Comment: The “Establishment” can never be reformed if politics remains at the centre of it

Matt Pitt looks at the tight-knit nature of "The Establishment" and argues for the separation of it from politics.

 

Bill Clinton displayed his political acumen at The Democratic National Convention when he described his foes as simple-minded people, who believe tax reductions for the rich is the answer to almost any conceivable problem.

The Republican Party’s economic plan, if you want to call it that, stood out in the run-up to the election as inconceivable and illogical, a prime example of arithmetic nonsense. Injustice and unfairness towards the middle and lower classes formed the core of Romney’s bid to save the world’s largest economy from continued socialist interference and disruption.

In this disfigured parallel universe, the rich and powerful that constitute the establishment would come to the rescue of the lesser peoples’ lagging living standards if only their tax burdens were somewhat lessened.

In light of Clinton’s speech, it is opportunistic at best and misleading at worst, for the trickle-down Tories to try and align themselves with Obama and feed off his continued popularity in the UK while marching to Romney’s tune of tax cuts for the rich.

Lest we forget it was the government that has reduced income tax for the rich, ruled out a mansion tax and raised VAT – disproportionately hitting the poor.

Even the much-proclaimed rise of the tax threshold for income tax to £10,000 by 2015 is largely advantageous for the better-off in our society, with 70% of the benefit going to the top half of the income bracket.

The fact is the establishment of our society remains the realm of the privileged, born with a silver spoon in their mouths and living a life free of fundamental worries of affordability.

The absence of equal opportunity for everyone is a tragedy in itself. Nonetheless, of equal worry is the disturbing level of immorality at the top level of our society, whom the government has handed massive tax cuts by hiding their chumminess with the rich behind absurd calculations of economic efficiency that simply do not stack up.

Who is it that we are putting our trust in, to help grow the economy, and why does the government want us to share their faith in the role and responsibility of the top 1%?

Leaving aside the significance of the staggering number of privileged people who are MPs for another time, it comes as no surprise the public’s trust in their political representatives is at a record low following the incessant slurry of expenses scandals, the continued shady lobbying practice and questionable outside interests involved in the decision-making process.

Instead of being outside of the establishment and holding it to account, it has metamorphosed into one of its key members. Multinational and oligopolistic firms, for example, have been dragged into the foreground of public inquiries and investigation after dodging taxes through loopholes; doubtless, further abuses of the markets and tax rules will gradually come to the fore as the hunger to hold the establishment to greater accountability continues.

Once again, the rule that money talks, clearly persists in the political establishment as David Cameron refuses to condemn the widespread practice of tax-dodging by large corporations as immoral and unacceptable – as he did Jimmy Carr (but not Tory-supporting Gary Barlow or Sir Philip Green).

Many banks – institutions that succeeded in bringing the global economy to its knees by speculating taxpayers’ money away – desperately want everyone to believe lessons have been learnt and it is now time to move on; through further inspection, however, the skeletons of misselling customers unnecessary financial products in the drive to maximise profits, the Libor scandal, and running offshore accounts for criminals and tax avoiders have been dug up.

In full disregard, the government ignores the need to fully implement the watered-down Vickers banking report before 2019 and is refusing to consider any further taxes on bonuses, with Boris Johnson claiming we “need to make the moral case for banking” and “stop vilifying bankers”.

The media has not survived unscathed, either. The phone hacking scandal is falling into oblivion, but not before it had effectively ploughed a wrecking ball of criminality through the perceived upstanding of the media.

As the dust began to settle, the seemingly innocent BBC was thrown into turmoil and public disgust as a former star of the BBC, Sir Jimmy Saville, was accused of gross abuse, while the prosecution of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson continues to remind us every once in a while how convoluted the police, government and the media can be.

In this case, rumour is that David Cameron will give the media industry another chance, and opt for continued self-regulation when Lord Leveson publishes his findings this Thursday.

The conglomerate of interwoven institutions at the top of our society is not only in charge of running this country, but often sees itself as being above questions of morality, and occasionally the law. Reforming the corrupted tax, political, economic and media system is out of the hands of those who should have the greatest say in this country, the people.

Ironically, having a say every five years at the ballot box between a few politicians, most of whom envelop their ignorance of life outside of a privileged lifestyle with fancy catchphrases in the single hope of making it onto the news, is hardly going to put the public trust back into our lawmakers.

As long as there remains a gaping inequality between the rich and the rest, the Establishment will be under scrutiny. And it is up to the people to continue pressing the matter of injustice until justice is here.

In the absence of a silver bullet, any change at the top will only be accomplished gradually through greater civic engagement that pushes for real change in our political system. Whether anything meaningful can be accomplished in light of our top political representatives often being part of the Establishment itself, is questionable.

Whether you are in agreement with Clinton’s arithmetic or not of course matters, but it will hardly challenge the never-ending continuation of the establishment being at the helm of a society that is protected by our “democratic” system.

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