A Future for Occupy? Why We Need A Campaign for Genuinely Affordable Housing

A year ago, when Occupy Wall Street began, people occupying public spaces in large numbers and refusing to go home was innovative and radical, but then those spaces were reclaimed by the establishment — with violence, or through legal machinations — essentially bringing the first phase in this new era of protest and activism to an end.

Anyone thinking that the Occupy movement has gone away, however, is missing the point. Just as the movement introduced a powerful new concept — the 99 percent versus the 1 percent — into political discourse, so the complaints that motivated people to occupy public spaces in the first place have not gone away.

Essentially, we live in a broken system, broken by criminals who have not been held responsible for their actions, criminals on Wall Street and in the City of London and Canary Wharf, motivated by greed on a colossal scale, who, aided and abetted by venal and/or stupid politicians, crashed the global economy in 2008 but then got away with it.

Saved by government bailouts, the criminals continue to live lives of almost unprecedented wealth and greed, while the rest of the people — the 99 percent — are being made to pay for the crimes of these thieves through savage austerity programs that are driven by malignant ideologies and are also, it should be noted, economically suicidal. Read the rest of this entry »

The Housing Crisis and the Gulf Between the Rich and the Poor: Half of UK Workers Earn Less Than £14,000 A Year

Note: For US readers, £14,000 is approximately $22,000.

In a new series, Breadline Britain, the Guardian is examining how the Tory-led government’s cuts are impacting on British families and individuals, and on the first day of the ongoing series, Amelia Hill provided an overview of the project, which has involved the Guardian commissioning a comprehensive study of the household finances of those in employment (or who are self-employed). As her introductory article explained:

Almost 7 million working-age adults are living in extreme financial stress, one small push from penury, despite being in employment and largely independent of state support … Unlike the “squeezed middle”, these 3.6m British households have little or no savings, nor equity in their homes, and struggle at the end of each month to feed themselves and their children adequately. They say they are unable to cope on their current incomes and have no assets to fall back on, leaving them vulnerable to something as simple as an unexpectedly large fuel bill.

Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead and former welfare minister, told the Guardian, “These figures are a mega-indictment on the mantra of both political parties, that work is the route out of poverty. What’s shocking about this is that these are people who want to work and are working but who, despite putting their faith in the politicians’ mantra, find themselves in another cul-de-sac. Recent welfare cuts and policy changes make it difficult to advise these people where they should turn to get out of it: it really is genuinely shocking.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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