Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron have been bickering about tax cuts in the run-up to Monday’s pre-budget report. Brown says he plans a ‘temporary and affordable fiscal stimulus’ to cushion the blows of recession.
Those blows are falling hard on ordinary working people. The grim news on unemployment in the past week was unrelenting – 20,000 workers lost their jobs including 2,000 at building supplier Wolseley, 2,000 at banking firm Citigroup and 10,000 at telecoms giant BT.
These job losses are treated as if they were facts of nature. The response from politicians of all parties has been limited to words of regrets and wrangling over ‘incentives’.
But the recent government bailout for the banks shows that state intervention can go a lot further. Companies looking to axe jobs can be taken over and run in the interests of the majority of working people.
And the government could easily raise funds for investing in jobs and services, if only it had the guts to stand up to the rich and force them to pay taxes. But this is a taboo subject for both New Labour and the Tories.
Cameron wants policies that help the rich, such as reducing corporation tax and slashing public spending. Brown hints at reductions in the VAT rate and targeted tax breaks for poorer households.
But neither of them mentions the scandal of Britain’s biggest companies getting away with paying no taxes on their profits.
Some 181 of the country’s 700 largest firms paid zero corporation tax in 2006-07, according to a report published this week by the House of Commons public accounts committee.
The global economic crisis has proved that free markets don’t work. The government should be taking on this lesson and intervening on the side of ordinary people.
It’s an outrage that thousands of construction workers are being laid off when there’s a desperate shortage of affordable housing in this country.
It’s ridiculous that working families have to juggle their childcare arrangements when the state could create jobs by organising a free universal nursery system.
We have to stand up to the waste and madness of the markets. It’s time to tackle the crisis by demanding a massive transfer of wealth from the rich minority to the majority whose work produces their profits.
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