10 objectives for Labour for 2015 – Michael Meacher MP

no to austerity

What should be the 10 pledges that Labour should make to maximize its vote for 7 May 2015? asks Michael Meacher in his latest blog piece.

If you want to know what he says about them, visit his blog but the 10 points can be summed up neatly as:

1. End austerity.

2. Revive British manufacturing.

3. Revive full employment.

4. Introduce the Living Wage, across the whole of the UK.

5. End in-work poverty.

6. Tax excessive wealth.

7. End and reverse privatisations and outsourcing within the NHS.

8. End the ‘Free Schools’ project.

9. End tax evasion.

10. Build more social housing and impose rent controls on private landlords.

Some of these – like the Living Wage, wealth taxes, NHS re-nationalisation, ending Free Schools and the social housing plans – are already Labour policies, built into the party’s plans for government following the general election on May 7 next year.

All of them follow the rough outline of the problems facing the UK that Ed Miliband sketched out in 2012 or 2013: That the decline in living standards must be reverse; that the economy must be properly re-balanced to create a fairer and more equal society (David Cameron and George Osborne lied when they claimed they were going to achieve this; they never intended to do anything of the kind); and that the tax system must be overhauled to ensure that, in a tough economic climate, everybody pays their fair share into the Treasury, and everybody receives their fair share in return. We have seen, recently, how the poorest pay the most in taxes and receive the least in return, thanks to the machinations of the Tories and Liberal Democrats; this proposes a restoration of a fairer society.

This blog is often criticised for defending the Labour Party above all else, or in the face of the facts about it. A commenter did so only today, in fact (Boxing Day).

But here’s the thing: UKIP has turned the European Union into its great enemy, claiming that leaving the EU will make everything all right. Living standards will not improve one iota as a direct result of such a move; in fact they’ll probably decline.

If you’re in Scotland, the nationalists have turned Westminster into their great enemy, claiming that leaving the UK will make everything all right. Can you guess what effect that would have on living standards? None – or more decline; they lost a referendum about it but still they persist.

The Conservative Party has turned the Welfare State into the enemy, claiming that cutting public spending on the benefits that help keep many people alive and well will make everything all right. That argument doesn’t even stand up to the most superficial examination yet still they make it. Perhaps they want to discover if we really are gullible enough to accept it.

Labour is the only party to have correctly identified the real problems facing the country, and to be actively seeking real solutions, it seems.

But is Michael Meacher proposing the right solutions? Is Ed Miliband?

Let’s have your opinions (but please support them with some reasoning; we laugh at unsupported, bald statements here).

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38 thoughts on “10 objectives for Labour for 2015 – Michael Meacher MP

  1. kittysjones

    I think that the constraints are costs and evidencing policies. This said, as you pointed out, some of Mr Meacher’s list has already been accommodated into concrete policy pledges. There’s definitely some good , progressive tax proposals on the table, and housing, capping private rents (but not benefit) is another thing that has been pledged.

    Here’s a list of the key policies pledged to date, though it’s not a complete list yet. And these have been costed and evidenced – they are affordable and have been fully justified: http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/45-more-good-reasons-to-vote-labour/

    I loved the summary of each party-defined enemy, too. I agree that Labour are the only party with a problem solving approach, based on democratic engagement with citizens and their needs.

    1. kittysjones

      Here is the first stage of Labours’ costed and evidence-based plan to rebuild the UK:

      1. Labour pledge to build 200,000 by 2020, focusing on social housing.

      2. Labour pledged to create a State-Owned Rail Company that would compete and win back Rail Franchises.

      3. Labour vow to cut business rates for small firms.

      4. Labour vowed to introduce an increased Bankers’ Bonus Tax if they win in 2015.

      5. Labour promised Free Childcare worth £5,000 a year for working parents who had children aged 3&4.

      6. Labour committed to Sacking ATOS, Serco and G4S if they win the election.

      7. Ed Miliband promised to repeal the Bedroom Tax.

      8. Ed Balls pledged to reverse the Pension Tax relief that the Tories gifted to millionaires.

      9. Labour promised to reverse the Tory Tax cut for Hedge Funds.

      10. Labour pledged they will create 200,000 Apprenticeships

      11. Ed Miliband vowed to increase the fine levied on firms not paying the Minimum Wage by 1000% to £50,000.

      12. Labour are to introduce a new Disability Hate Crime Prevention Law.

      13. Labour would freeze gas and electricity bills for every home and business in the UK for at least 20 months, the big energy firms would be split up and governed by a new tougher regulator to end overcharging.

      14. Voting age to be lowered to 16.

      15. NHS to be re-nationalised.

      16. Miliband also said that any private company that does not meet the needs of the public will be brought under state control.

      17. Labour will ban exploitative zero hour contracts.

      18. Labour have pledged to introduce a living wage.

      19. Labour have pledged to reverse the £107,000 tax break that the Tories have given to the millionaires.

      20. Labour will reintroduce the 50p tax.

      21. Labour will repeal clause 119.

      22. Labour will introduce a law making Private Companies subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

      23. Labour will introduce a Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2 million

      24. Labour will make up the difference to the value in the minimum wage is restored, reversing the Tory cut of 5%.

      25. Labour will halt Michael Gove’s Free School Expansion Programme.

      26. Labour will abolish the Tory ban on Local Education Authorities opening State Schools once more.

      27. Labour will scrap George Osborne’s “Shares for Rights” scheme that has opened up a tax loophole of £1 billion .

      28. Labour will launch a full public inquiry into blacklisting.

      29. Labour will ensure Water Companies place the poorest households on a Social Tariff that makes it easier for them to pay their Water Bills.

      30. Labour will double the tax duty on Pay Day Lenders and will use the additional £13,000,000 that raises to help foster more Credit Unions.

      31. Labour will impose a cap on the cost of credit, setting a limit at which Pay Day Lenders can charge borrowers.

      32. Labour will regulate food labelling to simplify pricing so that Supermarkets cannot con customers.

      33. Labour plan to introduce a Bill that would ban Recruitment Consultancy firms from only hiring abroad & ban firms from paying temporary workers less than permanent staff.

      34. Labour would set up a Financial Crime Unit, with increased staffing, in the Serious Fraud Office to enable the SFO to pursue bankers who break the law.

      35. Labour will break up the banks, separating retail banking from investment banking.

      36. Labour will scrap Police Commissioners.

      37. Labour will introduce a Forces & Veterans Bill of Rights to build upon the Military Covenant.

      38. As a minimum measure, Labour will at least cut Tuition Fees by 33%.

      39. Labour will introduce measures to prevent corporate tax avoidance.

      40. Labour will also increase the Bank Levy by £800m a year.

      41. Labour will scrap the Profit Tax Cut (Corporation Tax) that George Osborne has already announced for 2015.

      42. Labour will scrap Cameron’s “Gagging” Act.

      43. Labour will ensure all MPs will be banned from receiving any income from corporations after 2015.

      44. Labour will tackle the abuse and exploitation of migrant labour that undercuts wages.

      45. Labour will extend their 2002 public interest test to protect us from exploitative multinational takeovers.

      46. Labour will end unpaid workfare

      47. Labour have pledged to scrap sanction targets.

    2. joanna may

      I have very simplistic views, but to me, even if it is going to very costly to achieve, once achieved the costs will go down. Now, these days, the coalition are building on sand without any foundations, therefore everything will come crashing down. I think they know they are going to lose, so they are doing their very best to make it impossible for any other government to repair all that has been wrought on this country, or that it will take more than 5 years to repair, so they can come back and say “we told you so”

  2. glenshaky

    I do believe Mr Meacher’s proposals cover all the current ills of this country and people are screaming out for this. I would also like to see some constraint on bosses remuneration.

  3. Pat Robins

    Excessive wealth – let’s define that sum at a level where all but the most extreme communist at one end and the greadiest of Tory conservative buggers at the top end can live with namely, as they do in the USA, start inheritance tax at £3.4 million and levy annual property taxes according to both ability to pay and value if not on income basis… so that a two or three million pound property pays some £50K to £125K annually in local taxes.

    That means the £41 million pounds, that has been published, paid in 2012 as a salary to one top UK hedge fund manager who earnt his company £2.5 billion – well done – should actually pay 50% on every pound earnt over £125K (that won’t ever happen only dumb poor low paid people pay full tax coz we are the cattle) – but hey dare consider to let’s up that 50% point to £500K, so there’s no quibbling and griping that is possibly unjustified to collect all the 50%. Will that happen – no voter you/we are mugs – all parties are gutless about collecting from the broadest big shoulders??!! Clegg was full of it when singing that chorus.

    In an alternate universe that means, instead of giving the NHS the supposed extra £1 billion found recently, give the extra billion it to HMRC. Equip HMRC with all the personnel, high tech kit and international resources they could possibly need to collect the missing tax revenue!!! HMRC with all that tackle will go fishing and we will eat for longer than a day.

    Labour are you bloody listening coz that’s you too!

    HMRC ought to go after the big whales not focus on ball breaking the self employed little people, stop lying to us about who matters more to be crusified, coz it really isn’t the corner shop or hairdressers as much as it is high financiers moving billions out of the tax office reach on an industrial scale.

    Lesson endeth Amen, Happy New Year

    Watch the same old, same old. I expect to be crushed in the election as the Tory machine rollercoasts Milli Ed’s shortage of charisma.

    I am not happy about that at all. I shall probably be on a work gang somewhere with IDS applying the cattleprods, withdrawing books and ‘making disappeared’ all us undeserving poor by rigging the figures as ever, social cleansing as in Fulham and Earls Court, shovelling of we scum out of sight. Nothing changes…

  4. HL

    The typical statist solution: More state monopoly, more and higher social-security benefits, more regulation.

    1. End austerity.

    The economy is growing at over 2.5% a year. Most jobs being created are full time. But the tax take is down. Even the wealth taxes that Meacher proposes would raise a few billion pounds a year and possibly force many rich people to leave. Cuts are necessary – the question is of where, how fast and of what.

    2. Revive British manufacturing.

    Great, but how? Unless British labour costs are somehow reduced and big productivity gains made, British industry will remain uncompetitive compared to other parts of the world.

    3. Revive full employment.

    The official unemployment rate is 6% – close to the full employment rate of 5%. Many more are “off the radar” though – some from genuine disability, but more from welfare dependency and lack of jobs. In particular, the large number of “disabled” people on disability benefits needs to be cut back as a good proportion are capable of some amount of work. Labour has no plan to get these large underclass into work – indeed, it wants to throw even more money at them.

    4. Introduce the Living Wage, across the whole of the UK.

    The current minimum wage already serves as a barrier to low-skilled workers to employment or longer working hours, especially the young. Raising it will make that problem even worse. Still, the benefits for many might outweigh the negatives for some if the target of full employment is to be ignored here.

    5. End in-work poverty.

    Another worthy goal, but Meacher’s solution seems to be to give more in-work benefits to the low-payed, which will trap ever more in relatively low-payed and often low-hours employment.

    In-work “poverty” (the official definition of poverty is hugely problematic and is really a measure of inequality, but for arguments sake I will use it here) is almost non-existent (about 1%) among couples who live together and who are both employed, either one full-time and one part-time or both full time. One way of reducing in-work poverty therefore appears to be to encourage single working people to find a partner who is also working.

    6. Tax excessive wealth.

    This probably won’t raise much revenue. France taxes wealth upwards of 800,000 Euros (Meacher is proposing only above 10 million pounds) at rates of 0.5% to 1.5%. This raises only 1.5% of France’s tax take. Many believe these leads to many wealthier French people leaving the country, leading to a net financial loss.

    7. End and reverse privatisations and outsourcing within the NHS.

    Nigel Lawson described the NHS as a religion. The description is apt – we all still keep believing, despite all the evidence against the belief that the British healthcare system is the “envy of the world” (if so – how come no other country has a NHS-like system?). All the evidence, though, shows the NHS to be by some distance the worst healthcare system in northern and western Europe. and fell behind Spain and Italy before austerity hit those two countries.

    Forget about the Tories’ part-privatisation – the whole NHS is a failed state monopoly and needs to be done away with altogether, with either a Bismarckian social insurance system or Singaporean personal account system introduced. The government can pay the premiums of the poor and sick. Indeed, health inequality is lower in the private-insurance countries of Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland than in the singler-payer UK. Not only are these systems more up-to-date and efficient, they provide better all-round healthcare, with far lower waiting times, they give far more patient choice and care-giver responsibility.

    8. End the ‘Free Schools’ project.

    I don’t feel strongly either way about academies / free schools – I think the far bigger problem is the fact our education system fails hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people. We could learn some lessons from eg Germany, that is selective and offers far better vocational education. Better and more apprenticeships should be a priority of any government. The number of people attending University is also too high – many dropout, or attain fairly useless degrees that only land them with tens of thousands of pounds of debt.

    9. End tax evasion.

    I welcome Meacher’s proposals regarding tax evasion and agree this is a big issue that needs to be tackled.

    10. Build more social housing and impose rent controls on private landlords.

    There’s much evidence that rent controls do not work. Anyway, the problem is a lack of supply of housing, and of high immigration/population growth – not greedy landlords. Deregulate planning laws and let the private sector build, and reduce immigration to a few thousand or few ten thousand a year. The government should step back from housing – not become more involved.

    For more on ineffective statist answers to the cost of living problem, many of them brought up by Meacher, this is a good paper: http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Briefing_Smoking%20Out%20Red%20Herings_web%20V03.pdf

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Thank you very much for your comment. Its tone from the outset suggests that you are a Conservative. I’d respond in detail but really I think I only need to ask one question:
      In your first line, where you say Mr Meacher is demanding “More state monopoly, more and higher social-security benefits, more regulation”, can you tell us how much of these things you think the country enjoys at the moment?
      Neoliberals have been selling off state-owned organisations for more than 30 years; George Osborne has been slashing social security benefits like there’s no tomorrow (and indeed he has ensured that many thousands of people have had no tomorrow to enjoy, from the death figures that Iain Duncan Smith isn’t releasing any more); and I seem to recall right-wingers whinging at Labour’s lack of regulation with regard to the banks, after the credit crunch hit.
      Taking that into consideration, it seems that most of the rest of your comment is just an attempt to justify the corrupted system we have at the moment.

    2. Ian Duncan

      Statist is cheaper, as proven by the NHS. No profits and shareholders to leach away money that should be spent on the job in hand.

      1. The economy is most certainly not growing, not if you’re not rich and in the southeast of England – about 99% of us. If the rich want to leave then let them. Tax their houses, watch them sell up and bring house prices down. If they’re British, tell them to leave their passport with HMRC on the way out, they are far from indispensible and the money they ‘earn’ will be gladly accepted by others paid less currently and wouldn’t care about a bit more tax.

      2. Ah, the labour costs thing, like Germany and France pay slave wages.

      3. “disability benefits needs to be cut back as a good proportion are capable of some amount of work” – that is not actually true as 90-something percent of claimants have been found eligible for benefits. Sorry to piss on your ignorance there. It’s also fairly nasty to make sick and disabled people work when it is so much more difficult to carry out everyday tasks and do the normal things. I know the neoliberal right (of which you seem to be one) are notoriously infantile but you sound especially so here, so myopic and lacking in empathy are you, like a self-centred toddler. That’s not personal, it’s just a thing I’ve noticed in the modern right, as though they’re all entitled to live without taking others into account.

      4. “The current minimum wage already serves as a barrier to low-skilled workers to employment or longer working hours”

      No it isn’t. It just means people cannot have the piss taken out of them so much now. I remember being offered a job for £1.73 an hour in 1995, the equivalent of £2.33 an hour now. Imagine your precious benefit bills if that was a regular wage now? (And no, that market can not provide…)

      5. “One way of reducing in-work poverty therefore appears to be to encourage single working people to find a partner who is also working”

      I thought you right wingers were very much against the state getting involved in private lives,, or at least pretended to be when it suits? That is such a catastrophically dense point I don’t know why I’m bothering to type this out…

      6. If businesses leave the country due to taxes, let them. Also prevent them from trading here in any shape or form. A well paid workforce and low unemployment spells lots of disposable income floating about. Rich Brits buggering off would hand in their passports.

      7. “All the evidence, though, shows the NHS to be by some distance the worst healthcare system in northern and western Europe”

      That’s an outright lie and in expenditure per capita terms the NHS should be lower than it is. The main problem the NHS has is it’s underfunded and constantly interfered with by government as well as unwanted privatisation.

      ” the whole NHS is a failed state monopoly and needs to be done away with altogether”

      More lies. And you have the front to use the old ‘NHS is a religion’ line. Your only criticism is based entirely on ideology.

      8. I can’t argue much on education other than the too many students thing. Businesses these demand graduates, they don’t seem to be willing to train school leavers themselves (all while dodging taxes, talk about the ‘something for nothing’ culture…).
      You have to remove the need for graduates first.

      1. Dave

        Thanks or this post Ian, I couldn’t put it better myself, you literally took the words right outta my mouth.

        I wish more people would get smart to these BS narratives neoliberals like to spout out, the lies get so tiresome.

  5. newapproachuk

    11. Repeal the Welfare Reform Act which has lead to the deaths of thousands of disabled people, caused hunger to spread and put millions under a sanctions regime of utter brutality that is an affront to human rights.

      1. elspethparris

        It’s that lack of such a pledge sent me looking for another party – I recall a year ago saying that ‘if Labour would just pledge to repeal the Welfare Reform Act then I’d happily spend all my time in the ex-council estates persuading people who’ve never voted to do so’. That’s the bit they won’t do. I’m standing for Green.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        A year ago – wasn’t that after Labour had said it couldn’t make such a pledge as that would require more detailed knowledge of the nation’s finances?

      3. lawrencesroberts

        Yes one gets the feeling that the new labour party is an elite out of “Animal Farm” big pensions, no worries. Most of their candidates do not know what physical labour is like.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        No, one does not get that feeling. Some candidates might fit your description but many do not. I know the candidate for Bristol South has had a long career in the NHS, for example. Not physical labour, you may argue, but real work nonetheless.

  6. Smiling Carcass

    If the Labour Party made these their election manifesto promises, I’d vote for them without doubt; as it stands, while they are the ‘objectives’ of one party member, I’ll keep my options open.

  7. Wanda Lozinska

    I regularly read Mr Meacher’s blogs; he writes a lot of very good sense, so I hope Ed Miliband also reads them!

    I’d definitely encourage everyone to vote Labour, as the Tories really are devastating our country, its economy and society, and Labour are the only party with a realistic chance of defeating them.

  8. lawrencesroberts

    Might just get you over the line but as an old lefty it is a bit same old labour. Any chance of getting rid of Trident, that would save a bob or two. We will never have full employment with robots coming along. No more food banks no more hunger games.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If you don’t want food banks but don’t believe in full employment I take it you’re in support of the Universal Basic Income, then?

    2. Smiling Carcass

      I too am an old lefty, as you put it, but wonder if I’m a bit older than you?

      I say this because of what the real Labour Party were saying in the 1970s.

      Rather than the laissez-faire approach of the right to new technologies, to allow market forces to apply and see people thrown out of work, while slashing benefits because of- or perhaps in anticipation of- this sudden rise in benefits claimants, Labour were saying we needed to reassess because the technologies cannot be ignored.

      The plan was to use job-sharing, two people working half a week at the same job for no loss of income, attainable because the new technologies would increase production and the cost of such a scheme would be paid for by this increased productivity- and by a redistribution of profits and private wealth if necessary.

      It may sound a little Utopian, but who buys the goods if 50% of us are out of work? The employer won’t care- he’ll just up his prices, showing us the real driving force behind inflation- greedy capitalists.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Scrapping the Bedroom Tax, unpaid workfare and sanction targets would all save money and are all planned by Labour already; the aim is to get rid of the Welfare Reform Act and this takes us a considerable distance towards that, I think.

  9. Thomas M

    1. End austerity-really needs to be done before the country chokes

    2. Revive British manufacturing-good idea but is it possible?

    3. Revive full employment-yes but how, short of building pyramids and/or deporting all the asylum seekers?

    4. Introduce the Living Wage, across the whole of the UK. Great idea

    5. End in-work poverty. Even better idea

    6. Tax excessive wealth. Good idea, but the very rich might just leave the country and go elsewhere.

    7. End and reverse privatisations and outsourcing within the NHS. That needs to be done ASAP

    8. End the ‘Free Schools’ project. Yes

    9. End tax evasion. Yes

    10. Build more social housing and impose rent controls on private landlords. A small yes and a very big YES for restricting the greedy landlords.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      As someone else has already said, if the rich decide to clear off, then good riddance to them. Each one that goes means one less parasite, sucking the wealth out of this country and giving precious little back. They can forfeit all their British-based business interests when they go.

      1. Dave

        I agree, if the rich left we’d most likely all be better off. They take a hell of a lot more than they give back and just sit on their wealth instead of spending/paying it back into the economy.

      2. joanna may

        You did say that the poor could keep the economy alive because they have no choice but to spend their money here. Any way the rich won’t leave, where would they go? and would their wealth be any safer elsewhere?

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        Well, I don’t think the rich would leave. They make these threats but have any of them actually done so? Any worth mentioning?

  10. Pension60

    A recent blog showed that in the DWP’s own reports it spends double on benefits admin than it does in paying out such as Jobseekers Allowance, with a good portion of the admin being on the 1 million benefit sanctions leaving people to starve.

    In none of the list of what Labour will do, is there any mention that the benefits admin bill be drastically reduced and the money paid to people to prevent starvation and suicide.

    Without the 750 Jobcentres employing 78,000 staff, then an automatic unemployment benefit could be paid, without any admin.

    Without the private contractors for employment programmes costing £1 billion, then councils could give business rates holidays to the struggling high street. And the below would help bring in custom to town centres, which is where the poor and the old shop.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Labour is committed to ending unpaid workfare and to ending sanction targets. That would drastically reduce the administration bill you mention.

  11. Jim Round

    We must remember that manifestos will say anything to get said party into government, (remember the Tories no reorganisation of the NHS?)
    They are all good ideas but will they be acted upon?
    Some of the points I have raised before, there are many good quality houses boarde up in need of repair, many in towns north of Watford Gap, they would make ideal employment opportunities, especially for apprenticeships.
    Taxation of the rich is another, it’s all very well saying don’t let these companies trade here if they don’t pay up, but can you imagine how the masses would react if they can’t buy the latest iPhone, purchase DVD’s from Amazon or post on Facebook.
    Another thing to remember is that most polititicians loyalty is to their party, until that changes to the electorate, little will change.
    An overhaul is needed of workers rights, that is one of the main causes of immigration, something you would think those against it would realise.
    It is far too easy to employ someone who either does not know or care, about their rights at work.
    There are many more points I could go into but it would take up several pages, as I have said previously, the proof will be if Labour do win the election (my prediction, with the help of the SNP) and wether they stick to those many points.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It should be borne in mind that not everything in Mr Meacher’s article is in the Labour manifesto.
      Your idea about houses in need of repair is a reminder of Labour’s housing policy from 1997 onwards; instead of building new homes, the party went for restoring the current stock.
      If the companies you mention can’t trade here, then a gap opens in the market and nature abhors a vacuum. You never know – the replacement might be better.
      Most people don’t know their rights at work; this is why I advocate the teaching of citizenship in schools. There were murmurs of it in Labour’s time in office but it doesn’t seem to have been up to much.
      If Labour wins, propped up by the SNP, you can bet Scottish Independence will be part of the deal; after that the Tories would find it easier to get back in, so it would be a poisoned chalice. Labour in Scotland really needs to wake up and smell its own complacence.

      1. Jim Round

        Unfortunately, there is little to challenge the likes of Apple etc.. human nature has seen to that.
        You only have to look at the queues when they bring a new product out.
        I can just imagine it:
        “You can take away my human rights, but don’t you dare stop me from buying the latest iPhone”
        A company like that would have large set up costs.
        Apples main competitor, Android, is powered by Google, another company who are shy about paying taxes here.
        It’s never going to happen unfortunately.
        and as regards to Scotland, talking to most Scots, it is the Tories they dislike, but they see Scottish Labour doing little in their area, what plans do they have for the banking sector in Edinburgh, the oil industries in Aberdeen and the re-generation of a large Labour area that voted for independence, Glasgow?

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Those are good questions about Scotland. I hope Scottish Labour has some answers.
        As for the tax evaders, I think you’re right and nothing will happen to make them pay up – as long as people resign themselves to the belief that nothing will happen.

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