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The equality crunch

We should celebrate the planned £20 increase in child benefit payments for first child to increase to £20 a week from April 2009, Changes to tax credits for families will make those with two children earning £28,000 a year better off by £130 a year, £8bn more on affordable housing over three years, the savings gateway scheme that, from 2010, will offer incentives to save for 8 million more people on low incomes, £60m over three years to improve skills for those wanting to re-enter the job market but surely not the reduction of corporation tax and watering down his plan to tax the non doms and retreating on capital gains tax. And where was the windfall tax on the shameful profits of the energy companies, which may have helped towards cutting child poverty?

One of the reasons why this budget was tough, why people get bankrupt, sacked or even made homeless, is as a consequence of the credit crunch, which is in itself partly because of the fat cats taking wild risks with with other people's money to make themselves even richer.

To contradict John Hutton, before celebrating the fact that people can be enormously successful in this question, shouldn't we should be questioning whether rising inequality can be morally justified.

Or rather shouldn't we be questioning why the people John Hutton celebrates pay less tax (and most none at all) than the people that clean their luxury flats? Shouldn't we be celebrating those people that pay their fair share and those people that despite being born unequal, have contributed more than enough to our society and often taken advantage of by those who don't - whether that's agency and temporary workers excluded from rights in the workplace, elderly living in fuel poverty being ripped off by energy companies, children not being able to go to university because their parents cannot afford tuiton fees.

It seems the BBC have taken to heart Greg Dyke's famous quote that the organisation was itself "hideously white" and produced a series about how hideous the white working class is, by portraying lazy, racist reactionary bigots. Maybe it would have been better to talk with the working class rather at them to find out that they don't all fit the Little Britain mould. Maybe the government should also stop thinking of them as citizens before consumers, or racialising the debate on identity to reveal a weaker scapegoat than itself - the immigrant, the disabled, the carer, the family.


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