I wrote an article some time ago about my first wage packet and how far money used to stretch and how great life used to be back in the eighties. I suppose our parents could relate to that in some way by saying how great life used to be back in the sixties. Will the present younger generation be saying the same thing in thirty years time and remarking how great life was back in the noughties. When I was younger I didn't take a lot of notice of politics, economics or banking crises. I worked, I earned and I spent, without any worry about where the next pound was coming from. Youth was a blessing indeed and taking things for granted was par for the ever green course. Now I am in the midst of middle-age and everything seems blurry and every under-handed politician, corporate trick and erosion of the pound in my pocket seems to nark me even more and whereas before I didn't give a flying what they did, I now want to ask why and question there very existence.
Whatever your politics might be and mine is stuck in the 'I don't care what party you represent, I don't trust any of you' corner, it seems we are all being taken for a giant ride here. My father was a two pints of beer and a fag after work man, when he finished his shift he would go to the local pub or club and relax with a drink before coming home, kissing my mother on the cheek, throwing us kids a treat of a bag of crisps and watch Bruce Forsyth on the television. How many men can actually afford to do that these days?
Our pubs and clubs, which were hubs of many societies years ago, are all but gone. Alienated in government rhetoric, wrapped up in the pretence of 'We know what is right for you' civil servants creating laws and more taxation usually in a effort to justify made up jobs and using the health card to warn us of the dangers. So there is one element of our society taken care of, basically 'Don't socialise, because we have made it near enough impossible for you to afford to.'
So we finish work and have very little choice but to go straight home, which brings us to the cost of living. Over the last twenty years, prices have steadily increased especially on the basics of life like food, heating and fuel. Anybody that has a car will be able to testify to this, five years ago my little Vauxhall Corsa cost me £100 a year to road tax, now it is nearly £200, I could fill up the tank for £20.00 and now it costs me over £50.00. So it sits on the drive more and more and gets a clean on a sunday for a treat. I must admit that the food bill is something I leave to my wife but her constant complaining about how much more it is costing to feed us, is evidence enough that food prices are rising on an almost weekly basis. So we come to the biggest bug-bear for everyone, heating bills. Maybe I am stupid but the justification to put up gas and electricity prices by 8,9 and 10% is beyond me especially when these companies announce huge profits before hand. In a civilised country when we are struggling to keep the vulnerable of society warm, i.e. our elderly, disabled and less fortunate, then we certainly have a problem. So on the one hand we cannot afford to go out and it is getting to the point where we cannot afford to stay in.
So this brings me to the detrimental effect this organised chaos is having on society. A recent article I read stated that the financial breakdown we steadily face in our society has not only affected the working class but also the middle class, the majority of wealth in this country is owned by just 1% and so is not evenly distributed. The rich really are getting richer and the poor are getting very poorer. The increased cost of living over the last few years has affected more people than at any other time in history. It is not only the three issues I mentioned earlier but it is other things that have crept into our way of life, we now pay more fines for things than ever before, speed cameras, parking fines etc, it is said that almost 1 in 2 people pay a fine in this country for one reason or another. Local councils now top up there budgets with millions of pounds taken in fines. We are all enslaved by the banks and offers of credit, 90% of salaries are now paid into bank accounts, without one we are screwed, credit card debts are on average responsible for £15.000 of debt per person. A recent statement released by one of the big banks stated that anyone with a credit card debt of £4.000 or more, in the banks opinion will never pay it off. Maybe they should change the name to a 'Debt card,' and then see how many people will apply for one.
But we are all responsible for our own actions, I hear you say and I totally agree, but our conditioning over the last few years have made us susceptible to the clever marketing and the greedy corporate marketeers behind it. It is a modern form of enslaving the people and keeping them in debt. We also live in a want-it-now society, any modern house is now fully equipped and what was once viewed as luxuries are now classed as essentials, televisions, washing machines, microwaves, dish-washers and of course flabaloss machines.
Lets move on to the 'carrot-danglers' as I like to call them, Amazon and Ebay. Basically what started off as good ideas have now slowly manifested into corporate bullying and fee snatching.
Amazon had this wonderful concept not so long ago to give creative and maybe not so creative individuals myself included the chance to compete with other well established authors on a level playing field. Write it and publish it as a download on the Amazon Kindle site. Bring in a few bells and whistles, KDP select, lending libraries etc and away you go. Now from my own point of view I write for pleasure and for myself, most of it rantie granted, now and again I may knock out a good story or a readable book and if it is liked and appreciated by the wonderful public that is a massive bonus and I thank you for that. The only problem though is that Amazon decided to, for the want of a better word, 'piss about' with the formula. Changing algorithms, downloads. In essence making it far more difficult for any decent author to get recognised or be propelled to the top of the best-sellers list. Was this because the big publishing houses weren't happy about having a bit of competition from some housewife from Tunbridge Wells who had written an absolute blockbuster and it may just eat into there vast profits. I don't know?
I used to stress about Amazon and why my books were not selling and why I wasn't climbing the list and getting rave reviews and blah blah blah, but now I just realise the bleeding obvious, either they are not that good, I don't market enough or my vast competition is just working harder and better than I am.
I love writing but have many other hobbies, I also buy, collect and sell vinyl records, check me out here all you vinyl collectors, http://www.discogs.com/seller/Booktimes
Which brings me to Ebay, every review or forum I read concerning them is not very good, but they now have what they set out to get and that is a monopoly. The competition in auction online sites is non-existent, only Ebid comes to mind but they do not have the buyers and as we all know auctions are a two way street, you need buyers as well as sellers. So over the course of the last few short years Ebay have made a few changes, from seller restrictions to a vast increase in fees, the most recent being, taking a percentage on the cost of posting, in my opinion the biggest 'piss take' ever. So now any amateur or professional seller on Ebay has to pay a listing fee, a final value fee, a percentage on the cost of postage and not forgetting a PAYPAL fee, a company that is now owned by Ebay. This in my opinion is a way of squeezing out the small seller. Only the big power sellers can make enough to justify the increases and the volume of sales and price per unit will swallow up the extra cost. Until another competitor enters the market place to challenge Ebay, they will only get bigger and the small traders will suffer. I know people personally who have turned there back on Ebay because they simply stopped making any money, one a good friend of mine who used to sell items to afford luxuries for her three kids, she wasn't greedy, just wanted a bit extra, a few quid here and there to treat her little ones. When she had the audacity to ring and complain to Ebay customer service, they froze her account, obviously the small amount they were getting from her in fees wasn't enough to justify giving her a break. Corporate big brother strikes again.
Okay rant over for today, please keep an eye on my blog for future book releases and definite future rants.
Thanks for reading.