Friday, 22 July 2016

Theresa May's "living within our means" economic platitude



In claiming that austerity means "living within our means" Theresa May has made it absolutely clear that she's intent on promoting the exact same simplistic, reality-denying, economically illiterate drivel as David Cameron did before her.


The Tories know that the vast majority of the 93% of people who attend state schools end up receiving absolutely no training in the economic basics, so they know that we're susceptible to accepting misleading economic platitudes like "there's no money left", "Labour bankrupted Britain" or "living within our means".

When they say stuff like that, they either actually believe it, or much more likely, they know it's abject counter-factual rubbish that only the economically uneducated could fall for, but they claim to believe it anyway because they hold the electorate in such contempt that they think they can spew
 toxic economically illiterate drivel all over the place, and we'll all just lap it up like it's manna from heaven, then repeat it to our friends as if it's our own well-founded economic opinion.

Theresa May's performance at her first Prime Ministers' Questions made it absolutely clear that nothing has really changed. Theresa May has replaced David Cameron, but she's still relying on the exact same scriptwriters to feed her misleading economic platitudes, snidey put-downs and ways of avoiding answering direct questions.

Just days after writing the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history to the corporations that stand to make £billions from Trident renewal Theresa May had the absolute gall to try to claim that Tory austerity is about "living within our means".

Apparently we're so broke as a nation that since the Lib-Dems enabled them back into power in 2010 the Tories have laid off 36,000 police, 7,000 firemen, 30,000 military personnel, tens of thousands of NHS staff, and they've shut down hundreds of libraries, Sure Start centres, public toilets and dozens of firestations and NHS facilities like A&E and maternity wards. But despite apparently being so broke we can't afford to properly fund our military or public services, we can afford to squander hundreds of billions on renewing our stockpile of pointless doomsday machines!

It's spectacularly easy to contrast Theresa May's ridiculous "living within our means" platitude with her decision to write the biggest blank cheque in parliamentary history just days before, but it's also easy to demonstrate that if "living within our means" is the objective of Tory austerity, then it's abjectly failed.

If austerity is about "living within our means", then how is it possible to explain the facts that the national debt has risen by well over half a trillion pounds since George Osborne introduced his austerity agenda? How is it possible that George Osborne spectacularly failed to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015 as he promised? How is it possible that the Tories are now admitting that they have no hope of eliminating the budget deficit by 2020? How is it possible to explain how George Osborne created more new debt than every Labour government in history combined? How is it possible that household debt levels have soared back above pre-crisis levels?

If this last six years of massively increasing debt was a Tory effort to "live within our means" then I'd hate to see what a Tory spending spree might look like!

The reason austerity has failed so spectacularly in terms of "living within our means" is that "let's cut our way to growth" is an economically illiterate proposition. It doesn't take a great deal of brainpower to realise that the best way to reduce debt is through evidence based economic policy where more money is channelled into investments and services that produce more economic activity than they cost, while cuts are only considered to areas of government spending with poor returns on investment.

The failure of austerity isn't really a failure at all though, because the point of it was never really to reduce debt levels at all, it was always to use a
 load of debt fearmongering and misleading economic platitudes to justify a massive upwards redistribution of wealth.

If austerity is judged in terms of "living within our means", then surely even the most rabid Tory tribalist would have to admit that Osborne failing to eliminate the budget deficit in five years was bad enough, but causing a lost decade of investment and failing to eliminate the deficit by 2020 is going to be a spectacularly abject failure.

If austerity is judged in terms of creating a massive upwards transfer of wealth on the other hand, then it's undeniably been a roaring success, with the super-rich taking ever larger slices of the national pie while the young, the disabled, children and the working poor have had the burden of Tory austerity loaded onto their shoulders.

The sad thing is that there are still millions of economically uneducated people out there who buy into misleading Tory economic platitudes like "living within our means" and still, even after six gruelling years, fail to realise that austerity is a con, and the platitudes are just a smokescreen to distract the economically naive from the real agenda.


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