Everything flows, it all evolves and nothing remains static. The Lavoisier Universal Law whereby nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed. That’s exactly what is happening to British society right now and probably to a good many of the societies around the world in the countries in which we live. Britain has transformed itself into a society of people that have become individualistic, that are centered on themselves. That means that everyone can do more or less what they want in a world of live and let live; but there are some that the British would like to see live and let die and that’s the banks and the European Union. For the British the banks and the EU have been created, have been told to get lost but won’t go away and need transforming now.
According to research that has been carried out by NatCen Social Research in the UK (which carries out research yearly on UK citizens to determine just how much UK society evolves on certain key issues) has shown that the British have changed in the last 3 decades with regard to gender, sexuality and class perceptions. They have also changed their opinion on the state welfare system and believed in two years ago that people were unemployed and who were living off state benefits were in fact, just scroungers that didn’t want to work. 62% of the population believed this. However, that number has fallen to just 51% today and perhaps the economic climate.
With the financial crisis and the unemployment at an official figure of 7.8% (2.51 million people, but with only 1.4 million people who have the right to claim the British benefit system, the Jobseeker’s Allowance) this is hardly a surprise.
But, no government should be truly trusted as to the figures it releases to us and we can’t just arbitrarily take it as read; especially where economic data is concerned. Just as in the USA (where the U-3 jobless rate is 7.3% for August 2013, but the U6 unemployment is double that standing at over 14% today) there is growing concern that the figures are not quite true. The U6 unemployment rate includes all people that have been discouraged from looking for work in the past four weeks or people that work just a few hours per week sometimes and who are considered employed (despite the fact that they would not be able to live on the salary that they earn and that they areunderemployed in their present job).
The UK is exactly the same in the doctoring of the figures and real unemployment has been suggested to be as high as 6 million people in the country today. A temporary job or a job in which you are underemployed may be better than living off state benefits alone, but it is far from adequate enough to be taken out of the official figures. Perhaps that means that the British have indeed modified their perception of people who are unemployed today in the country.
This is even truer since in recent months the British coalition government of David Cameron has reduced Child Benefit or has withdrawn it entirely from higher-income groups and has also decided to cap the legal limit of state benefits claimants are allowed to receive (£26, 000 per year). But, at the same time the British also believe that spending on social welfare and the National Health system must not be increased.
But, it is also not the role of the government to provide a decent standard of living. The British used to believe in 1985(81%) that that was the role of the government in society. They had to be aided and abetted in the daily lives that they ran. But today that figure has dropped to just 59% of the UK population. Self-reliance and meritocracy have become the order of the day. So, while the British believe that people are unemployed are not state-spongers they also believe that they have to fend for them to get what they want.
Have the British come to realize that they are disillusioned with the promises and pledges of the politicians and they won’t get anything handed to them on a plate? The fact that only 20% of the country actually believes that the government will put the people before their own personal gain or the advantage of the political party is telling in itself. Do politicians, avid fans of pollsters and surveying questionnaires, actually know that? It was double that figure towards the end of the 1980s, which is not high either, but a whole lot better than today. But, the economic times and the access to information were entirely different then.
The British are not completely in the fairytale land of Alice, but they would certainly like to send some crashing through that mirror onto the other side of nowhere. Their hostility towards banks has increased and that is not just true of the UK.
Today only 21% of the British trust that their banks will put them first over the financial profit to be made or that they will have ethical practices in business. However, it is on those two points plus ‘listening to customer needs’ that the public in the UK would like to see banks improve in order to regain trust. The day that the banksters and the financial institutions decide to put profit in the back office rather than in the shop window will be far off in the future. The British disillusionment will simply have to continue.
In the USA, trust in the banking system is marginally higher and stands at 35%. But, only 25% of the British believe that the government should intervene in order to monitor the practices of banks. That’s hardly surprising given the 20%-figure for the number of people that believe government puts people first. It’d be like letting the fox loose in the chicken coup, wouldn’t it? The eggs would just get taken. 72% of the Chinese believe that they can trust in their banks by comparison.
It is hardly surprising that the issue of moral bankruptcy in the financial sector and the sovereign debt crisis around the EU and elsewhere in the world have been issues that have changed the shape of the way people think in society. Today 67% of the British either want the UK to leave the European Union or for the powers of the latter to be reduced. That skepticism has never been as high as at the present time. The banks and the EU have become the bugbears of the British people and they distrust their government more and more. But, they believe that their fellow citizens are in need of financial aid to live. However, self-reliance and independence from the government is the best way to get there. There is a seismic divide that has split the government from the people and has distanced the British from the banks and the EU.