What I’m covering in this blog may not come as a surprise to people who identify as being working class or who don’t identify with one at all. Many have been facing problems such as poor standards of housing, high unemployment, communities suffering from high levels of crime, and poor health for many years. But during the boom times these things weren’t on the front pages. Yet when “middle class” became threatened, it was all over the papers. The Guardian, The Independent, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. I can see the generic headlines now. ‘Thought bad stuff only affected poor people? It could affect you! Run for the hills!’
It does my head in. Others feel the same judging by the reactions in the comments fields of articles featuring individuals complaining about being without luxuries that they had gotten used to such as private schooling for the children, a nice house, regular holidays and new cars.
You’ve heard the song I’m sure:
My own take is that class labelling is such a loaded concept that all too often the debate around class gets so heated that people lose sight of the wood for the trees. What defines a person’s class?
- Political preferences?
- Religious views?
- Where you live/value of house?
- “In those days you didn’t have the internet”
- “Whatever you could have achieved had other stuff happened, chances are it would have been swamped by the tsunami that is the ongoing economic crisis
People could be teachers, or civil servants – not rapacious capitalists, but ordinary, quiet, middle-class people – and still live in detached houses, and buy new cars, and go on holiday to the south of France. And they had decent pensions to look forward to afterwards.
That was what being middle class was all about. You passed your exams. You got a job. You stayed out of trouble. In return, you felt safe. And now, it looks like all of that is slipping away. And who knows, soon it might be gone for good.
In a detailed analysis, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that nearly all net job creation in America comes from start-up businesses, not small businesses per se. (Since most start-ups start small, we tend to conflate two variables — the size of a business and its age — and incorrectly assume the former was the relevant one, when in fact the latter is.)
- Entrenched inequalities that inevitably mean too many people will never be able to achieve their potential
- House prices and rent prices being out of the reach for too many people
- Unemployment – in particular youth unemployment hitting frightening levels
- The privatisation by stealth of higher education
- Those responsible for the banking crisis not being held to account and being deprived of their ill-gotten gains – financial and state honours
- The criminal actions of, and the ‘out of control’ nature of some of those in the mainstream media
- The implosion of Parliament following the expenses scandal – as well as its failure to hold the executive to account
- Institutional failures within the public sector – such as public sector IT projects and poorly-negotiated PFI projects
- Public sector cuts that have been poorly thought through and poorly evidenced
- Tax avoidance and tax evasion
- The failure of democratic institutions to rein in multinational corporations
- Climate change
- The failure (thus far) of democratic institutions to properly hold to account those responsible for the Iraq war
- The lack of trust & belief in some of our core democratic institutions – reflected by widespread voter apathy amongst other things
- Being priced off public transport
- The ease at which big business can buy access to decision makers through lobbyists or otherwise