‘Growth, growth, everywhere, but why are we so skint?’

by Ray_North on October 16, 2014

Unknown-2By we, I mean those of us who are not earning massive salaries, and by skint, I mean, having the very services that we all rely upon devalued and diminished.

This week we have seen the publication of a number of interesting economic statistics: unemployment is down, inflation is down, growth continues (though not it appears in most of the rest of Europe),tax revenues are still down, child poverty remains the same, average wages are still below the cost of living and inequality and the gap between the highest and lowest wage earners continues to grow.

What these statistics point to, overwhelmingly, is that we are now living in a low wage economy where every aspect of fiscal, social and political policy is designed to increase the lot of those who are high-earners rather than the rest of us, who have, traditionally relied to some extent on the state.

Politically, the Tories and the Lib-Dems only want to talk about the ‘growth’ and the fall in unemployment whilst ignoring the other factors, whilst Labour appear to be completely sideswiped by the figures, and sound churlish and insincere every time they make an utterance.

So, let’s start with growth. We, the boys at Allthatsleft, had an interesting exchange of views about growth and the theory of growthism last week (I know, upon reading that, most of you will be making a mental note never to go out to the pub with us) – for the record, I suggested that the main political party’s obsession with economic growth was lazy and hid the failure of any of them to come up with the best ways of redistributing that ‘growth’. Others reminded me, quite rightly, that without some form of economic growth, there would not be the jobs or socio-economic progress that is needed for any kind of redistribution. I accept that.

But, my point still remains, how on earth is it that in an economic climate where there is growth, falling unemployment and low inflation, is there such an overwhelming feeling that most of us are being shortchanged? Is it that we are now entering a period of capitalist end-game where society will be transformed into one where you have low paid public sector workers, low paid private sector workers with no employment protection and zero contracts, and some massively paid elite. An era where the political orthodoxy is that all government intervention is bad, unless it is intervening to remove more of the rights that stand in the way of the ‘neo-classical, liberal elysium.’

As I have said before on these pages, I hold no brief for the principal that a completely controlled economy is economically and morally superior, but, I do passionately believe in the right of economic fairness and the desire towards equality of opportunity, and that means that that growth must be redistributed and the best way of redistribution is surely through education, public works, the NHS and, these days, environmentally sustainable energy, commerce and manufacturing.

Between now and next May we are going to hear the ‘G’ word an awful lot – I just hope that when we do, we also hear the ‘R’ word, redistribution, the ‘E’ word, equality, and the ‘F’ word – fairness.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Esther October 17, 2014 at 6:40 am

I have had this feeling I call it “it’s not getting better’ since Thatcher got in and it hasn’t gone away through all the changing faces in No. 10 the policies stay remarkably similar with New Labour it was just more depressing that the party I voted for continued along similar tracks. Yesterday I did something extraordinary for me and for most British voters and actually read a party manifesto! Which one?
Which party advocates a citizens payment to replace the current hash of a benefits system?
Which party pledges to end PFI and PPI?
Renationalise the railways?
Which party will change planning legislation to ensure brownfield sites are built on rather than just being planning blight and that new homes will conform to high standards of design and be sustainable developments?
Plus lots of fabulous far left ideas for the economy and banking sector that made me smile and if I was a crowd I would have done a Mexican wave?

Clue…their leader wasn’t invited to the BBC debate…


John Stone October 17, 2014 at 7:07 am

It comes down to a failure to deal with the social, political and economic consequences of globalisation. There’s no question in my mind that opportunity is much less equal now than it was when I was at school and university in the mid 80’s. And a small elite really has got away with setting everything (media, voting system, taxation, property rights) to cement their own hegemony. The banking crash was the clearest evidence, with the fallout being a rush to protect vested interest. After Lloyds, the 1% were not going to be caught holding the bomb, and all policy since has been designed to protect their wealth. This really should be fertile territory for a progressive party, but with the Labour movement seemingly terrified of its own shadow, it’s being left to UKIP to channel the anger of those who can see they are being left out.


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