Titanic Economic Failures Will Lead to Titanic Catastrophe

One of the most tragic aspects of the infamous Titanic disaster is that it was totally avoidable. It was ultimately due to arrogance, hubris and flawed decision-making. And it seems that history is repeating itself. This time, however, the consequences are likely to be far more catastrophic.

titanic1Last week, like the captain of the Titanic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer issued his “Autumn Statement”: a mini-budget outlining the UK government’s plans for administering the national finances. A semi-annual event, this is a legal requirement intended to improve government efficiency and make it more accountable for how it manages the economy. As with most things, however, frequency brings diminishing returns. All too often it can be a bit of a non-event. But not this year!

This most recent statement was considerably more significant than usual. For, while government refuses to admit an about-face, they effectively reversed fiscal policy of the past 8 years. The post financial crisis “austerity” programme, aimed at reducing expenditure and reducing or repaying borrowing, has been binned. Instead government is planning to borrow £122 billion, justified – at least in part – by Brexit. Yet, Brexit or not, such back-tracking now effectively invalidates all earlier efforts. It begs the question, “Why did government adopt that course to begin with?”

There is a natural limit to borrowing. The time comes when you have to repay loans. And repayment comes out of income, meaning there is less to spend on your day-to-day expenses. It happens in all walks of life and is never convenient or nice. Thinking people understood this and were prepared to go along with it, uncomfortable though it was.

Similarly, everyone knows that less money means you have fewer purchasing options and, consequently, fewer resources. For any government department, fewer resources inevitably means a declining standard of service. So you have to ask, “Have services declined to the extent that this change in policy is merited?” And, if the answer is yes, then, “Why did the government ever adopt such a policy in the first place?”

As any housewife will tell you, balancing income and expenditure is not easy. They will also tell you that trying to make up lost ground is extremely difficult, if not impossible. So is trying to maintain or restore fallen standards. You would therefore expect any government to avoid such a state of affairs. Thus, you have to question whether the results of the UK government’s action have not resulted in the worst of both worlds. This makes it a failure of Titanic proportions.    

Titanic sinkingWhat you have here is a classic example of the kind of situation Einstein was describing when he said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.” The fact is the system that got us into this mess in the first place has failed. And repairing a failed system is pointless: you have to change it or create a new one. Unfortunately there is no evidence of that happening. Instead we simply shift the deck chairs on the Titanic, resorting to old ideological frameworks that will see us bagatelle back and forth between fiscal and economic policies that continue to fail.  It is a disaster of epic proportions that will leave us all considerably worse off than we need to be.

Never before has there been such a pressing need for change. Now is the time to act. It is up to us.  

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I urge you, please, to get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped, and promote discussion and debate around the solutions it offers so that action is taken to address these problems, restore meaningful democracy and safeguard a better environment for future generations.  

Democracy’s Achilles’ Heel

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“Money is the root of all evil.” At least that’s the adage that we often fall for. But, the correct proverb is, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Not the same thing at all, and, when you think about it, much more sense. After all, money is just a medium of exchange. It has no power of its own and, of itself, is neither good nor evil. Remember, the Romans used salt as a form of currency (hence the expression of “being worth one’s salt”) and you could hardly claim that “Salt is the root of all evil!”

Yet, even the statement that “Love of money is the root of all evil” isn’t totally true either. Oh, it is undoubtedly evil, especially when you recognize that love in this context actually means excessive longing or lust. The lust for money undoubtedly has motivated, and continues to motivate, much that is evil in the world. But is it really the root of all evil?

You would have a strong case for arguing that lust for power is just as strong and has done more harm than lust for wealth. Who knows how many people have died as a result of megalomania. History is full of the deeds of tyrants and the dangers they have posed, and even today you only have to look at the devastation in Syria to see the damage that hanging on grimly to power can wreak.  But it isn’t always so blatant. Or the consequences so obvious.    

The absolutely awful 2016 US presidential election is a good example. Here you have two widely despised people whose determination to win the post of “leader of the most powerful nation on earth” seems to have no limits and, in both cases, appears to be the culmination of many years of abuse of principle and ethics. Paradoxically, their histories mean neither can be a true leader, if you believe a leader is someone who inspires trust; or even if you accept the Webster dictionary definition of the verb “lead” as, “to guide or direct in action, thought or opinion; to draw or direct by influence.”  

The great irony, however, is that whoever wins will discover that they haven’t secured power. All they will have achieved is status, with the illusion of power. This is because the vast sums of money raised to secure election makes them obligated to their donors, and, as a result, bound to carry out their wishes. Thus they can only be executors, with their actions shaped by their donors. Even if Donald Trump’s claim that he is paying for his own campaign is true, he will still find himself in that position, because, ultimately, power resides with the system and the people who control the system.  

The argument about the financing of elections is not new. It has become an increasing concern over the years for all those who value and champion democracy. But the problem runs deeper than that. It is no coincidence that more and more wealth is residing in fewer and fewer hands. The system is designed to facilitate that and ultimately these people hold the real power. And, as long as they control the system, they will be able to ensure that things do not change and, thus, entrench their power even more.

This seems to suggest that love of power and love of money are inextricably linked. Maybe or maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that economic wealth ultimately constitutes power, and democracy will always find itself susceptible to manipulation by the people who generate the wealth and control the monetary systems. This is natural, and perhaps even acceptable as long as those people’s actions promote the greater good. However, it remains democracy’s Achilles’ Heel and we have reached a stage where that assumption cannot be taken for granted. Our entire democratic system is in jeopardy. We need to wake up, recognize this and take steps to prevent the possibility of democracy’s total demise, before it is too late.   

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I urge you, please, to get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped, and promote discussion and debate around the solutions it offers so that action is taken to restore democracy and safeguard a better environment for future generations.