Not So Radical Spending Cuts 65


The Comprehansive Spending Review announced today is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007.

I am going to write that again.

The Comprehansive Spending Review announced today is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007.

It is not radical. It is not nearly radical enough. The state sector is much.much too large in this country. We could have a much smaller public sector which at the same time was much more effective at wealth redistribution. 500,000 public sector job cuts hardly scratches the surface of needed reductions in our ludicrous bureaucracies. The Pivate Finance Initiative, Internal Market mechanisms, feee nd academy schools and their hordes of accountatns and administrators should all go and be replaced bysimple direct provision of necessary services. Local incometax should fun over half of public spending, decided upon and provided close to the point of delivery. Andthe UK should be broken up anyway.


65 thoughts on “Not So Radical Spending Cuts

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  • paul

    “The point of slashing public spending is not to make people unemployed.”

    That is the only point, if unemployment and impoverishment had the effects you imagine, South Africa would be the most successful economy of them all.

    Re the OP: “simple direct provision of necessary services.”

    is very hard to do as the services concerned and the issues that surround them are often very complex. Trying to impose inadequate and inappropriate private sector (which in a non manufacturing sector is always a bureaucracy) measurements and methods makes it complicated, which is even worse.

  • Strategist

    Craig, I have some sympathy in what you’re trying to say, but you’ve erred here – in three ways.

    Firstly, your central point that this is no bigger deal than rolling back the clock to 2006/07 – which, I note, is you (no doubt unconsciously) replaying a spin meme sown by the Tory Centre for Policy Studies – has been debunked by Richard Murphy at http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/10/15/the-cuts-are-real-but-there-is-a-real-alternative/

    Secondly, more importantly, the macroeconomics of it is mad. Moving half a million out of the public service into the private sector to achieve an economic rebalancing might conceivably be defensible when the private sector was feeling confident and actively hiring. But now it’s just going to achieve the chucking of one million onto the dole queue. Duncan’s Economic blog makes some interesting points: http://duncanseconomicblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/the-economics-of-the-csr-first-thoughts/

    “This CSR will decrease domestic demand in the economy, lowering consumption and in the long run investment. The picture in terms of external demand already looks dire. George Osborne is systematically knocking away the drivers of recovery. We are now firmly on the path of Ireland ?” lower demand, higher unemployment and lower tax revenue. The deficit will not be eliminated through measures which reduce national income.”

    Thirdly, and most importantly, you are chaining your ass to the bed of the sado-monetarist hypercapitalist superelite and their tragically unattractive gimp-like camp followers. And that is a place you really don’t want to be.

    The anonymous contributor at 8.34pm says “The point of slashing public spending is not to make people unemployed. The point is to make them more productively employed in the private sector.” Well that’s a pretty straightforward summary of the crowding out theory. But let’s see what actually happens in practice, in the actual case of UK, 2010.

    Muggings, burglaries up as a few of the destitute get desperate. A hell of a lot more horrible family misery hidden behind closed doors.

    For Osborne this is all about bringing a smile to the face of the dying Thatcher on her hospital bed, by relaunching her Friedmanite class war, and finishing the job of making sure there is no safe haven or respite from having to grovel at the feet of the masters for the privilege of being exploited & expendable in the workplace.

    Recant, Craig, it’s not too late!

  • glenn

    Prepare yourself for information on the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of Iraqis butchered by our military adventurism. The Afghanistan leak is set to be eclipsed by the Iraq leak of military intelligence, which might run to 1/2 million documents…

    Wikileaks update:

    Defence secretary Robert Gates said, in a letter to the head of the Senate armed service committee, that the original leak, the one going back to Afghanistan, had not revealed “any sensitive intelligence sources or methods”.

    All that talk about sensitive documents having compromised us was a lie.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    TRY MAKING DEEPER CUTS INTO MILITARY EXPENDITURE….DON’T FOLLOW SAUDI ARABIA…

    Saudi splurges on weapons … for what?

    “.Saudi splurges on weapons … for what?

    Saudi splurges on weapons … for what?

    By Teymoor Nabili in Middle East

    on September 14th, 2010.

    Photo by EPA

    Saudi Arabia is about to buy another $60bn worth of military hardware from the US, and even The Guardian is dutiful in parroting, without question, the accepted western narrative :

    The sale, under negotiation since 2007, is aimed mainly at bolstering Saudi defences against Iran, which the US suspects will achieve a nuclear weapons capability within the next few years. The transfer of advanced technology, mainly planes, is to provide Saudi Arabia with air superiority over Iran.

    Ignoring the fact that miltary aircraft (which form the bulk of the deal as we know it) are prettty much useless against a nuclear missile, especially one that does not exist, $60bn buys a mind boggling amount of firepower, so that must mean that Saudi Arabia’s military capacity right now is woefully insufficent compared to Iran’s, right?

    Er, no.

    Saudi military spending already dwarfs Iran’s by a factor of six. Indeed, by head of population, Saudi is the world’s biggest purchaser of military hardware.

    Global Firepower has a direct comparison of the two nations’ military strengths, and it turns out that Iran’s military is only superior in terms of manpower numbers.

    So if Iran’s intention is to send waves of soldiers marching across the desert, then maybe Saudi has something to fear.

    But when it comes to “air-based weapons”, Global Firepower puts the relative numbers (before this deal) at Saudi 453, Iran 84. (Bear in mind also that Iran’s aircraft are widely described as museum pieces by military analysts, because the sanctions mean that Iran has no access to spare parts or modern technology).

    So why does Saudi need 84 new F-15 fighter jets, 70 upgraded F-15s, 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 “Little Birds”, just to fight a land army?

    And when you consider the reality that Saudi has the full support of all the US military bases in the region, the suggestion that Riyadh has something to fear from Tehran is laughable.

    So if the numbers don’t add up, what about the politics? Well, the suggestion that Iran is keen to invade Saudi Arabia makes even less sense than the suggestion that Tehran intends to attack Israel, and the Arab world knows it.

    As King Abdullah of Jordan said recently, the Arab world is much more concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than any Iran issue.

    And, as a major survey of the Arab public opinion found recently, the Arab majority not only agrees with King Abdullah but is in fact very sympathetic of Iran’s right to nuclear technology, with a majority saying a nuclear-armed Iran may in fact be a good thing for the region.

    Amjad Atalla of New America Foundation has an excellent summary of this whole debate here.

    And the American Foreign Policy Project covers many of the myths and nuances of the military and security debates concerning Iran here.

    So, if the mainstream media have missed the point, then what is really going on?

    Well, with America suffering it’s worst recession in 60 years, the biggest arms contract ever signed would certainly be a welcome boost to earnings in the military industrial sector.

    And as I blogged a year ago, Saudi Arabia has always been keen to buy as much favour in Washington as it can, because it’s concerned that any hint of warming relations between DC and Tehran would almost by definition be a threat to Riyadh’s regional hegemony.

    Meanwhile, The Guardian highlights one other, richly ironic, aspect to this deal:

    While Israel sees Saudi Arabia as a useful buttress against Iran, there is a fear in Tel Aviv that a rogue Saudi pilot might opt for a suicide mission against Israel. The Israeli air force want to maintain an advantage.

    So Washington will probably be announcing another big arms sale soon, this time to Israel.”

  • anno

    ‘You are chaining your ass to the bed of the sado-monetarist hypercapitalist superelite and their tragically unattractive gimp-like camp followers. And that is a place you really don’t want to be.’

    Yes, the spending review improves prose!

    The beastly Tory also made provision for an increase in adult social care, in order to pick up and manage the millions of people who are actually at the edge, and who will have devastating break downs as a result of these vicious cuts.

    I suspect Craig was on a bit of a flier in the period of the last Tory government and did not experience the blistering acid of Tory threats against struggling families in the way most of us did.

    I was particularly sickened today by a sado-monetarist Muslim by the name of Javed stating that his family home had two bedrooms and five children. Yes, but the sacrifices you made in order to buy five other houses on illegal mortgages, are not the same as the sacrifices of the average unemployed British family.

    They submitted to the grovelling at the feet of the masters plan, and did what they were told, thinking that the welfare state would pick up the pieces if it all went pear-shwaped.

    Is it only me that understood that Mrs Thatcher’s swivel-eyed economic reliance on the banks was going to go so horribly wrong? We have to pay them lots in order for them to be honest – so we paid them lots and they stole all the money anyway.

    Is Craig advocating a return to good old Victorian pre-Socialist greed and the break-up of the United Kingdom? Nothing like putting in a good kick at the bollocks when a man is down. A refreshing, invigourating proposal to take away the pain of losing the family home.

  • anno

    Saudi Arabia has re-capitalised the money the Zionist bankers stole. The US can’t afford to pay them back, so they may as well have a whole lot of military hardware they don’t need, and whose control systems are managed by Zionist companies, enabling them to prevent them from being used.

  • Alfred

    Hey, Glenn,

    I’m not particularly ideological about anything. But having worked for three governents, held academic appointments at three universities and spent twenty-five years in the private sector, I have reached the conclusion that public institutions tend to be much less productive than private organizations operating in a competitive market place. I believe, therefore, that welfare can be increased by moving substantial resources from the public to the private sector. So, prompted by Craig’s Gladstonian zeal for economy in the public domain, I suggested that there would be advantage in something like a 50% cut in expenditure matched by tax cuts designed to generate a more than commensurate increase in private sector demand, the increase in demand serving to mop up current unemployment and underemployment.

    Now, I am not an economist, so I am quite likely talking through my hat — although if I were an economist I would quite likely be talking through my hat anyway. But it seems to me that the elimination of corporation tax (51.3 billion in 2007/2008) has to make Britain a more attractive place for investment and would also prompt the repatriation of tax-avoiding offshore business structures.

    Ending the national insurance contribtion, which is a heavy tax on jobs, has to stimulate employment, However, if the elimination of NI were unaccompanied by a cut in minimum wage, the change would increase take home pay. As unemployment is high, it seems preferable to give the tax break to employers who, by employing more people than they would otherwise have done, will tend to bid up wages, thereby sharing the benefit with workers.

    So my advocacy of massive spending cuts is not Thatcherite. The aim should be to drive unemployment down, not up. As for the income tax, probably a flat rate of 20% with only a single deduction, i.e., a personal deduction of 25 thosand, would be a good thing. It would leave the working poor tax free, and it is low enough that for most well to do people it is not worth the trouble of evading, or even avoiding. And with no deductions, it means all those accountants and tax lawyers who save rich people money could do something useful instead.

    The reason I think that cutting taxes radicaly could transform the British economy, or any economy, is that taxes are the biggest single expense than any business operator is likely to face: 40 to 70% in most western countries (the highest rate on corporate profits paid out as dividends). That being so, entrepreneurs naturally give much thought to how their tax burden might be reduced. If setting up shop in Britain meant cutting the burden by 50% or more, the increase in investment could, I believe, be explosive.

    I don’t disagree with the concerns expressed by Strategist. Hence my emphasis on massive tax cuts aimed at stimulating investment, not consumption that will suck in more cheap Chinese textiles, electronics and car parts.

  • alan campbell

    Craig, in his blinding anger with the Labour lotharios, has thrown himself into the arms of a new lover – the ConDem cads.

    He says:

    “The Comprehansive Spending Review announced today is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007”

    So what? That completely ignores rising costs, debt interest, increased unemployment, wage increases, costs of medical treatment.

  • glenn

    Hello Alfred – It’s always enjoyable discussing these things with you.

    I might jump around your points, but first it’s important to consider that “take home pay” is what your organisation thinks you are willing to accept. If tax goes down, your boss isn’t going to just carry on paying you the same. Your ultimate buying power will level out pretty quickly – with inflation and no pay rises, or through lack of a raise despite seniority. The obverse will also hold – a tax rise will be accompanied in short order by increased wages, as has been observed in detailed tracking since records began.

    A flat tax, as you surely know, would bring immense increased wealth to the rich, and shift the tax burden onto the poorest section of society. Those taxes would serve only those purposes that the richest actually benefit from above and beyond the rest of us – the courts to preserve their copyrights, the police to protect their extravagant material assets (and themselves) from the seething masses, and the army to protect their nation (heavily, if it’s a belligerent one).

    Agreed that a zero corporation tax would make the UK more attractive to set up shop, but why should they pay no taxes? They are benefitting from an educated workforce at no cost to the corporation. They also have an infrastructure, from the roads, shipping and air traffic coordinators, health care for their workers should they become ill, and so forth – The Commons, in other words. The Commons does not fall from the sky, it has to be paid for, in order for the rich and businesses to make money. It’s only fair that The Commons is paid for by business, and not just by the little people.

    Is this country here collectively for business to make money, or for the economy to make life better for the people that live here? I would rather it were for the latter.

    *

    We’re going to be sucking in more slave-labour produced Chinese crap until we put an import tax on it. Import taxes transformed the UK from a peasant, rural economy in Tudor times to the British Empire in all its splendour. We took it so seriously, that Ghandi had to make a revolt out of the issue. Now we talk about tariffs as if _we_ are communists and anti-business for proposing a tiny re-introduction of the same!

    I should have mentioned in my mini-manifesto – the 2% wealth tax should only last until the national debt was paid. Then it should revert to a binding 1%.

  • Alfred

    Glenn,

    Let me first hasten to say that although I believe the private sector is in many areas more productive of wealth than the public sector, there are some astonishing exceptions which, due to bank bailouts and monopolies, seem invulnerable to the economic process of natural selection. This is something that any radical government should attend to. No one should be too big to fail, monopolies should be broken up and no one should have the lobbying power to force the government to bail them out.

    “A flat tax, as you surely know, would bring immense increased wealth to the rich”:

    I did not know that this was so. The very rich seem to pay very little tax. Warren Buffet, I believe, admitted that his marginal tax rate was less than his secretary’s. So a flat tax, with no exemptions for anything might actually increase the tax paid by the rich.

    A capital tax is not a bad idea, although if we are looking to stimulate a faltering economy, now is probably not the time for it.

    “but why should [corporations] pay no taxes?”:

    I think the goal should not be to maximize government revenue, but rather to undertake necessary government functions with the greatest possible economy, while otherwise leaving resources for citizens to do with as they think fit. Thus if freeing corporations of taxes creates the employment opportunities that people need, then abolishing the corporation tax seems to be a good thing. Anyway, when corporate profits are paid to shareholders they are then taxed as personal income.

    My proposal for radical tax cuts was intended as an alternative to a tarrif. Tax cuts would make domestic manufacturing more competitive with the low-wage Asian economies. Whether the effect would be large enough in the face of a wage differential of up to 20 or 30 to one, may be doubted. But at least if we are to compete with Asia lets level the playing field in the area of taxation. If that doesn’t do the trick, then I agree, a tarrif seems the only option (although there are many drawbacks), which should be combined with government action to maintain a fiercely competitive internal market.

    Your first pint I don’t really follow, but I will think about it. My main point about NI was that it is a tax on jobs, which must therefore increase unemployment.

    Somewhere in a more or less free market economy you will need some kind of wealth transfer mechanism. Even in the 17th century, the poor tax was huge as a proportion of government revenue. The solution, it seems to me, is some variant of the negative income tax.

    Recently, the UK was talking of having employers remit gross pay to the government, with net pay doled out by the government to employees. Under such a system, the administrative cost of ensuring that everyone has a living wage would be minimal.

    Currently, unemployment is high due to lack of demand. The Labour government stimulated demand as much as it could that drove the country to a point near bankruptcy. By cutting the deficit, government will cause a further contraction in demand that will further raise unemployment. How then can demand be raised to fill the yawning gap. My notion was that a radical tax cutting policy would so stimulate business investment that it would boost private sector borrowing, thereby reversing the current credit contraction. If that happened, returns on investment should cover the cost of borrowing, unlike deficit-funded government spending.

  • Clark

    “This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy”.

    Douglas Adams, 1979

  • Anonymous

    “We could have a much smaller public sector which at the same time was much more effective at wealth redistribution.”

    We could, yes. In theory. In some magical alternate reality…

    In this reality, we’re going to end up with a much smaller public sector which is much less effective at wealth redistribution. That is the point of these cuts – not to “shrink the state” per se, but to make it less redistributive.

    Even if it’s true that the CSR “is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007”, that spending is going to be distributed differently – more on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers and export credit guarantees for bribes for the benefit of BAE, and less on education, social benefits and the environment.

    “The Pivate Finance Initiative, Internal Market mechanisms, feee nd academy schools and their hordes of accountatns and administrators should all go and be replaced bysimple direct provision of necessary services.”

    This is the exact opposite of what is actually going to happen.

  • glenn

    Alfred: It would appear that the banks did to us what Cleavon Little’s character did in Blazing Saddles, when – in a tough spot – he held a gun to his _own_ head, and warned everybody, “Keep back, or the n***** gets it!” Everybody retreated, lowering their own guns in view of this hostage situation. The banks held a gun to the entire economy, threatening themselves with destruction unless we paid a ransom.

    Seriously though, the banksters made themselves invulnerable by combining their gambling arms with the ordinary banking business, in a manner that regulations had prohibited until the last 25 years or so, particularly the past decade. When the gambling side of the business went bad, it was set to take the ordinary banking side down with it too – that was the threat the banksters replied upon to get themselves bailed out. The rather annoying thing is that banksters had paid themselves more in bonuses in the previous few years than the bailout itself.

    The flat tax is about income tax. What Warren Buffet was referring to is the fact that his secretary pays income tax on all her income at 36% or so, but he gets most of his money in capital gains, which at taxed at a considerably lower 15%. The rich have always favoured a flat tax, because it’s not progressive, and positively salivate at the notion of having nothing but sales tax to fund the country.

    I see your point concerning freeing corporations of taxes making them more likely to employ people, but why would a (say) British corporation want to establish a factory in the UK rather than in China, the way taxes are currently structured? A lot of companies are headquartered in some tax haven anyway, precisely to avoid paying anything to the home country.

    But really the cost of labour has little to do with the end price of a product – the price is whatever the market will stand for it. If they don’t pay taxes, they’re not going to rush out and employ more people, or pay them more. They’ll end up giving more money to the CEO and shareholders. In the meantime, who’s going to pay for the infrastructure that corporations use, or the cost of their pollution and so on? All that would be passed onto the people, who would have to pay more taxes.

    Tax cuts are never going to make us comparable to an Asian sweatshop workforce, on pennies an hour with no worker’s rights whatsoever.

    *

    Your idea of tax cuts stimulating demand sounds reasonable, as long as that demand was for home-produced goods. If only the shippers and retailers of Chinese goods are going to benefit, that demand actually fuels a net drain on the economy. On the other hand, an investment by the government in infrastructure would have a real benefit to the country, like the US Public Works Administration under Hoover, providing immediate jobs and giving useful long-term gain.

  • Alfred

    Glen,

    “why would a (say) British corporation want to establish a factory in the UK rather than in China…”

    It’s possible that if UK corporations had higher net profits they would use them to offshore more production. One could fix that with a 28% (the current corporate tax rate) tax on capital exports. But even without capital controls, people will manufacture in Britain, because as you say, labour is not a major cost in the production of many things. However, it is a cost, and producers will always be affected in their decisions on where to locate production by that cost. If Britain lowers that cost, it should enhance UK business investment.

    Re rich people’s taxes, if they don’t pay income tax, lowering the rate of income tax won’t lower their taxes. Elimating all tax breaks, e.g., the reduced rate on capital gains, would likely increase their tax liability. However, since the liability is predictable and modest, it should still make Britain an attractive place for rich people to live and work.

    But in any case, in my view, the aim is not to maximize public spending but to limit it to what is appropriate (to make an interminable argument short!). Therefore, I do not argue for taxes merely to prevent someone being rich.

    “but why would a (say) British corporation want to establish a factory in the UK rather than in China…” There often are reasons, especially in the case of small business. But if not, then you’re truly doomed!

    “Tax cuts are never going to make us comparable to an Asian sweatshop workforce, on pennies an hour with no worker’s rights whatsoever.”

    Not comparable, but not quite so incomparable!

    “investment by the government in infrastructure would have a real benefit to the country”

    This is a central issue. The UK economy is stalling because of a credit contraction, or so I assume. Steve Keen has remarkable evidence for the US (http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2010/09/20/deleveraging-with-a-twist/) and Australia showing exponential growth in debt between 1945 and 2008, reaching a peak of 300% of GDP, versus the previous peak just after the 1929 stock market crash of 240%.

    The implication is that western economies face years of debt deflation, monetary deflation and depression. The only way to counteract the process is by reversing the credit contraction. Consumers cannot do so because they are already over-leveraged. The only hope therefore is either for the government to do it or business.

    Governments can go further into debt merely by printing money. However, in some fashion the debt has to be repaid, together with the interest. If the debt is repaid by monetization, i.e., with printing press money, there is inflation and a lowering of living standards. The only way the money can be repaid without inflation is if the investments made yield a sufficient return to amortize the capital and pay the interest. In theory, this is possible.

    But how many Hoover dams has the Obama administration built. Mostly, the money goes on bullshit projects. In Canada, hockey arenas are popular. In the US a fair bit must go to cover the cost of the wars (these may or may not pay off in an economic sense. But if Stiglitz’s three trillion dollar cost estimate of Iraq is correct, the payoff seems questionable — except for individual players, folks like Haliburton, who’ve done really well, obviously).

    It was my contention, therefore, that the best place to stimulate credit growth is in the business sector, by creating a massive tax-cut stimulus to investment, the stimulus to be paid for by a sharp reduction in government services. The assumption is that the increased business investment will be productive and will, therefore, enhance the wealth of the nation.

    But if you want to raise a few dozen objections, I probably won’t disagree.

    Cheers.

  • technicolour

    Some grand posts (and prose!). Create a growing pool of the unemployed and hungry, throw in job instability, ensure you can sack people after a year and 364 days without owing them a pension, keep the land fenced off, add planning regulations so draconian that people can’t erect a polytunnel without permission, and you have a docile, compliant dependent workforce fighting each other to work all hours to keep the rich rich. and if they can’t work the banks get to take their houses too. it’s genius.

    and yet, so tragically unnecessary.

  • glenn

    Alfred: Just to be clear, I wasn’t actually saying that labour is not a significant cost in manufacture, I was saying that it has little bearing on the end price. When Phil Knight moved his operations from Oregon to Asian sweatshops, the actual price of the trainers didn’t go down one cent. Cheap labour certainly helps pad the bottom line, and is pretty much at the bottom of almost every right wing policy going, but it doesn’t determine the price of the finished goods.

    I’m not arguing for taxes that prevent someone from becoming rich either, but I do argue for taxes that expect someone who _is_ rich to pay their due share of their burden on the commons, that allows or enabled that richness. Nobody became a billionaire through the sweat of their brow or labour, it requires a large chunk of society to make that happen. This is particularly true of the banksters, who pretend that somehow it’s not a zero sum game when they are actually creating nothing of value whatsoever, yet harvest vast amounts of money from the system.

    Your point about the lack of new Hoover dams is sound, but how many have the Repugs, the party of “no”, allowed to pass? Of course, a courageous democratic party would have been wiping the floor with the Rethugs by now. But as we know, while Repugs are evil, the Democrats are cowards.

    Your point about Haliburton (who incidentally have off-shored their own HQ to Dubai, to avoid paying any tax to the US) is well made. That was a big part of the reason for the war – the transfer of taxpayer money to these filthy corporations. But making and dropping a bomb has a short term gain, in the employment of people to make it, drop it and so on. The long term consequences are probably very bad, in terms of people hating the US/UK as a result of the explosion. Invest the same money in a bridge, railway or school, and not only do you get the same initial return, a positive payback might take place for generations.

    *

    Ultimately, I fear that your zero tax for corporations would create many new jobs, and many new factories, but only in China.

    http://www.bartcop.com/china-chamber.jpg

    As things stand, there is little incentive to do anything else. (Apart from, as mentioned earlier, take all the start-up money/grants/tax-breaks to get yourself established, then utilise one of the many off-shoring specialists to move the operation to China or India. An act of treachery which should see all those concerned locked up in the Tower, not given a tax break.)

    *

    One other thing, since you mentioned previous great Republican depressions/ crashes, see how these busts swiftly follow hefty tax cuts on the rich. It works like a charm.

  • Alfred

    Glenn,

    It’s past my bed time, but

    Re: Nobody became a billionaire through the sweat of their brow or labour

    Agreed: you have to make a million a week — after tax, for twenty years.

    I thought of this when Craig was talking about Gulnara Whatsername, and her Dad who, beside boiling people alive, uses child labor to harvest the cotton crop. One has to wonder if he they are really any worse than any other billionaires.

    On economics, I am no longer capable of dogmatism. Some private organizations provide good value for money some public institutions provide good service too. But both public and private organizations can be crap. And if they are monopolies there are not subject to the process of economic natural selection. One should, therefore, be wary of all monopolies, subject them to continual scrutiny and, as necessary, regulation. One should also create competition where possible.

    The big issue about econmic policy, though, remains whether we will sink into a depression or some means is found to stimulate demand without creating unpayable debts. I would rather see an industrial policy based on incentives rather than controls and tariffs, but if incentives don’t work, then tariffs and all the rest by all means.

    Canada is already engaging in open protectionism, shafting some Spanish maker of rail cars in favor of Bombardier whose price is 50% higher, and telling some Arab sheikdom to screw off (they kicked us out of some miltary base because we wouldn’t give them more airline landing slots in Toronto and then voted against us for membership of the UN Security Council — as if we care.)

  • Suhayl Saadi

    A message just in from a pal in the south of France (names removed):

    “22 October 2010 at 09:18

    Subject: Don’t you wish we could be a little more like the French sometimes?

    Just a quickie, Suhayl to say hi.. hope you are fine and dandy.. to say that [teenage son] and I are stuck at my [relative’s] because of the French General Strike.. flights cancelled.. no petrol.. lyceens taken to demonstrating (inc [teenage son])and some fighting in the streets.. autoroutes blocked, airports blocked, one school burnt down, one schoolkid shot in the eye by their Special Police Forces, no petrol.. and just when it looked like we could leave on Tuesday, the ‘grevistes’ have voted to launch an even bigger attack on Sarko that very day. Don’t you just wish we could be a little more like France?”

  • Suhayl Coon

    I is not a black man I is an artist man i hate wayne he no brayne he a payne ne not mayne man

  • technicolour

    apostate, you’re banned, remember? why don’t you try writing a poem if you’re bored? Try a haiku, in fact: a line of 7 syllables, a line of 5 syllables, and another line of 7. It’s traditional to refer to the seasons and evoke an image of beauty, by the way.

    Go on, you can do it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    technicolour, I might be wrong, but I don’t think this new rash is apostate. I think it’s the other lot. Craig’s started blogging again, so they’re back. The ‘domestic policy’ trolls.

    We need a renga platform.

  • technicolour

    you could be right! and it would be a shame to give apostate a worse name than they have already…

    (renga platform?)

  • dreoilin

    Suhayl, surely that’s not a 7-5-7 haiku.

    “I don’t think this new rash is apostate”

    No, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Larry (being more obnoxious under different handles)

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