It is always thus. As soon as people actually pick up the gauntlet of democratic participation and activism (more here on the British background to this movement), the worldview presented by many in the media is one of democracy threatened rather than strengthened. And yet, it should not be so. People who participate and give of their time freely in such enlightened ways inevitably enrich economies, cultures and societies all. An engaged populace should be valued not only by those who have very little – but also by those who find themselves at the very top:
In an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney called the demonstrations, which are slated to spread to cities across Canada on Saturday, “entirely constructive.”
“I understand the frustration of many people, particularly in the United States,” he said. “You’ve had increase in inequality because of … globalization, because of technology. You’ve had a big increase in the ratio of CEO earnings to workers on the shop floor.”
We should be entirely entranced by democratic outpourings such as these which – in the midst of massive economic crises – show how intelligent and clued-up the masses are.
These are not the unthinking masses of ancient capitalist lore but the informed masses which half a century of free state education has brought home to our democracies everywhere. These demonstrations are nothing more nor less than the logical consequence of a society where sharing and understanding data has become the prime mover and dynamic in the bringing-up of our youth.
This is no longer a pyramidal society where only those at the top understand the complexities of life. Now, we are all privy to the information and understandings we need. We still have the old structures in place, of course. And we, as the less privileged classes, sometimes make mistakes when we draw hasty conclusions. But these mistakes are generally out of ignorance not malice – and stride hand-in-hand with an honourable thirst for real knowledge.
Not something that can be said about all of those who still pull the levers of power these days.
Further reading: this piece from El País today is inspirational. You can find it here in Spanish and here translated via Google. Beautiful stuff. Meanwhile, here, from the OccupyLondon page, we have the following Key Facts you might also wish to consider, whilst you cogitate a little further on what’s happening across the world this weekend:
The Bank of England estimates that the total costs of bailing out the financial system is £1.3tr, or more than 10 times the entire NHS budget.The UK bank bailout accounts for about 1/3 of the global banking bailout.
3 years on the British government continues to subsidise ‘too big to fail banks’ banks:
- £46 billion: the combined subsidy the ‘Big Five’ UK banks enjoyed in 2010;
- £10 billion: of British taxpayer’s money was paid in indirect subsidy to Barclays
- Lloyds, RBS, HSBC and Nationwide also enjoyed subsidies of £15bn, £13bn, £7bn and £1bn respectively.
The ‘too-big-to-fail’ subsidy for the UK’s largest four banks is 62% higher than the equivalent subsidy in Germany, despite the fact that the German economy is significantly larger.
[New Economics Foundation, Quid Pro Quo, September 2011]
£83 billion: the amount of public sector cuts planned by the government by 2014-15. Effectively cutting the incomes of ordinary people by
- 6.2% for typical families with two young people on modest earnings (£37,000 combined income)
- 4.2% for more well off families with children at university (£78,000 combined income)
- 10.4% the average working lone parent with two children
- 16.2% pensioner couples
- The economy has lost 2 million jobs since the beginning of the recession.
- 2.57 million people out of work (or 8.1% of working-age population)
- 21.3% of 16-25 year olds out of work. That is almost 1 million young people, the demographic group that has lost out most from the fall in demand for labour.
- 250,000 jobs have been cut in the public sector in the last year.
- Research published by TUC on Monday found that those previously working in the lowest paid jobs make up nearly half of all new unemployed claimants since 2008.
- The top ten percent now have 100 times the wealth of the bottom ten percent.
- The top ten percent earn 4.1 times the incomes of the bottom ten percent, with the top 1 percent more than 10 times. The same figure was 3.1 in 1961.
- The average CEO earns 250 times the average cleaner.
- Levels of social mobility are the lowest among all developed economies.