Saturday, 20 November 2010

Jeremiah and the Cuts...

One of the reasons we're likely to be giving Ireland a big bung in the near future is that our banks own about £100bn of that lovely Irish debt. And most of that lending was by those banks now under state control. It's just another example of how the smoke and mirrors of finance confuses us - which suits the bankers and their political clients (or vice versa - it's hard to see whether bankers or the public sector benefits most from this arrangement).

What worries me is that the approach we're taking - mostly pretending that by some mystic process we can go on affording to cough up a minimum of £70bn each year paying the interest on public debts while maintaining 5 million folk on welfare (and at the same time importing large numbers of cheaper, harder working people from elsewhere in the world to do the jobs that some of those 5 million could be doing).

My generation have, without doubt, been the greediest generation ever. Not just the bankers or other fat cats - all of us. We've gone on year after year voting ourselves ever more generous benefits, we've piled borrowed money into our pleasures not thinking of the consequences and we've created a world where every entitlement under the sun must come to us. And we vote accordingly to pile up those debts - to load a huge burden onto tomorrows taxpayer while making sure our position is protected.

And when some Jeremiah points out that we're headed for disaster they are rounded on. Condemned as uncaring, laughed at, dismissed. Yet those Jeremiahs are right. We cannot continue like this. We cannot continue pretending that all the arts funding, the subsidised higher education, the overmanned public sector and the extravagant welfare system is sustainable.

We may want all those things. We probably consider them good. But, at some point, we need to cut our cloth to fit the cash we've available. And that means getting rid of a lot we take for granted now.

...or maybe we'll go on taxing too much, borrowing too much and ignoring the facts. Until it really is too late. And then we'll be really sorry we didn't do it now.


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