Well we keep getting awful stats and figures in about the economy. Things in the UK aren’t going well, and recovery doesn’t seem near. But despite all the rhetoric of “serious cuts” by the chancellor, we haven’t (as I’ve mentioned a number of times before) actually had any cuts. As Frazier Nelson so articulately writes in the Telegraph, the problem with ‘Osbornomics’ is that there’s no red meat under the narrative:
So this, it seems, is Osbornomics: political stardust but an economic placebo. Winning arguments, but losing the battle for growth. Increasing debt faster than almost anyone else in Europe, while haughtily lecturing the Continentals about borrowing. Leaving Britain marooned in the middle of a Japanese-style “zero era”, with low growth, low employment and zombie banks – but not being blamed for it. It is an act of political brilliance, which very few politicians could pull off. The question is whether Osborne will finally summon some economic brilliance to match.
Quite a few on the left are attacking the UK’s policy of “savage cuts” as the reason for our lack of growth. But the real reason for our trouble is that we haven’t had any cuts. In fact, the Tory-led coalition is spending more now than at any time during the dark Gordon Brown era.
Before the election, Osborne was right to condem and warn people about the Gordon Brown/Ed Balls plan for allowing the British government debt to increase by 60%. But by allowing a large increase in spending, (and with no tax cuts to help stimulate growth and economic recovery), he’s going to preside over a 61% increase! Debt is shifting up to £1.4 trillion, compared to Gordon Brown’s pre-election proposal of £1.37 trillion.
It’s all very well to warn people about the “age of austerity”‘ and Osborne is right to have gotten people ready for the harder economic times we’re now living in. But he has to actually inact some real austerity and supply-side tax cuts or the harsher times we’re now facing will be here for a much longer period of time, and may all be for nothing.
Hoo-rah for Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, objectivist and all-round nice guy. He’s supporting the decision made freely by the society of contributors and associates of his beloved site, in supporting their 24-hour lock-down of the English-language version of Wikipedia as a protest against the US governments piracy bill that’s being decided upon today:
Imagine a WorldWithout Free Knowledge. For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.
All these attempts to ‘control’ the web and it’s free exchange of ideas and information must be resisted. Piracy is a bad thing, (which could be best minimised by studios adopting the radically different models that they’ve thus far avoided), but letting the government regulate and control the freest and most expansive marketplace of ideas in human history is way worse than piracy, any day of the week.
In his usual straight-to-the-point articulate way, Douglas Carswell sums things up very well:
The centre of political gravity would shift away from the left, towards a credible, small state alternative.
It’s worth reading Carswell’s post in full. The “third way” (apologies for that sounding very ‘Tony Blair’) of full Scottish autonomy but still part of the UK, paying a contribution to maintain our embassies, etc. is the direction most Scots want to go apparently. Will that be on offer for them though?
I’ve been up in Stoke-on-Trent visiting family over the last couple of days. It’s always so great to be up here, and there’s nothing like gentle ribbing and affectionate banter from your relatives to put life’s little problems into perspective isn’t there?
While I have an innate fondness for the place (I was born in Stoke, after all), you can’t help but notice the differences between this particular section of the midlands and where I currently live in Berkshire. The architecture for one. There’s some beautiful old buildings around here in Stoke, but it’s long since suffered neglect.
That’s the tragedy of the north. It was the economic tiger of the world, but an increasing level of pressure from unions and political leaders drove state intervention to unprecedented levels. And as a result, the north and the midlands went from the kingdom of global economic success to… well, you know.
But the good news is that things could get better quickly. Limit government spending, roll back the frontiers of the state, and the north could become that great economic tiger once more.
It’d take a huge change in the philosophical outlook of people in the north, but I’d love to still be around to see it.
According to his extraordinary interview in the Guardian the other day, it appears that Ed Balls now accepts the need for the coalitions cuts. Though as I’ve often pointed out, there are no such cuts. Sure, some governmental agencies are having to cut and fairly deep in certain cases, but in reality all the Tory-led coalition are actually doing to the total government expenditure is not allowing the increase in spending to be as high as it otherwise would be. Not really my definition of a spending “cut” really.
But does this means Ed Balls is changing tack? My guess is that, as Toby Young speculates over at the Telegraph, in his heart, Balls doesn’t really want to associate himself with accepting cuts of any kind. But power is more important to him, so he now grudgingly accepts the position of any rational person: that a decrease in government expenditure (or at least, a decrease in the increase) must be accepted and part of Labour policy if they’re ever going to get back in power again.
Ron Paul is building in his momentum for the South Carolina primary. But will it be enough?
Though the graph above doesn’t show it, Ron Paul is breaking the 20% mark as we speak.
Andrew Sullivan lays it all down:
The latest ARG poll is even more striking: Paul has surged to 20 percent in South Carolina: a stunning result that overturns a lot of expectations. This military state may actually share the military donors’ views and loathe what neoconservatism has done to wreck American influence abroad and fiscal balance at home. So it’s 29 – 25 – 20, with a week to go. I’d say any one of those three could win.
Gets you wondering, doesn’t it? Is this the moment?
Calm down. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. All the data says Ron won’t got the distance. But it’s a little like your little Sunday-afternoon football team suddenly getting a game against a team of superstars: you can’t help but allow yourself to dream a little…