photo by Andrew Havis (Flickr CC)The UK is bracing itself for the largest public sector strike in over 30 years, prompted by the frozen and cut wages of state employees. The Conservatives sell these cuts as ‘necessary austerities’, but many aren’t buying that. And in light of a constant rise in income inequality and unfair EU subsides towards the wealthy, it’s not hard to see why.

Case in point: George Monbiot writes in the Guardian on the outrageous Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, which take up 43% of the European budget (totalling £47bn per year). And the more land you own, the more money you get. According to Monbiot, the average UK household is handing over £245 per year to the landed gentry:

As chairman of Northern Rock, Matt Ridley oversaw the first run on a British bank since 1878, and helped precipitate the economic crisis that has impoverished so many. This champion of free market economics and his family received £205,000 from the taxpayer last year for owning their appropriately named Blagdon estate. That falls a little shy of the public beneficence extended to Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian fixer at the centre of the Al-Yamamah corruption scandal. In 2007 the Guardian discovered that he had received a payment of up to £1bn from the weapons manufacturer BAE. He used his hard-earned wealth to buy the Glympton estate in Oxfordshire. For this public service we pay him £270,000 a year. Much obliged to you guv’nor, I’m sure.

Tax avoiding aristocrats and utility (water) companies receive even more. Not for supplying water, but for using it – on their own giant farms. Wildlife trusts do the same, not for protecting wildlife, which his their job, but also because they own big farms.

But never mind that, greedy teachers and nurses are bankrupting the country.

Dominic Lawson, writing in the Independent, laments what he seems to consider to be the elite status of public sector workers when compared to those who toil away in the private sector. Public sector employees do not work in the service of the people, according to Lawson, but for big paycheques and generous pensions. Not only that, they are driving down their private sector counterparts. In Lawson’s universe, a strike of public sector workers is an act of the elite repressing the real working class, with of course no mention of repressive private sector employers like Lidl.

No suggestion from Lawson of a Day of Action (general strike) for private sector workers. No idea to raise salaries of those private sector wage slaves (perhaps from shaving the bonuses and inflated salaries of their bosses?). Instead, brand teachers, nurses and local government workers as oppressors of their private sector brethren. Yes, those elite school cooks who earn £12,000 per year – that gravy train has gone on for too long! Still, £12,000 is more than double what a nurse earns in Greece. Yet Lawson would have us believe that such inflated salaries are one of the ‘outrageous privileges’ enjoyed by European public sector workers, never mind that income inequality in the UK has increased greatly from 1989-2009, during which the top 10% saw their income go up by 37%, while the poorest 10%’s dropped by 12%. (source: poverty.org.uk)

Does anyone really think that we need to subsidize wealthy gentleman farmers more than pay teachers and nurses a living wage and provide them with liveable pension schemes?