Something sweet happened yesterday. M’s random perfume club subscription which I gave her for Christmas delivered her March tester box on the same day as my Random Book Club subscription which she gave me for Christmas delivered my March book. We thought it was sweet, anyway.
Something not so sweet happened yesterday. The minister in charge of the UK’s finances, the Chancellor, delivered his spring statement, a new budget, in other words. There had been hopes that, for once, a Conservative minister might be compassionate, might look at the disproportionate rises in the cost of living, and introduce measures that would help the poorest in society to survive. Yes, survive. To continue existing. To be able to live. Not to starve to death, not to freeze to death. But no such thing happened. The sleek millionaire with the slicked-back hair, with youth and wealth on his side, proudly shouted for 25 minutes how he was making the country a better place, for those with money. The highest tax burden on the poor for decades. Spring has just started, but for the poor and disadvantaged winter is coming. This was a budget for genocide. And of course everything, absolutely everything was blamed on the war in Ukraine, although the at least doubling in energy costs was already determined before the illegal war began, although the rise in food prices was already determined by the national catastrophe that Brexit is (before even taking into account the impact fuel price rises will have on food prices). At times like this, it’s difficult to remember the lessons and insights Bregman gave me just 10 days ago. And it makes the one major weakness of his book stand out – why do sociopaths and psychopaths like the Chancellor (and the Prime Minister, and Putin) rise to positions of power where they can practice wholesale murder.
What was needed for the UK economy was for the rise in National Insurance to be withdrawn, for the energy price cap to be re-introduced not lifted, for a windfall tax to be levied on energy and oil companies making billions of pounds of profit every year (example: energy price hikes in France are being held below double digits while here in the UK they will rise by 50%), for provision to be made to ensure that the National Health Service is properly funded (the rise in National Insurance was initially touted as raising more money for the NHS, but it’s pretty obvious the resulting money will be used to plug the gaps in funding caused by reducing taxes for the rich), not defunded so that it can be privatised and sold off, bit by bit, to the highest bidder. What was needed was for the assets of Russian oligarchs to be seized immediately and sold off for the benefit of the public purse (though I suppose the benefits would have gone to the Chancellor’s rich cronies). What was needed was not to blame something that’s now happening for the damage done to the economy by this government by pandering to right-wing populism and xenophobia by exiting the EU and imposing additional bureaucratic and financial burdens on small businesses and people. Not to mention the government’s continuing mismanagement of the covid-19 pandemic. Some might say that’s another example of the genocide being perpetrated by this government.
You might even think that the timing of the war in Ukraine was something the Tories and Putin worked out together.
The end of days is signalled by cruelty.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 40