There’s some good news for people in the UK, amongst the ongoing depression of Brexit, freak winter weather and the inherent glumness that comes with being British.
You may remember that about ten years ago there was what economists call a “complete financial disaster of Biblical proportions.” It was in all the papers, which a lot of us were reading while we stuffed them into our clothing as insulation before another night on a park bench. It was a simpler time.
In response to the financial crash, the British Conservative party blamed the incumbent Labour party for wrecking the economy and, because the average person is apparently too woefully stupid to understand the concept of a global recession, the lie stuck and the Conservatives gained power. Immediately, they set to work “fixing” the economy that “Labour” had “broken.” They attempted this through a process they dubbed economic austerity.
In essence, this meant that they started slashing funding for everything imaginable. Schools, hospitals, public transport, anything they could get their hands on. Anybody who thinks that the best way to get through a recession is to make life easier for the public so that they are able to contribute to the national economy is some sort of communist, so instead the Conservatives cut back on all public services, allowed wages to stagnate and then watched the economy do nothing for eight years because it was a terrible plan in the first place. Unless you were a crooked banker (another term for “banker.”) They got bailed out as usual.
The resultant frustration amongst the increasingly poor working-and-middle classes lead to a rise in right wing, reactionary thinking such as blaming immigrants (see: “people are stupid,” above) and eventually to the disastrous Brexit vote.
Now that you’re up to speed, here’s the good news: Austerity has worked! It’s officially been a rousing success, with the UK government finally reporting a surplus. The government is making more money than it’s spending! It’s been accomplished two years behind schedule, real world wages are in the toilet, millenials are the first generation for a hundred and thirty six years to be worse off than the preceding generation, homelessness is at crisis point and the health system is on the verge of collapse, but former Prime Minister David Cameron gets to have an “I-told-you-so” moment on Twitter, and who are we to criticise?! We should have trusted him all along. His assurances that things are now basically fine constitute a little ray of sunshine in the ongoing national cloudy day.
Before I head out to join the parade that I’m certain will be making its way through town any moment now, it’s worth pointing out that politicians in the UK have made the most of this situation by awarding themselves a pay rise. It’s only fair as, with government austerity having so successfully rescued the economy just in time for Brexit to crash it once again, the UK will presumably be enjoying a brief period of government generosity. I’m heading off to make the most of it. Drinks are (probably) on the Conservative party!