of a crime wave epidemic. In London, stabbing deaths have skyrocketed. There’s usually a couple more covered in the press each morning.
Acid attacks have also skyrocketed – England is the leading country for acid attacks in Europe. You can buy a litre of the stuff off Amazon for a few quid.
In Manchester, if your home is robbed it’s three days before the overworked police force will deal with your case. The same goes if you’re assaulted.
Meanwhile, the Tory’s various other budget cuts, and a disastrous attempt to re-imagine the welfare system (called Universal Credit – MP Iain Duncan Smith spearheaded that one, in a move that cost billions but was ultimately heralded as a “catastrophe”), have left the disabled humiliated, the homeless crushed into the dirt, and the unemployed baffled (but no closer to gaining meaningful work).
A few examples of the problems the terminally ill and disabled face:
- Stage 4 cancer sufferer Paige Garratt, 22, was denied any benefits payments and told to get back to work
- MS sufferers were denied a drug that can slow the disease. Why? As the NHS (also in the grips of a colossal crisis) can’t afford the £19,000 per month for each patient
Of course! Because in Theresa May’s words: “There is no magic money tree.”
Oh, that was until she spent £1 billion to secure votes from the far right DUP Northern Irish party. Why? To prop up the minority Tory government after a disastrous general election in June 2017 that saw Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn (an anti-monarchy, dishevelled, democratic socialist hippy) gain a major advantage. A stronghold, even.
So, it’s a selective magic money tree, it seems. At least Corbyn wasn’t around to spend it all on marijuana and vegetarian products…
Oh yes, we forgot to mention Brexit. The Tories landed this one on us, too, as then Prime Minister David Cameron looked to secure his position as PM with what seemed like an assured Remain vote.
After a referendum campaign of lies that is simply embarrassing for all concerned, left and right wing, the shock result was in: we’re leaving the EU. That was 2016. David Cameron resigned in disgrace – he’s now widely regarded as the country’s worst ever Prime Minister.
Theresa May fluttered in without a public vote and has since *ahem* “taken control” of the situation. By which we mean, with March 2019 set for our Leave date, there’s still no deal with the EU, and even the right wing tabloids are acknowledging the situation is a terrible mess (except the Daily Express because, you know, someone has to stoop that low).
But no one really knows what’s about to happen. Brexit could lead to another recession. Or civil unrest if we decide to call the whole thing off.
What is clear is England faces a massive leaving bill from the EU in the tens of billions.
Despite Theresa May intimating, in a vague October 2018 speech, austerity will be coming to an end (she gave no indication when), you have to presume it’s to make way for some new form of taxation to cover the Brexit divorce bill. Estimates for what that will be are around the £30-50 billion mark.
England’s capital city, in the meantime, is home to 8.1 million people. It’s turning into an unlivable wasteland, where the average rent is £1,884 ($2,485.16) per month. Not for your own place, of course, but sharing with others – if you’re lucky you’ll get your own 10ft by 10ft room.
Oh yes, don’t forget we have austerity and wage stagnation on top of that. You’ve gotta love those massively extortionate taxes complemented by wages belonging to circa 2008.
The situation is getting so bad London’s tube drivers, on £55,000 a year, were forced to stage a strike in 2017 as they fought to pay bills and support their families.
Many others from different walks of life are now quitting their jobs and fleeing to the North of England, where it’s marginally cheaper. Although this difference is becoming increasingly unnoticeable – Manchester, for example, has forged on with various new city centre apartment blocks notable for being unaffordable.
Such as the apartment blocks built by billionaire Fred Done in Salford. If you want to buy one, you’ll need to earn £80,000 per month. If you want to rent one, you’ll need to earn £40,000 per month. Did we mention the decade of wage stagnation?
As a side note, it might be somewhat beneficial to structure an economy that doesn’t pile drive the 99% into the dirt, whilst simultaneously bending over backwards to provide tax relief to the 1%. Just a suggestion, there.
Such as not letting Google get away with skipping £130 million in back taxes.
On top of that, we recommend fair wages and a proper system of support to help the less fortunate. But that’s why we’re called Professional Moron, eh? Too much moron, not enough hard work.
Of course, why should anyone do any of that? It’s not like anyone is starving.
Well, considering all of the above, it’s no surprise millions of people are struggling to buy food. In fact, Sky News reported 1.2 million people struggle to get any fresh food. As it pointed out, verbatim:
“If you want to know what food insecurity looks like, it's a queue of people waiting in the drizzle outside an Oldham [Manchester] community centre for fresh food they can't otherwise afford. A queue that begins an hour before the doors even open.”
This term for this is a “food desert”. But it’s all part of a wider problem with the need for food banks – the “popularity” of which surges upwards year-on-year.
Tory MP Jacob-Rees Mogg, however, called ever-increasing reliance on food banks “rather uplifting”. It’s easy to take that out of context – it was a badly worded comment that the media spun into something else. What Mogg meant is it showed the country is full of “good, compassionate” people looking to help others.
At least someone is, as the Tories are certainly doing nothing at all to improve the situation.
Look at any food bank and it presents its own issues – a depressing hodgepodge of no-frills tinned goods tossed together by other barely well-to-do citizens. Not that you’d expect caviar. It’s simply a harsh, stark reality for millions of families.
In Q2 2018, food bank usage broke all records in the UK as dismal wages and the benefits system fail to provide a huge proportion of the public with a proper income. There’s a 13% increase on food bank usage from 2017, with 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies handed out to people in crisis last year. That data is from the Trussel Trust.
Much of this thanks to the Universal Credit debacle. With one in six claimants not paid on time, those who do receive something aren’t going to get far. At a total of £251.77 a month for anyone under 25, you can’t even rent a flat with that. The total of £300 a month for 25+ folks is slightly better, but not remotely enough. Unless you have savings – which, of course, barely anyone does.
In the Manchester Evening News last week, a couple off work to look after their son with a brain tumour discussed surviving off £130 a week.
In the comments section, later removed due to its outright unpleasantness, dozens of right wingers lamented how it was “sad” and all, but why do both parents have to be off work caring for their dying son? You’ll just have to take our word on that, unfortunately, as the comments are all gone. Potentially to protect the feelings of the family. But the general gist is they are work-shy freeloaders.
Far from Mogg’s claims, then, that we’re a compassionate nation. The Tory’s callous regime has enforced a mentality of work, work, work – no matter what the cost, all that matters is work. Whether your six year old son is dying, or you have a terminal illness, you have to work.
One thing the Tories have done is massively hike employment rates. They’re regularly flaunting that fact, as it’s pretty much the only positive thing they can roll out and back up with statistics.
However, it far from tells the real story. The Tories ramped up the use of zero hour contracts to bolster employment rates, for example. For around two million workers, they face minimum wage roles that offer no security with regard to finances or employment.
The gig economy has skyrocketed, too, with freelance roles and contracts commonplace.
There are full-time jobs, of course, but they’re incredibly tough to get. If we were to quit our career as copywriters to take up a shelf stacking job, for example, we can’t realistically see any chance of landing a permanent role for years.
One shelf stacker job at Tesco, for example, would invite hundreds (a conservative estimate – it wouldn’t surprise us if it was thousands) of candidates. These are all screened by the colossally flawed process of psychometric tests to see which employees fit in a supermarket’s bizarre parameters for employment suitability.
Whoever is lucky enough to bag the role is then into the bureaucratic regime of minimum wage, long hours, no job security, and no chance of making any savings.
But if you’re degree educated and are able to get some experience in a skilled role, your outlook does improve somewhat. Although not much, as so many skilled jobs in the UK pay very little. The chances of going to university and earning a degree are slim enough, anyway, with the average post-university debt standing at £30,000.
Most young people leaving university with such debt aren’t ever likely to earn that amount, based on the current economic outlook.
This is all made worse thanks to issues of chronic overpopulation. There are 11 states in America that are larger than the whole of the UK. The US is 40 times the size of Great Britain.
For our neighbouring France, a country large proportions of English people loathe for no real reason, it’s three times the size of the UK. France has a population of 67 million based on 2017 estimates.
The UK has a population of 66 million based on 2018’s stats, of which around 54 million are in England. For a tiny country, that clearly indicates a growing overpopulation problem. How can you ensure 54 million people have the chance to earn a decent living based on a capitalistic model that’s only ever going to benefit a select few? You can’t.
Solutions for Snowflakes
What are young people to do? Generation Z and Millennials are classed amongst the “generation screwed” sect of society. Further reading: “Why Millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression”. The opening paragraph is a fairly standard summary of modern life:
“I am 35 years old—the oldest millennial, the first millennial—and for a decade now, I’ve been waiting for adulthood to kick in. My rent consumes nearly half my income, I haven’t had a steady job since Pluto was a planet and my savings are dwindling faster than the ice caps the baby boomers melted.”
“This is what it feels like to be young now. Not only are we screwed, but we have to listen to lectures about our laziness and our participation trophies from the people who screwed us.”
The reality is the older generations have created an unlivable social structure for the young. The young then, naturally, get angry about this and complain. The older generations then fly into a rage about young people complaining because, back in their day, they worked hard and that’s all you need to do.
Having toured around online and seen what older generations have to say about the crisis facing young people, there are two stock responses.
- The intelligent ones recognise there’s a serious problem and feel sorry for the young ‘uns, but are powerless to help. Or aren’t bothered. Because, you know, not their problem.
- The stupid ones think it’s just a bunch of snowflakes who are bone idle and need to stop whining. After all, how can you be in financial difficulty when you have a smartphone (that’s on contract and costs a mere £10 per month)?
The latter is the one that gets the angriest, and predictably vocal, about the situation. The result is a lot of its cohorts head out to vent their lack of understanding online.
Since 2012, we’ve come across numerous of these sorts. Such as the Daily Telegraph reader who kept reeling off bizarre business maxims at us (“the early bird catches the worm” etc.) – this was during the employment crisis after 27,000 businesses shut down, noteworthy (obviously) for the staggering difficulty of trying to get a job of any mundane sort. But, according to him, anyone who didn’t have money, big surprise, was not working hard enough.
Or there was the Daily Express reader on Facebook who fired off another banal rant about young people being lazy – the snowflake generation. There is no crisis. Young people just expect everything on a plate. They need to work harder. It’s got nothing to do with crippling economic issues etc.
There’s also this one from the Manchester Evening News yesterday (12/10):
“lol Have you bigots [he’s referring to left wingers here] never heard of personal responsibility. Very rarely do I see anybody pushing a pram during the day not smoking or using a smartphone.”
Again highlighting the kind of specious reasoning the clueless rely on to justify mass inequality. We engaged this individual in conversation, but between bouts of abuse (“leftards” etc.) he/she made it clear the solution to any personal problems is this – working harder. Great.
And on the same publication there was the geezer who provided three solutions for generation screwed:
- Work harder (brilliant, thanks)
- Start a business (a possibility, but utterly moronic at present given the economic instability with Brexit on the horizon – also, it’s kind of difficult for people with no savings, and no chance of earning savings, to start a business)
- Win the lottery (summarises life in modern Tory Britain rather well – your only chance of a decent life is a 1 in 45,057,474 chance of landing a winning ticket)
A large sect of the older generations, then, instead of being thankful they’ve avoided this mess and benefited from a time when the economy was good, are being snotty tossers. They’re doubly lucky they missed this, given their propensity for relying on anachronistic sayings, as it displays the type of laziness that would have left them struggling in an era where resourcefulness and creativity are what keep young people financially afloat.
Sure, living standards are essentially up. Millennials have smartphones, Netflix, the chance to own a fancy computer, and we’re not in a war zone, post-war zone, Great Depression, or evacuating in a ditch in a shanty town of São Paulo. We’ve seen many (almost always right wingers) online claim the latter is the only true indication of poverty, seemingly to try to cover up for the Tory’s shambolic rule. Take zero accountability in the face of a debacle solely of your creation – instead blame it on immigrants, lefties, feminism, or deny outright there’s even a problem.
Poverty is poverty – it’s defined by a chronic lack of money, which in modern life can actually support a fancy iPhone (if you’ve got a £10 or less budget per month).
What’s currently presented to people is horrendous: little job security, no chance of financial security, homelessness and poverty a mere step away for the many, and a government that most obviously doesn’t care about anyone except rich people.
Right now, the tail end of 2018, the UN is investigating the Tory government based on its record of normalising poverty (amongst various other human rights breaches). All whilst the Tory government blatantly lies about its appalling record in propaganda campaigns. But:
- If they don’t, they’d utterly crash and burn in the next election
- They’re labouring under the Dunning-Kruger effect and genuinely think there isn’t a problem
We’ve been here before, of course, with the Tories and Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s and 1980s. But Thatcher was skillful and at least accomplished, with ruthless efficiency, her goals.
This current batch, though, has displayed nothing but staggering incompetence. In part, the Brexit negotiations have blocked them from managing the endless other issues. But they landed that on themselves. And it’s the British population, particularly the younger generations, disabled, or elderly, who’ve had to take the brunt of it.
The most obvious solution is to get the Tories out as soon as humanly possible. Although excelling at incompetence and callousness, normalising poverty isn’t the way forward.
The young people denied a vote on Brexit in 2016, a move which directly affects their future rather than the 60+ year olds who voted for it, are largely Labour-leaning. It’s a positive in a mass of negatives.
The problem here is, the right wing press in the UK works its proponents up into a frothing frenzy of anti-left wing vehemence. The right detests the left. And as the Tories continue to lie with their propaganda machine, poverty-stricken people will continue to vote for the very thing that’s making their lives so dismal. All whilst blaming immigrants.
Why? As the left is the enemy. Jeremy Corbyn and Labour are terrorist sympathisers, anti-monarchy, and socialists! We know this as right wing tabloid The Daily Express said so, right next to a fab article about Kim Kardashian’s lifelong battle with cellulite.
Frankly, we need an overhaul of the whole economy. Primarily to stamp out the staggering levels of injustice and inequality. But as the rich get precious about their tens of millions, convincing themselves they’ve done a better job than everyone else, it’s seen as a great injustice if a CEO has their wage sliced to £5 million per month rather than £10 million. Because that extra £5 million is deservedly theirs… whilst a workforce making them rich slaves away for a barely livable wage.
The IPPR called for a total overhaul of the British economy in a September 2018 think tank. As The Guardian summarised:
“In a damning verdict on the state of the UK economy, the IPPR commission on economic justice, which includes the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, senior business leaders and economists, found that the UK is being held back by a business culture dominated by decades of short-term profit taking, weak levels of investment and low wages. Among the report’s 73 recommendations are: a £1 rise in the minimum wage; the replacement of inheritance tax with a £9bn-a-year ‘lifetime gifts’ tax; and greater economic devolution across the UK.”
But as everyone in England remains incapable of agreeing on anything, and the impending Brexit outcome is likely to lead to decades more of this (just much worse), we can at least take some solace in referring to the one maxim that solves all of life’s ills:
“If you’re poor, you should work harder.”
That’s all it takes. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted in a UK Poverty report for 2017 that 14 million people live in poverty here – over one-fifth of the population. Eight million of which are working adults.
If only they’d thought about working harder. If only they’d thought about personal responsibility. Stupid people.
It’s blatantly obvious capitalism rewards only a select few fortunates, a large proportion of whom respond by being arrogant about their success. The idea it is all down to hard work is moronic – plenty of people work hard. Good luck, circumstance, and timing play a far greater role than thumping in 17 hours a day at a desk whilst your monthly rent removes half of your wage.
But whether the calls for an economic reform are to be acknowledged remains a different matter.
Some would argue Brexit is about to do that, but it will likely take decades to find out. What the decision to leave the EU looks set to do is make the situation much worse – this could pick up in time, but who knows when?
Meantime in London, over the summer, there were readings of George Orwell’s (a democratic socialist) anti-poverty works: The Road to Wigan Pier and, principally, Down and Out in Paris and London.
British people are finding comfort in culture, quite rightly, and Orwell’s works highlight the intense inequality of his era. That’s returning for the modern world. So, it’s fitting to end with a quote from the great Orwell and his musings on the rich/poor divide of 1930s Paris and London.
“Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between the rich and poor, as though they were two different races. From this ignorance a superstitious fear of the mob results quite naturally. The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day’s liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. ‘Anything,’ he thinks, ‘any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.’ He does not see that since there is no difference between the mass of rich and poor, there is no question of setting the mob loose. The mob is in fact loose now, and – in the shape of rich men – is using its power to set up enormous treadmills of boredom.”