Monday, 26 September 2011

In praise of.......the Occupy Wall Street protests

In September 2011 it seemed that the disenfranchised youth of America finally woke up. Over three years after the Neoliberal Economic Crisis plunged America and much of the global economy into recession the downtrodden American people finally began to assert themselves with the occupation of Wall Street.

As with the Arab Spring and the Spanish "indignantes" protests, the Occupy Wall Street campaing is a "grass roots" popular uprising, heavily reliant on social networking due to a mainstream media blackout. The movement is described on occupywalstreet.org as a non-violent "leaderless resistance movement" which was initially proposed by the Adbusters website and organised by a a collective of individuals. The stated aim of the protests is to end the corporatisation of America and restore legitimate democracy.

The origins of the movement can be traced back to the "Credit Crunch", which happened when the reckless gambling of a tiny deregulated financial sector elite caused global money markets to freeze up and created havoc in the stock markets. The US government response was to pour $trillions of taxpayers' money into the financial sector in order to recapitalise the system. the next step was to begin magicking up new money via money printing schemes called "qauntitative easing" in order to pour even more capital into the banks. Instead of using this unprecedented cash flow to support the US economy the financial sector used it to write down many of their toxic debts and continue to pay themselves obscene salaries and bonuses.

Instead of attaching strict lending conditions to these bailout funds and re-regulating the financial sector to discourage further speculative or ponzi style investments the US establishment simply handed over the cash and left responsibility for restabilising the economy with the financial sector elite that created the crisis in the first place.

Thomas Jefferson, still right after more than 200 years.
An interesting historical comparison can be made with the US government's reaction last time an unregulated Laissez-farre financial sector elite drove the US economy into depression; the 1929 Wall Street Crash. The eventual government response was to entirely shut down the banks until they agreed to new regulations designed to get the money markets moving again and prevent similar crashes in the future. Another huge difference in Franklin D. Roosevelt's strategy was that instead of using government funds to prop up the greed stricken financial institutions, he used them to provide direct stimuli to the "real economy" through hugely ambitious state infrastructure projects and housebuilding.

The rise of the neoliberals since the 1970s and the political acceptance of their mantra of "small-statism", privatisation, corporate deregulation and low taxation of the economic elite" eventually led to the destruction of the Roosevelt administration's financial stability reforms in 1999 when the Glass-Steagall 1933 Banking Act was repealed, allowing the banks to engage in dangerously speculative activities using the capital of the high street banks as equity. Another victory for the free-market neoliberals was another piece of Clinton administration legislation; the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernisation Act, which effectively deregulated the derivatives market.

The fault lines in these deregulation policies were clearly demonstrated by the 2001 Enron collapse, which came about after it was discovered that the company had been using complex derivatives to hide their losses and artificially inflate their share prices. The Enron collapse illustrated the dangers of neoliberal deregulation and also exposed a catastrophic failure of the company auditors Arthur Andersen who also collapsed, reducing the global accountancy oligopoly from the big five to the big four.

The neoliberal response to the Enron scandal was as predictable as it was pathetic, instead of reconsidering the decision to deregulate the derivatives market, the authorities concentrated on creating show trials for Enron executives and the introduction of a whitewash response called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which created Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, to supposedly improve the auditing regimes that had failed. PCAOB was incontestably a huge failure given the subsequent collapses of many larger financial institutions and the exposure of the astonishing levels of reckless speculative and ponzi style investment these institutions had been engaging in.

It is incontestable that post Enron regulation of the US financial sector remained inadequate given the failure of regulators to spot the dangers of a boom in sub-prime lending, Collateralised Debt Obligations and the astonishingly inaccurate AAA+ awards given to these financial products by the Credit Rating Agencies that took vast payments from the creators of these dodgy financial instruments in return for their glowing ratings.

It is not as if the failings of militant neoliberal dogmatism and their inadequate responses to their own crises were limited to the Enron scandal. In the outside world, other countries had suffered the devastating consequences of adhering to neoliberal economic theory imposed on them by the US based International Monetary Fund who imposed tough neoliberalisation conditions on their loans (privatisation, corporate tax cuts, globalisation, deregulation of the banking sector, welfare cuts, relinquishment of fiscal autonomy).

There are too many failings of neoliberalism to cover in the space of a single article but obvious examples can be seen in the Post-Communist neoliberalisation of Russia, the rise of the Oligarchs and the stifling of democracy, the 1997 South-East Asian economic crisis and the Argentine economic meltdown.

In the 1990s Argentina were the IMF's poster boys for their enthusiastic embrace of neoliberalism however the economy collapsed in 1999 and didn't recover until 2002 when the IMF neoliberal textbook was torn up and the government engaged in IMF opposed policies of debt restructuring, targeted taxation, reduction in unemployment, improvements to social welfare provision and massive scale infrastructure development projects which rapidly boosted the economy out of depression and gave it the stability to continue prospering throughout the Neoliberal Economic Crisis. Not only can neoliberalism be seen as the cause of the Argentine economic collapse, but the abandonment of IMF neoliberal dogma created the necessary conditions for their economic recovery.

All of these warnings were dismissed by the IMF and the neoliberal elite with contorted post hoc revisionist excuses and explanations. Instead of recognising the fundamental flaws in their favoured economic dogma, they simply covered up and carried on.

The blame doesn't simply lie with greedy and reckless traders
on Wall street, Washington based politicians and technocrats
are responsible for creating the deregulated trading
conditions that Wall Street bankers enjoy.
More of the same can be seen in establishment responses to the Neoliberal Economic Crisis, instead of admitting the failures of neoliberalism they have concocted the Great Neoliberal Lie, to justify the introduction of even more militant neoliberalist policies. Instead of imposing regulation to prevent similar occurrences, large sections of the political elite in the US have actually been calling for further deregulation. The lie goes along the lines that the economic crash was caused by the fact that the state is too large, spending too much money and collecting too many taxes. That that the appropriate response to the crisis is "austerity", which is simply a euphemism for more of the same hardline neoliberalism (cutting welfare and the corporatisation of the state).

These neoliberal austerity measures have actually intensified the effects of the crisis. The "real economy" of the US has stagnated over the last three years, unemployment has risen and the discretionary income of ordinary working people that make up the vast majority of America has been slashed. Against a background of austerity, policies such as quantitative easing and the artificial lowering of interest rates have created stagflation, which hurts ordinary Americans by attacking the value of their wages, their savings and their pension schemes. Instead of stabilising the financial sector, the austerity response has led to increased stock market instability, with ordinary Americans paying the price once again.

One of the most shocking aspects of the neoliberal response to the credit crunch is the huge Tea Party movement, which resembled a "grass roots" movements of stereotypically stupid Americans until it was revealed that the whole thing has been funded and orchestrated by multi -billionaire neoliberal free-marketeers like the Koch brothers. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have been signing up to a "more-of-the-same" movement has been frankly astonishing to outside observers, especially given the rise of genuine "grass roots" populist movements across the Middle-East, Europe and South America to oppose the further entrenchment of defunct neoliberal economic dogma.

Over the last few years coverage of the Tea Party and their harebrained ideologues has flooded the mainstream media of the world, however, now that a genuine grass roots movement has finally awoken, the mainstream media silence is deafening, although entirely predictable.

Coverage of the London Riots exposed
reporting bias in the corporate media.
Events in the UK in 2011 can be seen as another example of how the corporate owned mainstream media has been deliberate selectivity in reporting dissent. The huge London Anti-Cuts protest went virtually uncovered by the corporate mainstream media except for the usual tactic of focusing on the violent activities of a tiny minority of mindless yobs. The protest was estimated to have been attended by half a million people, the largest UK demonstration since the March 2003 Anti-War protests, but people from outside of the UK could be forgiven for not knowing that it had even happened given the stymied media reaction.

In August 2011 a wave of nihilistic riots swept across England, creating a tidal wave of mainstream media coverage despite the fact that in terms of participation these events were absolutely tiny in comparison to the largely peaceful politicised protests. The mindless violence, arson and looting played into the hands of the UK neoliberal establishment elite, allowing them the excuse to openly propose draconian responses to public "disorder" including restrictions on the freedom of speech via the the shutting down of social networks.

The Wall Street protests have suffered an astonishing mainstream media blackout that would have been utterly unthinkable had the people involved been Tea Party campaigners or a bunch of mindless nihilists, however social networks and the blogosphere are alive with coverage and the movement continues to gain momentum.

The Washington based IMF should be another target
for American anti-neoliberal protesters.
The disenfranchised youth of America have suffered the effects of wage stagnation, mass unemployment, disgraceful higher education "aspiration taxes" and welfare cuts and are witnessing the biggest transfer of wealth from ordinary working people to a tiny economic elite in history. The Occupy Wall Street Protests have shown that ordinary Americans have finally found their voice and it is about time too. America is the indisputable capital of the neoliberal system, not only are both of the political parties hugely compromised by the massive corporate donations needed to fund their extravagant election campaigns and the activities of the multi billion Dollar corporate lobbying industry, the US is also home to neoliberal financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank that are vehicles for exporting their dangerous greed based ideology across the globe.

Not only do the disenfranchised youth of America owe it to themselves to agitate for change in the economic system to end the defunct neoliberal heterodoxy, they must also remember that much of the rest of the world needs to be freed from the devastating effects of the ideologically driven, US supported imposition of toxic neoliberal economic dogma.

 

Related articles





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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Michael Moore on "Occupy Wall Street" & the Troy Davis execution

I'm sure that US activist Michael Moore would be the first to admit that he is a bit of a fat tosser, but as usual he is bang on the money with these critiques of the corporatisation of America and the disgraceful execution of Troy Davis in Georgia.



Cautious Ed, Where are your policies?

After over a year in the job, Labour leader Ed Miliband doesn't seem to
have formed any kind of coherent alternative to defunct neoliberal dogma.
It is the eve of the 2011 Labour party conference in Liverpool and I am getting heartily sick of reading columns by Labour politicians and Labour supporting columnists talking up the Labour alternative to Osborne's "self defeating austerity".

These columns feature plenty of party approved soundbytes ("Cutting too hard, too fast") conjecture ("if Britain slides into another recession, the next election ought to be Labour's to lose") and Miliband eulogies (the "breathtaking boldness" of his new strategy for the Labour party) but they are dreadfully thin on actual alternative policy.

The best Ed Balls could come up with in terms of "policy" in his piece was "I believe we can only win public trust by making the case for a credible and compelling plan that will revive growth, get unemployment falling, take the tough decisions to tackle the deficit in a balanced way, and transform our economy for the long term." Nothing but vague generalised guff masquerading as an alternative strategy, with absolutely no substantive policy ideas at all. In her piece Angela Eagle just criticised the neoliberal status quo without mentioning a single policy (radical, populist or anything at all) and the best Andrew Rawnsley could come up with in his Labour puff piece was a mention of Labour's latest pitiful attempt at populist strategy, a plan to undercut the ridiculous Tory "aspiration tax" on university education from £9,000 to £6,000, which is still double the fees Labour introduced over the course of their thirteen years in power and would do absolutely nothing to counter the grotesque commodification of higher education.

Three articles in two days and the sum total of concrete alternative policies is a single pathetically misguided and reactionary attempt at a populist appeal to students, most of whom loathe the Labour party for having introduced the "aspiration charges" in the first place. If after a whole year in the job, this cack handed attempt at populism is the best "headline policy" Ed can come up with, Labour are not an alternative, they are a sad joke.

Over the last 32 years militant neoliberal dogma has enriched the top echelons of society at the expense of millions of hard working ordinary people who have seen their discretionary income eroded away with disgraceful utilities and transportation price hikes, mass unemployment, wage deflation, are now they are suffering the brunt of Osborne's self defeating austerity programme. Not only that but neoliberal economic dogma has created biggest economic crisis in the UK since the Second World War increasing the national debt back to 164% of GDP (including bailouts & PFI economic alchemy schemes).

Ed should be pointing out that there are successfully tried and tested alternatives to the socially destructive "slash and burn" policies favoured by the Tories out of their refusal to abandon their clearly defunct neoliberal dogma. Ed can point to Roosevelt's "new deal", to the prosperous years of the Post-War Consensus & more recently the astonishing post-neoliberal Argentine Economic Recovery.

Labour need to quickly and loudly apologise for their passionate embrace with neoliberalism and the financial sector elite and begin setting out clear and distinct alternatives. This radical new approach should be structured around policies such as ensuring that any further fiscal stimuli are used to improve state infrastructure, invest in education, research, the sciences and to make low interest loans to high-tech and green industries rather than just handing the cash over to the financial sector to pour into their black holes of debt or for them to lend on to the "real economy" at a huge mark-up.

Labour need to set out clear policies on how they are going to clamp down on corporate profiteering, punish inherently risky business practices and get tough on corporate and personal tax dodging. They also need to demonstrate that there is no harm in raising taxes if they are properly targeted at unearned wealth (such as a Land Value Tax) and on profits from risky and unproductive financial sector practices.

Labour need to promote measures to increase the discretionary income of the masses in order to get people spending again and they need to explain how policies like artificially low interest rates, austerity and quantitative easing combine to create a stagflationary effect that harshly punishes careful people such as families that have tried hard to live within their means, careful savers and pensions investors, in order to protect the reckless gamblers that borrowed way beyond their means and wrecked the economy in the process. They need to demonstrate that Coalition policies punish the self disciplined in order to protect people that lied on their (ridiculous) self-assessment mortgage applications, the buy-to-let parasites that borrowed vast sums in order to hoard property and exploit ordinary working people, stoking house price inflation in the process and the banks that carelessly lent so much money to these people, as well as engaging in their own over-leveraged debt fuelled speculative activities.

Labour need to reform the property market to ensure that hard working people can once again access decent affordable housing and to prevent the inflation of another dangerously unsustainable speculative property bubble. They should remind people that the principle function of a house is as a home, not as a commodity to be traded or as part of an exploitative get rich quick scheme. Labour politicians need to remember there are many more potential voters to have experienced exploitation at the hands of unregulated buy-to-let landlords than there are venal something-for-nothing slumlords (who are more than likely to vote Tory anyway).

Labour should consider what the neoliberals consider to be "the unthinkable", the renationalisation of failing private sector industries. Everyone knows that the privatised railways are an absolute shambles. The privatised rail network soaks away far more in government subsidies than the entire system cost to operate in 1994, line operator Network Rail is a disorganised and unaccountable botch-job that has created vast debt legacies, train franchises are nothing more than anti-competitive oligopolies at best and absolute monopolies at worst, franchisees have been allowed to cost the taxpayer £hundreds of millions by walking away from contracts that they don't like (East Coast mainline) without suffering punishment and rail passangers have been hit with above inflation fare hikes year, after year, after year.

Possibly the most heart wrenching effect of rail privatisation is the catastrophic effect on the UK train building industry. In the 1970s and 1980s Britain was second only to Japan in the development of high speed trains, nowadays the last (Canadian owned) train manufacturer based in the UK is on it's last legs. Not only have thousands of jobs and valuable skills been erased, Britain has also completely lost the immense prestige of being global railway pioneers.

Miliband should openly engage with the concept of renationalising the railways, a move that would be extremely popular with the left, and if the EU try to obstruct the idea he should stand up to them and assert British sovereignty, a move that would be hugely popular across the political spectrum.

If Miliband and the Labour party don't soon come up with a coherent set of socioeconomic strategies and some actual concrete policies of their own, they must start agitating for a return to the Post-War Consensus mixed economy that created 28 consecutive years of budget surpluses and reduced the national debt from 237% in the aftermath of WWII down to 43% when the Neo-Tories tore it up in 1979. Didn't the Tories have an election campaign based on the phrase "you've never had it so good" during the Post-War Consensus years? In 1957 didn't Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan say "go round the country, go to the industrial towns, go to the farms and you will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime – nor indeed in the history of this country"? Doesn't the mixed economy approach have a wonderful track record of reducing the national debt? Hasn't the Post-War Consensus era been repeatedly referred to as the "golden age of capitalism"?

Most importantly of all, Ed needs to make sure that the party never again forgets that the role of Labour is to represent the interests of the hard working, law abiding, tax paying, working people of this country, above all other interests.


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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mixed Economy vs Neoliberalism

British economist John Maynard Keynes,highly influential
in the creation of the Post-War consensus mixed economy.
I decided to make this comparison after reading yet another baseless and generalised attack on the concept of socialism, which went along the lines of:

"Government's are not very good at spending money. This is one of the reasons socialism doesn't work".


So how about looking at the track records of state socialism and neoliberalism in the contexts of UK public spending and socioeconomic trends before we start accepting sweeping generalisations like this?



The Post-War Consensus mixed economy (a mix of state socialism and regulated capitalism).
  • 1947-1979 (32 years).
  • Key influences & personalities: John Maynard Keynes, R. H. Tawney, William Beveridge, Clement Atlee, Nye Bevan, Harold Macmillan.
  • Origins: Started in the wake of a massive debt crisis (WWI + inter-war economic chaos + WWII).
  • Budgetary responsibility: 28 consecutive years of budget surpluses, only three years of budget deficits.
  • Government Debt: Reduced national debt burden from 237% of GDP in 1947 to 43% in 1979.
  • Economic stability: Other than the economic turmoil of the mid-late 1970s which was used as excuses to destroy the Post-War Consensus, an era of relative economic stability despite the loss of Empire and the Cold War partition of Europe.
  • Poverty: Massive reduction in levels of absolute poverty.
  • Consumer spending power: Provided ordinary working people with levels of discretionary income never seen before (or since).
  • Employment: Kept unemployment low on a long term basis.
  • Housing: Massive reduction in levels of slum housing and gradually improved access to decent housing for hard working people.
  • Public Health: Introduction of the National Health Service to provide health care "free at the point of use".
  • Overview: Long term economic stability, massive public debt reduction, commonly referred to as "the golden age of capitalism".
The neoliberal experiment (based on the bankrupt ideological dogma of amoral neoliberalism).
  • 1979-2011 (32 years)
  • Key influences & personalities: Milton Friedman, Frederick Hayek, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Augusto Pinochet, Gordon Brown.
  • Origins: Started in the wake of a few relatively* minor crises (1973 oil shock, late 70s industrial unrest) with the lowest levels of government borrowing in over a Century.
  • Budgetary responsibility: Only managed to record budget surplus in 17 of 32 years with a best run of 7 consecutive years (1983-1991) which was partially funded by the firesale of heaps of state infrastructure (privatisation).
  • Government Debt: Increased levels of national debt from 43% to 164% (including bailouts 91% GDP & PFI scams 15% GDP, which are misleadingly kept off the national debt figures).
  • Economic stability: A period of increasingly violent economic instability despite the end of the Cold War partition of Europe, exponential improvements in IT capabilities and the influx of cheap Asian commodities.
  • Poverty: Massively widening of the poverty gap and the creation of pockets of absolute poverty in formerly industrialised areas.
  • Consumer spending power: Squeezed levels of discretionary income, especially since Osborne's "self defeating austerity" programme and VAT rises kicked in.
  • Employment: Kept unemployment high on a long term basis, with several nasty unemployment spikes during recessions caused by the instability of deregulated markets.
  • Housing: Increased levels of slum housing (via unregulated something-for-nothing slumloring) and increasing difficulty for working people to find access to decent housing due to unsustainable speculative house price inflation.
  • Public Health: Erosion of free public health provision (dentistry & eyecare), and the gradual privatisation of the National Health Service (PFI hospitals, private sector providers, 2011 Health & Social Care Bill).
  • Overview: Resulted in the Neoliberal Economic Crash and "the crisis of capitalism".
* = By "relatively" I mean in comparison to the economic consequences of the World Wars or the Neoliberal Economic Crisis.

Conclusion

Despite the demonstrable failures of militant neoliberalism
over the last 32 years, the UK is stuck with a government
that adheres to the defunct economic dogma of Milton Friedman.
Although there were still plenty of political and socioeconomic problems during the Mixed Economy years I'd say that overall this basic comparison makes a pretty convincing case for a return to the mixed economy. However the ruling Tory led coalition are insistent that the bankrupt "greed-is-good" neoliberal show must go on and that ordinary working people are going to have to pay through the nose for the huge economic failures of the establishment's defunct neoliberal dogma via deliberately stagflationary economic policies, while the financial sector elite laugh all the way to the (taxpayer subsidised) bank.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Letter to Ed Miliband

A letter sent to Ed Miliband MP, leader of the UK Labour party.

Dear Ed,

I read an interesting piece in the Guardian by Angela Eagle MP entitled "end to the greed creed" and was pleasantly surprised that it seemed like a step in the right direction.

I would like to see a concerted strategy from the Labour party to reengage the traditional Labour voter base and the huge numbers of disillusioned and disenfranchised UK voters (34.9% of the electorate didn't even vote in the 2010 election, that is almost as many people as voted for the Tories and the Lib-Dems combined 38.5%). 

Angela's criticisms of "market fundamentalism" and the admission that New Labour failed to to "tame the rightwing dogmas already unleashed" look like positive steps in the right direction but there is a lot more to be done if Labour are to convince the electorate that you are actually prepared to offer a viable alternative to militant neoliberal dogma rather than just "empty" criticisms of the neoliberal status quo.

For three decades government policies have been based on the assumption thatneoliberalism is a sensible economic strategy rather than aharebrained ideological dogma, and despite the crisis of neoliberalism the Coalition are demonstrably stuck in the obsolete market fundamentalist mold. I have devised a number of political strategies and potential economic policies that would help to demonstrate that Labour has developed some strong alternatives to policies based on the defunct ideology of neoliberalism.

Labour needs to present some benchmark policies that clearly demonstrate that the party both admits failure to confront the iniquities of neoliberalism in the past and a determination to restore principles of fairness and social justice in the future.

One such policy would be to demand tax transparency from private sector government partners. By this I mean Labour should propose legislation to prevent any company without a transparent tax structure from getting any form of government funds (outsourcing contracts, PFI deals, subsidies, loans or bailouts). If these companies siphon off corporate profits through tax haven based shell companies or use similar tricks to enable their employees to avoid/evade tax, they should have absolutely no right to enrich themselves on taxpayers' money.

Put simply and clearly "Transparent Tax in return for access to public funds", "Transparent Tax Accreditation for all government contractors" or "a serious strategy to confront the corporate tax ripoff".

The word "transparent" is vital for a positive public perception, it should be contrasted with the Tories secretive and evasive Swiss Tax deal, that allows tax cheats to both keep their anonymity and in many cases a hefty proportion of their ill gotten gains.

This "Transparent Tax" policy could be used to counter the fallout from therecently exposed PFI scandal and an opportunity to present the Labour party as a renewed force and the only mainstream party prepared to openly criticise bankrupt neoliberal economic dogma and offer new alternatives to restore "fairness". 

This reform of government spending policy should be presented in a context of an admission that Labour made mistakes in incentivising these kind of ripoff neoliberal "economic alchemy" PFI schemes. That these kinds of policies stemmed from the "unacceptable drift tothe right" in British politics, driven by the now discredited economic orthodoxy of "market fundamentalism" and the rightwing bias of the UK mainstream media. Labour must admit their mistakes and present the policy of Transparent Tax Accreditation as a demonstration that they are absolutely determined not allow the same mistakes to happen again. 

Although a Labour "apology" looks like a poor strategy, I feel that it would work very well in bringing a lot of your disillusioned natural left wing voter base back onside and in engaging the angry electorate that would welcome some signs of contrition from some of the politicians they feel have let them down (expenses & lack of political reform. Bailouts, lack of banking reform & austerity for ordinary working people). Most importantly apologising for New Labour's "driftto the right" is also an implicit criticism of the coalition government for their continuation of the kind of neoliberal economic dogma (self-defeating austerity, mass privatisations, lack of banking reform, marketisation of health care & education, cutting investment in education, research & infrastructure) that created the Neoliberal Economic Crisis in the first place. 

Other potential strategies include:

  • Look back to the post-war consensus mixed economy (28 consecutive years of budget surpluses & a reduction of the national debt from 237% GDP in 1947 to just 43% in 1979 when the Neo-Tories tore it up), it wasn't called the "golden age of capitalism" for nothing. The1973 oil shock and late 70s strike actions that were used as excuses to tear down the post-war consensus now look like drops in the ocean compared to the Neoliberal Economic Crisis (including estimated PFI legacies & bailouts the national debt is back above 160% of GDP).
  • Demand that any future bailouts or quantitative easing measures are used to stimulate long term economic growth by bypassing the financial sector to invest directly in education, science, research and development, public infrastructure projects and support to green & high-tech industries in order to help the UK catch up a bit with the high-tech economies after three decades of underinvestment. Contrast this investment strategy with the huge economically regressive spending cuts the coalition have inflicted on higher education and the sciences.
  • Criticise the Coalition tuition fees hike as an "aspiration tax", since studies have estimated that even moderate interest rate rises would leave hundreds of thousands of low-mid income graduates (£21,000 - £42,000) trapped in negative equity on their student loans (unable to even cover the interest payments because of the interest+3% calculation), meaning a lifetime tax on what should be their discretionary income, simply for having aspired to educate themselves. Use socially beneficial professions such as nurses, engineers, scientists, teachers, town planners, forensic scientists, etc as examples of ordinary working people that will be hit hard by the negative equity "aspiration tax".
  • Take a more pro-active role in the EU, push for an end to the democratic deficit, strengthen EU trading rules to prevent the economic punishment of countries that comply with EU regulations to prevent them from being undercut by countries that opt out (the decimation of UK pig farming after other EU nations opted out of costly animal welfare reforms is a classic example of this problem).
  • Strongly criticise "Osborne's ideologically driven and self-defeating austerity" and make it clear that the Labour party advise him that "targeted taxation" (perhaps on speculative banking practices, short term executive bonuses and some form of Land Value Tax), curbs on capital flight (tax dodging) and infrastructure investment are tried and tested methodologies for restoring economic growth. (numerous citable examples: Roosevelt's new deal, the post-war consensus, Argentine recovery economics 2002-present). He will either continue with his "stagflationary" policies or he will have to eventually change course giving Labour the chance to question his reasons for delay.
  • Renewal of housing policy (much more on this if you would be interested).
  • Strategies to stabilise the highly volatile financial sector (ask if you are interested).
  • Economic localisation and efficiency strategies (more details upon request).
  • Innovative political reform (again ask if you would like to discuss my ideas in this area).
I hope you find these ideas interesting and care to discuss them with your colleagues in the Labour party. I have plenty more strategies and ideas and believe that I would be a valuable addition to the Labour party strategic planning team. I would be delighted if you would like to continue this correspondence, not that I expect it. I've written to many, many politicians with my ideas over the years and the abject lack of responses suggest that letters like this are put straight into the crank file (the bin).

I am keen to help the Labour party to devise some strong economic policies and coherent political strategies in order to help overcome the widely held public perception of a Labour crisis of identity (new labour, blue labour, old labour, purple book....).

Yours faithfully

Thomas G Clark

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), Ed and his team didn't bother to respond to this letter.


 If you enjoyed reading this post, maybe you could buy me a beer? £1 would get me a can of cheap lager whilst £3 would get me a lovely pint of real ale.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Self defeating austerity

"Self defeating austerity"
A beautiful turn of phrase used to sum up the idiotic neoliberal response to the crisis of neoliberalism in just 3 words used by the Italian economist Riccardo Bellafiori in a Guardian article entitled A Crisis of Capitalism.
 
Their political dogma of more privatisation, more deregulation, more attacks on state productivity and more transference of wealth to the uber-rich, show neoliberal politicians and economists up to be either mad (Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - Einstein) or evil (damaging the entire "real economy" of the world by engaging in a deliberate war on the wealth and living standards of the majority of ordinary working people in order to sustain the extravogance of the establishment elite).

The successfully tested alternative to this neoliberal madness in 4 words:



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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Nick Clegg and the great Lib-Dem betrayal.

Lib-Dem leader, Nick Clegg's pledges,
not worth the paper they are written on.
When the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum was defeated, most progressive thinkers in Britain saw it as a defeat that signalled an end to their dream of any kind of fair or proportional Parliamentary electoral system in their lifetimes, resigning themselves to the idea that political reform is dead, mainly thanks to the Liberal Democrats.

For those of you that don't know, the Liberal Democrats were a fairly popular political party that campaigned tirelessly on two key issues. The first being their opposition to fees for university education and the second being the need for wide ranging political reform to our anachronistic and undemocratic political system.

When there was no overall winner in the 2010 General Election the moment had come for the Liberal Democrats, they were the kingmakers. They had three main options,
  1. Let the Conservatives form a minority government and win plaudits by shooting down every bit of unpopular and barkingly right wing "Nasty Party" legislation.
  2. Formed a rainbow coalition government with Labour and some other "minor parties", that may not have had a majority, but could have formed a larger voting block than the Conservatives.
  3. Formed a coalition with the extremely unpopular Conservatives.
Choosing the third option was a huge gamble, the Tories had been out of power for a political generation and the actions that had put them into the political wilderness (Union busting, industry destroying, Poll Tax raising, rail privatisating, scapegoat bashing, coddling of the rich) made them one of the most reviled parties in British political history.

In thirteen years of opposition the Tories had shown absolutely no signs of softening of their far-right neoliberal agenda other than some transparently misleading and inept "hug a hoodie" style rubbish to pretend that they had given up on the Thatcherite "no such thing as society", "greed-is-a-virtue" attitudes that had made them so unpopular.

Despite 13 long years of exactly the same kind of transparently neoliberal governance (that had made the Tories so unpopular) from the supposedly socialist Labour government, combined with their tendency to score repeated own goals (Iraq, National ID Database, Mandelson, Blunkett, Cash for honours implications, Fuel protests, Foot and Mouth) the Tories were still so unpopular that they were unable to deliver a majority of the MPs in the 2010 election.

The sight of Nick Clegg and David Cameron laughing it up
in the Downing Street garden was enough to make hundreds of thousands
of Lib-Dem voters vow to never vote for them again.
The British electoral system is so anachronistic and so unrepresentative that even though the Conservatives had only gained on 36% of the vote (23% of the registered electorate) the system handed them 47% of the MPs and put them within spitting distance of power. In 2005 the imbalance of the system was even more pronounced with Tony Blair's Neo-Labour party securing a strong majority (54.6% of MPs) with the votes of only 21% of the registered electorate.

The 2010 hung parliament was the Liberal Democrats' golden opportunity to undo this imbalance that had been created by decades of successive Tory and Labour governments rigging the system in their favour, but they squandered it terribly.

A coherent Liberal Democrat strategy would have been to draw some very clear red lines on political reform, tying them into the huge public anger at the expenses scandal. The lines should have been made on a few very clear subjects. My picks would have been:
  1. A fully elected house of Lords.
  2. Right of recall for corrupt or compromised MPs.
  3. A modern proportional balloting system.
The Tories would certainly have rejected a democratic House of Lords and Proportional Representation, leaving the Liberal Democrats to take the moral high ground and either forge a rainbow coalition with Labour and others, or allow the Conservatives to form a minority government.

Many people have repeated the claim that the Tories would have called another snap election, then won it outright. However it is my opinion that this would have been a very dangerous strategy for a party that had just failed to secure a majority government then turned down a coalition out of entrenched opposition to progressive electoral reform.

The Liberal Democrats could have made enormous political capital out of the refusal. Appealing strongly to anyone with a progressive bone in their bodies by repeating the line that "we are the party of political reform, Labour wasted 13 years of majority government in which they could have brought in reform and now the Tories have shown that they are fundamentally opposed to reform of this anachronistic, undemocratic and corrupt system". No doubt the Labour party would also have gained extra political capital by painting the Tories as a bunch of regressive reactionaries too.

The idea that the Tories were somehow a shoe in for victory in a re-run of the 2010 election is absolute fantasy, and the fact that it is repeated so often by Liberal Democrat supporters to justify their role in the coalition shambles just illustrates how low their estimations of their own party have become.

Clegg was an idiot not to see that he was getting so much of his traction from the pre-election reform politics rhetoric, it's a shame it was just hollow political spin. If only he'd stuck by it they could either have made themselves even more popular by shooting down every bit of regressive right wing policy from the Tories or in the case of a snap-election they could have gone into the re-election campaign with even more people saying "I agree with Nick",winning an increased share of the vote and an even more powerful position to act as kingmaker in return for real political reform.

Instead all they managed to negotiate out of the Conservatives was a national referendum on an alternative voting system unimaginatively called Alternative Vote. The fact that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had previously described the Alternative Vote system as a "miserable little compromise" demonstrated their pitiful negotiation skills. Not only was Alternative Vote absolutely nothing like a properly proportional voting system (little more than an absurd multiple vote recounting system), the referendum was doomed to failure because rich establishment Tories launched an expensive NO2AV campaign with Nick Clegg as the poster boy. Their campaign consisted of little more than advising people to vote no to AV in order to give "sell-out Nick" a good kicking, backed up with a load of misinformation and outright lies. The fact that Tory supporters were bankrolling a demonisation campaign against Nick Clegg for the act of forming a coalition with their own party was incredibly brazen, but it worked and the the Liberal Democrats' "miserably compromised" dream of progressive political reform was comprehensively defeated.

One of the main reasons Clegg had become such a hate figure with the public was the incredible Liberal Democrat U-turn on tuition fees. The party had spent more than a decade building up their student vote with a principled opposition to the commodification of university education and student fees. Before the election, every single Liberal Democrat MP, including Clegg held signed large signed pledges, which read "I pledge to vote against any increase in student fees". Within months they ditched their pledges in order to vote through the highest university fees in the world for English (but not Scottish or Welsh) students. Meaning that millions of low-mid income (£21,000-43,000) English graduates will be lumbered with a lifelong negative equity "aspiration tax" that they will continue to pay for their entire working lives.

The defeat for Nick Clegg's hopelessly compromised electoral reform was not the end of political reform in the United Kingdom, the Tories had a number of extremely regressive and anti-democratic political reforms up their sleeves and absolutely no intention of bringing them to a public vote.

Instead of a fair and proportional voting system the Tories decided to launch a gerrymander scheme that looks to further entrench the two main parties (both adherents of orthodox militant neoliberal dogma) by reducing the number of Parliamentary seats to 600, even further diminishing the likelihood that alternative parties will be able to obtain fair representation. Not only that, but the Tories decided to disenfranchise up to 10 million voters by replacing mandatory electoral registration with a more complex voluntary scheme designed to permanently scare off young people and the politically disengaged, a plan to erase millions of people from political participation.

Just like with tuition fees, the Lib-Dems have feebly enabled the Tories to deliver exactly the opposite of what the vast majority of their voters actually voted Lib-Dem for. Their voters overwhelmingly opposed the further commodification of higher education and desperately wanted to see progressive electoral reform.

The Lib-Dems meekly handed them the opposite, the highest fees in the World to attend public universities, and some disgustingly regressive, anti-democratic reforms to the voting system, that would resemble a political Coup d'etat if it weren't being carried out by the incumbent government.

A large proportion of Liberal Democrat voters wanted them to do well in the election so that they could open the door to proper political reform. In the wake of the expenses scandal and bankers' bailouts the timing couldn't have been better. Instead of seizing the moment to rejuvenate British politics by battling tirelessly for fair representation and an end to conflicts-of-interest and corruption, they have actually helped the Tories nailing shut the door of reform forever.

The only problem for the Lib-Dems is that they are so clueless that they haven't even realised that they are on the other side of the door, nailing themselves outside the corridors of power with the other minor parties whilst "the Nasty Party" and the Neo-Labour party are on the inside laughing at their stupidity.

Recent events like the Neoliberal Economic Crash and the Expenses scandal handed Britain the greatest opportunity ever to reform her anachronistic political system, to stamp out corruption and undemocratic practices and take the levers of power back from the bunch of crazy "greed-is-good" morons that have been running the show for 30 years, however the ball fell to the Lib-Dems and instead of running with it they meekly handed it over to the Tories to bury in a million tons of concrete.

Not only have the Liberal Democrats ruined any real chance of progressive political reform for the foreseeable future, they have created the impression (through inductive logic) that any minor party campaigning on a platform of political reform in the future will probably just be clueless and immoral liars like the Lib-Dems, searching for the breadcrumbs of power.

If this had been a deliberate plan to completely destroy the Liberal Democrat party from the inside, further entrench militant neoliberalism as orthodox political dogma in the UK and kick the prospect of progressive political reform at least 50 years in the future, Clegg and the Lib-Dem leadership couldn't have executed it better.

See Also





Wednesday, 14 September 2011

My view on SlutWalk



The SlutWalk movement began in Canada in 2011 and has rapidly spread across the world, I think it is brilliant. Co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis started the campaign after Constable Michael Sanguinetti told students at a crime prevention seminar that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized".

The idea that women that dress in a particular way are "asking to be raped" is as old as the hills and it is disgusting, not only because it seeks to shift blame from the perpetrator to the victims of sexual assault but also because it relies on the attitude that all men are "potential rapists" who will attack if the victim acts or dresses provocatively enough.

Fighting back against the entrenched caveman mentality that allowed a Canadian high court judge to let a convicted rapist go free with the justification that he was just a "clumsy Don Juan" who had succumbed to "inviting circumstances" is a good thing but it is not the main reason I like the SlutWalk movement.

The main reason is that it SlutWalking is a bold assertion by ordinary women that female sexuality actually belongs to women. Men and the male dominated media have been allowed to control and commodify female sexuality for their own purposes, from male advertising executives who appeal to male audiences by draping images of scantily clad females all over the product they are endorsing, to the male dominated pornography industry and it's predominantly male audience.

The SlutWalk movement is an attempt to reclaim female sexuality through the appropriation of the word "slut", to mean "sexually empowered female" in the same way as the once derogatory word "queer" has been appropriated by the gay community to mean "homosexual and proud of it".

As a Quaker and an egalitarian, I'm a default feminist because I believe in equality of opportunity for everyone. I sometimes hesitate to use the word feminist to describe myself because I feel it has been misappropriated and tainted by a vocal minority of man-hating, female supremacists. It is almost impossible to hold a public discourse on gender politics without one or many of these sad "victim complex" sufferers monopolising the conversation with their shouty "all men are evil", "blame the patriarchy" rhetoric and completely undermining the causes of legitimate feminism.

For the purposes of clarity I'm going to refer to these shouty man-haters as "feminazis" and people who believe in gender equality as "feminists". However SlutWalk doesn't really fall into either category, SlutWalkers are not protesting because they hate men, neither are they protesting for full female equality, they are protesting on the specific subject of female sexual liberation, the right to look beautiful, sexy or even completely slutty without the implication that they are "asking to be raped".

SlutWalk has been heavily criticised by a number of "traditional feminists" but they should be seriously concerned that the baritone in their chorus of criticism is Rod Liddle (a man who described his ex-wife and the mother of two of his kids as a "total slut and slattern" and made vulgar Auschwitz jokes on the Millwall FC website) who compared women dressing provocatively to leaving a window open and your valuables on display when you pop out to buy a packet of cigarettes. The idea that being brutaly violated is in any way comparable to having your laptop nicked if you were silly enough to leave it on display is disproportionate at best and misogynistic at worst. Feminists should really think hard about whether they want to join in with people like Liddle and a host of rabid misogynists (see the comments beneath the Youtube vid at the top of the page) in putting the boot into a female empowerment movement.

For all of their gender politics terminology and lofty anti-patriarchy sentiments, I find it hard to see beyond my impression that these "academic feminists" are opposed to SlutWalk simply because they see it as direct competition. They don't want ordinary women to express views on rape and female sexuality in their own terms because it threatens the authority of feminist academia.

I think that this threat to academic feminism is a great thing. For far too long feminism has been the preserve of bookish academics and self-interested careerist businesswomen hoping to break into male dominated company boardrooms or political parties. So many high profile feminists are so badly out of touch with real women's issues that their pontifications on the subject belittle the whole concept of feminism. A classic example of out-of-touch feminism is former leader of the UK Labour party Harriet Harman, who was utterly preoccupied with things that wouldn't make a jot of difference to the vast majority of ordinary women, stuff like complaining about the glass-ceiling for high flying businesswomen and re-balancing the number of female MPs in Parliament using undemocratic measures like all-female shortlists. The vast majority of actually oppressed women wouldn't give a damn about whether a complete stranger was overlooked for a place on the board of directors at Acme Inc or worry over the percentage of highly paid politicians that have a penis, but like the rest of the Neo-Labour party, Harman was so surrounded with privilege that she began to believe that feminism would be best imposed from the top echelons of society downwards.

Feminists that actually care about the really important issues that effect millions of women around the world should be much more concerned with opposing religious organisations that attempt to restrict access to contraception or engage in child genital mutilation, demanding equal pay for equal work, helping to protect women from domestic violence and fighting to eradicate cavemen mentalities about what women should be allowed to do or wear.

One of the recurring criticisms of SlutWalk from traditional "academic feminists" and high profile politicians is that "slut" is such a pejorative term it should never be used by anyone. They claim that by using the word "slut", SlutWalk contributes to the "pornification" of everything, "puts pressure pressure on young girls to look like Barbie dolls" and according to the dreadful Tory MP Louise Mensch "lionises promiscuity".

I'd argue that SlutWalk does not do any of these things. SlutWalk is an attempt to take back ownership of female sexuality from the pornographers of the world. It doesn't pressurise anyone to dress sexy, it simply defends their right to dress as they like. If that means little girls can dress in the way that they enjoy without criticism, that's fine, and if feminists really care about little girls dressing like Barbies, perhaps Mattel Inc (the producers of Barbie) would be a more appropriate target for their criticism than a parallel feminist movement.

As for Mensch's "lionising promiscuity" complaint, this says a hell of a lot more about her inability to grasp the basics of the subject than it does about the number of sexual partners the average SlutWalker would deem appropriate. Even if the SlutWalk movement was about fighting for a woman's right to have as many sexual partners as she liked, Mensch would still be wrong, it would be better for everyone if puritanical Victorian moralists like Mensch who deem the private sexual preferences of others to be "harmful" would just keep their outdated opinions to themselves.

I think that feminists that are considering public criticism of SlutWalk should carefully consider what it is that SlutWalkers are actually protesting about. To me it is the concept of "rapeability", the idea that a woman should consider how "rapeable" she looks before she goes out of the house. Surely any objection to the use of the word "slut" or concerns that the SlutWalker hasn't properly understood "feminism" should be secondary to the protest against the normalisation of the concept of "rapeability", based on the scaremongering, absolute worst case scenario assumption that all men are potential rapists.

It is easy to see how the primitive "women are asking for it" mentality is harmful to women, but it is also harmful to men. It assumes that we are all rapists at heart, and that sexual assault is something that can be mitigated by "provocation". The majority of men are quite capable of restraining their sexual desires and behaving in an appropriate manner most of the time. It doesn't matter how scantly clad a woman is, or how beautiful he finds her body, the normal bloke doesn't consider rape as a viable option. Tarring all men with the crimes of a tiny minority of rapists is as wrong as binning the whole concept of feminism because of the witless shouting of a few man-hating "feminazis".

Many societies accept this bogus "men can't control themselves and are therefore potential rapists" reasoning as a truism about human nature. Some Islamic cultures end up forcing women to dress in oppressive clothing like the Burqa in case their hair, their lips, the curve of their shoulder or the shape of their legs "force" men that are not their husbands to sexually assault them. I'm much happier living in a free and liberal society where women can expose their breasts on the beach without fear that they are going to be gang raped by a hoard of sexual predators or lynched by a bunch of religious puritans. The advantages of topless sunbathing are numerous, women don't end up with silly strap lines on their skin, men on the beach learn to control their basic sexual urges and everyone gets to enjoy the beauty of the female body in a non-sexualised, non-pornographic environment.

Not only has the assumption that all men are "potential rapists" been the foundation of oppressive cultural practices it is also one of the principle weapons in the "feminazi" armoury. Just as the misogynist uses the word "slut" as a pejorative term to imply that the woman is asking to be raped, the misandrist uses the word "creep" to imply that the man is a potential rapist.

It is interesting to compare the fact that extremists at either end of the women's rights spectrum rely on this "potential rapist" fallacy to support their warped ideologies, with the fact that misogynistic male journalists and academic feminists have queued up alongside one another to give the SlutWalk movement a public kicking.


See Also





Monday, 12 September 2011

Neo-Labour legacies


Occasional cartoon series
(Hit F11 to view in full screen)

 
Neo-Labour legacies           (11 Sept 2011)

Inspired by an accusation that I am a "partisan Labour supporter" on an internet forum. 

More reasons not to vote Labour and an article about  Gordon Brown's economic alchemy schemes.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Gideon's Folly



Occasional cartoon series
(Hit F11 to view in full screen)


Gideon's Folly           (10 Sept 2011)

Inspired by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne 
describing his ideologically driven and irrational 
"Deficit Reduction Plan" as "a rock of stability upon which out economy is built". 

More about George Osborne's "rock of stability metaphor"




 If you enjoyed this cartoon, maybe you could buy me a beer? £1 would get me a can of cheap lager whilst £3 would get me a lovely pint of real ale.

George Osborne's "rock of stability"


On 9 September 2011 George Osborne, the man in charge of the UK economy, made a speech at Chatham House in London alongside the newly appointed IMF boss Christine Lagarde in which he made some astonishingly facile statements about the UK economy. The most notable of which was his absurd description of his ideologically driven "austerity agenda" as the foundation of Britain's economic stability. Here it is in his own words:
"We will stick to the deficit reduction plan we have set out. It is the rock of stability on which our economy is built."
It saddens me that anybody could consider using such a glib and inane metaphor in a serious discussion about economics (we must assume he wasn't joking) but that such a misguided economic sentiment could be uttered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is quite astonishing, although perhaps explained by the fact that he is not an economist, his degree is in History!

I don't have a degree in Economics either but I've worked out for myself that the foundation of economic stability is something a little more fundamental to the system than some ideologically driven government "austerity" scheme.

If he'd read it out this absurd conflation of a fluid political process and an economic foundation, nonchalantly or absent mindedly whilst delivering a long and poorly written speech that he'd only had time to skim read before delivering, we could perhaps forgive him. However this crass and senseless metaphor is actually one of Osborne's carefully selected and oft repeated economic soundbytes, part of the simplistic economic narrative he uses to explain the economy to us "thickwits" in the general population. It seems as if the Tories believe that their economic rhetoric doesn't even have to make any kind of sense, even at the most basic level, it just needs to contain the right balance of reassuring words and economic jargon in order to placate the masses.

How on earth could the Tories have considered using such an incoherent metaphor which relies on the fundamental confusion of processes and a foundations to "explain" their harebrained economic methodology? It's just idiotic.

As a former construction worker I tend to think of processes (like economic policies) as things that take place within structures, which in turn are built upon foundations, not as the foundations themselves. Foundations would tend to be fundamental things without which the rest of the edifice could not even exist. So if we are going to use simplistic metaphors to explain complex economic ideas perhaps we could say that productivity is the foundation of the economy, trade is the structure, and the economic establishment  are the construction workers. This leaves short term ideologically driven government fiscal policies like "Osborne's Austerity" as the builders' tools. In fact it would be fair to say that "Osbourne's deficit reduction plan is a sledgehammer" is a much better metaphor than the fantasy that his ideologically driven plan is some kind of bedrock of economic stability.

I've chosen to use productivity as the foundation of my economic metaphor because without economic production there would be nothing to trade. Human society would soon degenerate back towards the kind of seasonal hunter-gatherer society it originated from if nobody produced any goods or services.

To make a crude distinction, there are two kinds of productivity; private productivity and state productivity. The problem with Mr Osborne's simplistic worldview is that he believes the militant neoliberal economic dogma that state productivity is basically "waste" until it is commodified via privatisation. The Deficit Reduction Plan he describes as a "rock of stability" is actually a mechanism for selling off or simply shutting down state productivity, a sledgehammer that he is using to smash lumps off the economic foundation of productivity, undermining the wider UK economy.

Some people have such a simplistic anti-public sector mentality that they don't even seem to understand that the state services that are under attack are intricately linked with private sector productivity. Without a fit and healthy workforce productivity falls, without adequate policing, crime and soaring insurance costs undermine productivity and without hefty investment in scientific research and higher education, the high-tech industries of the future will look elsewhere to set up production.

Osborne's "slash and burn" austerity policy is riddled with false economies and is reliant on the Great Neoliberal Lie (that immediate deficit reduction is the first and overriding economic priority). It is absolutely no surprise at all that Osborne's economic policies won praise from Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF.

Many commentators have picked up on lagarde's comments about the need for ministers to retain "flexibility" and used them to claim that she was somehow contradicting Osborne's monetary policies, however as a Chicago school trained economist and the leader of the most powerful neoliberal organisation in the world, it seems much more likely that she is asking Osborne to consider another round of massive financial sector bailouts and more conjouring cash out of thin air through quantitative easing, than asking him to keep an open mind about a return to a stable Keynesian style mixed economy.

Returning to Osborne's idea that his "cuts agenda" is some kind of defence against the collapse of the UK economy, perhaps we should consider that this statement came about because Osborne and the Tories know something that they are refusing to share with us "dimwits" in the general public. Perhaps this "missing information" is that the bankers that provide more than 50% of Tory party political donations have made it absolutely clear to George that they intend to have their overleveraged banks recapitalised by the state, and that ordinary working taxpayers are the ones that are going to have to pay for it, through wage freezes, slashed services and economic deflation.

It seems obvious that Osborne has been warned by the financial sector that they will inflict severe economic sanctions (downgraded credit ratings, refusal to lend to British businesses, vulture capitalism) on the UK government if they let up on the policy of bleeding the real economy dry in order to recapitalise their financial institutions. The fact that most of these "austerity" policies fit snugly with George Osborne's personal faith in militant neoliberal dogma means that there is effectively no chance that these policies will be halted, no matter the scale of the damage they inflict on the UK economy.

Dreadful economic growth, borrowing and unemployment figures for 2011 show that the UK economy is slipping back into recession, which would create a shrinking tax take and immediately eliminate many of Osborne's "austerity savings" through reduced government income. None of this matters though, if Osborne continues refusing to even admit that there is an alternative to militant neoliberal economic vandalism.

It is quite clear that there are alternative methods for reducing government borrowing; we only have to look back a few decades to what preceded neoliberalism. The post war consensus mixed economy created 28 consecutive years of budget surpluses (1948-1975), reduced the national debt from 247% of GDP down to just 43% and improved standards of living across the nation. In the subsequent 31 years of unbroken neoliberal economic policy, governments returned budget deficits in 17 of them and the wealth gap has increased faster than ever before. Since the Neoliberal Economic Crisis really kicked in, government debt (including bailouts) has risen from 36% of GDP (2007) to 150% of GDP (2011).

Another more recent example of a nation state breaking with IMF approved neoliberal heterodoxy in order to power their way out of recession can be seen in Argentina. As the neoliberal economic crisis in Argentina preceded the wider Global Neoliberal Economic Crisis, a comprehensive understanding of Argentine Recovery Economics should be a staple for any government intent on using whatever means possible to drag their nation out of recesion.

With "Osborne's austerity recession" on the doorstep and a new round of economically destructive Quantitative Easing looming, these frighteningly poor government debt figures only look set to worsen, yet virtually nobody in mainsteam politics or economics is prepared to admit that militant neoliberal dogma has been shown up as little more than dysfunctional and amoral economic alchemy, least of all our Chancellor Geogre Osborne.


 If you enjoyed reading this post, maybe you could buy me a beer? £1 would get me a can of cheap lager whilst £3 would get me a lovely pint of real ale.