“Every single one of us is born into the world with an equal right to exist and an equal entitlement to the planet’s sustenance. So, how can such a thing as debt exist?”
The idea of being indebted to another human being for your basic means of existence is irrational.*
And yet the masses willingly endure a system of ritualised financial degradation which leaves millions without even the most basic daily nutrition and many more struggling to make ends meet. So, in the UK at least, borrowing to buy food, clothing and shelter becomes an unavoidable normality. Meanwhile a tiny minority of individuals control more than 80% of the nation’s wealth.
Instead of turning our backs on a system which fails the majority of people so catastrophically, we allow ourselves to be bullied into believing we are unworthy of our place on this earth. We are made to feel it is our fault we don’t want to move to the other end of the country, to do an unsatisfying job which pays insufficient money to feed and clothe the family. Meanwhile billionaire employers pay themselves millions a year from profits significantly boosted by not paying their staff properly or fairly.
The economy of the UK is founded on debt – student debt, housing debt, consumer debt, personal debt. According to the ONS and the Money Charity, at January 2020 total household debt stood at £1.68 trillion of which £1.51 trillion was housing debt. The remaining £170 billion is unsecured debt and doesn’t include student loans etc.
Debt is used to control the largest number of people efficiently whilst expending the least effort. We have been made to accept the inevitability of debt conditioned by those who relentlessly capitalise on the misery it causes. For most, debt is used increasingly to pay for basic necessities: a vehicle to get to work, housing, clothing, healthcare, food and education. For the poorest among us that debt is paid for many times over, through work, through taxes, through the interest paid on the loans, through diminished opportunity and choice, through poor health and reduced life expectancy.
For a debt to exist, both parties must agree that it does.
Unless inequality is addressed positively, directly, with an honest willingness to listen, I believe people will seek alternative, more aggressive means to take what is rightfully theirs.
A more sustainable and human balance must be infused into society. Beginning with practicalities, let us adopt the principle that everyone is entitled to a share of the nation’s prosperity. 1) A basic income guarantee of £100 per person per week would be sensible. This idea has found traction in a number of nations across the northern hemisphere with great success. 2) An honest and reliable minimum wage guarantee aligned to the national living wage above £10 per hour. 3) A programme of equity involvement of employees across businesses of all sizes. 4) Curtail overseas investment in industries in favour of local and national participation. A 50% balance between the two would be ideal. 5) An undertaking that all businesses of every size and financial strength will also provide time and resources to education.
These suggestions are just the beginning and pave the way for a progressive and participatory society which everyone may enjoy. After that, we can begin to dismantle the torturous machinery of banking and finance in order to establish a system based on fulfilling the basic human needs of everyone on the planet.
*The rights of ownership, i.e. the enjoyment of a personally controlled commodity or resource, for example, is a totally different subject.
© Rod McRiven 2017
Location: Holborn, London