Forget the idea that ZaNulabour, much as we were right to loathe them, dropped UK plc down the economic toilet. They were pretty middle of the road in economic terms. It’s just part of election mugging for Tories to accuse them of incompetence and building up the National Debt. Most MPs are so thick they don’t know the difference between this and the deficit. If the Debt is a bath three-quarters full of water, the deficit is the running tap of new borrowing. A recent right-wing broadcast showed this alongside Cameron bailing out the bath with a very small spoon (the cuts). This is about right. What we don’t really know is how much debt it is right to be in or how big the bath is. Sensible people think Britain is not really out of kilter with our historic position. ConDoomed is doing these cuts for no good reason, just as part of branding its own image – like ZaNulabour it has no real policy for practice.
A more traditionally written piece on this can be found at http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n22/ross-mckibbin/nothing-to-do-with-the-economy
An old rag-mag joke goes – ‘why do the French smell?’ – ‘so even the blind can hate them’. ZaNulabour were rotten, but not on the economic grounds put about in elections. There are other reasons to hate them, and suspect that there is something rotten in the State of Denmark. There is very little difference between what ConDoomed and NunewLabour have suggested and broadly lied about in the election. Both would be cutting and taxing more. In the UK we have such centralised and powerful government in peacetime (the Cabinet basically rules with a rod of iron) compared to most other countries, that fiscal policy can be more or less changed to whim. We are much quicker at this than Obama can be in the USA.
In the kind of economics we hear from our political parties (except the Greens), all that is really on offer is a sliding scale on public spending. I would have preferred the ZaNulabour plan, as the Japanese experience has been that cuts don’t work and probably damage. ConDoomed has a slightly stricter plan which is seen in the US as a ‘daring gamble’ – except that if it cocks up the UK can change quickly. What our parties do is make a false difference between themselves to appeal to factions amongst voting turkeys like us.
Cameron’s gamble will be useful to Republicans if it succeeds and Obama’s spending fails. Perhaps he is another CIA plant, experimenting on Britain like Blair? Really radical right-wing economics would plunge us back 100 years, and look to bring the public sector back to 20% from its current 53%. Much bull from ConDoomed or ultra-right concerns what I call the private sector cavalry, but this is a mythical creature.
We really have no rational way to decide between cuts and spending – nearly ever economist admits this – even in a few years we won’t really be able to attribute cuts or spending to ‘success’.
Generally, it’s believed the USA grew rich for four main reasons:
1. decent common law
3. science base and innovation base, mostly from pre-and post ww2
4. mass production advantages in a market with common language and law.
I don’t see much of the spreadsheet economics of our elections in that. I believe that the UK is a lost cause until we admit we don’t know anything about economics, it’s not a fit subject to decide our elections, and we need sensible options such as this:
1. If we had 8 million people successfully employed in manufacturing as we did in 1960, (its 3 million now) would we give a tinker’s toot whether the industries involved were private or nationalised?
2. Should we be looking to employ more useless social workers so cowardly they fawn to bosses and computer screens instead of preventing abuse and deaths – or should we organise projects that develop cheap, green energy?
3. Why does bureaucracy get worse after promises to cut red tape?
4. Who really gets paid for work – how much real work is being done?
We could go on with questions – and I reckon they lead to new directions. ConDoomed are attacking the poor – make no mistake on that – but they are not even talking any viable practice. In this sense they are as useless as Nulabour. Numpties may be briefly impressed that they have done away with a few forms and target schemes, and even imagine they will get some lazy scrote into work – but there is no plan, just the private sector cavalry.
I can think how to bring even the sweat shop the private sector to bear. Our people usually turn out to have plenty of skill in production. My first action would be to round up some sweat-shop bosses and leave them hanging from convenient lamposts – a pour encourage les autres gesture. Next I’d want all our retail people to open up auctions for their supplies and try to get retail more into goods that can’t be imported due to speed to market … put the sweat shop boys to work in clean factories paying the going rate with proper conditions. We should bar imports not conforming on QWL.
Deep down, my suspicion is that the financial sector is set for crude delayering and needs to go ‘lean’. Job losses will be horrific. I doubt more than 1 in 2 public sector jobs needs doing. These and the welfare bill for letting so many immigrants take ordinary jobs make all our goods expensive to export, but we also face currency scams and subsidies by other countries. Some industries need massive scale production to compete. We need new thinking on what can. profitably be done here. Maybe it is time for a massive wind-tide power scheme on the Hebrides. I don’t know the answers, but we need real change, some big and brave, some small and flexible.
Whatever we can think up to increase GDP, we should be discussing whether this is the right move anyway. I personally hate the tat on offer from television to the high street. Maybe we could go into radical non-consuming – even moving from public transport as we know it to an Internet car use scheme.
My point is I want to be able to vote on matters that matter, not rot. I want to be able to die in dignity – so I want a vote on that. I’d like to take part in a radical way of living that is much more efficient and needs very little retailing – and so on. Even the ultra-right version of going back to 1900 is worth voting on, even if this is loony. Our problem is not economic – it is because we have no politics. The Chinese and Japanese are at loggerheads because China wants Japan to build its factories in China and is threatening no rare earths if they don’t. Our trade with China has been not a lot since we ceased paying in heroin, other than what they dump here in crap textiles, plastic and electronics – other than education. Nothing we couldn’t be making. I think we can build the factories and production chains. I think we are more in need of these than lawyers, and only need lawyers because our legal system has designed to need them, to slow everything down and take subsidies that make benefits look trivial. Why should Chinese or Indonesian backs get broken so we can have more useless lawyers or social workers?