Liverpool Biennial’s Artistic Director, Lewis Biggs, gives his opinions on the Government’s Cuts and how they affect the most vulnerable.
A recent letter from Sir Paul Judge to the Daily Telegraph (19 October) pointed out that the Coalition’s budget is funded by increasing taxes by the equivalent of £7,000 for every household in the country. Although this is an enormous burden, in every civilised country the state supports those in need by taxing those who have greater levels of wealth.
The charitable status of Liverpool Biennial does not allow lobbying for any political party, so I restrict my comments to non-party-political arguments. That is, it should be self-evident that the purpose of government (and the economy) is to encourage and defend civilisation. The purpose of governments (and the economy) is to support a good quality of life for citizens; and culture, health and well-being are the things we all identify as integral to ‘a good quality of life’.
Any government that always chooses to encourage the accumulation of wealth by some people at the expense of a better quality of life for most people is in dereliction of its responsibility and purpose. We see this happen in a minority of ‘pariah states’ in Africa and South America, as well as much closer to home.
Let’s put ‘the cuts’ in perspective. There is just one major issue we must persuade our politicians (‘on all sides of the House’) to sort out as an absolute priority: there has to be financial regulation that prevents investment bankers (or anyone) gambling with the livelihoods of people who have no direct stake in the operations of these ‘investments’.
High Street banks, along with the government and the economy, exist to support a level of civilisation / quality of life in society. Investment banks have moved a long way from this, and investment bankers, in the words of Lord Myners (former Chairman of M&S), are ‘socially useless’.
The trauma and devastation now being inflicted on people of low income as a result of irresponsible gambling by investment bankers is no different in kind from the ‘collateral damage’ inflicted on peaceful citizens during acts of war.
The argument that you cannot have financial regulation in one country (because investment bankers are as fully multi-national as they are careless of the results of their gambling) is a good one. It does not mean there should be no action. It means that action has to be co-ordinated internationally.
Since there can be no economic stability, and no end to the economic devastation wreaked on the poor by the very rich, until international agreement on financial regulation has been adopted and enforced, all voting citizens should insist that their elected representatives put all other issues to one side until this one issue has been satisfactorily tackled.
Politicians often look for a leadership role on the world stage. At this moment, the only leader we need is one who is prepared to stake his or her career on persuading the G20 countries to agree unanimously, and impose rigorously, regulations that prevent rich people from gambling with the current and future right to quality of life of innocent bystanders.