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UK Fiscal Policy, a Chancellor & the Squirrel (that lost its nuts)

I get so angry with George Osborne on so many levels it’s probably impossible to write about the current economic position in a coherent manner.

I’ll try. He rolls into town less that two years ago (why does it seem so much longer?) with his gun-toting, whey-faced public school colleagues, desperate to reduce the deficit and sets about shrinking the state to fit his own political ideology: small state, big business, or something. He’s never been overly explicit about his evangelical zeal, but I smell it on him.

The problems he has engendered with his approach, as I see them, include:

#1 – you can shrink the state much more quickly than you can grow a business

#2 – shrinking the state manifests itself, amongst other things, as shrinking confidence and the money to fund the products and services that businesses might offer

#3 – in the meantime, whilst the state shrinks and businesses fail to grow immediately into the gap, the government exacerbate the inflation problem with the one tax hits all unequally VAT, allow energy companies to run absolutely riot with their charges to consumers and defend the continuation of the policy whereby the tax system is run to suit the rich and banks can carry on like one-armed bloody bandits

Anyone with half an eye and an incoherent blog could have predicted rising unemployment, high inflation, low confidence and the failure of the business sector to pull new jobs like rabbits out of hats. And they did.

The Autumn Statement came then as no surprise; having cut the state and reaped the rewards, George announced he was going to cut it a bit more, and a bit more. And then he was going to, once he had saved up some money (and perhaps borrowed some too) spend a bit on roads and rails to stimulate growth (sounds like public spending).

Maybe I’m just an idiot, but isn’t cutting public spending, which is working so well so far as we have seen not, to save money, to fund future public spending a bit whack? Or maybe it’s just the type of public spending Osborne prefers ideologically: roads and rail a more fitting testament to the soundness of his ideology. And that’s even before we mention cutting public spending to reduce borrowing, before announcing more borrowing. Isn’t that an #epic fail by Twitter standards?

I am certain that doing more of the same (cuts) will get more of the same (unemployment, cuts in income and confidence, a battle with inflation etc.). I can’t give you a theory-based reason why, but as I run things round here, I don’t actually have to. George is wrong; he is wrong not least because the economic model he bases his policy on is fucked.

Here is an article from Bloomberg that might elucidate one reason better than I can. It is by an American entrepreneur. It explains why business doesn’t create jobs, that the demand of the middle income citizens does. You can agree or disagree with that, but you’ve got to love the following line:

When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.

Of course, the whole pact with the devil, consumerist capitalist shebang is busted up, perhaps beyond repair now. We are chastened over-consumers and that, to my mind, is probably the positive in all this. World debt is killing economies like nothing on earth. Tinkering around the edges and putting people out of jobs, reducing your PAYE returns as a result, and failing to get tough with corporate greed is going to continue to get us nowhere fast. There is some radical thinking required. And soon. I am going to get on to that later.

In the meantime, here’s an example of a rather disobedient and impertinent red squirrel that would like to tease the Chancellor.

Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

“Worn to a ravelling”

The moment you have a child your future possibilities for sleep are completely in the lap of the Gods. Every parent knows this, but you don’t really know it until it is actually too late.

I crawled through the first years of motherhood on my hands and knees in utter exhaustion and I can’t say it hasn’t improved because it has. The eldest is a paragon of virtue remaining neatly arranged in her own bed all night, every night. She even has the decency to lie-in a bit. The youngest however is a different matter. Since a babe in arms she signed some kind of secret hideous lifetime timeshare to occupy the parental bed and although she starts every night in her own pit she invariably makes her way into mine 75% of the time.

At 6 she is too big. She is too elbowy and sharp-kneeed, she is too leg-drapey and hair-tickly and she keeps me awake. She ignores requests to vacate and just burrows further into the mattress like a mite. Worst of all she clutches items of desire in her sleep and brings them with her. It turns out last night I was not sleeping with luminous green slime called Halloween Goo. I am stubborn though. As much as she disturbs my sleep, I refuse to play musical beds. If I go down that road I end up in a narrow single with a dog, and a cat and then she often follows me back and gets in there too. It is a nightmare.

So this is how I was listening to Radio 4 this morning before Farming Today was even on. There was some programme that went like this.

This woman with a rather saccharine lilt was saying how it was miracle that she was no longer crippled by her back. She had been on Incapacity Benefit for 12 years. That’s not working for 12 years you know, because your back hurts. Then she had had this miracle. Someone had suggested she remove her piercing. They surely said whereabouts on her body this piercing was located, but because I was trying to sleep I must have missed it. A piercing that crippples you for 12 years? Where the hell was it? I’m thinking a bolt in her neck. Anyway, let that be a lesson to you all. Metal junk in your body is unnecessary and evil.

Then thank goodness that was over and I had Clare Balding and her Ramblings round Glasgow’s Necropolis with a load of women history detectives. Rather unkindly I admit, it has crossed my mind that the wee small hours are the time programme schedulers let women on the radio because no-one is bloody listening. The theory is flawed because Ramblings is on during the day and rightly so because Clare is still excellent, even when I would rather be in the Land of Nod than wandering around a cemetery in Glasgow. Then I had to suffer the actual Farming Today, but I hung on long enough for the Today without the farming, wherein the great John Humphrys was caught out reading a piece on “peasants and phartridges” which turned out to be a typo from Simon Barnes’ article in today’s Times. Tut, tut.

By the time we got to torture in Iraq and Rooney as the greediest man alive (you’d never guess it to look at his face would you?) I was comatose. So no song lyrics in my head this morning, just a bit of a headache, a stiff back (no piercings, STUPID woman) and a distinct affinity with the Tailor of Gloucester.

Simpkin, alack I am undone. No more twist.

Pity our cat can't make tea

*These are the ramblings of a sleep-starved person so if they make no sense (nonsense) what else did you expect. I might be pulling myself together to predict the loser of the Pacing Rost Trophy at Donny later…