Listening to the radio this morning I was struck by the odd similarity between three of the major news items.
Firstly, ubiquitously, there’s the economic crisis – which more and more seems to boil down to the fact that people – that’s you, me and them – got greedy. With the boss of Barclays now earning nearly 120 times the wage of the average employee (when 30 years ago it was about 13 time) it seems people are finally waking up and demanding equality, and movement towards a financial system in which people, not just profits, matter.
Secondly, there’s the Leveson inquiry into the behaviour of the press, and in particular the mess over phone hacking. Behind all of the lurid details of whose messages were listened to and which celebrities were outed for doing what, we have to remember that the driving force behind all of this was simple: selling more papers. We simply cannot express disgust at what went on if we too were titillated into reading the stuff. It seems now that finally people are waking up and demanding a media in which people, not just puerile stories for profits, matter.
Thirdly, a shocking report into the state of the care system, which has left countless elderly and vulnerable people abused and maltreated.
‘Findings included carers neglecting tasks because councils paid for too little of their time.’
As the reporter highlighted on a piece on the radio this morning, people are finally waking up to the fact that a genuine sense of empathy needs to be restored to a care system that has been run by council accountants and bean-counters for too long.
With all of these disperate stories, the over-arching sense I get is that there appears to be an awakening to the terrible poverty at the heart of capitalism. The market has failed, not because it hasn’t always turned a profit, but because the market has let people down. Capitalism has proved profitable for some, but has impoverished the spirits of so so many more.
Over the weekend I went to the Bank of Ideas building that the Occupy London protesters are now squatting in Sun Street. And though yes, there are unrealistic idealists, what I found was a network of concerned and genuinely caring people.
Perhaps in the midst of what is a pretty depressing news cycle at the moment we can find hope in this resurgence of empathy, of a wider realisation that people, ordinary people, do matter, and our laws and systems do need to reflect that first and foremost.
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