A 24-storey tower block, a fire, and 80 people feared dead is apparently not enough to take a long hard look at the social housing system currently operating in the UK. No one to blame, not even the free market or (god forbid) capitalism to pick up the slack this time. A country where The Great British Bake Off is a favorite past time is so blinded by their own welfare system that even they are unable to see when the cookie starts to crumble.
The accountability issue is one of the reasons why publicly owned properties, or companies for that matter, will never be as good as privately owned. Because there is no accountability, people can hide behind the council or the government. Whereas privately owned companies will always have someone to blame and it will shatter the company’s reputation, leading to less incompetent players in market, because they cannot survive without a good reputation. Councils and governments on the other hand will always be there no matter how much they screw up their responsibilities.
What also differentiates a public vs. private company is the aftermath of a catastrophe like this. If a private company screws up people on the left will blame the capitalism and the free market, but if a publicly owned company screws up, and I think we can argue it was a really bad screw-up in this case, no one criticizes the state and whether publicly owned companies or housing is a good idea. In fact, the first criticism to come out of peoples’ mouths were that the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower was put there after tenants in surrounding privately owned buildings didn’t like the look of it, arguing it devalued the area. However, this has later turned out to be false, as the cladding was put in place after a request from the tenants inside the tower block in question.
Moreover, Tories are blamed for cutting welfare budgets, but no one seems to see the real issue. Since public housing cannot make profit they will never be improved upon. Since public housing depends on the amount of tax the public pays it will never increase unless taxes increase. And at the moment, publicly funded housing subsidizes privately owned housing making it possible for private landlords to charge a lot more than they otherwise would.
I think there is a serious reconsideration needed in Britain, whether public funded housing is worth the catastrophes we have seen in recent weeks. Because if it continues this way, there is only a matter of time before the next publicly funded idea goes up in flames.
It’s a tough time being a politician today. Especially if you are still holding on to political correctness. People today see right through you the moment you step out into the spotlight, mainly because politicians normally don’t show their true colors until they get their own interest through (also because we have all seen House of Cards and like to think that Kevin Spacey is revealing what actually goes on behind closed doors). With time, humans have become more skeptical and critical, perhaps due to education and the increased availability of information, and demand transparency. We see this trend not just regarding politics but also in media and advertising with fake news and YouTube’s brand safety issues.
Governments in both the East and the West are hardly functional today and the people working there have gained no respect from the public. We have seen this in the UK recently with Brexit and high-rise fires but also in Sweden, my home country, where people are pretty much governing themselves – no need for a strong leader to tell us how society should work when we can follow common sense and values. Especially as we have no recent evidence that governments make a big difference running a country.
The smaller the government the better. You can’t force half the population to follow the rules of and decisions made by the other half. It’s not going to end well. But what we can do is create more transparency around important issues & taxes by letting people in to the decision making process. It has taken a long time to move away from an old fashioned system where the state takes money from the people, feasting on nice wine and attending masquerades in great halls. Think about it, we still rely on the same system, albeit slightly less extravagantly, and the only way to truly change the way the world works is to get rid of this system completely and don’t think about government as separate to the people. Because this is what separates us – it’s what makes politicians untrustworthy and people rightly suspicious.
I am a true believer that people know what’s best for them and don’t need big brother to tell them how to best live their lives. We need a transparent system where every single issue is made public and everyone who feels strongly about that issue can vote whether they want their money to be spent on it. If there is a small group of people who want one thing, such as a public hospital, well then by all means get together and create it. Pay a doctor a regular fee (or tax if you want to call it that) and you can go to him as often as you want. But don’t make people take part in the same system if they don’t want to, especially if they rarely need to go to the doctor, rich as well as poor. At the moment we have no idea where our taxes actually go, nor how MUCH we are paying through other means such as goods and services.
Change is still a long way away but we are on the right track. And if politicians keep screwing up like they have done in an increasingly faster rate we will get there much sooner.