... AS A NATION ROLLS BACK TO THE 1930s ... ONE DWP DEATH AT A TIME...
Monday, November 10, 2014
Are low-paid, outraged workers ready to fight back?
Wages have been falling for years and inequality is growing. But the dissatisfaction of workers may finally force a revolt
Del Boy does a bit of dodgy dealing. Some workers claim they have to do the same because wages are too low to live on. It was all going to script until the rich guy in the pinstripe suit
said young people should “get off their arses”. I was in a television
studio for Channel 4, trying to explain French economist Thomas
Piketty’s inequality thesis to a befuddled audience. But something
Wages as a share of UK GDP have fallen by around 10 percentage points
since 1973. And we’re now in the seventh straight year of falling real
wages. That means, when you tell young people to “get off their arses”,
they have a strong incentive to move into the grey economy. If
wages stagnate, yet everyone with money can demonstrably make money in
the financial and property systems, the logical thing to do – if you are
an 18-year-old on the streets of a British city – is dodgy stuff.
When I pointed this out, the audience exploded. One man yelled: “We
all have to do dodgy stuff. Wages are not enough to live on!” – and he
reeled off a list of dodgy activities he had taken part in. On top of
this, he insisted, the entire country is run by corrupt people on the
make, so why should ordinary people do different? He got the loudest
cheer of the night from an audience that had just been let into the
guilty secret of modern Britain: we are poorer than we think.