City Journal Spring 2014

Current Issue:

Spring 2014
Table of Contents
Subscribe
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Nicole Gelinas
The British Evasion « Back to Story

View Comments (7)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.


 
Showing 7 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
Continued socialism will solve nothing. Government will continue to get bigger until the "big fail". Limited government, free markets and getting rid of welfare would put England on the proper path to more individual freedom and fiscal responsibility. There was no talk of halting immigration and the invasion of Islam, which is soaking up most of the welfare dollars and which is killing the English culture and which will eventually dominate England and erase knowledge of English history.
Keith Parkhouse May 11, 2013 at 4:31 AM
From the perspective of this UK reader, Miss Gelinas' analysis of what has happened in the UK is broadly correct, but she has been too dismissive of the problems facing the country and the political difficulties associated with the Coalition's attempts to face them. To take some examples:

1. George Osborne did not set the 50% tax rate; that was set by the previous Labour Chancellor in his last Budget before the imminent election. Its function was not to raise revenue but to set a political trap for an incoming Conservative Chancellor. Osborne's first Budget announced a widespread programme of cuts to public services, public sector jobs and welfare benefits. To announce at the same time cuts in the tax rates paid by the most well-off individuals in society would have been politically corrosive. Leaving the 50% rate in place for two years allowed time for the evidence to be gathered on its failure to raise significant revenues, and made it politically easier to reduce it.

2. Everyone agrees that ring-fencing the NHS budget cannot go on indefinitely, but ring-fencing it in the early years of the new government was done for two reasons. In the first place it was to reassure the public that despite the deep cuts in public spending the main services that are central to most peoples' lives would continue to be there for them. The NHS, for all its well-documented failings, remains highly popular with the British public, who still have a vestigial memory of life before socialised medicine that is inextricably wrapped up with the mass poverty of the Great Depression and the Victorian era before it. Secondly, ring-fencing has enabled major structural reforms to be enacted in the way the NHS is run. If successful, those reforms will bring more healthcare decisions down the chain of authority towards local physicians, and help to ensure that the money is more efficiently-spent. Reforming the structures of a public service costs money and causes political friction; ring-fencing was the price that had to be paid.

3. Increasing Value Added Tax did undoubtedly have a slightly depressive effect on retail spending, but the personal sector was already over-borrowed and in need of reining in its consumption. Like all European countries we face a long-term pensions crisis, and Britons will need to save more for their retirement as well as working longer. Retail shops are closing down, but the reasons for this lie less with VAT than with the rise of internet shopping and with high rentals, which are a consequence of strict zoning laws. In any case VAT increases probably distort economic decisions less than income tax rates.

At the end of the day, what we see is two political parties with differing ideologies that put together an agreed programme for government that would please the zealots in neither party but have provided stable government in the face of the most serious financial crisis in the post-War period. Contrast that with the US situation where a Democratic President and a Republican Congress glower at each other, with neither having the power to take effective decisions, whilst the Federal debt just grows larger.

I prefer our way.
And the latest British tea party has spanked Cameron. Will he see thelight? Whoknows.
People elected or appointed to public office must be held responsible for the economic and political stability of a country, county, city or town. The currency is of utmost importance. It is, therefore, vital to spend only money that government has; borrowing must be at an absolute minimum

Punishment for driving the public trust into the ground should be immediately and severly administered. Socialism is only a theory and is akin to a wet dream and has failed spectacularly everywhere it has been tried.

By taxing hard working people severly to give to the dead weight (non=productive people) you create a new class of slavery where the industrious workers are slaves of the state.

Taxes are to the economy, business and EMPLOYMENT as is a bucket of water is to a camp fire!!!!! Any new taxation should be voted into effect by the people, not the politition.
The 2008 global financial crisis was more like a burst dam than a hurricane.
If we were to compare the economy to an obese person, near morbid obesity, but not quite there, they have two choices. One start to repay debt by consuming less, a drop in calories just to normal levels will be painful let alone below, if we add exercise (taxes) too it will be doubly painful. Or they can continue to eat more than a normal person (borrow and over consume) and combine this with no exercise (not competing globally ie workout less).
It is a damn if you do and damn if you don't.
Cut consumption and exercise (cut debt and work harder, while taxing more) or continue to sit on the sofa in front of the internet or TV, overeating and working less hard than the world we borrow from. In the former the risk of a heart attack or just giving up are high, in the latter a situation of no return from debt and a heart attack anyway or becoming just comfortably numb beckons.

Does society risk a heart attack (social revolution of some from?) sadly yes I think so. But better to have died trying than died without trying.
As I re-read this I think it sounds like the horse of Animal Farm! But like the time after a divorce or redundancy, when you feel sad, resentful and angry, over eating seems easy, but going for a good long walk or run gets you over it better. As a society we might be in for 5 to 10 years of "going for a run".
What if there simply isn't an answer? This can happen. What if the kinds of spending cuts that would be required to keep the economy ticking over are politically impossible?

Things can get steadily worse. We're looking at the same scenario when it comes to global warming. In any given four year period, the rational thing to do is to stick with tried and true fossil fuels. Cumulatively, this spells disaster. But too few people take the long view. And the disaster unfolds. But always in such slow motion that it seems to be somebody else's problem, and best dealt with later.