Monday, February 16, 2009

The British Government Wants to Borrow Another £100 Billion

Cross posted to the Martin Meenagh blog and Facebook

The Government's strategy of throwing money at things and hoping for the best has failed. It is now trying to borrow, but Britain's economy is bankrupt and the usual lenders are in desperate straits.

So, time to stop, and think. Why not cut government spending and cut taxes, whilst expanding public ownership?

This country cannot, at the minute, afford the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, especially if it thinks that it can afford the 2012 Olympics. It cannot afford a vast expensive renewal of seaborne nuclear weapons. It cannot afford the European heavy-lift air transport it's ordered and which will now be a decade late. It cannot afford to pay for charities and lobby groups out of spurious public grants, it cannot afford the expenses of Members of Parliament and it cannot afford about a third of local councillors or European Parliament legislators.

Why do we have a department of health or a department of business at all? Why not have elected commissions? We could have a Board of Trade on the lines of the old Bundesbank membership made up of industrialists, financiers, trade unionists, and academics, and specifically elected people, and save hundreds of millions in office space and civil servant costs alone.

Why not have one flat tax for small businesses? Accountants and lawyers are already losing business and jobs so the power of the lobby to maintain a complicated tax regime is diminishing anyway.

Why not withdraw subsidies from train companies that get around four times as much as British Rail used to get, and from banks, and then run them as public concerns under new model elected commissioners or regulators accountable to parliament as the head of the Office of Standards in Education is? If they can stand on their own feet, they won't need our money, and if they can't we should have a say over what they do.

Why do we still throw money into the abyss that is the D-grade student employment programme known as the private finance initiative so that they can employ their F-grade mates?

Instead of pushing students into debt and new into universities that are struggling to cope as an unemployment avoidance scheme, whilst actually not teaching very much of use to the mind or the pocket, why not allow universities to buy each other or to accept campus status as part of a new, dispersed national university? People could travel between the sites and have quality guaranteed, should they need to pursue jobs or move to areas where housing costs less.

Creative ideas to deal with crisis are what we need. I hope that the new Campaign For Public Ownership website (which links to the old blogspot one and has it as its third page) can be a forum where people can come up with ideas.

Any contributions on the usual terms, please--no libels, no personal abuse and as little negativity as you can. It's time to think; its time to take a manic government aside and to tell them not just to sit there, but to do nothing while we work out what to do.

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