Rule 7 of Neo-liberalism is a set of sacred shibboleths that runs through every transnational organisation from the IMF to the World Bank. In short the only successful way to run a country and indeed whole continents is by having small governments, low taxes, little regulation, market solutions, balanced budgets and the importance Of “Wealth Creators”. It is very much an age thing on how you read those and what they mean. I suspect that to most under 40’s they read like common sense, you won’t have heard of any other way unless you’ve gone out of your way to look. To an old curmudgeon 50 something the reaction is err, who just made that up? All that says to me it’s a story and a very compelling story it is too, one with just enough truth in it to make it dangerous. lets take a look at them.
Small Government. The wonderful and redoubtable Anna Racoon has a timely blog post up on the importance of good government and, apart from the fact there is no such thing as taxpayers money, to stress how important government is. It is the difference between order and chaos. To quote from Anna:
In 1919, Mohandas Gandhi reached down and scooped up a handful of mud at a beach and declared that he was shaking the foundations of the British Empire. He boiled the mud in seawater to produce illegal salt, an act repeated by thousands which led to the arrest of an estimated 60,000-100,000 men and women who participated for the first time in mass public demonstrations. Widespread civil disobedience followed with ordinary people across the Indian continent burning British cloth, picketing shops selling foreign cloth, picketing alcohol shops, and withholding their rent.
The British Raj collapsed.
Britain is ruled by consent too. 650 MPs legislating our behaviour; 126,818 police officers carrying out their wishes – a task only made possible by the tacit agreement of 61 million of us to be so ruled.
Small government to the Neo-liberals means soft on the “wealth creators” and as harsh as need be on the rest of us, the takers. The kernel of truth contained in the Neo-liberal version is that a state that becomes to big is also a danger, but we’re hardly there yet.
Low Taxes. Would you like a tax cut? Yes please would be the only sane answer, what’s not to love about low taxes? Richard Murphy has written extensively about The Joy Of Tax, what it is and what it’s for. The first thing you must do is remember that taxes do not fund government spending. Taxes create demand for currency and control inflation. I will return to this subject in later posts. Corporation Tax has become virtually voluntary these days with Tim Cook of Apple Inc able to go eyeball to eyeball with an entire continent, so confident is he that the right of one company supersedes that of the EU. They don’t mean low taxes for you, they mean them.
Light Regulations. When we talk of the “wealth creators” who else better represents that than the mighty City of London? The amount of zeros I’d need to type to show the amount of transactions would give me RSI. We lightly regulated the banks pre 2007, the Tories screamed even the light touch was over oppressive, and we all know what happened next, it all went BOOM! Nearly a decade later we are still paying the price of our shocking negligence. The lost output alone is approaching one trillion pounds. This is just one example of many regulations need to be as harsh (eg outlawing slavery) or as light as needed.
I shall have to split this post into two parts owing to time constraints, so I will sum up here. The order we are so used to in these sceptered Isles is only achieved by consent. That consent is more fragile than it seems and the NL’s are pushing that consent to breaking point. The evidence is all around us with the rise of despots and unconventional candidates all over the world, the loudest of which is Trump. The consensus seems to be I am not Establishment, I will smash the Establishment. Oh yeah? At best these candidates will be bought, stymied by Sir Humphrey or both, for which we should be thanking God (insert choice of deity/none here). Left unchecked they will bring nothing but misery.
Yes there is a lot not fit for purpose in both the UK and the world and it needs fixing. I can give you two ways not to go about it. The first is to pull everything that holds us together crashing down and hope to start again, sorry revolutionaries the process is just too terrible, the price too high. Too many bloggers go for doomsday scenarios, good for hits, but very poor policy. Have a look around you and what do you see? There is a lot to get angry about so by all means get angry and demand change. Just take a little time to think of all the good we’ve done too before you think of smashing things.
The second way not to do things is Neo-liberalism. The experiment failed and it’s time to move on. Part 2 tomorrow and please bear in mind I am only touching the surface here.
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