On the 20th of January 2017 Donald Trump will become the President of the USA. In his campaign he has gone after African Americans, immigrants, Latinos, Asians, women, Muslims and also mocked the disabled1. This tactic of divide and rule distracts us from tackling the real problems that face our society.
It is important to realise that there are not a fixed number of jobs that ‘other’ people take. When someone gets a job they spend money on goods and services. This creates increased demand for goods and services which means more jobs are created. The people in these jobs spend their money on goods and services which creates more jobs. This results in economic growth – i.e. the country gets a lot richer, tax revenues go up and we should have more money to spend on things such as the NHS.
Between 2001 and 2011, the overall contributions to the UK from immigrants from countries that recently joined the EU amounted to almost £5 billion, other recently arrived European immigrants contributed £15 billion, and recent non-European immigrants contributed £5 billion2.
If the economy is growing why haven’t your wages/pensions/benefits gone up? Why are you still struggling to pay off debts and the gas bill? Why is the NHS struggling.
The problem is that this wealth has mainly gone to those who are already wealthy. For example in 2013 when we were suffering under austerity the richest 100 people in the UK saw their wealth increase by £1,272 per second3.Eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world4.
Unlike poorer people the rich spend a much smaller percentage on goods and services. Instead they invest in hedge funds, the stock market and property which leads to housing, stock bubbles and banking crises.
Divide And Rule
One of the ways that such inequality is maintained is that we are told that the problem is other people who are in the same position that we are – its ‘the blacks’, ‘the immigrants’, ‘the Jews’ . Who tells us this? Billionaire media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the Barclay Brothers5 and rich politicians such as Donald Trump or Boris Johnson who described the £250,000 a year he gets from writing for the Daily Telegraph as ‘chicken feed’6.
Who Do You Have More In Common With?
When we are told that we ‘must look after our own’ it is important to ask who is our own? Should we continue to look after the billionaires or should we join together and fight for our share of the cake which we create.
1 Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist, Washington Post, December 2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-is-a-bigot-and-a-racist/2015/12/01/a2a47b96-9872-11e5-8917-653b65c809eb_story.html?utm_term=.6c79ca526690)
2 The Fiscal Effects Of Immigration To The Uk, Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini, The Economic Journal, 2014 (http://www.cream-migration.org/files/FiscalEJ.pdf)
3 Wealth Tracker 2014, The Equality Trust, 2014 (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/TET%20Wealth%20Report%202014.pdf)
4 An Economy for the 99%, Oxfam, January 2017 (http://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/oxfam/bitstream/10546/620170/1/bp-economy-for-99-percent-160117-en.pdf)
5 Five reasons why there is not a free and independent press in the UK, Som Tribune, December 2016 (https://www.somtribune.com/five-reasons-not-free-independent-press-uk/)
6 Johnson condemned for describing £250,000 deal as ‘chicken feed’, Guardian, 14 July 2014 (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/jul/14/boris-johnson-telegraph-chicken-feed)