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Finance Friday: Living standards

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said this week that although living standards have dropped since the global financial crisis of 2008 they are unlikely to drop further.

According to the IFS, government cuts have affected us all roughly the same with the poor getting hit by higher energy bills and food prices. The rich it seems have benefited from lower interest rates and mortgage payments. Some of the higher income people might have savings though and low interest rates have not been good for savers.

While initially it seemed that people were saving more money despite the low interest rates, it now seems people are spending a little again. The poorest in society are still struggling as benefits are cut however. Popular opinion seems to blame the unemployed with political slogans like ‘making work pay’. According to the IFS unemployment  benefits costs just over 5 billions. That compares to 36 billion for benefits for families. Benefits for people on low incomes comes to 41 billions.

It would seem that raising the minimum wage might help reduce the benefits bill. Payments from the social fund aren’t easy to get, but over 8 million people needed them  in 2011-12.

Children are something of a drain on society with some schools bursting at the seams and needing temporary classrooms. The expense of making some schools multi-lingual as immigrants come here from far and wide is another problem. Child benefit cost over 12 billions in 2011-12. While the one child per family in China has been shown to have serious sociological problems, it does at least acknowledge the fact that over population is a problem. Britain is a small island, we could change child benefit to encourage people to actually plan their families.

Health care costs are another problem and we need to look after ourselves better. Poverty causes health problems, both physical problems and mental health problems. In the news this week in the area I live in was a sharp rise in teenage pregnancies and a huge rise in new cases of HIV, up over 600% in recent years. What is driving this cultural shift towards irresponsibility? It couldn’t be the health authorities and television? Do television companies have a duty to society. How about the BBC? Do programmes like EastEnders drive a culture that is positive and healthy or do they contribute to mental and physical health problems?

Ed Miliband is looking to dead American Presidents for inspiration. He wants to break the stranglehold of multinational corporations on society. Will breaking up the banks fix the problems? Are there some things more important than money? Some of the language used by people in control who talk about issues and other politically correct talk, make me wonder if they ever face the problems of the real world. I read this week that world war one had an ‘impact’ on Britain. Impact? It changed Britain and most of the world for ever.

For most ordinary people, living standards have gone down dramatically. When they have paid their energy bills (up 60% in 5 years) and paid for food (up 30% over the same period) they have little left for luxuries. Then then get squeezed further by local authorities wanting higher rents and council tax and by government cutting benefits. Is it any wonder they suffer from mental health problems?

What can people do? They can try to avoid getting into debt. There are loan sharks and payday loan companies that will exploit people. The big corporations that Ed Miliband blames will exploit people too. Learning to cook your own food rather than following the crowd to the nearest trendy fast food outlet will save a few quid. You can also resist all the advertising and brain washing. TV companies rather than showing programmes that help, are demonising benefit claimants and promoting cultural change that makes things worse. The same applies, perhaps more so, to newspapers. Ignore the brainwashing.

We can think about the future and be part of the answer and not the problem. People do need to have fewer children, we do need to look after what we have. We do need to reject the politically correct Starbucks culture that says we all have to drink coffee made from Arabica beans, eat in McDonalds, own a television that’s over 40 inches wide and spend all our time looking at a smart phone. We don’t all need blonde hair and tattoos or onesies or bloody selfies. The British people need to resist the brain washing from the media and everyone will be a little better off. Not just financially, but culturally too.

What do you think? Are you taken in by those cute Wonga adverts? Do you spend a lot of time playing with your smart phone and planning your next tattoo?

Please comment and share your views. You can also follow me on Twitter. You can get Twitter on your smart phone!

One Response

  1. Pingback: The Review: Subjects for bloggers | Mike10613's Blog

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