A blogger called John B has just come up with this gem of a sentence:
"Thanks to the combination of capitalism and socialism that has prevailed in the UK over the last 100 years, everyone has enough to eat. Anyone who says otherwise on the Internet is talking shit".Now, John B is a clever chap. He's a good debater and, aside from gratuitously borrowing from Shakesperian sonnets ("talking shit", "worthless prick", "half a brain", "mental capacity", etc), he's generally quite articulate. He also, no doubt, makes a number of good points.
I'm with him that capitalism should be regulated and not abolished. He's bang on the money when he has a pop at the "arty types [...] 'pretending not to be middle-class'". Definitely.
However, aside from the extremely unfortunate remark at the top, John B also treads into unadulterated manure when he comes up with this other sweeping statement:
"75% of the country [are] basically middle-class".You read that. 75% of the country are middle class. SEVENTY FIVE PER CENT. Which is the type of distorted social commentary you normally see coming out of the gob of well-pampered City bankers, and not articulate leftist bloggers.
I don't know if people cling on to such remarks so desperately as a way of exorcising subconscious wealth-related guilt, like "I'm doing alright therefore, surely, everyone else is", just because we all have "enough to eat", we can all access the internet, and you no longer spot Oliver Twist being chased by Mr Brownlow down the high street.
John B reminds me of my old mate Dave circa-2000, at the peak of Blairism, when most people in Britain seemed so uncritically in awe of formulas such as "things-can-only-get-better", "we-are-all-freelancers" and "we're-all-middle-class-now".
We all have enough to eat, therefore sod over-complicated dilemmas about the nature of poverty in 2010, galloping inequality, the quality of what people eat, or the obscene gaps in life expectancy existing in such a developed country (i.e. in some Glasgow areas, males have an official life expectancy of 54. It's 83.7 for their counterparts in Kensington and Chelsea).
Nah. Stop moaning. Can't you see we're-all-middle-class-now? I am, so you must be too! Less and less people go to work dressed in blue overalls. Less and less people work in steelmaking or car manufacturing. Therefore, we're-all-middle-class-now, nevermind a skilled factory worker may earn more than a call centre chap clad in a shirt and tie and that almost 10% of the population work in the super-low-paid hotel and catering sector.
Forgive my generalisations, but John B reminds me of those people who look at illegal DVD sellers and conclude that, because they're all fiddling with a fancy mobile phone, surely they can't be doing so bad financially. I bet they-have-access-to-clean-water and they're middle-class-now as well.
Or, the old school of thought that it's surely outrageous to claim you're a bit poor if you can afford a Playstation for your son. You've gotta be middle-class-if-you-buy-that-too.
I mean, look at that glass collector on the minimum wage. How dare he say is on "low pay"? You're not telling me he hasn't got a mobile phone, an email account, and chances are he also "twitters" as well and he's even aware of inequality-related issues! He can't be doing so bad, can he, John?
Yet look at the figures. Did you know that over 7 million workers in the UK earn less than £10,000 a year? And that's the actual workers, people earning a living and paying tax.
If you consider that the median (correction: mean) income is £22,800 per year, more than 20 million people of salaried workers in Britain are below that.
Add a good chunk of the estimated eight million who are economically inactive (and don't forget the 2.5m currently on the dole), and the notion that SEVENTY FIVE PER CENT of the country "are basically middle class" is already collapsing like a castle built from arse paper.
And yet John B maintains that if you're "having the unqualified right to reside in a developed country, then you’re not poor, even if your income’s a fiver a year".
So next time you toy with the idea that your minimum wage should be raised a touch. Or that it's unfair that people earning £6,745 should give 20 per cent of that away on income tax. Or that living on jobseeker's allowance is a bloody nightmare. Or that "[W]e are getting wealth inequalities in London now as far as we know that have not been seen since the days of a slave-owning elite", like someone said recently. Next time any of the above crosses your mind, just shut the fuck up, you "worthless prick".
Because John B said so. Just recite with him:
"Even if your income is a fiver a year, you live in a developed country therefore you're not poor".