The Path Of Least Resistance
It’s seldom hard for governments to borrow money. Being such huge and (until recently) generally infallible institutions, lenders tend to pour money their way. After all, a company can go bust and an individual can meet with misfortune – but its really quite uncommon for the map of the world to change overnight. So if you’re in government and you want to borrow money, you can usually do so. At what rate you do so is less certain, but one way or another you can usually make it happen. Even Greece, the economic equivalent of a zombie if ever there was one, still manages to get its hands on cash one way or another.
So if you are a government of a relatively wealthy nation you know you can borrow money. You also know that nobody thanks you for cutting things, or reducing services or saying that from now on you’re going to do less. So you have two avenues that you can choose to take. On the one hand, you can borrow a load of money and spend it on all the things that everybody increasingly demands. The following year demand continues to rise and then you have the debt interest too, but that’s okay, there appears to be no “top end” beyond which investors will say “no more” so you just keep borrowing in a never-ending upward spiral. On the other hand, you could start cutting what you owe and trying to balance the books – at which point you will be called all manner of names and accused of all manner of sins. Pundits and experts will queue up to jump on the critical bandwagon. Everybody will say that spending must be cut – of course – but never to their area of interest or influence. Your popularity will drop like a stone and you’ll shed votes with increasing velocity.
It really isn’t hard to see why politicians are so often seduced towards the path of least resistance. Increase the debt, worry about it later. After all, you may not be in power by then and – in an astonishing display of rank hypocrisy – you’ll be able to blame those who inherit the consequences of what you did for everything. It’s too good to ignore, isn’t it? Spend a fortune creating false prosperity whose payment is deferred. Lose power, watch the damage unfold, and blame the hapless individuals who have inherited your incompetence. But it gets better, if you are really clever. You can actually create a spin that suggests it is the fixing of the problem that is causing the misery and make a case for going back to your big spending ways. And will some people be stupid enough to believe this fiction? You betcha.
The danger here is that the political pendulum never gives the fixers time to do the fixing, but rather empowers the economically-illiterate to keep renewing the same mistakes. This means that when a party comes into power with a mandate to solve the issues they have a very short space of time to make a difference. The national vehicle is charging towards the abyss and it is just not enough to simply begin applying the brakes. You have to get the vehicle into reverse if you’re going to do more than just slow the approaching disaster and you have to get it into reverse before the Other Guys get their hands back on the controls. It’s no easy task and it wont make you popular, but its been done before. It is not yet too late.Filed under Economics, General Rant, Recession | Comments (3)
I’ve had a few days off the blog while I get used to my new portfolio role at Cambs. County Council as cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing. Indeed, I was in Shire Hall almost every day this week for meetings and briefings and inductions and the like. But it’s coming together quite nicely. There is a lot going on and a very well-oiled and professional team at Shire Hall so I feel blessed to have solid foundations onto which to build. As I get to know my portfolio better I’ll be trying to steer policy in a sensible way and in cooperation and discussion with my council colleagues. It’s certainly an interesting new role which I am enjoying very much.
Meanwhile, back at home, my son got his first-choice school and business in all areas is ticking along quite nicely. In fact, things are running so smoothly that I’m worried this is the calm before the storm of some mayhem that is about to be unleashed. Or perhaps that’s a little too superstitious..
This week is no quieter than last week. Mayday Bank Holiday will see me at the Fenrats Mayday fundraiser supporting the folk of Tydd St. Giles and their neighbours across the border into Lincolnshire in their battle against the well-funded Big Wind in all its creeping corporatism. If you fancy a nice afternoon out, you should come along! It’ll be fun.
I’m in Shire Hall on Tuesday for meetings with officers and cabinet colleagues and on Friday for a Seminar and a PPP (group) meeting before Full Council the following week. It’s my first group meeting since I became a cabinet member so I’m quite excited about that. I’m away on business for two days on Wednesday and Thursday but will be rushing back on Thursday evening to join the Leverington Street Pride team in a village litter pick. Again, if you’d like some exercise and believe in a bit of Big Society neighbourliness then come and join us. We can always use more hands cleaning the village streets. We’re meeting outside the Sports & Social Club at 6PM on Thursday 10th May. All welcome!
Oh, and before I sign off – Well Done Boris! I’m rather proud of my birthplace for choosing the pragmatic, generous and eminently sensible mayor for a second term. Particularly when the alternative was a man like Ken Livingstone. There are a lot of things I’ll tolerate in the name of freedom and liberty – but antisemitism is not one of them. Even the whiff of it gets my hackles up.
Do have a great bank holiday weekend everyone. I hope the rain lets up long enough for a bit of Summer sun to come creeping through. Ah Summer, I remember thee well.Filed under Election, Fenrats, Leverington, Street Pride, Tydd St. Giles | Comment (1)