Letter: Why the poor always pay

Neal Ascherson's analysis "Stalinism or Capitalism, it's the poor who always pay" (1 December) was "spot-on" with regard to the baneful influence of grand ideological designs.

Those who propound and enact such designs, from the old Soviet Union to the advocates of trickle-down economics, never share the lifestyles of those who are forced to undergo "necessary" privations in the vague and usually fruitless hope that succeeding generations will benefit. If they did, there is little doubt that their perspectives on "belt- tightening" would be different.

A drive towards egalitarianism, including a national maximum as well as national minimum wage, would alleviate the worst of the deprivation resulting from such calls for austerity.

But, since the advocates of free-market liberalism usually escape the consequences of their belt-tightening schemes, perhaps, as Ascherson hints, the future is destined to be bleak.

Mick McGrath