archive of posts from April, 2015

Election Schnippets

Spare a moment for the union, buried by its own defenders. The Conservatives have opted to fan English nationalism and resentment, both to peel off voters in key English marginals and to delegitimise any future Labour government backed by the SNP. Such nationalist resentment cannot be stoked and then neatly placed back into a box when it has outlived its use, discarded until deemed useful when another political crisis arises. English nationalism is set to become a mighty force over the next five years, whoever governs, and it may well help to consume an already disintegrating union.

Owen Jones

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The Inevitable Conclusion Schnippets?

… a crisis of representative democracy that is not peculiar to the UK but is afflicting all the rich democracies. The context for this crisis is a rise in public indebtedness across the industrialised world whose proximate cause is the collapse of revenues resulting from the global recession and the subsequent need for unprecedented bailouts to rescue banks and prop up economic activity. But the problem is chronic; it was first detected in the 1970s. Among the root causes of increasing public debt are the slowing of growth rates compared to the postwar era, a demographic shift that has increased the size of the dependent population relative to the working-age population, and a displacement of manufacturing by service industries that are less profitable and thus generate lower tax revenues. But in the period of Thatcher and Reagan, it was argued that the postwar Keynesian consensus was the main culprit: it had distorted the market and driven up inflation, and state expenditure had outrun the productive base of the economy. Successive governments – Thatcher in the 1980s, Clinton in the 1990s, Schroeder and Blair in the 2000s – sought to reform the state to control costs. There were cutbacks in discretionary spending, and the public sector was restructured by the creation of internal markets.

The result was not a smaller state, or even a more efficient one (the introduction of internal markets in the NHS, for instance, has increased overheads from 3 per cent to 15 per cent of total costs), but a state that is more business-friendly and less democratic. And deficits have not significantly decreased in most cases. In the US, Clinton’s blitz on welfare and pro-Wall Street policies produced a short-lived budget surplus by the close of his administration. In the UK, governments have run deficits in all but six years since 1979, and even before 2008, the trend was that they were gradually increasing. Indeed, the surge in structural unemployment, used to control inflation and bust unions, has tended to exacerbate the public debt problem.

Richard Seymour

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Stuff & Nonsense #1143

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He Walked By Night

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My iPod [27/04/2015]

Last Week’s Most Played Track:
Southern Rain | The Tears | 2005

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Ship’s Laundry

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Stuff & Nonsense #1142

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