deficit spending

The time has come to talk of many things; of taxing and spending and an economic system that needs mending. 

Protest placard with a picture of the Earth in space and the slogan "One World"Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In the news, the Prime Minister tells millions of  WASPI women affected by the changes to the state pension age that he couldn’t promise to magic up the money for them despite having found lots in the magic money pot for Tory manifesto pledges; the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, whilst visiting a food bank, claims that the Tory government was not to blame for poverty in the UK and, shifting the blame onto local councils, forgets to mention that central government funding has been cut by nearly 50% since 2010/11.

After 9 years of austerity, the consequences couldn’t be starker for our public and local government services, however, it is UK citizens, families and their children who have borne the distressing costs of cuts to social security benefits, both on their health and financial well-being. It cannot be clearer that the steep cuts to tax credits, child and disability benefits, ESA and Incapacity benefit and housing along with the introduction of Universal Credit have been behind the increases in child malnutrition, food bank use, homelessness and suicide.

The IPPR this week published its report ‘Divided and Connected’ which reveals that the UK is more regionally divided than any comparable advanced economy.

In the same week, the Resolution Foundation published its report ‘The Shifting Shape of Social Security’ It notes in its analysis of the manifestos of the main parties that child poverty is set to continue rising under the Conservative Party’s social security plans, whilst Labour’s £9bn of extra spending would mean 550,000 fewer children in poverty, it would not reverse the effects of the £5bn benefits freeze and could still see more children living in poverty in 2023 than do today. It noted that major policy changes have reduced support for working-age households since 2010 resulting in overall spending in 2023-24 being around £34bn a year lower on current plans than if the 2010 benefit system had remained in place, and that the cuts in support had fallen almost entirely on low-to-middle income working age families. It also noted that the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto makes no changes to existing policy and as a result child poverty risks reaching a 60-year high of 34%.

Although the conservatives are promising more spending on health and education, it seems clear that they intend to carry along the same policy paths they have followed since they came to power in 2010 which have involved cuts to benefits, conditionality, sanctions and welfare to work. Clearly, they have no intention either of reversing the already implemented cuts or reforms which have done so much damage and left a trail of devastation in many people’s lives. Priti Patel’s remark about who is to blame for poverty is indicative of Tory neoliberal credentials of denying governmental responsibility and passing the buck along to others, whether local government who have been firefighting for lack of funds or indeed shifting the blame onto citizens themselves. Her position has not changed much since 2015 when she said, ‘There is no robust evidence that directly links sanctions and food bank use.”

In the light of the very real consequences on people’s lives of government spending decisions and policies, it is all the more depressing to read the two analyses of the party manifestos by the Resolution Foundation and the IFS which instead of looking at the real effects of government spending policies on the lives of real people, examine them in purely financial terms and arbitrary fiscal rules which as we may now be realising bear no relationship with how money really works.

Hunkered down in household budget explanations, the IFS, rather than considering the spending promises of all three parties from the perspective of potential outcomes for the economy and its citizens, examines them in relation to the prospect of raising taxes or borrowing and the likely impact on the deficit and national debt.  As usual, the question, if not asked directly, is how will the parties pay for their spending plans? When, instead, they should be acknowledging that the real question is how will a future government manage existing resources to meet government goals? This will be the real constraint that any future government will face, however progressive that government may be. The resource balancing act will be key to maintaining spending within the productive capacity of the nation to deliver public purpose.

The Resolution Foundation summed it up depressingly in its conclusion in saying that:

‘The priority that both main parties have placed on credible fiscal frameworks in this campaign is laudable. Such rules are hugely important for the government’s overall economic priorities. In setting out new fiscal rules, it is vital that they provide a clear framework for sustainable public finances, constraining the temptation for policy makers to promise unfunded giveaways.’

Such institutions unsurprisingly have focused on the notion that it is the role of government to balance its budget rather than serving citizens and improving their economic and social well-being. It is regrettable that a recent poll has suggested that many people doubt whether such spending plans are affordable and yet given the reality of the consequences of not spending adequately how could we possibly afford not to?

The nation is now paying the price for politicians pedalling the lie of the last forty years that money is scarce, that there is no such thing as public money and that good government is about fiscal discipline. Even if changing that notion in the public consciousness will take time, in the light of the urgency of the challenges to address climate change and social inequality we need an urgent step change in economic thought on a planetary scale since it is our survival on this planet which is at stake.

This is not, however, a time to make compromises with an economic system which has already done such huge damage. The seeds of an alternative model are already being hijacked by companies cynically promoting their green credentials with one aim in mind: to create more growth to keep the profits rolling. Reducing our plastic use and buying electric cars will scarcely make a dent in the scale of the changes we need to implement. We may have a broad vision, but that now needs to be developed into concrete realities. It may be still a work in progress, but it is a vital one we must not ignore.

This is a time to reimagine the world. A fairer and more sustainable approach to replace the one of endless growth which currently defines our capitalist economic system and puts profit before people and the planet.

Progressives on the left are beginning to initiate a much-needed conversation about what we need to do to reverse the decades of social injustice and challenge the idea that we can maintain the engine of growth on a finite planet.

However, and most regrettably, politicians on the left are still trying to have that conversation stuck in old economic paradigms of how money works. When they are asked how they will pay for these vital programmes the response is always one of tax and spend or borrowing to invest. Raising corporation tax, bringing back the magic money tree from the Cayman Islands, taxing the rich until the pips squeak or borrowing on the markets because interest rates are low. Instead of talking about taxing the wealthy to redistribute wealth by removing their colossal purchasing power and ability to influence politicians, they talk about funding our public services with the proceeds.

Again, on the left some politicians are suggesting that the government is akin to a business and that renationalising transport, our utilities, mail and the NHS will allow the government to plough back the profits back into public services. Yes, we need to end the rip-off of privatisation which has not benefited citizens and has allowed public money to flow into private pockets for profit motives, but let’s not buy into the idea that the government resembles a large corporation with a profit and loss sheet. It doesn’t.

The government is the currency issuer and neither needs to tax nor borrow in order to spend and nor does it need the profits of renationalised industries for us to have public services.  It just needs the political will to deliver them.

The role of government is to create the framework for markets to exist and dictate through legislation how they will function and in whose benefit. It taxes the populace, not to fund its spending but to manage its economic policies, from the redistribution of wealth to expressing public policy and is one of the key tools it can use to manage inflationary or deflationary pressures.

Government not only has the power of the public purse to improve the lives of its citizens it also has the power to legislate to drive its political agenda. All a question of choices which are not dependent on the state of the public accounts. Indeed, not only does it have the power to spend for the public purpose, it has the power to change the rules of the game. For example, it might regulate the financial sector to ensure that when people’s savings of whatever kind are put to work it is done to shift our negative and damaging behaviours towards creating a positive impact on society and our environment instead.

Outcomes are the measure of any government’s success. With the political will it could:

  • create the framework for good quality universal public services provide a social security system which is both not punitive in its functioning but also ensures a decent standard of living for those unable to work through disability, sickness or old age,
  • pay for a just Green transition,
  • offer a Job Guarantee as standard to create price stability and act as an automatic stabiliser for the economy to give people the dignity of proper, well-paid employment when needed.

All of these things are fundamental to the good functioning of society.

What are we so afraid of? A better future for our children? A more sustainable and fairer economy for all? Indeed, a planet for us to live and breathe on? What is not to like? So, when you hear interviewers berating left-wing politicians (who have not quite made the leap into monetary realities) about how they will pay for their progressive agenda ignore those questions and remember instead that a government’s economic record will be defined by how it serves the nation’s economy as a whole, improves the lives of its citizens and how it uses the resources it has at its disposal to achieve its agenda – not whether it balanced the budget.

 

For more in-depth information about how money really works, you can find all you need on our GIMMS website.

https://gimms.org.uk/

 

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The post The time has come to talk of many things; of taxing and spending and an economic system that needs mending.  appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

It’s not balanced budgets that will save us. It’s the power of the public purse and our human values.

Person at a demonstration holding a placard with slogan "What lessens one of us lessens all of us"Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Charles Dickens began his novel ‘Hard Times’ thus:

“NOW, what I want is, Facts. […]. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. [….] Stick to Facts, sir!”

Whilst one might dispute Dicken’s character Gradgrind with his miserable vision of human existence, facts can be very useful. They can trace the human misery caused by 9 years of austerity and the last forty years of a pernicious market-oriented ideology which has led to vast disparities in wealth distribution and caused huge damage to society by encouraging the pursuit of self-interest.  And yet it has to be said as the election campaign gears up, that in terms of monetary reality, of facts there seem to be very few to be had.

As political and economic commentators, not to mention politicians on all sides, emphasise daily their claims that the government finances are like a household budget, the public has largely remained stuck in the quagmire which is presented as monetary reality and distrustful of a political system which has failed them.

Looking at newspaper front pages this week you could be forgiven for thinking that we are headed for bankruptcy if Labour were to win the election or that their spending plans would cost UK households £43,000 each. A ‘reckless spendathon’ is in the offing according to a government spokesperson in a recent BBC television interview.

Aside from such narratives being a fallacy, they are designed to put the frighteners on people who are already suffering financial hardship caused by years of austerity and ideologically driven government policies. Those with a political agenda shore up those false beliefs that borrowing too much will lead to government insolvency. They cynically and callously terrify people that they will be asked to pay for those spending programmes when they will not. This is an establishment that is running scared that their reign of power is coming to an end. The means justify the ends!

It cannot be denied that if we are to escape the worst effects of a coming global downturn, an incoming government of whatever variety will need to implement adequate spending programmes and increasingly fiscal policy is becoming the ‘mot du jour’. However, the message is reinforced daily by all sides of the political spectrum that there are still financial limits to that spending.

Last week Ed Davey, deputy leader of the LibDems said of Labour and the Tories spending plans that they are ‘writing promises on cheques that will bounce’. The very same party that joined in with Tory austerity during the Coalition and voted for public spending cuts and welfare reforms.

In the same week, the Greens promised welcome public investment of £1trillion over 10 years to fight climate change, the money for which it said would come from ‘borrowing’ and ‘tax’ changes.

Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a ‘give with one hand take back with another’ message promised to increase borrowing to fund billions of pounds to pay for new infrastructure but then announced three new fiscal rules to ‘control borrowing, to control debt and to control debt interest’.

Stuck in household budget la-la land he said without a hint of jest:

‘like anyone who budgets whether it’s a household, or small business or large business, I know that we must keep track of what we are spending and what we bring in…. We can’t run an overdraft forever on day to day spending, so I can confirm that our first rule will be to have a balanced current budget. What we spend cannot exceed what we bring in.

Never mind that you can build as many hospitals as you like as part of an infrastructure spending programme but if you make up foolish rules about day to day spending those hospitals will remain empty of nurses and doctors and other health professionals to staff them.  And let’s not forget the bailing out of the banks or successive wars funded without a taxpayer in sight.

The same tired old tropes abound about taking advantage of ‘historically low borrowing rates’ and ‘living within our means’ remain the context for Conservative spending plans and figure in one way or another in the language narrative of other parties too.

In a similar vein this week, the shadow chancellor reinforced that same story when he tweeted:

‘The Tories can’t invest in the public services we need because unlike Labour they won’t raise taxes on the super-rich and take on the international tax dodgers’.

The implication being here that he will bring back the magic money tree from the Cayman Islands to pay for our public and social infrastructure.

Even the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that if they don’t tax the very rich, then Labour won’t be able to pay for public services.

As Professor Bill Mitchell commented in a blog in response:

‘The British government does not need to tax the rich to pay for first-class public services. It can do that at any time it can muster the real resources to accomplish that aspiration. It issues its own currency.

It might want to tax the rich because they have too much power but that is quite separate from justifying such an action because the government needs their ‘money’.

Although without doubt the proposals on the progressive left to tackle social inequality, rebuild public infrastructure and address climate change are laudable and indeed vital, it is to be regretted that the arguments for public spending programmes are being reduced to household budget frameworks of monetary affordability, where the money will come from and economic credibility. We have become fixated by the single idea that the country’s economic ‘health’ hangs on whether or not we run a deficit.

GIMMS will say it again. In reality, the only analysis that really counts when deciding which way to vote in any election is not a judgement based on a government’s financial record or whether it balanced the public accounts but what its economic record was.

We as citizens should be examining where the money was spent and who benefited. Did that spending ensure that its citizens were in secure employment and fairly paid, had decent housing and sufficient food in their bellies? Did it create a healthy and more equitable economy in which wealth was more fairly distributed? Did it ensure that the vital public and social infrastructure such as the NHS, social care, education and local government were adequately funded to serve the public purpose and not fill the coffers of private profit? Or was that public money sucked up by the private sector in a big free for all in which the state serves the interests of the corporations rather than the interests of its citizens?

And what about government policies on health, education, welfare spending and the environment? Did they create stable lives by improving the material, financial, physical and mental health of citizens? Did they ensure adequate investment to ensure that the nation can be as productive as possible through good education and training both for present and future generations? And finally, the environment – what actions did they take to address the climate crisis?

In other words, we should be examining what the real economic outcomes were.

After nine years of telling the public that there was no alternative to austerity and cuts to public spending because the coffers were bare, it’s amazing what the prospect of an election can do to turn the spending taps on. And yet the smoke and mirrors, lies and deception about how government spends just carries on relentlessly.

But now it’s all OK (for the moment) the Conservatives have found the magic money tree, cutting the deficit has apparently given them some savings and the fiscal ‘headroom’ to spend. For those that know, this narrative is a fairy tale of epic proportions. For those that don’t, it should be enough to arouse a cynical response by a public which has been at the sharp end of those tax and spend myths which have formed the basis for its policies.

Indeed, only this week the following headlines should serve as the wakeup call for the public about Conservative economic credibility.

‘UK suffers biggest fall in jobs in four years’

‘UK avoids recession but annual growth slowest in almost a decade.’

‘Wage growth slows’

We can blame it in part on the uncertainty caused by Brexit, but the reality is that behind the faceless employment figures published by the Office of National Statistics are the lives of real people who have been affected by the government’s policies and spending decisions over the last 9 years.

To put it in basic economic terms, when a government spends it creates income for the private sector which is then spent into the economy. When it imposes spending cuts it is removing money from people’s pockets leaving them with only three options: Use their savings if they have any, take out credit or go without.

All spending, whether from government or the private sector, equals income for someone. What happens when you take that away? That’s people who lost their jobs in the public sector as local government, the NHS and schools were forced to pare down their budgets as a consequence of public spending cuts. That’s people constrained by public sector pay caps and pay cuts. That’s people who ended up working two or three jobs on low pay to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. That’s people working in precarious employment in the zero-hours or gig economy with no guaranteed decent income or sick or holiday pay. That’s people affected by the reforms to welfare and the introduction of Universal Credit, from those who are unemployed left with insufficient financial resources to make ends meet and those in work but not earning enough to keep their heads above the water to those left struggling to cope because of chronic sickness or terminal illness.

In seeking the nirvana of balanced budgets by cutting spending the Conservative government has not created a healthy economy it has done the very opposite. The statistics are the proof.  Without adequate spending, the economy suffers, and people pay the price.

And yet as political parties present their spending plans and worry about how they will demonstrate their economic credibility the elephant in the room is crashing about trying to make itself noticed. On one note it is pathetic to see the Conservative party take issue with the opposition’s spending plans calling them reckless and unaffordable whilst promoting its own as being fiscally responsible. On another, in their rush to spend, neither party seems to have considered the real resource factor and how that will be managed.

The IFS for all its neoliberal sins ‘gets’ the elephant in the room and recognises that whoever wins on December 12th their spending plans will be dependent on whether they have the right resources at their disposal to deliver.

After 9 years of insufficient spending into the economy to prepare for the future, will there be sufficient people with the right skills to meet the government’s needs? Whether that’s engineers and construction workers to design and build the proposed infrastructure or homegrown nurses and doctors already trained up to service the planned spending on the NHS? Or in these days of climate crisis we might also be talking about the resources needed to deliver the Green New Deal and ensure a just transition not just for those in the rich west but those in the global south whose countries have already been plundered of raw materials and impoverished so that we can maintain our standard of living.

For progressive parties like Labour and the Green Party who wish to deliver a left-wing agenda what they have to do is decide their key priorities, consider the availability of resources and how they could be freed up to deliver a future government’s objectives efficiently and effectively. A case in point this week is Labour’s plan for free broadband which has much to recommend it in terms of bringing communities together in an inclusive and connected society. Journalists and others predictably have asked the question where will the money come from? They have missed the point entirely and should be asking instead how many workers would we need to deliver it?

Ultimately, all sovereign currency-issuing governments don’t need to match their plans to tax revenue or determine whether the markets can lend them the money. The role of government in this respect is not to balance the budget but to balance the economy.

The public needs to understand that it isn’t the government’s ability to tax the rich but its power to run a deficit which determines the health of an economy. As the sovereign currency issuer, the UK government has the power of the public purse to fund the public works necessary to tackle social and wealth inequalities, deal with the current global economic uncertainty, and fund the Green New Deal, should it choose to do so.

However, at home, our public and social infrastructure is in a shocking state of decay caused by 9 years of cuts to public spending and lack of planning. Reversing that decline is not something that just promising to spend can solve in the short term.  There are important issues to consider for the long term which may not fit the short-termism of the political five-year framework and many politicians who have become used to serving other interests.  That is the scale of the challenges we face.

When all is said and done even though the Labour party persists with the household budget myths John McDonnell has it right in terms of what is required not just to reverse the social injustices heaped upon global populations because of pernicious ‘free’ market ideology or the threat to the human species at our own hand. As he said not only must the scale of investment match the scale of the crises we face both in ecological and social terms, but also if we don’t make these investments our future generations will never forgive us.

Let’s leave the final words to Professor Bill Mitchell who wrote a while back:

“My ideological disposition tells me that the pursuit of human values is the only sustainable way of organising and running a world. The neoliberal era has severely undermined that pursuit.

That’s what we must change and urgently if we want half a chance to save ourselves and our children’s children from disaster.

 

Note: GIMMS has a very good resource section on our website which takes you through how money works. From FAQS to resources sheets and external websites, videos and academic papers for those who want to take it further. For an introduction to how money really works follow the link here.

 

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The austerity prescription was not an experiment; it did not fail for the rich. Time for a rethink. Time for an economic revolution.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 8:51am in

Poling station sign on a fencePhoto by Martin Bamford

“Ultimately austerity has failed because it is unsupported by sound logic or data. It is an economic ideology. It stems from the belief that small government and free markets are always better than state intervention. It is a socially constructed myth – a convenient belief among politicians taken advantage of by those who have a vested interest in shrinking the role of the state, in privatizing social welfare systems for personal gain. It does great harm – punishing the most vulnerable, rather than those who caused this recession.”

David Stuckler, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

 

So here we are. After literally years of national uncertainty over Brexit, parliamentary wrangling and growing public discontent, a general election has been announced just before Christmas. Whilst at this early stage it is unclear what the outcome might be (we have a road to run yet) who we vote for should be determined not by listening to the promises that will be made in political manifestos but by examining closely the economic record of the current government over the last 9 years.

Who has gained and lost out through government’s and taxation and spending policies? Who has suffered at the sharp end of austerity politics and why? Every day the consequences are ever more visible. On our streets, in our hospitals and GP surgeries, in our schools and local communities, amongst our family and friends. Hunger and the normalisation of food banks, growing homelessness, cuts to child and adult social services, the collapse of social care, lonely deaths of vulnerable people behind closed doors, longer waits to see a doctor or hospital referrals, the humiliation and financial distress caused by welfare reforms. This is what austerity has achieved. GIMMS has covered these things week in and week out for the past year in some form and again we make no apology for doing so again. What happens next will be in our hands as will the future of our children and future generations.

Austerity has been built on a lie, and in fact, has allowed the incumbent government to pursue the neoliberal ideology of decades with impunity. It has shamelessly promoted the cult of the individual over collective action, demonised those who don’t fit the mould of hard-working people, left them at the mercy of the unemployment queue or working in the low paid, insecure gig economy, burdened them with high levels of private debt, increased poverty and inequality not to mention sold off public assets and privatised vital public services.

We were endlessly told that the previous Labour government had spent all the money and bankruptcy beckoned. We were told there was no alternative to cutting public spending to get our finances back in order. We were told that our public services were inefficient and no longer affordable. And we believed it all. Not because we were stupid but because it seemed a logical premise that the government’s finances were like our own. We were bound by Dickens’ character in David Copperfield, Micawber, whose dictum was that happiness arose from not spending beyond one’s means. However, those misunderstandings are now starting to shift and although many politicians and orthodox economists are trying to ignore the elephant in the room, modern monetary realities are moving into the mainstream arena to be discussed, criticised and picked over. We should feel more confident at this positive step forward.

In the meantime, though, we still have a big job in front of us to inform and challenge the status quo and economic orthodoxy of the last 40 and more years.

While we prepare for the coming election (and Christmas) the effects of government austerity roll on, affecting people’s lives remorselessly.

Published in July and updated just a few weeks ago, the Insolvency Service reported that levels of personal insolvency were approaching the highest in a decade. In the three months up to September, they rose from 25,169 in the same period last year to 30,879. The data also showed a dramatic increase in company insolvencies which had increased for the third consecutive quarter. Duncan Swift, president of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 said ‘figures provide a worrying insight into the state of personal finances’ and are ‘further evidence that the economic and political turbulence of the last 12 months has taken its toll on businesses’. He also observed that ‘although real wages have hit a recent high, they are still lower than they were before the financial crisis. Unemployment may be low but it’s not necessarily secure for everyone’.

In a blog in 2017, Professor Bill Mitchell wrote:

‘One of the defining features of the neo-liberal era has been the build-up of private debt, particularly household debt. [……….]. Pursuing budget surpluses is necessarily equivalent to the pursuit of non-government sector deficits. They are the two sides of the same coin’.

In other words, when a government is in surplus i.e. it has taxed more than it has spent the non-government sector pays the price.

We should be wary however about blaming everything on Brexit, as many pundits do, and instead should be looking at other causes for the rise in private, household debt and growing financial instability.

Over the last nine years, the government has pursued an austerity policy of cuts to public spending on the false premise that it needed to cut its deficits and borrowing to get the public finances back into shape. It also provided a handy smokescreen for the Conservative government to reduce the level of state involvement in public service delivery by contracting out and privatising services, although it did not stop public money going into private profit.

Public services were cut, people lost their jobs and local government grants were slashed.  Poverty and inequality grew as employment became more precarious in a low wage economy along with the rise of zero and part-time hours, and the gig economy. The claim at the time was that if the public deficit was not reduced then the economy would suffer through a scarcity of money. The politicians advised by economic experts promised that lower deficits or fiscal surpluses would guarantee financial stability.

However, the reality was the reverse. Austerity policies, quite simply, removed money from the economy and reduced people’s spending power, leaving them with no other option but to increase their debt by taking out credit or spend their savings. As John Maynard Keynes so rightly noted ‘the boom, not the slump is the right time for austerity’.

When a government stops spending sufficiently to ensure full employment, someone else has to take up the slack i.e. the consumer has to spend instead to prop up the economy. However, unlike currency-issuing governments whose spending constraints are not financial, private households are limited in their capacity to spend by their income or their ability to borrow. Pursuing lower deficits or surpluses was, and still is perverse, not to mention damaging, given the economic context at the time. The nation is now paying a heavy price for austerity as the country faces the prospect of a future recession caused also by a global slowdown and the uncertainty of Brexit.

By way of example, we can show how the prevailing economic orthodoxy had serious consequences for the economy. In the early 2000s, Labour ran budget surpluses achieving the lowest deficits in UK history. Politicians of the time, in justification and using the classic household budget metaphor, said that there was nothing progressive about budget deficits and that every pound we spent on debt interest was one less we could spend on the NHS, on vital public services, on helping the poor and vulnerable. The UK was at the time on the crest of a wave of consumption built on household debt which subsequently and, as we know, ended in the Global Financial Crash caused by crooked financial institutions who’d got out of control, and governments who had not only encouraged a deregulated financial environment but also pushed debt into the private sector whilst claiming themselves to be financially prudent.  We don’t seem to have learned any valuable lessons from that experience.

In a co-authored paper with Luke Reedman, Professor Bill Mitchell wrote in 2002.

‘… a major shift in monetary and fiscal policy is required and must begin with an acceptance that public deficits are typically required to maintain stable growth rates in spending and sustainable levels of private sector debt. The government can clearly run surpluses for a time by exploiting the willingness of the private sector to increase its debt levels. But this strategy becomes highly deflationary once private agents seek to restore their balance sheets. The resulting output corrections force the public sector into deficit with accompanying private wealth losses and rising unemployment. In this context, the argument that budget surpluses are needed to ‘fire-proof’ the economy is nonsensical.’

To give these technical facts a human dimension we need to bring them down to real-life realities.

Aditya Chakrabortty commented in an article this week, that more than four million are children living in poverty in the UK and that the number of food banks has increased from 57 in 2010 to 428 last year, handing nearly 580,000 parcels to children. Such figures, in one of the richest societies in human history, should mortify us as a nation. Reviewing the recently published book ‘It’s a no money day’ Chakrabortty describes it as ‘a watershed moment when Britain’s food banks go from newspaper headlines to a subject that teachers cover in classrooms; the moment at which mass destitution is no longer a badge of political failure but is instead accepted as part of British life.’ The normalisation of food banks and the charitable collection of food in supermarkets should be THE moment when the alarm bells start to ring.

When the likes of Michael Gove sneer at people using food banks for not being able to ‘manage their finances,’ in so doing they not only perpetuate the lie that people are to blame for their own misfortune, but they also provoke hate and create societal division.  By propagating the lie of money scarcity and shifting of responsibility from government to individuals, politicians are failing in their duty as elected officials to serve citizens. The role of government needs to shift back from one which serves corporate interests to one which serves the public purpose.

We are a nation rich in real resources and have a currency-issuing government with the capacity to mobilise those resources for the public good. Nurturing our children should be always central to our nation’s investment, with their young minds nourished with hope and inspiration and not the needless misery of foodbanks and poverty. By extension, this applies to the population as a whole, many of whom have suffered needlessly from government austerity and ideologically driven policies.

Given the climate crisis and the challenges we face in righting the social injustices of the past few decades (caused by an ideology which has put the individual over the interests of the collective and profit over the health of the planet and its citizens increasing poverty and inequality and threatening the existence of our species), it is time to engage in a conversation about what we think should be our priorities in the future.  About what sort of country we want to be, what public and social infrastructure we need to create economic and social well-being and what sort of future we want for our children’s children. These are not left or right questions, they are, quite simply, questions about our human values.

In the words of the current Prime Minister, ‘Britain deserves better’. It certainly does. Better than the last 40 years of economic and ideological orthodoxy which successive neoliberal governments have pursued relentlessly. It’s time for a change.

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The post The austerity prescription was not an experiment; it did not fail for the rich. Time for a rethink. Time for an economic revolution. appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

The barbarians may be inside the gates, but we can still defeat them

Hand reaching towards the sunrise over a lakePhoto by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

The French have a saying “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” With the events of the last few days, one might consider that nothing had changed; the Tories are still in the driving seat albeit with a new leader. However, with the election of Boris Johnson to the post of Prime Minister, followed by an ignominious line up of hard right, heavily male, privately-educated Cabinet appointments one can say, at least for those of us with a progressive disposition, that the country has reached a moment of even more uncertainty and fear for the future.

In his first speech as PM, Johnson promised a ‘new golden age’. Given previous history and his leadership campaign, one must ask the question “a golden age for whom?” Johnson and his friends are dyed-in-the-wool, free market fundamentalists who favour a deregulatory free-for-all. They individually, or collectively, support capital punishment, fracking, GM crops, a watering down of employment rights and privatisation of key public services such as the NHS (although the latter, of course, is vociferously denied) and worse still are climate change deniers.

Unless they have had a collective Damascene moment, which seems highly unlikely, the golden age will be about continuing to serve their corporate masters and the further weakening of democracy, not the public purpose. With little mention of our failing public services, a fiscal stimulus maybe but in whose interests? Twenty thousand new policeman sounds good but with so many police stations closed, the time it takes to train police officers along with the need for training facilities and trainers to train them, this will be a dead duck in the water. Furthermore, Johnson has failed to address the consequences of the Conservatives’ austerity policies on society as a whole which, without doubt, has increased the pressures on law and order. It’s all nothing but rainbow coloured whitewash or is that hogwash?

In all this, one might think that the appointment of Jo Swinson to the leadership of the Liberal Democrats is a side story which is unconnected. And yet it is. Whilst most would jump immediately to the Brexit connection, given the stands of both parties on this issue, the reality is that it is that something far more insidious links them – economic ideology and austerity.

Some have, of course, claimed that austerity created the conditions for the Brexit vote, but the working-class discontent related to reduced standards of living and increased poverty and inequality predates 2010, going back over 30 years. It is as much linked to the ideological agendas pursued by successive governments since Thatcher as it is to the last 9 years of austerity.

This has been a bubbling cauldron of long-term dissatisfaction which has driven people to want change. Brexit has been the expression of that desire – a rejection of the economic orthodoxy which has deprived them of good, well paid jobs and security and a rejection of the political and economic structures which have brought it about and led dangerously to the rise of the extreme right and nationalism in the UK (as well as in the US and Europe).

It is regrettable, however, that in the political maelstrom which is dividing the country the subject of austerity and the reasons for people’s discontent have taken a back seat as Remainers and Brexiters fight it out in an increasingly vicious war of words which often fail to promote cogent reasons for either.

Boris Johnson and Jo Swinson have one thing in common – they voted for austerity. Their voting records and actions whilst in coalition government attest to that fact and we must not forget it. The Liberal Democrats enthusiastically supported the false belief engendered by George Osborne in the Treasury and David Cameron that the financial crisis had been caused by too much government spending by Labour, rather than being one created by bankers and speculators. Public sector workers as a consequence bore the brunt of cuts to public spending.

The party gave the Conservatives every helping hand they could, including supporting the government’s Health and Social Care Act which was yet one more step in the creation of a two tier American style healthcare model, went back on their promise to oppose increasing student tuition fees and put disabled people in the firing line of austerity cuts as the campaigner Frances Ryan notes in her new book ‘Crippled’ mentioned in last week’s MMT Lens. And these are just a few examples of the way in which the Liberal Democrats shamefully enabled the Tory political agenda. The words ‘thirty pieces of silver’ come to mind.

When asked during her leadership campaign, Swinson said that she had no regrets about her party’s role in austerity, claiming that there had been no alternative in order to get the country back on its feet. Never mind the realities of an economy which has shrunk by £100bn since 2010 or the pain, suffering and financial hardship that has been caused by those in acting in Coalition on the false notion that the public finances had to be put back in order and that the cuts were necessary.

And yet puzzlingly, in a tweet in May, she praised Jacinda Ardern’s well-being ‘budget’ saying:

“Economic transformation is about putting people and planet at the heart of our economy. We should be building on our existing work on wellbeing & making it central here too.”

A change of heart? One must question that in a world where politics is less about serving the people and more about gaining the power to pursue one’s own interests and serving global corporations through revolving doors. It is instructive that she accepted cash from a fracking businessman after having campaigned to save the environment. Her campaign tagline ‘Build an economy that puts people and the planet first’ seems a little less shiny with that knowledge in mind. She also failed to support proposals in Westminster aimed at fighting climate change and voted in favour of cutting the subsidy for electricity generated via renewable or low carbon schemes.

It is as if Swinson cannot or chooses not to make the connection between government deficit spending and delivering public purpose by putting the planet and people at the centre of economic, environmental and social policy. As Frances Ryan notes “austerity has harmed millions of people in Britain and continues to wreck lives.” Not to mention the economy!

Not only did she show herself to be impervious to the suffering caused by her party’s support for Tory policies, she also demonstrated the usual political ignorance about how the government’s finances work.

As the economist, Ellis Winningham said in a recent podcast (here)

“The only fiscal rule that should exist is one that targets prosperity. What I mean by that is plain and simple. Deficits should be targeted at full employment and public purpose. The people’s well-being should be looked after 100% at all times.”

Swinson’s words and actions have been in complete denial of this rule.

In these uncertain times, serving public purpose has been replaced with serving self-interest and in doing so well-being has been replaced by suffering and hardship. There cannot be many whose lives have not been touched in some way whether personally or via friends or family by government- imposed austerity. The collapse in social care and mental health services are just two examples. The lie of “care in the community” from support for elderly sick people being discharged from hospital to those suffering from mental health difficulties is being exposed on a daily basis and it is shameful. All of us hope that the services will be there in case of need, but increasingly they are not.

The social and economic impact of cuts to spending, both at national and local level, are leaving the most vulnerable without the care they need and leaving already financially hard-pressed families to take up the strain of looking after their loved ones. Those working in social care, which is often provided by private, profit seeking companies, are equally stressed with increasing workloads and poor pay and many are choosing to quit their jobs. In turn, local government with cuts to its budgets struggle to meet the costs of privately provided care and those care companies are increasingly thinking about exiting the sector as the public funding stream dries up along with their profits.

In mental health both for adults and children, the situation is equally grim. Premature discharge, either from community care or hospital, often leaves the vulnerable and marginalised to cope without adequate support or even any support at all. Sick people seen as troublemakers or attention seekers are abandoned to their own devices if they ‘fail’ to comply, or those with complex issues are off-loaded into private profit-driven facilities miles away from family and friends. In many cases families are left to take the strain.

In a target driven world where figures and balance sheets are more important than people’s lives, all serve to hide the actual scale of the problems being faced by people behind closed doors or on the street as a result of political and economic ideology. The health of the public finances has been used cruelly to justify austerity.

As noted in last week’s MMT Lens, we still have politicians, journalists and institutions who are living in fantasy land about public debt and deficit and woe betide any government that spends beyond its financial means. Fiscal Credibility Rules rule!

One such article appeared this week in the Guardian written by the economics editor Phillip Inman entitled “Labour and Tories both plan to borrow and spend. Is that wise?” Inman compares the British to the Italians who are proposing a fiscal stimulus on borrowed money, where of course no comparison can be made since Italy is the user of the euro as a foreign currency and has to issue debt in that currency to fund its spending, unlike the UK which has to do neither in order to spend.

Inman then proceeds to claim that whoever is making spending promises or tax cuts, Conservatives or Labour, it will require a huge increase in government borrowing. He claims that higher borrowing will put the public finances at risk and that in the light of worsening public finances and the coming ‘economic chill’ it would be better to ‘hunker down’.

With the nation mired in excessive household debt and the consequences of 9 years of austerity which has decimated public and social infrastructure, surely Phillip Inman might by now have come to the conclusion that hunkering down has not revitalised the economy. Instead, it has demolished it and worse harmed the lives of those who have had to live through it; from those who have the misfortune to be involuntarily unemployed to those with disabilities, the chronically or terminally ill, those without a roof over their heads and parents who struggle to feed their children. (For an excellent critique of Philip Inman’s article follow the link here.)

The public doesn’t need to take a degree course in economics to grasp the simple realities of how a government spends, or that it neither needs to get tax or to borrow before it can do so. These are elemental ideas. What the public does need to know is that government has deliberately made political decisions to cut investment in public infrastructure and spending on the services on which we all depend as well as deny those in need adequate financial support to live without fear.

The public needs to ask serious questions about why there is no money for the public purpose but plenty for buying arms, pursuing wars and bailing out banks, not to mention the many billions which find their way into private profit for delivering public services like the NHS. These are surely the clues that the public has been hoodwinked by a lie about balanced budgets being more important than the state of the economy and people’s lives. The answer to the question ‘where will the money come from’ is simple. The government spends it into existence. No tax or borrowing required.

Just imagine the revolution there would be if the public knew the truth. Just imagine how that knowledge could make the difference between saving or destroying the planet and creating a healthier, more well-balanced world for its citizens, where resources are more equally shared and political and economic solutions to poverty and inequality can be sought.

Modern Monetary Theory is but a description of how money works and of course, in itself, is not a magic bullet. There are no certainties. The rise of right-wing extremism in the US, the UK and Europe is worrying indeed, but that is no reason not to hope for something different. We have to start somewhere. Certainly, we can only work with what knowledge we have already, but that shouldn’t stop us using the full force of our human imaginations to create a better world for us all.

Note: If you want to learn more, GIMMS has a simple to read introduction to Modern Monetary Theory, along with plenty of other resources to inform and challenge the prevalent narratives of how money works. (link here)

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The post The barbarians may be inside the gates, but we can still defeat them appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Hands up anyone who wants to save the planet and live in a fairer, more equitable world!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/07/2019 - 9:02pm in

Silhouette of a woman with her fist raised at sunsetImage by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

While the Conservatives endlessly laud their economic achievements from the parallel universe they inhabit, their fantasies are countered by the growing evidence that all is not well. The stories of the rise in child poverty, homelessness, hunger and destitution are rarely out of the headlines these days and those affected by their policies struggle behind closed doors often alone or supporting families to keep their heads above the water.

 

Disability campaigner Frances Ryan’s recently published book ‘Crippled’ charts the tragic personal stories of those affected by reforms to social care and the benefits system; stories that are an indictment of the Tory austerity regime which has hit hardest those in most need, causing suffering and financial hardship. Politicians and the media have not only combined to make the case that the unemployed, sick and those with disabilities are a drain on the public purse, but they have also shamefully and cruelly demonised them; transforming compassion into hatred, encouraging verbal insult and violence.  The language of “scroungers” and “benefit cheats” versus “hardworking taxpayers”.

 

We live in the fifth largest economy in the world and we have a government that is in denial about the consequences of its austerity policies. When asked to comment and defend its policies it does so with words that contradict the stark realities of people’s lives; it has consistently ignored the views of those organisations, working locally and nationally, who witness at the sharp end the destructive effects of cuts to public spending on those they are trying to support. Philip Alston noted in May, when he published his final report on the State of Britain, that the government response was that it was a ‘completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty’ and had claimed instead that the UK ‘was among the happiest countries in the world’.  In response, Alston stated that the government was in denial about the extent of the poverty, inequality, unaffordable housing or hunger which had been caused by the decision to cut public spending on public services and social programmes along with the cuts to benefits paid to those in need.

 

He commented:

 

What is most puzzling to me is why the government is so defensive. Starting in 2010, it pursued a radical re-engineering of the welfare state, making poverty and its related outcomes foreseeable. If the government is being honest, it should “own” the consequences and say “yes, poverty is rising, inequality has increased, economic and social insecurity are rampant, and children are going hungry, but this is the price of trimming the budget and incentivising work.” Instead, it is denying the predictable effects of its own policies.”

 

Last week the charity Buttle UK published its report (you can read it here) following a survey of 1,200 support workers which brought home the scale of the tragedy being played out in homes across the country.  Amongst its findings were that:

  • 60% of support workers are often (i.e. more than once a week) seeing families who are unable to afford the basics (food, household items, fuel).
  • 50% of support workers are often seeing children fed breakfast and/or dinner at school because families cannot afford to feed them themselves.
  • 48% of support workers are seeing families unable to afford the costs of children’s clothes and shoes.
  • 53% are seeing families unable to afford food and childcare during the holidays.
  • Support workers report that 54% of families being supported are living in destitution, and nearly three quarters of these support workers (74%) have seen an increase in the number in the last year.
  • 49% of support workers see families who are working but are not earning enough to make ends meet more than once a week, and 21% of workers see this problem on a daily basis.
  • 18% of support workers have seen an increase in the number of families needing financial support when at least two people in the household are working, and 39% have seen an increase where one person in the family is working.

These statistics are a savage indictment of this government’s austerity policies. Something has gone very wrong when more than 4 million children are living below the breadline because their parents are unable to meet their material needs from their financial resources.

 

Figures also show that there are as many as 1.8m million children at risk of hunger in the UK and this is particularly in evidence during the summer holidays. In Wales, food banks reported a 14% increase in the number of parcels handed out last summer and they are expecting a further rise this year.  For many, food banks are the difference between being able to feed their children or going hungry. The Metro also reported last week that teachers in a school in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK, will be providing breakfasts to tackle holiday hunger in partnership with Magic Breakfast. This is not an isolated incidence; it is a scenario which is being repeated across the country. Parents are being reduced to relying on charitable donations in order to feed their children.

 

What we are witnessing today are the harmful consequences of cutting public spending and the public has swallowed the line that there is no alternative because the government had to repair the ‘public purse’.  Who wouldn’t when the public compares it to their own finances? A government in deficit by our own household budget definition of being ‘in the red’ is regrettable, but a government in surplus sounds very positive and to be commended. The irony is that the public, through the relentless repetition of a false narrative, has got the wrong end of the stick about how money works in the real world. These wrong-headed ideas have allowed governments to justify cuts to public spending with horrendous costs to human life, whether through involuntary unemployment, having the misfortune to fall sick or having to manage a disability not to mention the consequences for the public and social infrastructure which underpins a healthy society and economy.

 

As Bill Mitchell explains:

 

“One of the principles of modern monetary theory is that a particular value of a fiscal balance a deficit or a surplus is a meaningless thing without a context and it’s the context that is important, not the actual figure and so this idea that has emerged in the neoliberal era that the actual value of the fiscal balance is something that is all important and can be considered in isolation of the context is leading to poor economic decisions being made.

 

You can watch the video here

 

It is regrettable that even those institutions such as The Resolution Foundation, along with many journalists reporting on key issues of poverty and inequality, do so using a household budget framework which seems to suggest that the potential for manoeuvre is limited by the health of a government’s finances, rather than a government’s political choices. Yesterday’s public finance figures from the OBR focused, as might be expected, on borrowing, taxing and public debt. The Resolution Foundation’s own analysis of the OBR’s figures is yet another tale of household budget style income and spending, borrowing costs and debt. It added to that the claim that the UK policy makers ‘do not have quite the same room for manoeuvre as they did ahead of the Global Financial Crash’ because the debt to GDP ratio had jumped from 35% in 2007/8 to nearly 85% in 2017/18 (never mind that post second world war it jumped to 248% and nobody blinked an eyelid and the government didn’t go bankrupt then, any more than it can today!) They are worrying about the wrong debt and should be concerned rather with the burden of private debt on the economy and people’s lives.

 

They also claimed that there are ‘few weapons left in the armoury, with interest rates at record lows and national debt up by 72% since 2018.’ Whilst it acknowledges that the scope for conventional monetary policy (interest rate management) to reduce the effects of a coming recession is limited, the elephant waiting patiently in the room, known as fiscal policy, is mentioned in passing but not directly and is still scarcely on the radar as an option.

 

It is a matter of regret that such journalists and Institutions, whilst reporting on the effects of cuts to public spending and its consequences, still talk about the size of the deficit and debt as if this were an appropriate measure of a government’s economic record. The real questions they should be asking are:

  • What is the context of the deficit or indeed any surplus?
  • Have government taxation and spending policies delivered a healthy economy and societal well-being or have they increased inequality and the gap in wealth distribution?

Instead of looking at the accounts as if they were by themselves a measure of economic health, they need to make the connections with the state of the nation’s well-being.

 

The narrative of tax and spend is also still firmly entrenched in the political and institutional description of how money works. Indeed, with Boris Johnson’s leadership contest proposal to cut taxes on the wealthiest, the discussion focuses on its potential effects on the government’s finances, reducing what it sees as tax income rather than the effects of reducing tax on the wealthy in terms of equity and wealth distribution. The reality is that if you give ordinary people a tax cut, they then spend it into the real economy.  Give it to the already wealthy or big corporations on the basis that wealth trickles down then you just reinforce wealth inequality.

 

The government’s announcement this week that the public sector is going to get an above inflation pay rise was countered by the news that the rise would, apparently and according to the BBC, come from existing budgets. The idea that the government must rob Peter’s department to pay Paul’s or that governments have budgetary constraints is yet another distortion of how governments spend. The pretence is that there is only so much money in the tax pot and therefore hard decisions will have to be made about how the money is redistributed, meaning in effect there will be winners and losers. It cannot be stressed too many times that the government is the currency issuer and has no income arrived at through taxation, nor does it need to borrow in order to spend. While such misrepresentations continue to be employed by politicians, the media and institutions we will deny ourselves the ability to deal with the pressing issues of our time.

 

With so many challenges ahead, from the climate and addressing poverty and inequality, it is vital that we work hard to bring about the necessary shake-up in thought aimed at shifting the current paradigm towards one that firstly recognises how money works in the real world and secondly what options this offers for government policies and delivering a progressive agenda.

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The post Hands up anyone who wants to save the planet and live in a fairer, more equitable world! appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Labour Should Not Fall For The Tory-Led ‘Costing’ Trick – Here’s Why

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 12:15am in

Ellis Winningham portraitAs the GIMMS team was busy preparing for its social event in Abergavenny this weekend we didn’t have time to write our usual MMT Lens. However, we are delighted to reprint a blog from the economist Ellis Winningham written in 2017 on the subject of costed budgets. Ellis explains why costing is nonsense and a fraud in a country like the UK’s which is monetarily sovereign.

Were Ellis an advisor to Jeremy Corbyn he would ask that he included this short passage in his speeches:

“Now then, the Tories wish for me to discuss costing. Fine. I will oblige them.
I should like for us all to ask what are the costs of seven long years of Tory-led austerity? What are the costs of long-term unemployment; of low-wage underemployment; of the rise in illness both mental and physical; of NHS privatisation efforts; of the number of deaths resulting from benefits sanctions; of the damage to our educational system; of the rise in crime rates and harm to our communities due to police reduction; of our crumbling infrastructure; of our nation’s real resources left deliberately idle?
If the Tories wish to discuss costing, then let us start there, shall we?”

Originally published here on June 1, 2017 .

 

This Tory-led ‘costing’ theme currently running rampant throughout the UK is pure political nonsense, the lot of it. Costing has absolutely nothing to do with anything when it comes to the UK.

The UK Government is monetarily sovereign. It has the exclusive, monopoly authority to issue British pounds. Pounds come from nowhere else. When the UK Government spends, it is literally spending pounds into existence to ‘pay for’ programmes. So, the question of ‘enough money’ is entirely irrelevant to the UK. When it comes to government spending, it is always a question of real resources: Enough workers, enough steel, enough food, enough hospitals, enough medicines, enough cars, enough of everything but ‘money’. Pounds are merely a voucher that the government manufactures to purchase goods and services created by the private sector.

Because the government taxes and declares a punishment for not paying the tax, people are then forced to obtain pounds. They do that by selling their goods and services to the UK Government and the government then manufactures pounds to pay for them. By being the sole, exclusive issuer of the Pound Sterling, the UK Government always ensures that it can purchase whatever it needs to function as government in perpetuity without fear of going ‘broke’. This is the entire point of the British pound – to provision the UK Government with goods and services.

Try to understand – a national government is set up with the intention of being durable, lasting into the ages. It has to be durable, otherwise the nation will no longer exist. Therefore, the responsibility falls upon the UK Government to find a way to obtain what it needs to survive throughout the ages. There are two ways the government can do this:

 

  1. It can simply walk into the private sector and take what it needs by force, or
  2. It can operate a monetary economy. It lays a tax payable in the government’s own currency (The Pound Sterling) and declares a harsh punishment for not doing so, which then causes the private sector to sell the government goods, services and labour in order to obtain the pounds necessary to pay the tax. Two things now happen:

 

  1. As long as the UK Government can enforce its tax collections, the private sector will demand pounds. Because the tax drives the demand for pounds, the UK Government can now purchase anything that it needs to function as government in perpetuity as long as it is for sale in Pounds Sterling.
  2. Since the private sector demands pounds to pay the tax and accepts the government’s pounds as payment for goods and services, wide-spread acceptance of British pounds is achieved and so the production of and the buying and selling of goods and services will take place in the private sector priced in Pounds Sterling.

 

In short, British pounds are manufactured by the UK Government when it spends to access the nation’s real resources, and then the pounds are used by individuals in the private sector to access those real resources for their own use. This is called a modern monetary economy and the UK Government alone commands both the pound and the economy. So, are there enough real resources for the UK Government to spend pounds into existence for the NHS, schools, benefits and other public purpose initiatives? The answer is yes. There always has been enough.

Since there are enough real resources, then should the government not spend enough pounds into existence, some of those resources will lay idle. Examples of idle resources are unemployment and vacant factories.

I wish to be very clear here: This ‘costing’ talk is utter nonsense, It is a sham; a fraud designed by the Tories to redirect discussion away from the need for a return to fully-funded public programmes such as the NHS, a return to full employment, and away from the damage done by seven years of Tory austerity.

Lastly, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 had absolutely nothing to do with Labour’s spending. It is clear that the GFC was a global phenomenon that began in the US. Blaming Labour’s spending for the Global Financial Crisis was an outright fraud perpetrated by the Tories – full stop. The resulting austerity was opportunity-driven, conducted by the Tories with malice aforethought in order to privatise everything imaginable for the benefit of their wealthy friends.

This ‘costing’ nonsense is yet another Tory fraud; one in which the Murdoch-driven media is willfully complicit mind you. The intent is to force Labour to play on the defensive and to keep the voter confused and in the dark concerning the real issues facing the British economy, so that the Conservatives can finish the job they were paid to do by their wealthy friends many years ago: The butchery of Britain.

So, were I an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, I would ask that he include this brief passage in his speeches:

“Now then, the Tories wish for me to discuss costing. Fine. I will oblige them.

I should like for us all to ask what are the costs of seven long years of Tory-led austerity? What are the costs of long-term unemployment; of low-wage underemployment; of the rise in illness both mental and physical; of NHS privatisation efforts; of the number of deaths resulting from benefits sanctions; of the damage to our educational system; of the rise in crime rates and harm to our communities due to police reduction; of our crumbling infrastructure; of our nation’s real resources left deliberately idle?

If the Tories wish to discuss costing, then let us start there, shall we?”

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The post Labour Should Not Fall For The Tory-Led ‘Costing’ Trick – Here’s Why appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.