The key question: where has all the money gone?

By Bernadette Meaden
January 4, 2015

As we enter an election year perhaps the real issues may be smuggled onto our television screens via comedy and entertainment, whilst the news media which is supposed to inform us simply keeps the debate within certain parameters.

Charlie Brooker’s 2014 Wipe, a satirical review of the year which aired on 30 December 2014 on BBC television, included a short clip from a documentary by Adam Curtis, which is now available to view on YouTube.

The clip, an excerpt from his forthcoming documentary, Bitter Lake, alleged that far from keeping us informed about what is happening, news media supplies a constant stream of contradictory stories which keep us confused and so unable to oppose those in power. Whether this is a deliberate conspiracy or just symptomatic of an extremely complex world is a matter of opinion.

But when it came to the UK, a question was raised which should be central to the election campaign, and may barely be mentioned in mainstream news media. I have transcribed this section:

The government is insisting on taking billions of pounds out of the economy through its austerity programme, yet at the very same time it is pumping billions of pounds into the economy through quantitative easing. The equivalent of £24,000 for every family in Britain.

But it gets even more confusing, because the Bank of England have admitted that those billions of pounds have not gone where they are supposed to.

A vast amount of the money has actually found its way into the hands of the wealthiest five per cent in Britain.

It has been described as the biggest transfer of wealth to the rich in recent documented history.

It could be a huge scandal, comparable to the greedy oligarchs of Russia siphoning off billions of pounds of public money, but nobody seems to know.

These questions, where has all the money gone, and why do we need austerity, should be central to the election debate, but who will raise them? The three traditional parties and UKIP all seem committed to austerity to a greater or lesser degree, and journalists very rarely question the underlying assumptions.

Of course we’re told that we have to make cuts to bring down the deficit. The government is like a household: it can’t spend more than it takes in through taxes. But surely quantitative easing has blown that analogy sky high? Households can’t print their own money: the government can, and has. And this new money has gone to the privileged few, whilst hunger and malnutrition become increasingly common in one of the richest countries in the world.

So as the election approaches, let’s raise the questions we really need answering. Where has all the money gone, and do we really need austerity?

* Adam Curtis's 'Bitter Lake' is released exclusively on BBC iPlayer on 25 January 2015. More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/TRAILER-TRASH

* More on the upcoming General Election from Ekklesia here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015
Views expressed by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect an official Ekklesia view.

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© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.