Well it had to come; I’m a little surprised it took so long. The Triple A credit rating was like an elderly relative that you grew up with. Often reckless and occasionally fun, you were surprised that he had learned nothing and continued the wild-hog spending with seemingly no ill-effects. But as the enfant terrible grew up and aged, you knew the end had to come. Yesterday, it did.
Predictably enough the Beeboids gave Ed Balls* a primetime opportunity to shout at Osborne. Balls made the fair point that the Tories had indeed made this a bellwether for their economic competence (thereby revealing political miscalculation as well as economic ineptitude). He didn’t quote the tory manifesto** which perhaps would have made the attack better; always use a man’s own words against him if you can. Nonetheless it was an open goal, he could hardly miss.
Where he floundered, was when the BBC talking-head asked “What would you do?” He covered the predictable sound-bite territory of ‘an immediate stimulus’ but wasn’t sure exactly how much this should be, or where the money would come from. The interviewer let him off of course, but it seems to me that a few points arise, namely;
~ Why is spending £100B more than you raise in tax, not enough stimulus, why would £110B (or whatever) would be the magic number?
~ If overspending got us into this mess, won’t more over-spending just make things worse?
~ Wasn’t this whole nonsense debunked intellectually as far back as Bastiat and certainly by Von Mises?
~ Doesn’t the practical reality of countries from Japan to the PIGS show us that overspending is not the route to prosperity?
~ Doesn’t the US economic contraction in 1920 show us that if you halve government spending in two years (which they did) the economy powers back (which it did)?***
~ If government spending is so good how come Greece isn’t lending us money?
But the worst aspect of all of this slow-motion death was that had Labour won in 2010, we would be in more or less the same position. Sure the end may have come sooner, but we would be in the same place. Osborne as Shadow Chancellor would have been condemning Balls although he may have had a slightly tougher interview. The reality is, all the major parties have only one plan; spend, spend, spend. And that will lead us to the poor house and national bankruptcy.
I used to wonder, was it just real ignorance and total stupidity that made ‘em like this. And sure enough some of the back-benchers are indeed pig-ignorant. But if you’ve been through some serious universities as most of the front benchers have, you must at some point have encountered Austrian economics. You would have to be criminally incurious not to know who Hayek was.
The real reason I think that none of ‘em espouse it, is that on a fundamental level it shows the irrelevance of politics. Less government, less spending and fewer politicians is the route to prosperity and freedom. How many amongst the current crop of sociopathic criminals would admit this? Politics makes ‘em rich and privileged (far beyond what most would achieve in the real world) while hammering the rest of us. The problem isn’t left or right, its major party politics as currently practised. They are the same and voting for a change of personnel periodically will change nothing.
So it’s time to stop voting major party. They have all had ample opportunity and their failure is manifest.
* In fairness to Balls, I find him so viscerally loathsome that if he said “let’s stop that blind toddler from wandering into traffic I would find reasons to disagree” He’s worse than John Selwyn Gummer or Hilary Clinton in this regard, even approaching the never before scaled peaks of Leon Brittan for smug creepiness.
** “We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament.”
*** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wguOq2GyYSY Check it here, really worth watching.