Well, not quite since it’s not quite being ignored completely, but since what there is in the news seems to be a couple of short articles linked on the home pages of the Teletubbygraph (near the top) and the Daily Wail (almost at the very bottom and behind an awful lot of guff about slebs), and as far as I could see bugger all on the Beeb, Indie, Grauniad, Express, Metro, Standard, Mirror or Sun, where it’s being spoken of at all it’s in pretty bloody hushed tones. Yes, of course these few protestors were in much smaller numbers than the thousands who turned out to complain that they might not be able to suck quite so freely at the tax tit as they have over the last decade or so, and they weren’t complaining about the loss of things that everybody likes to think of as free but in reality are simply paid for in advance through tax or in arrears through the national debt and, perhaps most importantly, they weren’t smashing anything up. But they were protesting about the very large national debt elephant in the room, an elephant that has now grown so big that even some socialists are getting worried enough to call it a crisis.
[…] we will have to find conservatively £1.1 trillion over the next five years! 33% of our debt is held by foreign governments contrary to what some in the labour movement have been saying.
The government is going to cut £83bn over five years which is 9% of the £1.1 trillion we have to find over the next five years. This is based on optimistic estimates about the economy. The government and city economists have got this wrong consistently over the last three years. […]
Be wary of those who say the debt is not a problem and that has been bigger in the past. There is a very good reason for that as we have spelled out above. It is likely with the cuts and reduced growth they bring on will mean at some time we will have go to the IMF. Their cuts as a condition for loans will be much tougher.
We have to show that we are facing a crisis – which the coalition is walking blindly into it. But we have to build an alternative solution that does not mean we pay for a crisis made by the bankers, governments and the wealthy.
When socialists say that, even if they can’t resist finishing with a jealous dig at the wealthy and the banks, you have to recognise that the country is well and truly in the shit. And it’s worth pointing out that while accusing everyone else of understating the scale of the problem they themselves are using on the headline figure of a trillion given by the ONS for the national debt, rather than the ONS estimate of around four trillion once all the off book liabilities are included.
Okay, so let’s list all the ways out of it.
- Tax more
- Spend less
- That’s it
Now the first of those carries with it some problems. The first is that of any government’s tax base the poorest have virtually no ability to pay more while the wealthiest, the people who can most afford more tax, have the ability to get out of the country with all or most of their money. That leaves the bulk of the burden of taxing the government’s way out of debt to fall on everyone in the middle, the ones who aren’t wealthy enough to do a runner easily but aren’t poor either – though they fucking well will be before long. The second problem is that when the government owes so much – something like 60% of GDP at the lower national debt figure of a trillion pounds, and well over double GDP at the higher estimate of four trillion – even squeezing the middle income earners might not be enough, especially when it’s still spending at a rate of nearly £700 billion a year and rising while only raising a bit over £600 billion in taxes. The third problem is that those middle income earners form quite a large group of voters and may balk at the idea of having to stump up £100 billion just to stop things getting worse, and much much more if the government seriously wants to begin paying off the excesses of its predecessors. The final problem is that sucking yet more money out of the economy hurts. Every pound taken from a company is a pound that it can’t spend on things that would grow its business – which could have created new jobs – while every pound taken from an individual is money they can’t spend in the shops, save for their future or buy shares in a company that might grow and create more jobs and wealth if it can just get some more investment.
Spending less is vastly simpler and really has only one major problem: as well as the millions of middle income earners who have to pay both for public spending and the debt Britain has millions of public spending junkies too, and they really don’t want the money taps turned off. In fact they so desperately don’t want the taps turned off that thousands of them are prepared to go to London to demand still more of other people’s money and throw things through other people’s windows.
And this could have been used by the media as an illustration of Britain’s financial problems: that so many more protested about the cuts than went to complain about the real lack of cuts suggests that there are far more receivers of government largesse than contributors to the funding of it, though of course many of the latter may have been working – they have tax bills to pay after all. Instead you might not have noticed that any protest in favour of more cuts even happened at all if you weren’t looking out for it, and so the UK’s enormous and increasing debt elephant continues to wander around the room almost completely unremarked by most of the country and largely so by the media.
However, aside from those two papers that ran articles on the Rally Against Debt I did notice something in The Sun that demonstrates pretty clearly why the Rally Against Debt was and is so necessary: as a result of cost cutting the DoT is having to hire more staff. Apparently, and almost straight out of a Yes Minister plot, they didn’t realise they needed more until it came time to start laying off the ones they’ve got.
And it’s this kind of lunacy that is financially killing Britain.