We’re all average now

I’ve read enough hot takes on last week’s election result to last me a lifetime, so I don’t really want to dwell on it – but as a consequence of the result, I’ve noticed a strange blindness that, I suspect, is part of our country’s current malaise.

In the playground last week one of the Mums was complaining:

Why should someone like me on average income pay more tax?

This is an argument against Corbyn in particular and Labour in general: why should average people pay more tax? And I’d agree, asking average people to pay more tax seems unfair. I’m an unashamed socialist: I think those with more can afford to pay more to help those who have less.

Oh, I missed some background info from the quote above. Her household income is £160k a year. Yes. I didn’t typo that, you didn’t misread it: one hundred and sixty thousands pounds sterling per year. Average income. Fuck me.

I had to google UK household income – back in 2016/2017 £160k a year would put her in the top 1%. But yeah, sure, average. Whatever.

So ok, fine, you’re fantastically well paid, and you don’t want to pay more tax. I get that. I mean, you’re a selfish cunt, but I get that. I can understand people not wanting to pay more tax, because it is at least simply selfish. I got mine, get your own. I don’t agree, but I can see where the motivation comes from.

But to disingenuously claim that you shouldn’t pay more because you’re merely average. What is this fake news? Sure, we live in a nice town, where there’s quite a mixture of people – some people obviously substantially better off than others. But about half the parents in the playground are from the local council estate – I can guarantee you they are almost certainly more average than little miss but-how-will-I-afford-a-second-pony-under-Corbyn.

How blind do you have to be, how lacking in self-awareness do you have to be to describe yourself as average, when you’re so far away from average?

How average is average then? I could’ve roughly guessed, but I still find it arresting: those same stats show the 50th percentile is £23,600 a year. I mean, basically the same.

This isn’t envy. I’m well paid. I would’ve paid a chunk more tax under Corbyn, and I’m fine with that. A few hundred quid a month for a functioning NHS. Sounds like a bargain to me. Have you seen how much private medical insurance costs?!

So it’s clear to me that there’s something wrong with people, when some, clearly in the 1%, think they are average and feel so offended by the notion of paying more tax that they feel entitled to bleat about it in the playground, expecting sympathy.

Now I have no idea what’s motivated those on lower incomes to vote tory. I saw an interesting chart today though, that shows the swing to the tories correlates with the number of people on lower incomes. So clearly that has been a big factor in this election. I’ll leave it to those more qualified to speculate as to the reasons for this.

But there is something deeply wrong with our perception of our selves and what our politicians offer when people at the lower end of the income spectrum think a tory government is going to do anything other than fuck them royally; and when people at the upper end of the income spectrum think they’re average.

Is this the problem? Those on £16k a year think they’re as average as those on £160k a year? Maybe we’re all average now. Nobody wants to pay more tax. Everybody wants to blame The Others. Nobody wants to take any responsibility for addressing what’s actually broken in our country. Meanwhile, we continue lying to each other and lying to ourselves.

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