012 - Tories really don't care about us

I'm curious about the extent to which the government is (joyfully) captured by corporations and just who our government really are. Depressing read if you are progressive!

There is no TLDR; here. You will have to read to the end of the post!

This is written in late October, 2021. The negative effects of Brexit are starting to bite resulting in shortages of food, basic goods and fuel. The government's (lack of an) approach to dealing with COVID19 is resulting in circa 50,000 infections per day, nearly 1000 deaths a week, and an NHS on the verge of collapse. In the economy, inflation is on the rise, hints of stagflation are becoming apparent, and investment is on the wane.

All this is (reasonable) evidence that the Government is not really making decisions for the health and wellbeing of the population at large. Who do they care about?

Corporations are the powerhouse of Western civilization, creating wealth for an increasingly small number of people. We live in societies divided by money, where people working full time still can't afford to live in our societies. Rather than being paid a living wage, society subsidises corporations by paying income benefits to people who, despite working, can't afford to pay for housing and food. The Government then demonises those on income benefit, making them out to be worthless, despite having the power to change society so that working full time would allow people to live in the society they find themselves in.

The problem is not corporations as such; they just do what corporations do. The objective of a corporation, in capitalist environments, is to (obviously) generate capital for their owners. The owners are the smaller slice of society with all the money, the shareholders. Therefore, the people running corporations will tend to make decisions that increase capital for the owners, and continue to do this even when those decisions are harmful to the rest of society. Due to the agency problem, the executives of the company will continue to do this, as essentially, that's what they are paid to do. Thus we have outcomes such as:

This is just companies doing what they do. The examples above describe external costs that are 'free' to the corporation, so they use them as much as they like. As a corporation does not have to pay for the environment (say), then it doesn't factor into its decisions, and so negative outcomes are not taken into account in the pursuit of increasing capital. The job of a corporation is to exploit resources to make money.

Companies/corporations don't exist in a vacuum. They gain the right to existence because society allows it. In theory society benefits from having corporations generating capital (or wealth) and products/services. There's a kind of social contract: the owners of capital are allowed and enabled to exploit resources to generate more capital because it is a benefit to the societies they are embedded in. And mostly this is true, when the aims of society and corporations are aligned.

But large corporations are powerful because they have a lot of money. And money can be used to buy things, and people. It is used to persuade and encourage a legal and regulatory environment that is beneficial to them. And sometimes the needs of society don't align particularly well with corporations. And in this case whether the regulatory environment favours the corporation or society in general rather depends on whether those corporations have persuaded (or even bought) the people who determine the regulations: the Government.

The only people in society that can reign in and control corporations are the Government, by writing laws, and the Judicial system in enforcing those same laws. With very large corporations, those that are trans-national, countries have to get together to agree a regulatory environment that can challenge and contain the largest corporations. The European Union is one of those. However, there is a problem, and it's corporate capture of the Government.

So an important question to ask is: who are the people who inhabit Government and own and run corporations?

For corporations, well the large ones, the answer is probably quite simple. The elite run corporations. The wealthy and privileged. Those with money and power. And as money is the most inheritable trait, their families tend to also run corporations, banks and the media. A small number of people own and run most of the companies and Banks in the UK, most of the land, many of the houses and almost all of the media.

For the Government, at least in the UK, mostly it's the same people. The Tory party is essentially the party of millionaires, who come from the same families as those who run the Banks, the media and many of the largest corporations. They socialise in the same circles, and crucially seem share the same expectations of how society should be run: for the benefit of their families and friends. They are the Rich Elite.

But here's an interesting fact: we supposedly live in a democracy where our politicians are elected by people who are overwhelmingly not the rich elite. So why don't we have a government that represents the majority's interests rather than the interests of the elite?

Or to put it another way: how does the elite persuade a sizeable part of the population, around 40%, to essentially not vote in their own interests? And for one crucial popularity poll, Brexit, 51.8% to definitely vote not in their interests?

I don't know, but I can hazard a guess. Consider these:

It's not too much of a leap to suggest that the above group of people might all have their own interests at the centre of their thinking, as a driving force for the decisions they make.

If media messaging is controlled by the elite and for the elite, the elite are in control of the Government and make the laws, then it's not a stretch to suggest that by controlling the narrative ordinary people can be persuaded to vote against their own interest. I think this is what happened with Brexit, and why Tories are elected in deprived areas of the country.

Finally, why does this matter? The interests of the elite aren't the same as the non-elite. We, the non-elite, need universal healthcare, pay that is sufficient to buy/rent houses, buy food, white goods, clothes, and the odd luxury and go on the occasional holiday. We need good state-provided schools to educate our children, free university education to meet the needs of working in society, and a safe, clean environment in which to work, live and play. And when we've finally finished working, a pension that supports us properly in old age, and a safe, care system that looks after us. The elite just buy that, because they have all our money.

And that's really the fundamental issue for me:

The people in charge are largely the people who have always been in charge, and they really like it that way. They are seeking to eliminate the equality of the last century and return us to the more feudal state of 'people with money', and the 'the people they own'.

I'm publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by isiting https://100daystooffload.com