Divisions within nations are becoming more and more common. It just so happens NI was founded on division. Identity, culture and politics are the great dividers but there is not enough attention paid to the growing division between the haves and have nots. Increasingly something that came be framed as a generational divide.
I’m 20 something. I’m not starting a career as people swore left and right I would have after Uni. Instead I’m at home with mum and dad applying for jobs that I know I’m overqualified for. In saying that I am dead lucky. I don’t have to struggle 9 to 5 to put food on the table or a roof over my head.
I am privileged enough to be in a position where I’m allowed to observe and think. I’m privileged enough to participate in a political discussion in which people who struggle to put food on the table can’t. So I feel obliged to fight their corner. Because I know that I am one bad day away from being in their position.
Maybe my motivation is selfish. Maybe it’s selfless. Either way the objective is the same.
The Anglo-American economic model, laisse faire regulation has made life objectively easier for many but objectively disastrous for many more. Inequality and poverty which was on the wane in the 30 years following the Second World War has increased since Reagan and Thatcher unleashed their hands off brand of economics.
Shareholder value took root in board rooms. Share buybacks artificially inflated revenue while share prices rocketed. Neo-classical economics became the norm. Labour suffered and the days of an honest days work for an honest days pay became exploitation. Labourers toiled while executives reaped an increasingly disproportionate share of the results.
How does this change? Economic reform that is only possible through politics.
I despair at economic conservatism. Each day we delay economic reform is another day for millions needlessly struggling to put food on the table. It’s another day of an exhausted economic system that is screwing people.
It’s easy for me to take a risk. I have little to lose from backing something like a UBI. Yet someone with a house and kids has everything to lose. I understand where they come from but the argument is not academic. It is emotional. It is fear. It is NIMBYism. And it is massively frustrating.