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Credit crunch crass

Toby Young has written in The Spectator on the reaction of people like psychologist Oliver James and George Monbiot to the credit-crunch. James, as was clear from his fairly recent book, The Selfish Capitalist, merely a re-working of Marx's Estranged Labour, welcomes the credit crunch with both arms, claiming that it will force people to reassess their values in what had become a culture of conspicuous consumption, valuing the wide-screen TV and latest white goods over human relationships. It can't be denied that James makes valid points as to the solace many of us seek in material possessions or 'stuff' - many of us now using them as indicators of how well we are doing in the workplace, (encouraged by the glut of advertising and various other messages that bombard us) or more often as 'rewards' for sticking what are often unsuitable jobs. However, Young also makes the important point that many of those who will be 'forced to reassess' the important non-consumerist values are those already on the breadline, those who, for example, worked in Woolworths on minimum wage. It is a bigger slap down that high-earners like James should come out with such blanket statements without considering these financially disempowered. And those who say that the reason we are in this recession is because mortgages were given to people who couldn't afford them the question, surely, has to be, why is it that, in the western world, there are still so many who work and yet will never ever earn enough to have their own home, if that's what we are stating is important? The reason we are in this recession is not because of poor people's greed in wanting their own home (or for caving in to the freely handed-out credit that encourages the illusion of 'doing well'), and thus feeling as though they are striving within that capitalist framework instilled in us from day one, but that the vast majority of wealth still resides in the hands of an obscenely greedy and deluded few who claim to work hard for their wealth, yet never want to accept that the wealth they own is not due to themselves as individuals, but is possible only through the hard work of others.

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