While we Sleep, They Work Away…

 

Conservative Party leaders initially sold budget cuts as a virtue, ushering in what they called the Big Society. Diminish the role of a bloated government bureaucracy, they contended, and grass-roots organizations, charities and private companies would step to the fore, reviving communities and delivering public services more efficiently.

To a degree, a spirit of voluntarism materialized. At public libraries, volunteers now outnumber paid staff. In struggling communities, residents have formed food banks while distributing hand-me-down school uniforms. But to many in Britain, this is akin to setting your house on fire and then reveling in the community spirit as neighbors come running to help extinguish the blaze.

St. Teresa of Lisieux Catholic Primary School in Norris Green instituted free breakfasts for students to contend with hunger in the community.CreditAndrea Bruce for The New York Times

Most view the Big Society as another piece of political sloganeering — long since ditched by the Conservatives — that served as justification for an austerity program that has advanced the refashioning unleashed in the 1980s by Mrs. Thatcher.

“We are making cuts that I think Margaret Thatcher, back in the 1980s, could only have dreamt of,” Greg Barker said in a speech in 2011, when he was a Conservative member of Parliament.

A backlash ensued, with public recognition that budget cuts came with tax relief for corporations, and that the extensive ranks of the wealthy were little disturbed.

Britain hasn’t endured austerity to the same degree as Greece, where cutbacks were swift and draconian. Instead, British austerity has been a slow bleed, though the cumulative toll has been substantial.

Today, more than a quarter of Liverpool’s roughly 460,000 residents are officially poor, making austerity traumatic: Public institutions charged with aiding vulnerable people are themselves straining from cutbacks.

The National Health Service has supposedly been spared from budget cuts. But spending has been frozen in many areas, resulting in cuts per patient. At public hospitals, people have grown resigned to waiting for hours for emergency care, and weeks for referrals to specialists.

The National Health Service has supposedly been spared from budget cuts. But spending has been frozen in many areas, resulting in cuts per patient. At public hospitals, people have grown resigned to waiting for hours for emergency care, and weeks for referrals to specialists.

‘Prosperity for All’

Wealthy Britons remain among the world’s most comfortable people, enjoying lavish homes, private medical care, top-notch schools and restaurants run by chefs from Paris and Tokyo. The poor, the elderly, the disabled and the jobless are increasingly prone to Kafka-esque tangles with the bureaucracy to keep public support.

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 Thank you to all Conservative members and voters for making such a Big Society.

 

From the New York Times, not from left-wing Bolshies!

Published by

mike2all

This is the story of what happened to me when anxiety took a grip. I lost my senses, I lost my job, and I lost me. I then turned to writing to find those things that had gone missing. How can you teach when you believe that education is a business that is failing in its primary remit of helping to create a better society? Indeed, how can you teach when you believe that you have nothing of value to pass on? The book/blog is the story of my recovery from the absolute darkness of the early days. It is an Odyssey through my life over the last twelve months and a retracing of my steps to discover how I found myself there. More than all of that, it is a re-evaluation and a rejoicing of all that which I call life. Happy reading and I hope it helps. There is madness, Everyday Madness, and not all of it comes from within.

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