- Christian Armbruester
Why it may be time to bring an old foe in from the cold.
If you earn more than £80,000 per year, then you are in the top 5% of the UK population. Happy days, but that does not mean you can send your kids to private school. It also does not afford you any luxuries such as first-class travel, living in a two bed flat in west London or driving a high-end sports car. To do these things, you would need an income of £250,000 and even then, you would just about break even.
So, what about the rest of the population? Most rely on some form of government support to make ends meet and more than 23 million people claimed benefits in the UK last year. The bill for all of this currently stands at about one third of all government expenditures and it has been on the rise for quite some time. If you are wondering who pays for that, then you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the top 1% does pulls its weight and contributes more than 25% of all income tax revenue. The rest comes from those who are too well off to get any help, but can’t quite eat a steak from Salt Bae.
Income inequality has been around for a very long time and the world is not fair, but the aptly called “cost of living crisis” could break everything. Remember, it’s not a choice of eating the Rump steak rather than the Filet to save money. When you are paying too much to keep the lights on and you either have enough left over to feed yourself or risk freezing to death, choices will need to be made that are unthinkable for most of us.
The problem is, there is no solution. It’s not like we can magically solve the energy crisis, which let’s face it, has been at the heart of every major conflict for centuries. It’s also extremely difficult to reverse $100 trillion worth of stimulus which has been keeping the patient alive ever since the Great Financial Crisis. Then there is everything to do with climate change and asking people to pay even more for utilities to save the planet is a non-starter at this stage.
Populist governments are not going to save us. Turns out it’s a lot easier to create crises to win elections, than actually solving them. The real worry is if things get worse from here. Revolutions start when enough people turn to the streets because they have nothing more to lose. Before letting them eat cake is no longer an option, we may want to consider cosying up to some friendly neighbourhood dictator, with an ample supply of fossil fuels.