I originally wrote this article for the Bugle Magazine, published by Bethany Christian Trust two years ago. We are now being told that the economy is getting better and we are all going to feel it, it may be for the wealthy, nonetheless I still feel as I did then.
The overwhelming sensation I grasp from the current set of inept politicians is they are completely out of touch as to how people feel; the brewing resentment regarding the bankers, their dealings, their bonuses, the libor scandal with a sense there is still more to come out and how it is affecting us all in our daily lives. People at the bottom increasingly squeezed yet so many people getting away with not paying tax due to loopholes. Their attitude I feel resembles Marie Antoinette’s ‘Let them eat cake’. A sentiment I have come across in Internet blogs to supermarket queues.Are we on the brink of another major revolution? Are things that bad and so similar. Although historians still debate as to the whys and wherefores; the main reasons for the outbreak of the French revolution in 1789 have been accepted as-
Out of touch rulers and governors. In May 1789, the Estates General met for the first time since 1614. It was composed of three estates, the first the clergy; the higher ranking came from noble families, the second estate the aristocracy; they took up important places not only in the Catholic Church but in the Military as well by what they deemed as their right. The Third Estate was everyone else from middle class professionals to land owning peasants and labourers. They demanded a more just representation to reflect their numbers; they were ignored.
France had severe monetary difficulties because of being involved in so many wars- the national coffers were empty. What did the leaders do? They overtaxed the third estate, there was a 10% tithe on their income, plus there were taxes on salt much needed then to conserve food, and on cloth, bread, and wine.
Although the revolution is seen as the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th for over a year there had been riots savagely crushed by the military on the king’s orders. The cause of the riots was the price of commodities, on the one hand scarce because of bad harvests and the over taxing. The first and second estates paid little or no taxes.
These factors were further influenced by French mercenaries who had returned from fighting the American Revolution and the ideas of the age of enlightenment were sweeping through Europe, pushing equality for all and that Kings did not have an inherent divine right to rule.
There are some quite eerie similarities. Out of touch politicians: Van Rompey the President of the EU asked for a 5% increase in his entertainment budget and they are building a new presidential palace in Brussels due to finish this year estimate cost in 2009, £280 million. The millionaire cabinet, David Cameron spending £700,000 tax payers money on refurbishment of the private PM residence in Downing Street, my personal pet hate George Osborne Chancellor with his smug grin and patronising tones who has £4,000,000 of his inheritance in a Swiss Bank account, is not paying UK tax on the interest and just popped off for holiday last year spending £11,000 on a weeks skiing trip for himself and family. He’s obviously taking advantage of the improved economic conditions whereas most of us have not felt it yet. But don’t worry we are all in this together, us hard working families not forgetting single people. Okay George, with your conditions I’m in this together. What he spends in a week some people have less to live on in a year. And I won’t even start on the local politicians and the Edinburgh Tram Project.
Severe monetary difficulties- what can be said for the Euro Zone the situation being dealt with the ostrich style of gamesmanship, making a bad situation worse. Our role in both Iraq and Afghanistan, if our politicians had learned to read some history, would have seen it was impossible to control, quell, manipulate in the times of the Raj. The British Mission to Kabul was massacred in the 1860’s. The Afghans didn’t want interference then and they still don’t. What right do we have to impose our style of democracy, which on the one hand has evolved for centuries in Europe and has clearly been hijacked by our current set of politicians and their cronies in big business.
As for over taxation as usual the poor are getting poorer to pay for the arrogant, extravagance, and selfishness of the bankers, their bonuses and warmongers through excessive taxation but are abolishing the higher end tax. As for the price of price of food; a topic heard in everywhere as prices rise and rise and the saddening sickening increase of food banks, which simply should not happen in a country supposedly so advanced with an economy improving on the backs of people on zero hours contracts. The directors of the top 100 FTSE companies had pay rises of over 50% last year. And for enlightenment, the diffusion of information through the Internet, social networking was an important factor in the Arab Spring and we have seen riots in Turkey, Brazil, Ukraine, and Thailand this year in 2013. We are all getting fed up with the politicians.
Will those in power pay heed in time – I doubt it. The French Revolution has been marked as the beginning of our current era and I feel it is coming to an end. The seeds for this crisis being sown in the Thatcher era, the privatisations, selling of council housing, erosion of trade union power, creating people more greed motivated than ever. They have just sold of the Royal Mail which the majority of the British Public didn’t want at what now appears to be a knock down price. The losers the British tax payer, the winners the politicians cronies. The gap between rich and poor, which had been reducing since the end of the Second World War, began to widen once more in the late eighties and has gone from bad to worse.
I admit to feeling ambivalent to the riots of summer 2011, it has been brewing for a long time but that many were opportunist. One looter on being caught with a TV said, the only difference between the bankers and me, is they loot a lot more. Loot, however being the operative word; grasping and grabbing as much as you can, for as little effort a possible.
The retail sector is hoping for a good Christmas to boost dwindling profits, our politicians such as they are whatever level or nationality will just tell us to buy and eat Christmas cake. History is cyclical and has shown time and time again repeats itself, as we do not heed its lessons. I have felt like many others for some time that something has got to give and this time the consequences will be worldwide as is clearly being seen.