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The Chancellor in his Budget speech of March 21 claimed that it was a reforming budget. By reform, he made clear that he meant changing the “model” of growth that contributes to the national debt while halving manufacturing.
This is sophistry, not to mince words. The government’s cuts and austerity measures are not intended to solve the problem of building a harmonious economy. Nor was the “doubling” (if we are to believe George Osborne) of the national debt caused by spending on social programmes or investing in the economy.
The economic crisis has not been caused by government’s putting more into the economy than is taken out, but the reverse. Neither is it a crisis of the working people’s own making. The Budget was a political Budget in that it sent a signal that the claims of the wealthy are considered a priority, and that it is the working class and people who must pay for the economic crisis.
Deficits have been run by governments to serve the financiers ever since the Bank of England was established in 1694. What is characteristic of the present economy is the extent and depth to which it is fundamentally geared to enriching the financial oligarchy. Whether it is bailing out the banks, establishing quantitative easing, handing over a significant share of the national wealth to the rich, privatising social programmes, the state Treasury is put in the service of paying the rich.
The main thrust of the Chancellor’s Budget was that the government should accept only the minimum responsibility for the public well-being. Government revenue at the disposal of public projects is to be reduced. The government’s rhetoric may be about “hard-working families”, but it is, to coin a phrase, the “idle rich” the Treasury is concerned with benefiting.
This, far from being a recipe for a harmonious growing economy serving society as a whole and the people’s needs, is a programme for taking more out of the economy and putting in less. This cannot but exacerbate the crisis.
It is the working class who are being made to pay, while cuts in corporation tax will further reduce the amount garnered by the public purse. The corporation tax cuts to 22% by 2014-15 will mean, it is reported, a reduction in revenue to the government by £405m in 2012-13 and £730m in 2013-14. There are to be further tax breaks in “enterprise zones”. In contrast, the higher tax-free allowance for pensioners will be frozen from April 6, 2013, at 2012-13 levels. It is estimated that this will claw back £1bn per annum from the elderly by 2015-16. This is headlined as reducing the burden of the elderly on the younger generation, but again is indicative of the government’s programme to put the priorities of the rich over the necessity to care for claims of society’s members.
Meanwhile, the Royal Mail pension scheme is to be transferred to government coffers with the aim of using the funds of £28 billion to pay down government debt. This is a direct appropriation of the future pension requirements of Royal Mail workers.
These measures show a profound contempt for working people and the public good. They are consistent with the twin programme of “austerity” and privatisation that is so damaging to society. This programme of privatisation is further milking the wealth produced by workers in manufacturing, service and public sectors not least through payments to the rich of interest, fees and charges on capital, while a part of this wealth is retained by the rich also as profits.
It is a joke to speak of “pro-growth” policies in this context, when the programme of the ruling elite has caused such devastation to economic growth. It is a joke, when the banks, having exacerbated the crisis to a tipping point, were taken partly into ownership by the state in order, not to invest in the economy, but to rescue their programme of parasitism and the amassing of super-profits.
The government is so arrogant in declaring how this Budget has the goal of a tax system which is “more competitive for business than any other major economy in the world”. The Chancellor’s justifications for these measures do not disguise that they are carried out for the benefit of the most powerful private interests. The contempt shown for public interests is creating a profound crisis which is bound to deepen.
The Workers’ Opposition must resist being made to pay for this crisis with the perspective that an alternative direction for the economy is a necessity. The present direction which serves the rich is increasing the anarchy inherent in the capitalist economy. An alternative direction emphasises the necessity for a coherent economic plan putting the needs of the working class and people who create the national wealth at the centre of considerations. An alternative direction puts public right in the paramount position and restricts monopoly right.
Stop Paying the Rich!
Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
For an Alternative Direction for the Economy Serving the Public Good!
Build the Workers’ Opposition!
The Line of March for April, Volume 2 Number 3, has come off the press this weekend. The Line of March is the monthly publication of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
This issue carries articles summing up the fight against the Health and Social Care Bill, and the necessity for the Workers’ Opposition to take up the fight that the right to health care be guaranteed in order to safeguard the future of the NHS.
Articles are carried on building the opposition to the anti-social offensive, and on the fight for the alternative, which is a necessity for the workers to resolve the crisis in their favour.
The publication looks forward to marking Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28.
The necessity to build the anti-war movement from the perspective of opposing the attacks on sovereignty represented by the doctrine of “regime change” is emphasised. The basis for the building of the anti-war movement remains that of working to bring into being an anti-war government.
With the fight for the right to a decent standard of pensions intensifying, The Line of March carries commentaries on the issue of pensions.
Special attention is given to looking back on International Women’s Day as a celebration of women’s organisation and resistance.
The publication upholds the DPRK’s sovereign right to launch a satellite for peaceful purposes.
And The Line of March gives details of an upcoming concert “The World As It Should Be” held to honour the memory of the Secretary of the Cornelius Cardew Concerts Trust who died earlier this year.
The annual subscription for The Line of March is £35.95. Cheques should be made payable to “RCPB(ML)” and sent to 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA. Pay on line. The April 2012 issue may be viewed as a pdf at: The Line of March Vol. 2 No.3 April, 2012-PDF
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