Calamity Brown, British Prime Minister, still won't see that his policies are bringing Britain to its knees - just as Bush has done to America, by racking up huge deficits - bills our grandchildren will have to pay. These articles look at the solution - taking the axe to bloated government. It always works. But socialist clowns like Brown and Obama will do the opposite and lead us deeper into the mire- ALAN FRANKLIN. Now over to Christina Speight....
I have just read the text of Gordon Brown's speech to the CBI today and have not yet recovered. It is the most bombastic, turgid drivel, full of pomposity and little else, that I've had the misfortune to have to read - on your behalf! I do NOT propose to bore readers by putting it all out but if you want to you, you can read it for yourself on:-
Meanwhile here is some sound commonsense from Janet Daly .She has cottoned on to the salient fact that it is only by cutting out the macro-waste in government expenditure (not just tinkering at the edges) that we have any hope of surviving the crisis as a viable 21st century major economy. She also champions the two changes in government policy which I favour above others (as readers may have noticed!)
Christina Speight- aka Cassandra
Alistair Darling must cut whole state, not just tax pennies
By Janet Daley
We appear to be in the midst of an epidemic of honesty. Politicians of every persuasion are tripping over one another to tell us, with brutal, terrifying candour, just how horrible our economic situation is and how much worse it is going to get.
Alistair Darling will, according to reliable reports, join in the chorus this afternoon by assuring the nation that whatever tax relief he may be offering in the short term will be strictly temporary: this bizarre message seems destined to dampen (if not kill outright) the incentive for people to spend, thus neatly taking the stimulus out of his "economic stimulus" package.
The Chancellor is clearly prepared to risk undermining the economic logic of his proposals for the sake of political gain. He, and presumably Gordon Brown, are so determined to neutralise the Conservative line of attack about a future "tax bombshell" (having traumatic memories of the damage done to them by that phrase in the general election of 1992) that they are actually planning to disarm it by agreeing with it.
Yes, indeed, they will say, don't be lulled into any false optimism - your taxes are going to go right back up in no time at all. We might lower high street prices for a nanosecond by reducing the rate of VAT to lure you into some momentary extravagance that will increase your personal debt, but as soon as conditions permit, we will claw it all back and then some.
So as well as having to pay for that spending spree that we enticed you to engage in, you'll be clobbered by the Treasury as well - maybe as soon as next year. Yes sir, the other guys are quite right - that's how it is. The last thing we would want to do is mislead you. Happy Christmas!
What strikes me as most depressing about this war of attrition, in which all the major parties seem determined to instill the maximum amount of anxiety (into a crisis in which a failure of confidence is the most critical factor), is the absence of any desire to learn more far-reaching lessons.
Why does "honesty", as interpreted by virtually all politicians, have to amount to resignation, to an acceptance of the present arrangements in which government spends a huge proportion of GDP running things it should not be running at all: providing services inefficiently, managing public projects incompetently, and administering areas of social and communal life with the kind of insensitivity for which agencies of the state are notorious?
At the moment, I accept that government must carry on pouring buckets of water on a forest fire - however hopeless and futile that may be. The bank bail-outs have not worked and I do not think the public spending bonanza will work either, but it is morally imperative that it be tried if only because the formula needs to be tested to destruction.
The only remedy that would be genuinely effective - significant cuts in business taxes and income tax - will finally have to come when everything else has been exhausted.
But at some point, a really radical thought must be entertained: we got into this mess because government over-reached itself as a provider, and failed as a regulator. The long-term answer must be for it to do less of the former and to raise its game on the latter.
The Conservatives talk of "sustainable" tax cuts being funded out of savings in expenditure, but their examples are minuscule, fiddly things: the ID card scheme should be scrapped and the NHS computer system should be decommissioned.
They talk of cutting waste (another plank on which Mr Darling plans to match them) of which, God knows, there is plenty - but they do not carry the argument to its logical conclusion: waste is endemic in government spending.
If you cut out one bit of it, another will spring forth to take its place because state-funded bureaucracy is self-replicating and self-validating.
The power to spend other people's money without accountability to their individual wishes is corrupting.
When governments attempt to insert mechanisms into the system that would create analogues of the sort of accountability that private transactions offer, it ends by simply producing more unaccountable bureaucracy: the simulacrum of a market in which attempts to ensure value for money become sham exercises with fiddled figures, or ruthless, inappropriate crackdowns on expenditure that show little understanding of public needs.
Everybody is saying that, at last, we've got a real political debate with one side advocating immediate (unfunded) tax cuts and increased public spending, and the other warning against extra borrowing and calling for only those tax reductions that can be "afforded".
This is not a debate; it is a tactical skirmish. The real debate should be about the limits of government and the relationship between the production of wealth and the spending of it.
This present crisis, precisely because it is so earth-shakingly severe, is an opportunity to rethink the entire political settlement in which government has commandeered greater and greater proportions of privately created wealth in order to administer ever larger areas of social and communal life.
It does not simply guarantee and oversee the provision of basic services such as health and education; it owns the infrastructure of those services and directly employs the people who work in them.
Yes, we do need more spending to get us out of this emergency, but that spending should be channelled through the private sector: schools and hospitals could be "independent" (if you prefer that word to "private") and still be free at the point of use - to be run at taxpayers' expense but so much more efficiently and productively that it would cost the taxpayers less.
Now government is edging toward nationalisation of the banks, which it would presumably run with all the competence and efficiency that it once manufactured cars and steel.
It's a dangerous position and could easily end by default in a corporate state of dimensions that have not been dreamt of in the West for half a century. Alternatively, we can use this time to reassess the limitations of government capability.
Maybe we will have to wait until it is proved beyond doubt that all the government remedies for this crisis are useless, but at some point we could declare that one of the things we must now acknowledge (and the Tories are, however feebly, hinting at this already) is that the state has hugely over-extended itself.
It is borrowing too much because it is costing too much because it is doing too much.
CONSERVATIVE HOME BLOG 24.11.08
[This blog carries brief summaries of comment from around the media this morning - - cs]
Tories hope for jackpot as Cameron gambles on tax...
"If today's massive "fiscal stimulus" is the Labour Government's biggest gamble, David Cameron's decision to oppose it is for him and his party just as crucial. From the moment that Alistair Darling sits down, the Conservative leadership will accuse him of recklessness for which the country will pay later. If they can persuade people they are right, victory at the next election is probably assured. " - Philip Webster's analysis in The Times
"But what if that fragile thing, confidence, does begin to return next year? What if the coordinated international action, and a return to liquidity in the financial system, and some kind of recovery in consumer spending, make the fiscal boost seem a success? Then Cameron is in a terrible position. He has turned himself from Sunny Dave to Mr Glum and still got it wrong. It will be too late to save himself by reshuffles. He is tied to his chum Osborne and the two of them will look too inexperienced." - Jackie Ashley in The Guardian
...as another leading columnist severely doubts Brown's motives
"Gordon Brown has a duty to do everything possible to prevent a recession from turning into a slump. At the very least, he ought to ensure he does nothing to make matters worse. Today, he will fail that test, for one reason: his motives. He is happy to risk further damage to the economy as long as he can inflict damage on the Tories. The only recovery which interests him is the recovery in his poll ratings. Today's measures are not economic. They are political." - Bruce Anderson in The Independent
Retailers doubt VAT cut will be effective...
"Leading retailers fear the VAT cut will be too little to save the British high street as the latest figures show "unprecedented" sales are failing to get shoppers to part with their cash... Some believe certain businesses might pocket the handout to help their balance sheets - while others accuse the Government of creating a "logistical nightmare" for retailers who have already priced up products." - Daily Telegraph
...as does Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
"If you're deep in debt, scared of the sack and watching your miserable pension pot evaporate, will you celebrate with a bottle of wine tonight to save 15p? Or splash out £500 on a plasma TV to save £12.50? If you've got £12,000 in a building society, will you keep it there or save £225 on a new car? Probably not, especially when you're going to have to pay it all back later, with interest." - Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
Nigel Lawson: Britain will pay for Brown's fiscal boost
"Given that we are facing, at least in the UK, the worst recession since the war, it might be thought that the bigger the fiscal boost, the better. That would be a serious mistake. The truth is that the smaller the fiscal boost, the better." - Lord Lawson writing in the FT [I think this highly idiosyncratiic remark needs further investigation! -cs]