How to Stop Worrying and Love the Cuts


Written by Peter Hensen
20 Wednesday 20th October 2010


This week’s Comprehensive Spending Review everything is being cut just before the VAT rise in January when everything is getting more expensive. Before dooming out about life in a world devoid of cash where everything costs more it can be helpful to take the bull by the horns and think of some practical survival tips to thrive in George (Gideon) Osborne’s dystopian near future.
Economic Survival Tips or How to Stop Worrying and Love The Cuts 
VAT Rise
On January 4 VAT is rising from 17.5% to 20% meaning everything except for food, children’s clothes and newspapers is going to cost more. The BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston put it mildly when he said rise would cause "significant anxiety to retailers" and in an economy like ours which relies on the service and retail sectors the wisdom of the move has to be questioned, not least because it hits the poorest just as hard as the rich.
Last year Father Tim Jones, the parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, said shoplifting was OK by God, well Amen to that especially when shops like Tesco keep announcing record profits! Roll out the five-finger discounts superstores (obviously the vicar’s rule doesn’t apply to small independent shops; where does the Pope stand on ram raiding again?).
Tip 2
Not got the stomach for thievery? An effective new, never announced way to save money in supermarkets is to check out using one of those arsehole machines that’s always saying “Unexpected item in the bagging area”, instead of scanning your items weigh them and ring them up as potatoes when it asks you to select an item. You’ll be surprised at how cheap everything becomes in baking potato weight.
Tip 3
Avoid VAT by forgoing money and bartering instead. Remember Barter Town, with mayor Tina Turner, of “Two men enter, one man leave” fame, it worked for them. If you don’t have anything to trade (tobacco seems to work well in prisons) then provide a service like dog walking or chimney sweeping.  
Higher Education
Relatively recently you got paid in the form of a grant to go to university. How times change! This week Lord Browne’s review of higher education recommended that tuition fees should be uncapped meaning the average degree may cost you about £20,000 and if you didn’t go to Eton or St Paul’s (like Dave and George) you probably won’t be used to spending that sort of cash on education. Paying it back will be tricky too as there won’t be any jobs.
Tip 1
Buy a degree from a made up university like hypnotist Paul McKenna or the Reverend Ian Paisley did. They only cost a few grand on the internet and your children won’t waste all that time studying.   
Tip 2
Steal the learning. There’s no class register and so you can probably get away with sitting in the lectures without having to pay the fees. If you learn anything about Photoshop you’ll be able to fake the degree certificate too.
Unlucky enough to have children? Well breeding costs even before they start university, in fact the figure is about £9,227 a year from birth to the age of 21 according to research from insurer LV published recently. That is equivalent to £769 a month, or £25 a day. If you are considered middle class and earn £44,000 annually you will no longer receive child benefit.
Tip 1
Fagin had the right idea! Children can actually be good little earners, train them up and send them out picking pockets. If they don’t take to crime set up a cottage industry in the dining room and get them doing garment repairs and other piece work like stitching footballs, after all it works for Adidas!   
Tip 2
Kids are going to debt at uni anyway and so why not start the tab running a few years earlier and hit them with a bill for the school uniforms, food and holidays once they start earning.
Start taking these sorts of steps, do what you can to cut costs and beat the system, within a moral framework that only targets corporate and not your fellow citizens. Start fighting back like the French because what we’re facing is being sold as economic necessity but is actually what Naomi Klein calls ‘Disaster Capitalism’, a New York Times article gives other excellent examples:
The destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina expelled many poor black residents and allowed most of the city’s public schools to be replaced by privately run charter schools.
The torture and killings under Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile and during Argentina’s military dictatorship were a way of breaking down resistance to the free market.
The instability in Poland and Russia after the collapse of Communism and in Bolivia after the hyperinflation of the 1980s allowed the governments there to foist unpopular economic “shock therapy” on a resistant population.
And then there is “Washington’s game plan for Iraq”: “Shock and terrorize the entire country, deliberately ruin its infrastructure, do nothing while its culture and history are ransacked, then make it all O.K. with an unlimited supply of cheap household appliances and imported junk food,” not to mention a strong stock market and private sector.
If any of today’s cuts seem overly harsh and counterproductive it’s because they are deliberately designed that way to unbalance and weaken all but the richest.


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