trust – tolerance – self-sufficiency
Our lives are precious just because we are alive; and while we live, our worth does not increase with our wealth - Canon Lucy Winkett
The function of economic forecasting is to make astology look respectable – J K Galbraith
Comprising the complex interactions of some thirty million working individuals, not to mention effects from overseas and random environmental events, the economy is not something that can be controlled or predicted. (Rooted in human consciousness it is even beyond the reaches of chaos theory). Real economists, as opposed to political ones, understand this and, when discussing the effects of a particular change, use the phrase ‘ceteris paribus’ - ‘other things being equal’. In practice, of course, other things are never equal. The Government cannot, nor should it try, to ‘manage’ the economy. It should establish conditions so that individuals and businesses have the flexibility to respond to changing events. That said, certain items are of paramount importance.
- Inflation : This must be kept as low as possible. Those who remember the 1960s and 70s when it soared up to 27% do not need to be told why. Those who never knew those times need to learn about them and the appalling damage that the meddling of incompetent politicians can do.
- ‘Growth’ is currently measured by simple brute trading figures, including, horribly, weapons sales, and these rely fundamentally on the ever-accelerating consumption of resources and production of pollution. It says nothing about the things that matter – happiness, health or any form of social well-being. Patently it cannot carry on indefinitely, and the idea that it can (or should) is quite irrational and its pursuit, insanely irresponsible. An entirely new system is needed to provide a more realistic and less harmful measure of social improvement.
- Taxation : This should be kept as low and, crucially, as simple as possible so that taxpayers can see clearly and exactly how much they are paying to Government out of every pound they earn, and also to make avoidance more difficult. As many taxes as possible should be scrapped and State income obtained from simplified income/corporation taxes and VAT. It must be structured to encourage inventiveness and low consumption in matters relating to climate change and to encourage part-time work.
- National income and expenditure : In so far as is possible, Micawber principles should apply – income should exceed expenditure. Slick and confusing (or as they are known, ‘exciting and innovative’) accountancy tricks can only be played for so long. If expenditure regularly exceeds income then sooner or later reality will take its toll. Simple income/expenditure accounts for the nation should be published so that taxpayers can see clearly and exactly on what their money is being spent.
- Personal Savings : these should be actively encouraged.
- Manufacturing and agriculture: As a nation we have always produced consummate craftsmen, technicians, engineers and scientists. The ability to make and grow most of the things we need is essential to protect us from the worst fluctuations in the world economy, the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation, and for basic defence. Small manufacturing businesses should be actively encouraged along with radically improved vocational education for craftsmen. We have to be strong enough and flexible enough to respond to all forms of change.
- The idea that everyone must work thirty-odd hours a week and must retire somewhere in their sixties needs to be radically re-examined to provide opportunities for individuals to choose lifestyles not involving a traditional five day week or to ‘taper off’ their working careers both to earn something to supplement their pensions and to bring their considerable experience to helping younger employees.
The following is neither pedantic nor trivial, though some, for their own devious reasons, would try to dismiss it as such. It is typical of the subtle and wilful way that politicians misuse words in order to deceive.
Do you know how much a million is? Many do not. It is a thousand thousands, 1,000,000 or 106. To give an idea of what this means, if you won it on the Lottery and left it in the bank without earning interest, you would be able to draw £25,000 a year (untaxable) for 40 years. It is a great deal of money.
Even more people do not know what a billion is. It is actually a million million but it is used deliberately incorrectly by politicians to mean a thousand million (the correct word for which is a milliard). Why? Because ‘a billion’ sounds like something slightly bigger than ‘a million’ and thus nothing to fuss about. ‘A thousand million’ by contrast, sounds like what it is – an enormous number. It is over £30 from every single taxpayer.
HELP AND INFORMATION WANTED
- Details of the amounts taken from every £1 of gross salary by the State in the last few years – local and national, direct and indirect, PAYE, National Insurance, estate duty, stamp duty, vat, corporation tax, petrol tax, local government rates, TV licence etc, road and bridge tolls etc.
- Based on the income above, ideas for a radically simpler taxation system.
- Simplified explanation of PFIs and a list of what was sold to whom for how much, who owns what now, how much money has been made by private businesses and how indebted the taxpayers will be, and for how long.
- Simple Income/Expenditure account for the nation, for say 2011 and 2012, including all those items conveniently left ‘off-balance sheet’ i.e. a clear statement of where all of our taxes have gone.