Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Conservatives' economic plan: how to destroy British society in a few easy steps

As many people have noticed, the Tories' economic plan isn't really working. Well, there's a "recovery" of sorts, but it's the weakest so-called "recovery" known in living memory, including the Depression.

The recovery centres on several economic factors (more about them here).
First of all, there is a dysfunctional jobs market, meaning that there is a dearth of skilled work. The result is that skilled workers are having to settle for low-skilled (or non-skilled) work in areas like retail and the service sector, meaning that in order to get a job at Aldi, school-leavers are competing with graduates and European migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. This naturally gives more leverage to employers, meaning they can cut overheads on wages and workers' benefits, explaining the explosion in "zero hours" contracts. Oh, employers now love the Conservatives for this, I'm sure...as they have now created a workers' version of living hell.

You don't have to be out-of-work to live in poverty - most people in poverty (and receiving most of the benefits!) -  are those already in employment. So most of the so-called "scroungers" on benefits are in fact the selfsame "hard-working" people that the Conservatives claim to be fighting for. Instead, the Tories are kicking them while they're already down. So what, then, is the point of being in work for these despairing, blighted souls?

Apart from that, the other main factor driving the "recovery" is uncontrolled inflation in property prices - sorry, I mean the "boost" in house prices - which George Osborne was famously quoted as helping "Middle England" feel a little bit richer nearer the election.(At this point, the intention to "make people feel richer" should be emphasized. The chancellor's scheme is another of his many machiavellian plans to deceive while sneering at those worse-off than him)  Osborne fueled this further by creating a government subsidy that effectively funds selectively-targeted, state-sponsored inflation, known as "help to buy". The recurring theme here is a tendency to deal with the problem by making it worse.

Are they psychos, or just plain stupid?

"Dealing with the problem by making it worse" is something you either do by intention or by lack of foresight. And if you keep on doing this again and again, you can logically only reach one conclusion: either you are doing this on purpose, or you're doing it because you haven't got a brain. This has been the ongoing scenario that successive Conservative (and Labour) governments have overseen for the past thirty-five years.

The current Conservative government is wedded to the "paying off the debt" through a course of austerity. As Cameron is keen to say, they are fulfilling their promise to put Britain's finances in order.
Except, they aren't: the deficit is getting worse, not better. Year-on-year, George Osborne is missing his targets by a mile, and meanwhile, the economic circumstances of everyday people are getting worse, as they are stuck in low-pay jobs, rising household debt they are funding through easy credit. Debt is rising, and the Tories must at least privately) understand that their economic plan was always intellectually-bankrupt.

The Tories' telling of the financial crisis was a novel explanation of events, that conveniently re-spun the argument to suit their own psychology. In their eyes, the financial crisis was primarily a result of a) government overspending on welfare, and b) not much else, really. Stood up against the hard truth of economics, the reason that the Labour government went into financial free-fall was in large part a result of rapidly-falling tax revenues as a consequence of the global crisis creating a slump. This is the same thing that the current government are suffering now.
There was also the massive injection of the bailout to prop up the broken banking system, but let's not get into that massive issue here (where the Tories don't have a moral leg to stand on).

In spite of this, in spite of being shown that their plan isn't working but in fact making public finances worse, and that they are destroying the labour market, and creating yet another speculative housing bubble potentially worse than the last one, George Osborne insists on cutting public spending much further after the election.
Is this man actually sane? Given the circumstances, it is hard not to question the "rationalism" of some of the decision-making happening in Whitehall.

An "institutionalised" establishment?

The decision-making process of Cameron, Osborne, and the many other "establishment" progeny running the government is worth thinking about. The "establishment" is a master at one thing: self-preservation.
As one of the long-living elites in the developed world, Britain's ruling elite has for centuries perfected a private education system (which they quaintly call "public school" - clever, that!) which churns out generation after generation of young men who have the skills necessary to run the country in the way it has been run for generations: by drumming in to them strict ideological orthodoxy, good manners, and a wily tongue. It is this combination of characteristics that has kept the establishment where it is, in spite of the many revolutions and upheavals across the rest of Europe over the centuries. The key for Britain's elite is to be one step ahead of the game, otherwise the whole stack of cards come crashing down - as they did in France in 1789, and Russia in 1917.

The establishment of the welfare state after the Second World War was a severe test to the establishment, forcing it on the back foot. The "One Nation" Toryism of Harold MacMillan was the establishment's compromise, which held things at bay for some time. The inflationary crises of the 1970s - a result of a consumer boom and unprecedented oil price rises, and NOT due to unreasonable demands from the trades unions - forced a re-think. People like Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher were advocates for a completely new economic model.

Ever since then, Thatcherism has been the economic orthodoxy of the government, including Labour. The establishment thus found a new orthodoxy that they found fit neatly into their own self-preservation. Greed was now good, and there was no longer such a thing as "society" (so we no longer had to care about the "social good"). Inequality was to be celebrated by Tories as a sign of the "natural order". In other words, it was as though feudalism had never gone out of fashion.

The new orthodoxy had several major effects: the gap between rich and poor skyrocketed; council houses were sold off, and the remaining council estate effectively became dumping grounds for the poor and "socially disadvantaged" who could afford nothing else (thus the "sink estate" was born, and the Tories neatly created a new scapegoat for society's ills); the economy was "redesigned" by Thatcherites so that industrial towns became unemployment and low-skill hotspots; and successive housing bubbles were created, making people "feel rich".

The "establishment" is not evil in itself, but by its very nature, it is designed to house, incubate and protect individuals who commit evil, thus perpetuating the problem. It is no wonder that the child abuse scandal rocking the UK in recent times uncovers more horrific revelations with each passing month.
It may be safe so assume that when the horrific truth comes out, the perpetrators will be long dead, thus protecting the integrity of those who hid the truth in the name of "self-preservation"...

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