The Rhyming Guide to Austerity

by Potent Whisper


I wanna talk about money…


Dough, paper, moolah, dollar Bread, cheddar, lolly, wonga

P’s, cheese, dosh, fast stacks

Benjamin, capitol, gwap, hard cash


They say money makes the world go round, and they’re right

Whether you like it or not it’s true, money rules our lives

Everybody lives for it! Cos if we don’t we die…

I do overtime on overtime and just about survive


How can people work so hard and still not be surviving?

The fact that I still live in London, is surprising

All of us know what life is like, the cost of livings’ rising

Even with a 9-5 our wages aren’t sufficing


And then we gotta pay tax


You got direct tax, indirect tax

Alcohol tax, cigarette tax

Income tax, VAT

National Insurance, CGT


That’s, gains on capital tax

Local tax, national tax

Global tax, climatical tax

I’m shocked we ain’t got taxable tax


You pay stamp duty, fuel duty

Business rates, Council tax

Import, export, customs duty

Tax on property, inheritance tax


They tax us on the road and they tax us in the sky

They tax us when we travel, when we drive and when we fly

We all pay tax on almost everything we buy

They tax us when we’re born and they tax us when we die


All I’m tryina say is that we pay a lot of tax!


Now no-one likes paying tax, it’s not exactly fun

But I guess without it, our country wouldn’t run

Taxation is the way we pay for services and welfare

Police, firefighters, benefits, health care


Tax is paid by the public and it’s spent on the public

Well, that was until austerity was introduced and fucked it


Now, when I say the word austerity some people get confused

They’ve heard the word before cos they heard it on the news

But it’s hard to understand in depth, it’s kinda complicated

They understand a bit but no one’s ever just explained it


What is austerity? Why did we choose it?

How does it affect me? Is it an improvement?

Is it really working? Have they ever proved it?

Do we really want it? Why do we still do it?


These are the questions that I’ll address below

Cos austerity affects you all and you deserve to know



There’s 90 trillion dollars on the planet

Billions are given to investors to manage

They’ve always looked for markets that are calm with little risk

And they decided housing is where they’d put their chips


Investors gave mortgages to people who could pay them

They made a lot of money, the market was amazing

But then they got greedy through the new deregulations

And started giving mortgages to anyone who craved them

(These were called “Sub-prime mortgages”)


The investors didn’t care if people couldn’t pay their mortgage off

Cos the housing market was perhaps the most secure there was

If people miss their payments then their houses just get repossessed

And then the bank can sell them off and so the bank’s not left with debt


So investors gave mortgages they knew that people couldn’t pay

Cos they could always profit from the houses they would take away

But millions of people lost their houses, which surprised the banks

Housing supply surpassed demand and so house prices crashed


Suddenly, every bank, government and company

Involved in these mortgages all faced redundancy

They were all billions of pounds in the minus

And they called it the Global Financial Crisis


In a nutshell, everyone was screwed

Fucking them. Fucking us. Fucking me. Fucking you.

People around the world just couldn’t believe the news

But luckily our leaders knew just what to do


They said it was is a crisis of a global scale

They said we had to help the banks, they’re too big to fail

That if we didn’t save them, the economy would cave in

So we bailed out the banks instead of sending them to jail


Now you might be wondering how much we paid to save them

How much we lent them, how much we gave them

Well in the UK we paid 500 billion

And some reports say it was up to a trillion


After the bailout we were in a mess

Our deficit was huge (the deficits our countries debt)

We had to make a move to produce money fast

And stimulate an economic growth we hoped would last


We needed a remedy. We dreamed of prosperity

And our government decided that the answer was austerity


In other words:

Remember all that tax that you worked so hard to give them?

Well they used that money to pay the country’s debt

So our country had less money left to fund the public system

Plus they privatised services til there was nothing left


So basically, they fed us shit and us lot swallowed it

The banks got paid and we got the following:


Cuts to local government: over 12 billion

500,000 council workers lost their jobs

Cuts to universities – £800 million

With rising fees leaving our students at a loss



Cuts to youth services – 300 million

60 mil cut from the budget for our parks

Cuts to infrastructure worth £15 billion

Cuts to Adult Social care: 3 and a half


52% cut from Education

Thousands more homeless people on the pavement

15,000 beds cut for NHS patients

These are real statistics not speculation


They shut 343 libraries

64 museums, 3000 bus routes

380 care home companies

3000 mental health workers have been cut too


200 playgrounds – shut

350 youth clubs – shut

Connexions – shut

Leisure centres – shut

Over 600 SureStart centres – shut


Cuts to our NHS… forty billion

Over 60 hospitals and trusts are facing closure

Health and Social Care Cuts alone are killing citizens

120,000 deaths and over


But these are just figures

And we are not figures

We are real people, with feelings, ambitions

We’re the people who live with the results of their decisions

We’re parents, we’re children, we’re brother, we’re sisters


We’re the people who starve to death because they’ve been sanctioned

We’re the elderly who die at home, freezing and abandoned


We’re the thousands of disabled people buried in the earth

Cos they killed themselves after being told they’re fit for work


We’re the sons who read the suicide notes left behind

We’re the daughters of the 80,000 claimants left to die


We’re the nurses, the workers, the lonely, the homeless

The everyday person, the broken, the hopeless


What has to happen before we reverse this?

How may have to die before we say that it’s not working?

It’s not just harmful, it makes no sense

If you want growth you don’t cut, you spend!


When they cut public spending and raise our taxes

We have less money, so we spend less on average

We buy less products and purchase less services

So companies produce less and need less workers in


People lose their jobs, unemployment goes up

So we pay less tax cos we’re earning less funds

Income tax revenue drops in huge measurement

Plus they spend more on JSA state benefits


Ultimately, there’s one thing you need to know

You gotta spend money to make money

And that’s why Britain’s broke.


We’ve suffered 10 years of these devastating policies

They’ve killed 200,000, they’ve damaged the economy

They’ve produced the total opposite of prosperity

It’s time to reverse the cuts

It’s time to cut austerity.


Potent Whisper is a rapper, spoken word artist and community organiser.

Artwork by Marco Bevilacqua

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