It's shocking but few will be shocked - we're so used to it. And the very people doing the wrecking are enjoying not only index-linked pensions but also fat bonuses.
TELEGRAPH Business Comment 9.4.08
When our devious ministers inhale their own exhaust
By Jeff Randall
Is business getting tougher? Are you feeling the pinch? Yes, I thought so. Most of us are. Taxes are up, energy bills are rising, likewise food costs. Travelling to work, whether by car or train, has never been more expensive. And for those planning a holiday in Europe, brace yourself for a shock: the pound's purchasing power is deflating like a punctured Lilo.
If you were hoping to ease over-stretched budgets by taking out a bigger mortgage, it's probably too late. House prices are suffering their steepest decline since the property market fell apart in September 1992. Not only is the value of your collateral shrinking, so is the willingness of banks to offer new deals. The days of 100pc mortgages are over.
Most lenders are asking for deposits of 5pc. Some, including Alliance & Leicester, Britannia and Cheltenham & Gloucester, insist on 10pc. A few are demanding 20pc. Much more of this and mortgage applicants will need to hand over their children as security.
If you thought the credit crunch was an arcane problem exclusive to derivatives dealers, it's time to set the alarm clock. All over the United Kingdom, households are waking up to a financial gale.
As the skies darken, it would be nice to think that the Government was doing its best to mitigate looming damage. It would be comforting to believe that the country's economic storm shelters were in good shape.
Unfortunately, those in charge have left the windows open and the shutters up. At a time when the country needs competent management, the Prime Minister is presiding over unimaginable state-sponsored profligacy.
The scale of lost resources is set out in impressive, albeit depressing, detail by David Craig in his latest book, Squandered - How Gordon Brown is wasting over one trillion pounds of our money*.
Craig is a former management consultant whose previous work, Plundering the Public Sector, lifted the lid on the way private-sector consultants get their teeth into publicly funded projects and suck out billions in fees. His thesis was that Blair's and Brown's New Labour had been "taken in" by greedy, self-serving consultants who bamboozle civil servants with techno-speak.
Though harsh on Labour's gullibility, Plundering, published in 2006, stopped short of accusing Downing Street's most senior residents of defrauding the country.
Their crime, as such, was to allow consultancy parasites to drain about £70bn from public services for precious little in return.
"The disaster is not the result of some kind of conspiracy," Craig concluded. "Behind closed doors, New Labour politicians are probably as uncomprehending and disappointed at what has happened as anyone else."
In Squandered, the author's analysis has moved on. There is no doubt over who's to blame for the mess we are in. Brown is not a victim; he is the culprit.
Not only has money been blown on an eye-popping scale, the Government operates a relentless programme of deception to cover up blunders.
Department by department, Craig unpicks Labour's hoopla to reveal what happens when devious ministers inhale their own exhaust. Readers with heart problems, high blood pressure or a susceptibility to violent headaches should think twice before dipping in to this book. The facts are infuriating.
In 10 years, Labour has spent about £1trillion - that's £1,000,000,000,000 - more than would have been the case, inflation adjusted, if government spending had been held at 1997-98 levels. That's about £50,000 for every household. Education has received an extra £185bn, health an additional £269bn and welfare, ie, social security benefits, £343bn more.
And what do we have to show for it? A state-school system that is so poor, there is a stampede into private education, and our best universities are being bullied by Ed Balls and his henchmen to abandon the quest for excellence in order to accommodate pupils from under-performing comprehensives.
Russell Group universities - Oxbridge, Bristol, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Warwick and 14 other elite institutions - spend fortunes trawling the country in search of state-educated youngsters and yet remain under intense pressure to debase standards in order to meet Government entry "targets".
In a 2007 poll of 3,000 doctors, more than 70pc did not believe the extra money for the NHS had been well spent and the same percentage felt there had been no meaningful improvement in care. The fact that 55pc of senior doctors have medical insurance tells us that even insiders want out.
Brown likes to boast about economic growth and rising employment, so why in 2007-08 is the Government doling out £156bn to 30m recipients in 40 types of social security payments and tax credits? That's nearly five times the defence budget. Benefits are gobbling up about 30pc of state spending. This is not an accident, it's how Labour has expensively purchased a client class.
Our Armed Forces are betrayed, private pensions are plundered, violent crimes are rising, quangos proliferate, immigration is out of control and Britain will receive less back per capita from the European Union's 2007-13 budget than any other member. Read this book and prepare to weep.
* Squandered - How Gordon Brown is wasting over one trillion pounds of our money, by David Craig. Publisher: Constable. Price: £8.99