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Week of cuts mania: what do you want to know?

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Paul Mason | 20:32 UK time, Sunday, 17 October 2010

It is Sunday night and I am getting ready for one of those weeks of hell in journalism where you know roughly the whole choreography of the events before they happen. Monday - new National Security Strategy; Tuesday, first sight of the military spending cuts, first leaks of the CSR. Wednesday: the CSR. Thursday: CSR - the aftermath (subplot - the Libdem anguish). Friday, the bits we missed but were spotted by eagle eyed bloggers, print journos and dweebs.

My question is: what do you want to know amid all this. What are the things Newsnight can tell you, delve into, analyse, etc. And who would you like to see grilled by my esteemed colleagues? This is no empty exercise - I really want to know. Likewise what is making you fed up about the coverage.

It will help me. So hit the comments and gimme your ideas...

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    You hit the nail on the head a while back, Paul - we're used to governments being able to just push big projects through, but there exists a narrative of projects which are simply demonstrably impossible to push through. This might be the case with austerity. After all, a patch was quickly applied to the trauma of the child benefit cut - but the patch of concessions on marriage tax breaks produces a curious giving and taking with different hands. Clearly, this giving and taking will deliver chaos rather than austerity.

    Also, your point about this being a banking crisis displaced onto a fiscal risk which has now been displaced onto political risk needs to be clear. Thus, don't forget to cover the resistance - for instance the planned protests outside Downing St etc.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am looking for an impact analysis of the cuts from you guys. The impact on the poor, women, the ethnic minorities, those with a disability the elderly and the young. Above all I want to know the impact on jobs and the recovery. I want to know what the government has done to to work through and identify the impacts of the cuts. I want to see how they calculate the contribution of the cuts to reducing the deficit taking into account the negatives of cuts (reduced taxes increased benefits from job and income losses) and the reversed multiplier effect of reduced public sector planned spending in the wider economy.
    In the final analysis I want to see an interpretation of whether the government is destroying the political consensus (which survived under Thatcher) on the welfare state.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi,

    I have a few ideas...

    I would like you to try to do some analysis on GDP broken down by region, specifically the impact of the cuts on this GDP by region.Some assumptions would have to be made, and explained, but still a look into it would really help. Alternatively, instead of GDP you could look at government expenditure by region?

    Another possibly easier angle could be a look at the expected rise in unemployment as a percentage of population by region. P.S please try to make the regions small...

    My view on why this should be looked centrally by yourself/team is that the national bbc team have the resources to do the analysis and the local media, if the normal news is much to go by, do not. P.S this does not mean a report from a roundabout...

    Also, anything to do with higher education, not been there for years, but enjoy living in a well educated society.

    I would also like some information on the impact on construction/property as it would be nice for house prices to drop a little (i would like a lot but am realistic) more. I know the BBC do not see this as a good thing, but a lot of my friends would be a little happier if the tough cuts result in increasing the chance of buying a house in the future !

    Please try to de-London things, its not the middle of the UK when it comes to these cuts...again no single roundabout...if roundabouts are still in favour in the office, please argue against their use..

    I would like to recommend crossroads being filmed with signposts being amended with photoshop or similar to show the options the government had, then follow the route to what area of the country gets impacted by each decisions...

  • Comment number 4.

    I heard that around 600,000 public sector jobs may go within six years which will result in 500,000 private sector jobs going too apparently. I know it's in six years but job losses in the public sphere are a slow process anyway and people know well in advance they are for the chop long before they actually are. I assume the private sector will know much in advance too that their jobs are to be lost - that hammer may fall quicker.

    As this is to appease those rating agencies that help cause the crisis in the first place (or so the Tories claim). Ireland did the same thing. However, they were downgraded because of their public expenditure cuts would hit growth.

    Will the issues that we have coalition no-one voted for, a decade of slow growth, those job cuts, and resulting social upheaval create a legitimacy crisis with the State?

  • Comment number 5.

    Climate warming and sustainability are always left out or an afterthought.

    The Tory slogan was "Vote Blue, Get Green". Investment in renewables is the way to revitalise the economy and create jobs but the evidence seems to be that the coalition are saying one thing and are doing the reverse. Focus on the strategies (or lack of) to promote manufacturing and jobs.

    PS Can you get the BBC to immediately challenge any talk of the UK having been left on the "brink of Bankruptcy" by the LP ... I am outraged of East Sussex!

  • Comment number 6.

    How much of the private debt (which is going to be paid for by cuts to the public sector) is a) commercial private sector debt and how much is domestic private sector debt (i.e home-owner mortgages and credit-card debt)?

    To be 100% clear, how much of the debt problem is being passed to a naive and innocent public in order to bail out private sector businesses (including banks) which over-borrowed (like the recent buyers of Liverpool FC) in order to privatise what is left of the public sector?

    To what extent is the CSR just a raid by the private sector's politicians upon the electorate's public sector?

  • Comment number 7.

    "And who would you like to see grilled by my esteemed colleagues? This is no empty exercise..."

    Your esteemed colleagues couldn't grill a sausage, as they're all highly paid actors adept in maintaining the illusion of democracy.

  • Comment number 8.

    I can understand your dilemma, this mid autumn spending review has been a bit like the build up to a world cup...

    Analysed, interviewed and hyped to death before it ever happens to the point that when the main event arrives journos are scratching around for ideas to avoid repeating themselves enlessly (Lawro did an article on the Boar war and the origin of the name 'Kop' I remember .. it wasn't bad actually). The public feel a bit let down as the actual event cant possibly live up to the hype, Germany do better than expected, England do worse than expected and the final is a disappointing tactical affair ...am I close?

    World cups are 4 years apart so it is just enough time for us to forget all of the above so we all fall for the same marketing trick next time.


    Not sure I can help actually, but if I must the most compelling thing to examine is probably a direct cut for cut comparison with the Thatcher era interviewing heads of dept from that time and asking them what they would have made of the cuts today and what impact they would have had on thier departments circa 1980. Many people still resent maggie deeply even today for those cuts, which, I understand, were not actually cuts at all merely 'freezing' of budgets.

    You may scare the horses though if you do that.


    Alternatively, if Lawro can do an historical mini war documentary off the back of the world cup maybe you can do an interview with Wagner ( pronounced vagner) who i suspect (helped by the voting patterns of women of a certain age) will hang around far longer on the X-factor than the judges would like.

    Does this help :)





  • Comment number 9.

    I'm looking for information on both sides of the mirror. As well as stories about how families will get less money from the state, how about projections on tax cuts so families keep more of their pay packet?

    I remember a few weeks back you thought the NHS was free. Please bear in mind redistributive benefits are not free for the beneficiaries, they too pay higher tax even if they get more back.

    ps if we could have some BBC job cut projections to sweeten my day as I work out how much it's going to cost me. If I could get it in Nicholas Witchell units that would be lovely. ("500 jobs, or 15 Withchell's", etc)

    pps as I write this Radio 4 reports "Clegg, Cameron and Osbourne have been working out the cuts in a big country house, Chequers". Break the mould and be a reporter Paul, don't defend your pension.

  • Comment number 10.

    If, big IF, the result of the Spending Review is the loss of jobs en masse in the Public Sector I wish at least one journalist or news programme actually gets to the bottom on what the pay-off redundancy costs will be.

    In other words, if tens or even hundreds of thousands of Public Sector workers are basically fired I want to know how much redundancy they will get collectively.

    This area has become very blurred.

    Within weeks of the Coalition Government forming they said they would re-write the redundancy payments, in line with what Private Sector workers get, to any Public Sector workers made redundant in the Spending Review. Well, several months have passed between then and now and they have gone quiet on this.

    I am hearing of Public Sector workers being offered 5 and 6-figure payments, plus pensions paid up in full, to go now before next April - if so, surely this is a cost the country cannot afford when it is tens or hundreds of thousands of jobs going?

    In other words, would it actually be cheaper to keep people on.

    The other thing I keep asking, and it is a simple question, is what is the 'Big Plan' for the Private Sector?

    The Coalition keeps talking, seemingly in hope, that the Private Sector will take up the slack and help drive the economy forward. But to date I have heard no mention of a single idea from any Minister - Vince Cable seems to want to destroy the British IT Sector - and certainly no 'Grand Plan' or 'Great Vision'.

    There has been no mention of the cutting of red tape, which grew completely out of hand under Labour, which is a massive hinderance to all Private Sector businesses in this country. Unless you run a business you have no idea how much needless red tape burdens the Labour Government created for businesses.

    For a Tory Government there has not even been any leaks on potential tax cuts or tax benefits for businesses to actually, well, do anything other than horde cash and hunker down hoping the Second Great Depression will blow on by.

    This week we will hear of the cuts but when are we going to hear of the vision?

    Unless Government creates the conditions, via tax cuts and tax incentives, there is no reason why any business will create new jobs let alone invest and grow within this country.

    Heck, I am a one-man limited company and I am so fed up I am beginning to look to Germany, Holland and elsewhere - I daren't think about what the multinationals are thinking.

    I am convinced the only plan the Coalition now has is to slash Public Spending and hope and pray that the City will be enough to keep the rest of us on, um, the benefits that are about to be cut.

  • Comment number 11.

    * And who would you like to see grilled by my esteemed colleagues?

    - Merv King - how hard is it to pin this guy down? For goodness sakes.

    * Likewise what is making you fed up about the coverage?

    - Paxman. Dire interviewer. Boris made a real monkey of him the other day.

    - Make news - why is your running order the same as every other channel? Most news isn't news so don't copy it.

    - Can we stop with all the silly graphics on Newsnight? It's worse than The Day Today.

    - Left-wing bias. Liberal silliness like "we should have more doctors". Fine, but how do we pay for it? That last question wouldn't get asked far too often.

    Other than that (and I do mean this) great job and thank goodness Newsnight and Channel 4 news exist. And Paul stands out within this as innovative so he is exempt from most of the above :-)

    Oh and I forgot - could we please have detailed demographic analysis ie how is this going to effect young people?

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes, I agree with Ben - I would love to see a Government Minister or Merv King really questioned hard about inflation and about whether prudent savers are being sacrificed and punished in order to bail out the greedy who ran up vast amounts of debt?

    There are millions of pensioners in this country who are totally dependent upon their savings to see them through old age - most had worked, scrimped and saved in order to have a nest egg. Inflation is eroding and destroying the value of those savings through low interest rates on savings which are effectively negative interest rates when inflation is taken into account.

    I think it is more than scandalous.

    Alas, I have not seen King nor Clegg nor Cable nor Osbourne taken to task by this - really grilled about the real financial hardships that this is causing.

    I also wish that someone would ask one of them to explain how trying to create another credit/debt bubble - i.e. getting us all to buy tat again - is going to solve the economic problem when it was this that got us where we are!?

  • Comment number 13.

    THIS ALL HAS AN 'ALICE IN WONDERLAND' QUALITY TO ME

    Intense discussion about a situation never before encountered, being addressed by far-from-brilliant minds, who have at least two agenda.

    When lost, the first essential is to admit it. Then you confer on how to establish the best way to proceed. Westminster has two factions, both pretending they know where we are on the world map of imaginary money, yet they propose very different paths.

    Knowing the history of failure of Westminster's works, even when imaginary money is plentiful, we are faced with the impossibility of relying on anything. The only thing we can be sure of is that nothing is what it seems. Alice drew the same conclusion, I think.

  • Comment number 14.





    Hang on!

    What's happening?

    I don't understand!

    A BBC journo asking the viewers and posters what they would like !!!!!!!

    Stout based corporate trade name book of records entry on the cards perhaps?

    Or perhaps there has to be a first time for everything!

    Here goes ....

    Interview members of the public.

    Ask them, the great british public!

    Not the c list celebrities, the Professors of poetry or the journos with not that well hidden political affiliations!

    And don't edit down their comments to a handy bite sized quasi meaningless piece of time filling drivel!

    It is the GB Public - well, the bottom 90 per cent anyway - that are going to be hit!

    Ask them!

    Are you brave enough?

    Is Newsnight?

    Is the BBC?

    I dare you!

    (How's that for a challenge!)


  • Comment number 15.

    For the Tories this is a once in a century opportunity to roll back the State.

    So someone needs expose their two lines of cover:
    1. It is necessary
    2. It's all a result of that incompetent Labour Party

    All these cuts are a continuation of the attack on workers - work longer hours, retire latter, cuts in real wages, spend your whole life trying to pay for a roof over your head, etc.

    Why is there pressure on the workers?
    Why are we no longer getting the improvements in living standards?
    Explain that it's all to do with the profit system & these attacks are to prevent profit rates falling.

    The government spending cuts are very much part of that agenda.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Paul, I would like to see some analysis of Housing in the UK and about how much the taxpayer has done, and will always have to do, to underpin the housing market. When you look at the number of homes sold each month it is roughly about 8,000. Yet there are 4.5 million people waiting for social housing and the government slashes the money for new build social housing from £8bn to £1bn. Many of these people will be taxpayers whose money will be being used in all kinds of ways to provide 'stability' in the housing market for homeowners...but also lets face it, for the banks. There is a political will to do whatever it takes to prop up house prices, but there is also a political will to cut social housing, and I think it would be in the public interest to look into this and give it some airtime. Whenever the subject of social housing comes up on Question Time and other forums calls to increase the supply are always greeted with rounds of applause from the audience, so social housing is something the public are in favour of, and want more of.
    Also David Cameron is due to give a speech this week when he will unveil the policy of removing security of tenure to people who live in social housing if they start earning above a certain amount so it would be topically relevant.

  • Comment number 17.


    I suppose what I am questioning is whether the economy is something that we manage the best we can, or whether it is something we can get right? If we can accept the former rather than expect the latter we will be much happier. On that basis perhaps Gordon Brown's major crime was to try to convince us that we had seen the end of 'boom and bust'.

    On that basis will we end up after this very long boom and harsh bust in exactly the same position as if we had had our usual sequence of smaller booms and smaller busts? Will the changes from 1995 to 2015 be the same if we did it it in many little steps or a few great bounds? I don't know the answer, but it could throw up an interesting view on the way that politicians claim to manage the long term economy.

    Another question. Is managing an economy really a way of managing people using financial controls eg less Welfare Payments will get people into work; low interst rates will get people spending more etc? So discussions should not just focus on figures, but on people's behaviour that will make the whole thing more intelligible.

  • Comment number 18.

    What do I want to know? I want to know what you journalists were doing for the last 13 years during which the debts (which now have to be repaid) were rising? Why didn't you ask the pertinent questions of Labour politicians? Why is it only now you offer to do the grilling?

  • Comment number 19.

    DebtJuggler (7)

    "Your esteemed colleagues couldn't grill a sausage, as they're all highly paid actors adept in maintaining the illusion of democracy."

    It is indeed hard to believe that journalists are any longer able or prepared to ask crucial questions. A couple of cutting pieces in the Mail in the last week (one currently linked on the NN weblog) suffice to make one wonder just how cozy some have been with politicians, and how much they were groomed in the USA, in ways way beyond their grasp.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319222/How-BBCs-Stephanie-Flanders-fell-Ed-Miliband-Ed-Balls.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    In fact, what's happening seems to be way beyond most of their grasp?

    Prove us wrong Paul.

  • Comment number 20.

    Since in order to read what the government actually says we will need to have use .pdf so could the BBC remove the ban of linking to pdf files in its own reports and in audience reaction. Then we can ask say sensible things.

    It's amazing how many journalists don't even speed read an offical report before commenting on it. They reproduce what the Press Office or PR Department tell them often tailed off with a few misleading snippets from past 'clippings' and topped with XXX's are likely to be concerned, upset, laughing their faces off ... when they hear about the alledged action without bothering to call any xx's up.

    Indeed Paul has one already prepared

    "the Libdem anguish"



  • Comment number 21.

    I think the innuendo in Dead Zebs post is so misleading as to be defamatory. But then the moderators are not as sharp as he is.

  • Comment number 22.

    Paul I would develop your pieces of several months ago about the dichotomy of impact within the M25 and outside (well Oop North)

    There is also the exclusion of male unskilled workers from the economy to address - if the putative private sector/export led recovery is to appear (no I don't believe it either) it sure as hell will not be among these workers. All this about shrinking the public sector and expanding the private sector - what sort of growth will we get? Not likley to be proper jobs, just Tesco jobs. What will fill the life vacuum for males 16-35?
    Why are we continuing with Crossrail (madness, an obvious white elephant)?
    Why aren't we breaking ground on new nuclear power stations?
    Why don't politicians do a proper job before going into politics?
    What form will public protests take where will the anger be vented (in a CCTV world)?
    When public sector managers find they can't (not competent to, suffer emotional breakdown during...) actually implement cuts, who will carry the program out?

  • Comment number 23.

    Paul,

    I'd like to see / hear an interview with Max Keiser on his opinion of austerity:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DBpya55RnE

    Why are the people in this country paying for the fraudulent excesses of the banking class?

    Or if you're looking for someone closer to home, how about Ned Naylor Leyland. Sharp as a button, and little less "volatile" than Max:

    http://maxkeiser.com/watch/on-the-edge/episode-73-01-october-2010-guest-ned-naylor-leyland/

  • Comment number 24.

    Could we have some predictions/thoughts as to future unintended consequences for various cuts. Um... off the top of my head, what about, say, primary school teachers with £30k of university debt? How will they get a mortgage? What will London do about lower paid keyworker graduates? Spend fortunes on housing them, thus negating the money saved by putting them £30k in debt? That kind of thing.

  • Comment number 25.

    contrary to what one poster said, i PRAY you don't include any interviews with the public. Its totally dead airtime - what we want is analysis, to learn, not "and Andy from Surrey thinks that public sector pensions are too high, and that poor people shouldn't have big families". I can go down the pub and hear that for free.

    I agree that Paxman is an embarrassment now, but he should always be respected for his refusal to have a 'speak your brains' section on newsnight.

    So, what do i want?
    - The story behind the 'public replaced by private' mantra. Private means group 4, mitie, serco et al, not plucky small entrepeneurs 'doing things better'. There are plenty of examples of what happens when these corps take over public sector roles, and the people behind these companies (tory donors / board members i'll wager). Apologies if you've already done this, but i haven't seen it.

    - Timescales. I am still confused as to when changes will happen, all this talk of cuts in this fiscal year, won't these huge changes take months to put in place?





  • Comment number 26.

    I want metaphysical " Big Society " smokescreen laid open, and I want the macro socio-econimic effect to wealth distribution of the coalition's economic ideology examined.

  • Comment number 27.

    Well, Paul, be grateful that you will be busy doing something I trust you enjoy. Being busy is good: don't knock it, you'll miss it when it is over.

    There is precious little fun to be had out here in the real economy as at one level we are keeping things running much as before but occasionally looking over our shoulders for fear of a monstrous crisis breaking loose again.

    For my part the cuts have been inevitable for the last two years so this is now very much an old story. What I think we need is the view beyond. The cuts are scheduled for the next five years: that happens then? Do we continue as before running up collective debts so that individuals can shine? How do we change culturally? How is our economy to change? Why are we doing all of this if there is no vision of a better tomorrow?

  • Comment number 28.

    "The leaders of 35 of the UK's biggest companies have expressed their support for the government's plans for spending cuts running into billions of pounds.

    The bosses of Marks and Spencer, BT and GlaxoSmithKline are among those to have signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph.

    They write that it would be a "mistake" for Chancellor George Osborne to water down his programme for reducing the budget deficit"


    A case of Christmas Tree/turkey farmers voting for Christmas surely?

    cping500 (21)

    Not as sharp as some.

    I'm just referring to those who appear to have already painted part of a bigger picture. Just trying to be helpful. Whilst on the matter, have you noticed how more and more people these days seem content to describe the blatantly obvious as innuendo, or aggressively 'ask' what X has got to do with Y, i.e without ever looking into it? That's the sound-bite culture catering for those with limited 'time', I bet.

    http://200yearstogether.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/chapter-24-breaking-away-from-the-bolshevism/

    duvinrouge (15)

    The problem is that many in this country no longer know what 'workers'
    are. They think of them as navvies. Same thing goes for class, they have no understanding of what a class is in maths.

    Note that Mr Osborne has lots of backers amongst 'the public' though.
    See the muddles galore?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11561363

    Hawkeye_Pierce (23)

    Thanks - as you imply, the PressTV (Iran) and RT (Russia) angle can be a bit OTT at times. Nice to read your measured posts.


    Once upon a time, Britain largely nationalised its coal, oil, gas and electricity essential for its industry. It nationalised its transport systems to as that was essential for moving the field to the sites of industry. Naturally, the British public had an interest in how all those assets were managed as it was all run in the public interest, by British workers, hence the state pensions, NHS, education etc.

    Since this has been privatised, largely under the theatrical veil of improved efficiency and the power of 'the markets' we've seen UK politics go from the sublime to the ridiculous. As Britain slowly dissolves away in a spirit of anti-nationalism, the SNP lays claim to UK assets off its shores, even though Scotland only has a population about the size of London.

    What's really so sad about the UK these days is that so many of its people have been so easily induced to self destruct in the interests of just a tiny minority who clearly don't care about Britain at all.

    And yes, the astute will note that when it was nationalised it was very much like the USSR and China. You know what, some of us remember far happier, caring, times. I suspect Paul Mason may be one of us.

  • Comment number 29.

    How about an interview with "austerity guru" Michael Hudson?

    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2010/10/08/ami-talks-in-flv-format/

    (Second video from the top - Hudson talk). As someone who has seen the IMF hitmen in action against Latvia, Iceland, Ireland & Greece to name but a few, he would be well placed to frame this scenario in it's true context:

    Privatised profits / socialised losses

    Prosperity for the speculators / austerity for savers & workers

  • Comment number 30.

    Paul,

    I want to know how much of the cuts do your guests think will actually be made, ie. if the CSR mandates £100 of cuts over 4 years in total, what percentage will really be achieved ?

    I imagine George thinks 100%, others may think he is being conservative :) and cuts of 150% of the CSR amount will be achieved, guests from the Labour party might suggest that only 50% will be gained.

    My feeling is that they will be lucky to achieve the -2% that the esteemed (by some) M.Thatcher succeeded with. (-2% cuts is a spending increase of 2%)

    The other question is the amount they think will be saved by de-quango-ization expressed as a percentage of current quango spending (and not just the number of individual quangos in existence)

    Again my feeling is that overall, the savings will be negative. (have the markets priced that scenario in yet ?)


  • Comment number 31.

    'And who would you like to see grilled by my esteemed colleagues?'
    Please spare us the sneering hedge fund manager who usually turns up on these occasions - unless you can grill him yourself !

  • Comment number 32.

    I'd like you to go beyond the cuts agenda and really spotlight the other side of the plan - economic growth - without it - indeed with a double dip heading into depression, we might well be destroying any hope of growth for a generation.

    QUESTIONS TO ASK:

    Robert Chote is in charge of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility. I'd like to see him answer a few fundamental questions:

    1. Why has Eire's GDP fallen by 13% this year, their property prices have collapsed and they have had to do a second major round of bank bailouts and had to borrow vastly more money than they cut in the first place, when Eire is following the virtually exactly the same spending cuts course as the UK is about to embark on? Their level of unempolyment translates into 5m UK unemployed if we folowed the same trajectory - what would happen to government spending and our financial system if this was the result here?

    2. The OBR claims that the private sector will create 2m+ NET new jobs, that $400 Bn will be investred in new capacity and our exports will grown by a third by the end of the Parliament - IMHO there is no evidence to support this and many indicators are pointing in the opposite direction. 0.5 - 1 million (or more) public sector jobs to go - 1 in 6 to 1 in 4 local authority jobs going, building industry unemployment rising, the Scottish CBI said they couldn't even replace the lost public sector jobs let alone create any additional ones - manufacturing industry still contracting and exports falling not rising. The expert opinion said Eire was doing the right thing and did not predict this meltdown - why should the result be any different in the UK?

    3. The OBR's own analysis highlights the lack of clarity about the multiplier effect of government spending additions/cuts - the range given is -1.3 to +4 - or more - depending on the type of cuts/spending. How can the OBR predict growth rather than a deep recession when it does not feel able to give a solid figure for the overall effect of £112 Bn taken out of the economy - are we talking about aggregate demand falling by very little, or as I predict, heading for £1Tn?

    4. The OBR forecast did not take into account more QE - a figure of £100 Bn for UK QE2 is being discussed - where is the evidence that massive government spending deflation is in anyway balanced by massive monetary inflation? And what effect does the OBR predict QE2 £110 Bn might have anyway?

    I could think of loads more to ask Mr Chote - he has a reputation for playing with a straight bat - and he is responsible fror providing an independent assessment of government budgets - at the very least he could flesh out what the dangers are of this course of action for us all.

    I'd also like to know about the elephant in the room - trade - why do we think cutting public spending will solve our problems that are a function of our industrial base being decimated by rigged overseas markets (NB China) and the level of imports we now need?

  • Comment number 33.

    Apologies to anyone above who may have raised my questions already :-
    1. Probe the juxtaposition of fiscal tightening with the state of the credit markets, both in UK and global and the liquidity trap - see 2
    2. Dont let the fog of fiscal war cloud an analysis of the effects of QE Mk 1 and possible Mk 2 - this goes to whether the private sector take up the slack left by the hole in government spending to the degree required to lower unemployment
    3. Stagflation contrasted with deflation
    4. Is it true that Osborne's measures are built on a sovereign bond bubble ready to burst

  • Comment number 34.

    According to John Redwood's blog the "cuts" are not really cuts at all and actual spending is set to increase. It's only "cuts" in terms of what would have been spent. He's been banging on about this for some time. (He gives figures in his blog.)

    Maybe it's time to get behind the spin and hype and look at the actual figures and compare them as actual amounts spent with what has been done previously and what others eg NuLab were proposing to do.

    Then we could stop the panic and have a more sensible discussion.

  • Comment number 35.

    Paul, Danny Blanchflower is already stating these cuts may he too savage in one go. Would be good to see his take on this. Also would like to hear how the GBP (FX) will stand now and for the next 24months in light of cuts. Then more local UK house prices are out of step - will these cuts start the ball rolling for a crash and will this cause a similar problem with US foreclosures and further bank problems (what is it that is not being spoken). Then will the cuts actually cut the deficit and what about the bank investments profits

  • Comment number 36.

    #34 janchild

    Redwood also thinks he knows the words to the Welsh national anthem!

    Do not judge them by their rhetoric (as most of it is incoherent)...only judge them by the outcomes of their actions. If you do that, you will find that he was a miserable failure.

  • Comment number 37.

    richard bunning (32)
    "Robert Chote is in charge of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility.
    I'd like to see him answer a few fundamental questions:"
    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/data_obr_index.htm
    This is (as still a non statutory) Quasi Non Government Organisation. I strongly suggest you study his letter of appointment very closely. Paul Mason would not get much out of him that the Treasury/Government didn't want the general pubic to know.
    Do you really understand now how Government works? Some questions just are not worth asking. Even in Select Committees.

  • Comment number 38.

    34 janchild

    Redwood is correct to a point. State spending is set to increase over the next five years from GBP 640 billion to GBP 659 billion in 2014/5.

    What he does not say is that these increases are because we need to pay interest charges on the debt incurred by previous governments.

    I fear that by focussing on the cuts we are missing the trick which is the size of the National Debt. This has been slowly getting bigger for years but has been accelerated nicely by the Blair-Brown boom to reach almost a trillion pounds in the not too distant future.

    As a nation we need to stop living on credit. It is just an illusion of wealth. We need to get back to adding value through manufacturing so that we can get ourselves straight. As it stands when you are buying the groceries with your credit card then you know something is wrong.

    Our circumstances transcend the old political divide of Left and Right. We need solutions that will work not political philosophies.

  • Comment number 39.

    #38 - stanilic

    'We need solutions that will work not political philosophies".

    Good. So why doesn't someone ask the MOD and the Treasury the direct question - why the hell are you messing about at the margins and not scrapping the multi-billion upgrade to a Cold War dinosaur you are never going to use?

  • Comment number 40.

    Instead of naively asking questions of people who clearly can't be trusted to provide reliable, informative, answers, the BBC would do far better to undertake data based research into the questions themselves and then confront politicians and others with their findings.

    That's what a public broadcasting outfit should do. Why doesn't it do this?

    Walking up to, or inviting the usual suspects onto the programme just to waffle is a complete waste of time and public money. Seriously. It's an affront.

  • Comment number 41.

    stanilic (38)

    "Redwood is correct to a point. State spending is set to increase over the next five years from GBP 640 billion to GBP 659 billion in 2014/5."

    But where will that money be spent? Will it be going to private sector contractors instead of employees in the public sector (just as it has been doing over the last 30 years)?

    "What he does not say is that these increases are because we need to pay interest charges on the debt incurred by previous governments."

    Does he say whose pockets the money will go into? Private sector entrepreneurs with limited liability? The public still funds it, these people have just found an eternal source of supply surely?

    "As a nation we need to stop living on credit. It is just an illusion of wealth."

    But, I ask again, who are the we here? Is a) it the people in their homes with their modest mortgages and credit card bills, or b) is it all the private sector limited liability entrepreneurs who borrowed money from banks to make a fortune?

    "We need to get back to adding value through manufacturing so that we can get ourselves straight. As it stands when you are buying the groceries with your credit card then you know something is wrong."

    Maybe we need to ask some sensible questions instead of making assumptions that we know what private debt is and who is being bailed out?

    We we we.....

  • Comment number 42.

    Tabblenabble02

    Try Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment if you want a WEEE.

    In his poem Angle & Saxon Kipling wrote that when dealing with the English a Norman must always use the first person plural. Being both Norman and Saxon myself, among others, I prefer the culture of my forebears.

    There are many precedents for the use of the word `we'. No doubt there are anarchist narcissists, as you would choose to call them who would much prefer that the first person singular be used, as requested in Message 41 above, but we collectivists are more comfortable with the plural.

    There is an old saying that credit is the enemy of the working man as he ends up starving whilst he is forced to pay off the debts he has unfortunately accrued in the good times. It is very true and this is what has been forgotten by many these last three decades.

    What I have found very offensive is this promotion of the term `middle-class'. It would seem that this concept has been used to lull many people into debt because if you think you are middle class then you have to have the middle class lifestyle which you obviously can't afford on average wages.

    So let me tell you about all the debt there is:

    Once state and public sector pension liabilities are costed in the entire national debt is about GBP 4.8 trillion. Add in private sector debt usually secured on house values and there is GBP 1.2 trillion. If we add all that up into one big sum, as Carol Vorderman has often suggested, then we have a figure of about GBP 6 trillion. Add in ten per cent for good measure and we have a total debt of GBP 6.5 trillion.

    I doubt very much if that will allay your concerns. One could gad about trying to find who is responsible, and I have often said that the more obviously incompetent bankers should appear at the Old Bailey under the Theft Act, and spend otherwise useful time picking over what has happened. Or, we could set out to reconfigure our economy so that once again the working people of this country, of which I am one, can return to the useful activity of producing value so that our towns and cities reflect wealth and our farms blossom with the produce of a bountiful countryside. It was once like that and could be again.

    Are you on board for full employment as a national target measure? If so, join us now.

  • Comment number 43.

    Really liked your world cup blog and it would be great if you could use it as a metaphor to link the problems in our economy with that of our national game, you could even bring in asset values (what value Jo Cole or even Rooney now)! Its all about political choices, Labour must be culpable in part for our defecit but the coalition will be responsible for their planned cuts, they are politically driven choices :where we see our world role to be (why are we still in Germany and why is there no discussion of the Afghan/Iran war costs); the role of the State in health and education( why do you think private schools are so popular, wouldnt be class sizes would it?); is the Euro dead and where is growth coming from if we all devalue/cut back? Get Hugh Hendry back on too, he's great value on the Greek debt!

  • Comment number 44.

    37.

    I read the aapointment letter before posting - it says nothing worth discussing - I still maintain that focussing exclusively on the cuts ignores the other 50% of the economic policy agenda - what will replace the lost jobs and deliver the economic growth that is absolutely essential to prevent the UK descending into a generational slump.

    My view is that the OBR is a fig leaf for the ConDems to hide behind and that the achilles heel in their strategy is based on the libertarian dogma that the state "crowds out" the private sector - therefore cutting back the state will inevitably lead to private sector growth - and pigs will fly...

    If Mr Choate fails to be evenhanded in his assessment of possible outcomes and the debate aroujnd the multiplier effect, then the true nature of the OBR figleaf is revealed - if he is prepared to run scenarios such as that I indicated, then the ConDems are revealed to be taking the huge risk that the Shadow Chancellor has pointed to - and he will begin to place serious doubts about what is going on.

    I'd go for Danny Blanchflower too - and is there an Irish economist who predicted what has happened in Eire?

  • Comment number 45.

    #41 tabblenabble02 now I see, crikey, you have had more incarnations (or the blog equivalent) than the Dalai Lamma.

    Get thrown off (again) did we?

    Tut tut.

  • Comment number 46.

    my questions would be

    if the cuts are not dogma then why do the govt not say that when the finances are fixed they will restore services?

    when will the banks be sold off and the debts repaid to the nation with a profit?

    why is the 4 billion a year benefits to mainly millionaire landowners ring fenced?

    when will taxes be put on chinese goods that according to the big mac index is 40% undervalued. How can the uk ever compete with that? why do the guardian class say its 'market forces'. [China is sitting on $2.65T (worth) of financial assets]

    http://pragcap.com/big-mac-index-euro-overvalued-29

    The world system is broken. imbalances casn never be fixed.the economic fate of nations is being played out in the currency market.


  • Comment number 47.

    Max Keiser sums up the situation on austerity. He even manages to sway the two other contributors:

    http://maxkeiser.com/2010/10/18/max-keiser-lights-up-tehran-warren-buffett-should-be-hung-for-acts-of-financial-terrorism/

    If you're pushed for time, go straight to the second clip where the tempo picks up.

    Will anyone on Newsnight connect the dots?

    "NO AUSTERITY WITHOUT FINANCIAL SECTOR REFORM"

  • Comment number 48.

    Cripes!...I almost sense a certain degree of concensus in the posts above.

    Imagine what it must have been like during THE war...when we ALL worked together for the common good (JC would like that one)!

  • Comment number 49.

    "Once state and public sector pension liabilities are costed in the entire national debt is about GBP 4.8 trillion. Add in private sector debt usually secured on house values and there is GBP 1.2 trillion. If we add all that up into one big sum, as Carol Vorderman has often suggested, then we have a figure of about GBP 6 trillion. Add in ten per cent for good measure and we have a total debt of GBP 6.5 trillion."

    I'm not at all sure from your response that you understand the referential concern. We are NOT all in this together. There is a probable sleight of hand. 14 million home-owners with an average property price of under £200K is one thing. When you double that for life-time mortgage debt, and add in credit card debt, that will not, I bet, be where all the private debt lies, instead, it will be the combined sum borrowed by private sector limited liability companies as they astronomically geared over recent decades. That is what has been contracting as the economy shrinks back form the 65 consecutive quarters of continuous growth averaging 2.5% a year.

    The Private Sector is where most of our economy has been for a long time. This refers to banks the like Barclays, RBS, Lloyds and all of the other private companies including BT, Virgin, BA, BG, BNF etc etc. This will include all the services which once comprised the Public Sector but which have in recent decades been funded by promissory PFI, or which have stealthily turned into agencies or replaced through Market Testing or consultancies.

    I think your concern to look good (or bot look bad) may have got the better of you. That's what they hope will happen. That's what the over education of masses of people was designed to do. Blind them to their ignorance.

  • Comment number 50.

    42

    My reference to Kipling was incorrect. The poem is entitled `Norman & Saxon'.

    You know you just can't get the staff these days......

  • Comment number 51.

    #47 Hawkeye_Pierce wrote:

    Will anyone on Newsnight connect the dots?

    "NO AUSTERITY WITHOUT FINANCIAL SECTOR REFORM

    ---------------------

    I second that!

  • Comment number 52.

    stanilic (42)

    The liberal-democracies have been asset stripping their Public Sectors for decades. Vast amounts of national resources were sunk into these after WWII but they began to be liquidated in the late 70s under the ideology of the likes of Keith Joseph (see Thatcher's Cabinet composition for the fuller picture). What you have to bear in mind is what a small proportion of the work-force Public Sector employees now are (how many public sector workers are there relative to private sector do you think - it's not what it was after the war you know!).

    The UK Private Sector was responsible for the debt crisis, and now wants to get its hands on what little remains of the Public Sector. That is what the IMF has always done in the past, and as a tool of US Libertarianism its track record is sadly all too well known

    The reality is that across the liberal democracies, government has very little, if any, control over the Private Sector, it only has control over the Public Sector. That's why the Public Sector is now going to pay for past Private Sector debt, and, this country's electorate having failed to learn anything from 1979-1997 it went and gave anarchists a mandate to do this too!

  • Comment number 53.

    What a big blow the pragmatists suffered today...

    We had the chance to make our own energy, especially in light of its all only monopoly money....(the anarchists won again!)

    Severn barrage tidal energy scheme scrapped by Huhne
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-11564284

    READ MY LIPS....WE ARE STOOPID!

  • Comment number 54.

    richard bunning (44)

    "I read the aapointment letter before posting - it says nothing worth discussing -"

    See section 12 of the letter....

    There are many people who don't want the public to raise these sorts of questions. The question one should ask, including yourself, is, why?

    Why are you blind to the obvious? I've made some suggestions, one being that this blindness serves a function which is obfuscatory. Journalists and the media in general just reinforce this fog as debtjuggler has pointed out elsewhere.

    Sadly, most people these days wouldn't recognise insight if it ever occurred to them. It's all too unfamiliar

  • Comment number 55.

    Council estates will be become even worse ghettos then they are now if the tenants actually working are forced out. They'll be poverty traps. A social policy disaster in the making. Who ever thought this up should be shot!

  • Comment number 56.

    How do we isolate the ludites/enemies of reason?

    Maybe the X-factor winners will save us!

    God help us?

  • Comment number 57.

    God,

    I wish they could get it!

  • Comment number 58.

    The UK banks have historically only 5% to 10% business loans on their books, the other 90% to 95% of everything they lend is on property, and has been for years. Imagine the bank vaults stuffed with all those mortgages going back 25 years, most for just a few tens of thousands each. Now imagine the banks realising that simply by lending higher and higher multiples of peoples salaries they can push up house prices and increase the value of all those dusty old mortgages from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Of course the 8 times salary mortgages were only around for a couple of years, I was offered one myself in 2007, but it was long enough to push up the value of all housing to the levels we are still living with today.
    Despite this being the result of a few short years of madness and greed the banks are reluctant to give up all this newly created wealth and want all that notional 'positive equity' which is about as substantive as smoke, made real.
    And it is the cost of that, of bailing out the banks, of all the different loan guarantee and liquidity schemes, of all the borrowing in order to support the economy keeping people in their jobs and tied to their debts, of 0.5% interest rates and QE eating into peoples savings and diminishing their earnings that mean we all have to work until we're 70, and suffer these years of austerity.
    It is a massive amount of money and most of it is being used to stabilise and underpin the value of property.
    It is a political decision to do this.
    It is also a political decision to slash the social housing budget and remove security of tenure to social housing tenants.
    If there is to be a proper public debate about this then the relative amounts we spend supporting house prices for the banks, in all its forms, should be held up against the money being spent on social housing.
    The reason this is important is that we are now at a cross-roads. With 4.5 million people on waiting lists for 'affordable' housing it is only a matter of time before we see families with children sleeping in their cars, I give it 5 years myself, so we either build more now or start kicking out those who are lucky enough to already live in one.
    It is a political decision.
    To take this money and give it up as a price worth paying to underpin the banks mortgage books is a political decision.
    I think most people in this country support social housing, if you're house has doubled in value then it is reassuring to know that those less fortunate than you can get an affordable home, and if you are looking for somewhere to live you can always hope that one day you'll get one yourself.
    I don't see how this fits in with the whole 'social mobility' thing either. If on the one hand someone earning £44,000 a year is going to turn down a pay rise because that would mean they lose their child benefit, then it must be the case that a person earning much less than that is going to forego any kind of promotion because if they take it they will have their home taken away. On the one hand they are saying that cutting a persons benefits makes them go out into the world and 'realise their potential', and then say that if they dare earn a penny over whatever the limit will be set at, they'll have their home snatched away...Where is the logical consistency in that then?
    If you ask me this is a precursor to removing security of tenure to all social housing tenants, as I said there is a growing housing crisis in Britain and no government will want to see homeless families, but I also think that if the facts and figures were out there, most people would lobby for more affordable housing being built instead of this proposed shambles.

  • Comment number 59.

    #53

    I have an interesting tit bit of info on that. I was involved in the periphery of the scheme and scheme options. Guess who one of the interested parties was in investing to make it happen?....

    China.


    I am not saying that it had anything at all to do with the decision because.. well I simply do not know, but it is interesting is it not.

  • Comment number 60.

    "58. At 07:55am on 19 Oct 2010, muggwhump wrote:
    The UK banks have historically only 5% to 10% business loans on their books, the other 90% to 95% of everything they lend is on property, and has been for years."

    What is the referent 'property' there?

    To secure a loan the borrower pledges collateral, i.e security. What if the property pledged is some of the assets which the borrower is stripping, as in leveraged buyouts? When you refer to property, do you have in mind maisonettes or acres of land owned by some front business or the commercial property market? What does private and public mean?

    Is your behaviour private or public? That's a much harder question for most people to grasp than they realise, even if one is thinking about something as 'innocent' as Facebook:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2010/10/not_on_facebook_facebook_still.html

    The domestic home owner market is only about 14 million dwellings (at an average of under 200K each). I don't think Tesco secures its loans against its Chairman's home do you? What about Branson, Green, Sugar, the people who borrowed to buy Liverpool etc.

    I suspect most of the people who really know what is going on are not talking, and most of those talking are just guessing? Meanwhile, the likes of Phillip Green and Lord Wolfson advise their Con-Dems of what's good for them, as one might expect.. Note what Christopher Pissarides, Britain's new Nobel laureate in economics and professor of economics at the LSE, said in the Independent today:

    ""I am rather puzzled as to why big companies think the private sector will create jobs if the cuts are immediate rather than spread over two or three years, to give the private sector time to plan ahead.
    The situation is not so grave; there is no big risk premium of government debt as in Greece or Spain. I see a lot of confidence in the ability of the British Government to control the deficit. That confidence will remain if there is a well-arranged plan over the next few years rather than the next few months."


    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/prominent-tory-donors-among-business-leaders-who-backed-osbornes-cuts-2110268.html

    Watch Adam Curtis' THE MAYFAIR SET - and think.back to how much of the country was in public ownership back then, then think of the Oligarchs in Russia in the 90s and noughties, and how people like Jeffrey Sachs helped that come about.

  • Comment number 61.

    tabblenabble02

    You are not defining your terms when you remark `the Private Sector is where our economy has been for a long time'.

    Given that the UK government will be running a budget in the region of GBP 640 billion a year after the cuts having increased those budgets from GBP 350 billion a decade ago, suggests to me that your definition is a tad awry. Even allowing for inflation there is still a GBP 200 billion difference between government budgets in 2001 and now.

    What you protagonists for state spending continually fail to appreciate is that this needs to be funded from a vibrant economy. For the last twenty years I have agonised at the closure of small production units of one kind or another which cannot compete on cost with similar articles imported from overseas. This has gradually led to vacant industrial estates and empty shops as the corporates increase their grasp on the retail sector. Behind all this has been growing unemployment and falling wages even before the credit crunch.

    Now the unemployment was disguised by the last government for a long time through recruitment into the public sector. Unfortunately the last government allowed its economic policy to be determined by their friends and associates in the City. This lead to economic policy becoming the one trick pony of the banks. As we know that blew up and has taken the entire edifice of our economy with it.

    It is no longer a case of Public & Private sector pitched against each other in a battle for resources. This bogus argument has crippled us all for too long. The function of the state is to facilitate the continuation of a vibrant economy so that a suitable level of public spending can be attained and sustained. This is why I talk about the need for full employment.

    The issue to me is more about the fact that Big Government and Big Business increasingly cooperate with each other against the wider interest. This is what I choose to call the corporate sector, as opposed to the ordinary people in the real economy who are just trying to get by in life. It is the corporates, who include the media, who bring in the dogma and ill-composed philosophies of modern life when all the ordinary folk want is something that works.

    With regard to your comment on education, I do not agree that the masses, as you so arrogantly choose to call them, are over-educated. If anything they are uneducated. They are not even schooled; it seems to me that they are just processed. It is no wonder that some parents think their children are better off in private education. This is not a view I share but one I can understand.

  • Comment number 62.

    Paul,

    Are we all getting distracted by the pop media diversion techniques:

    Big Gvt / Small Gvt
    Budget cuts / Fiscal stimulus
    USA Good man / China Bad man

    Here is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Thomas Hoenig:

    "He correctly diagnosed that 'the financial collapse followed years of too-low interest rates, too-high leverage, and too-lax financial supervision as prescribed by deregulation from both Democratic and Republican administrations.'"

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinese-folktale-explains-monetary-easing-2010-10-17

    Therfore: NO AUSTERITY WITHOUT FINANCIAL SECTOR REFORM

  • Comment number 63.

    Only the UK could plan for aircraft carriers without planes!

    A Sir Humphrey master-stroke...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humphrey_Appleby

  • Comment number 64.

    "57. At 11:55pm on 18 Oct 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:
    God,

    I wish they could get it!"

    Agreed. It would be so much more constructive for all if just a few more of them took to following up the leads and contributed supporting evidence and analyses instead of just arguing/shooting themselves in their feet.

    Alas, the way that most have been taught in recent decades has to be 'creatively' argumentative. Alas, that's really just rage and Oppositional Defiance, which is of course, classic, arrested development.

    Modern libertarian subversion runs rather deep, is now everywhere across the liberal-democracies, starts young (self-image and self vs other centred behaviour is crucial to personality development and thus, crime, drug abuse etc), and is still very poorly understood by most 'normal'
    people.

    "Lenin describes the enemies of the working class as opportunists, petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, which he links to anarchism, the "Left"
    Bolsheviks (expelled from the Bolshevik group in 1909) and who he links with those who criticised the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. He ends by attacking the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries and members of the Socialist International who were prepared to compromise with the German leaders in defence of a capitalist system"


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Left-Wing%22_Communism:_An_Infantile_Disorder

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_communism

  • Comment number 65.

    61. At 09:45am on 19 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:

    I suspect we are not going to agree, but I'll try:

    "You are not defining your terms when you remark `the Private Sector is where our economy has been for a long time'.

    That's because I am trying to get you to re-examine your assumptions when you use and read these terms.

    "Given that the UK government will be running a budget in the region of GBP 640 billion a year after the cuts having increased those budgets from GBP 350 billion a decade ago, suggests to me that your definition is a tad awry. Even allowing for inflation there is still a GBP 200 billion difference between government budgets in 2001 and now.

    Even Nigel Lawson remarked on Newsnight that Blair was probably a Tory.

    Let me reiterate. New Labour was New Left (see Left Communism as anarchism). Like Thatcher they gave much of the money to the private sector. The people working in Public Services earn salaries but the public services themselves put the money received from central and local government into the economy which goes to the private sector. If local and central government are essentially grass root anarchistic 'democratic' left communists aka libertarians, they can borrow on the international money markets to effectively line the pockets of those of the private sector using public sector workers as middlemen or unwitting conduits. The more daft they are the better. The point is they don't see this. All that really matters is the money and where it goes.

    What you protagonists for state spending continually fail to appreciate is that this needs to be funded from a vibrant economy. For the last twenty years I have agonised at the closure of small production units of one kind or another which cannot compete on cost with similar articles imported from overseas. This has gradually led to vacant industrial estates and empty shops as the corporates increase their grasp on the retail sector. Behind all this has been growing unemployment and falling wages even before the credit crunch."

    This at root has nothing to do with being a proponent or opponent of state spending per se. It has more to do with highlighting what's behaviourally (politically) going on, not what you or I think is going on. The great deception, I am suggesting, has been to get you and I to communicate in the language of psychology (mentalism) rather than behaviour.

    "Now the unemployment was disguised by the last government for a long time through recruitment into the public sector. Unfortunately the last government allowed its economic policy to be determined by their friends and associates in the City. This lead to economic policy becoming the one trick pony of the banks. As we know that blew up and has taken the entire edifice of our economy with it."

    No problem with that bit. What I have been urging you to do is look further in the money trail.

    "It is no longer a case of Public & Private sector pitched against each other in a battle for resources. This bogus argument has crippled us all for too long. The function of the state is to facilitate the continuation of a vibrant economy so that a suitable level of public spending can be attained and sustained. This is why I talk about the need for full employment."

    You fail to see that the state is the public sector. When Britain had its means of production (fuel and minerals), communication (transport and coms) and exchange (prices and incomes) in public ownership under Old Labour, the state and government means something because most of the economy was under political control, the economy was Keynesian. Under libertarianism it isn't. You must try to see this in historical context. It has been all change since the 70s.

    The issue to me is more about the fact that Big Government and Big Business increasingly cooperate with each other against the wider interest. This is what I choose to call the corporate sector, as opposed to the ordinary people in the real economy who are just trying to get by in life. It is the corporates, who include the media, who bring in the dogma and ill-composed philosophies of modern life when all the ordinary folk want is something that works."

    And that is what they had pre 1970. It was undermined by anarchists/libertarians many of whom had no idea how they were being abused. It wasn't the unions per se who did this, it was those who ultimately were to break trade unionism (as I say, largely unwittingly, by being very 'independent' - that's the Infantile Disorder (Lenin) bit, see Pankhurst and Left Communism, female liberation, and t he declining birth rate amongst the bright as a consequence)..

    "With regard to your comment on education, I do not agree that the masses, as you so arrogantly choose to call them, are over-educated. If anything they are uneducated. They are not even schooled; it seems to me that they are just processed. It is no wonder that some parents think their children are better off in private education. This is not a view I share but one I can understand. "

    3% used to go to university which was the top part of the IQ distribution. Education is a selection of natural ability process. Now university attracts close to 50% which means the mean IQ has dropped to average, a massive dumbing down as IQ is largely genetic. The population has been dumbed down genetically too, as the birth rate has been skewed for generations. GCSE and GCE results are highly negatively skewed not normal (Gausssian), 75% of those who do biology get a B or above. I promise you, we have mass arrogance in the 'educated' population because of mass dumbing down and unrealistic peer appraisal. I am not being rude, just accurate. We can not increase people's grasp of what is going on through education, that is a Lysenkoist myth. You need to give that some careful thought I suggest.

  • Comment number 66.

    62. At 10:23am on 19 Oct 2010, Hawkeye_Pierce wrote:

    re link.

    When you're rolling back the size of the state (executive) it's very hard to see how our eager beaver libertarians will ever be able to control anything ever again. Oddly, it doesn't seem to have occurred to them that the markets control them, not the other way around.

    Quite literally, they are now hostages to fortune. Presumably those managing China see this and are quietly smirking?.


    "63. At 11:55am on 19 Oct 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:
    Only the UK could plan for aircraft carriers without planes!

    A Sir Humphrey master-stroke..."

    Archetypical, anti-British, libertarian comedy. Look into Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay. Also Warren Mitchell, given that Jessie Jackson was on last night. In fact, all the late 70s, 80s anarchic humour.

    What exactly was that status quo which Sir Humphrey was so keen to preserve at that time, and why did Thatcher love the series?

  • Comment number 67.

    A reminder to last week on this matter. A week's too long in politics?.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2010/10/qe2_policymakers_struggle_in_a.html

  • Comment number 68.

    Paul, just another comment to add. Did you read Paul Fisher's ( BoE QE Markets guru) proud speech to the good people of the South West at Gloucester? He was talking about deficits of a different kind. He made the point I have been talking about for months, ie that the QE Asset Purchase Fund is more than likely to end up in "cash deficit" ( indemnified by taxpayers). He is a bit 'light touch' on the benefits of QE. He asserts that the "cash deficit" will be worth it through lower government borrowing costs, stimulated growth and avoided deflation - grand claims indeed. Problem is, he cant point to any evidence of these supposed benefits, yet. Only time will tell..in all of this week's deficit-talk, dont forget this one.

  • Comment number 69.

    65 tabblenabble02

    You are quite right, we are not going to agree.

    I was with you up to the statement `New Labour was New Left (see Left Communism as anarchism)'.

    New Labour was not New Left. I never saw the point in the New Left, at least New Labour was a device used to seize power. Furthermore, you know we can never agree on your eccentric definition of anarchism.

    As for arguing that New Labour `like Thatcher' giving money to the private sector I have no idea what you mean. I work in the private sector and no government has even given me any money: they have only ever taken it away. Sure, there might have been tax allowances, duty management and training money but this was all regulated and managed by the Inland Revenue and HMC&E. I don't think `give' to be the operative word.

    As for your argument for the total nationalisation of the economy, this is a utopian fallacy. Economies are ever-evolving entities which crumble under central state management.

    We have had the recent shambles of the bank bust largely due to the revolving doors at the Treasury and the City as the same elite moved back and forth for more money every time. This is what happens when bureaucrats gets too close to economics: they go native and run off with all the money.

    Furthermore, in the old days I can recall the National Coal Board owning an electrical wholesaler - nothing wrong with that as presumably this helped mining operations - only this wholesaler sold domestic appliances at a loss of a million pounds a year. That wasn't much help to the miners, was it?

    The list goes on for the simple reason hierarchy is the problem. Elites become other-directed, forget where they come from and imagine their status derives from their genius. They delude themselves, live the lie and eventually become the problem. This is where we are now.

    Lastly, you totally missed the point I made about education and that is there is none. I am not going to get involved with an argument over graduate skills. I nice lad called in the office a few weeks ago and we discovered his graduation paper was on a certain historical event with which I am familiar. It soon became apparent that he knew the main authorities but had not even followed up on their references. Sad.

    You can't buy education and you can't force it on people: to read, to write and to reckon should be enough followed up by an excellent library. But you try finding one of those these days. Maybe we can agree on that point.

  • Comment number 70.

    Paul,

    There will be plenty of retrospectives over the 'Cuts Mania' what I would like most from Newsnight and specifically your segment would be something along the lines of how the lessons should be learned, for example the 1930s depression left a lasting legacy on the world no doubt the 'great recession' will too.

    Should not the economic theories which have gotten us here form part of our core schooling/curriculum? Part of the problem with the exotic finacial instruments such as securitisation and CDO's etc was that most people did not understand them so 'lest we forget' to borrow a phrase?

    In addition Globalisation, the rumblings of currency wars and how different countries are dealing with their circumstances - What is the impact for us all as global workers? again do we not need our school education teaching us how to be a competitive global worker? as the current school and uni leavers are discovering out in the wild world the are hardly equipt for the hyper competitve world they are stepping out into, nor are they ready for the harsh realities of outsourcing, redundancy or the financial minefields the must work through...

    The cuts discussed at the moment are at least of out governments own choosing unlike Iceland, Ireland or Greece. What must be investigated is those seeds for our future prosperity as a nation and people are not overlooked.

  • Comment number 71.

    I am still staggered that they didn't drop a few bomb shells when the Chilean miners were being rescued - a perfect day to 'bury bad news'!
    I am old enough to have 'survived' 3 recessions and the common theme is that at no time did any of the governments have a clue what they were doing. I have little faith that this one is any different and for that reason I refuse to be exercised by the rhetoric. I do know that my business and the livelihoods of my staff are on the line - but we have survived for nearly 35 years and hope for the best. If they can cut the under-performing public sector (and I do NOT mean nurses and cleaners, rather the over-pensioned 'suits' sitting in council Ivory Towers) then may be there is a glimmer. You will no doubt keep us informed in your own laconic style - and for that I am very grateful. Keep up the good work, Paul.

  • Comment number 72.

    69. At 3:38pm on 19 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:

    "Lastly, you totally missed the point I made about education and that is there is none".

    There's no teaching the ineducable, essentially because they can't see, never mind question, their core assumptions. They tend to think they're already sufficiently educated.

  • Comment number 73.

    It didn't take long for the social housing story to drop out of the headlines did it?...By lunch-time it had been dropped from the radio 5 news reports in favour of a story about the conviction of a woman who put a cat in a rubbish bin.

  • Comment number 74.

    (Apologies if this is a double post - I think my previous submission got lost)
    One main issue.

    These spending cuts are to sort out the structural deficit. But why do we have such a large structural deficit?

    Obviously, it's partly down to going into the recession with a £30-40bn deficit. But where did the other £60-70bn appear from?

    From most news coverage, you might think it's all it's the banks fault. And no one denies the international financial crisis caused the recession. But was the deficit caused by the recession?

    Many articles simplistically say it is permanent damage done to the economy by the recession. But if the recession has caused this damage, why won't the economy repair itself when the recession is over?

    Or is there another explanation? Is this extra £60-70bn due to the loss of temporary tax revenue, which only existed when there was a housing and debt bubble, and won't return unless decide to create another bubble (and thereby sowing the seeds of the next crisis)?

    I haven't seen this question properly investigated or debated.

    I find this extraordinary.

    It's the key question as to why we need these cuts, and who is responsible. And it's a vital question in deciding whether Labour's strategy for growth would work, or whether that strategy was too dependent on unsustainable rises in house prices and debt.

  • Comment number 75.

    Week of cuts mania: what do you want to know?

    Well, they do say a week is a long time in politics, and political media reporting.

    So... now the BBC is feeling everyone's pain, and seems set to engage in a bout of serious navel gazing to be shared nationally with the public like Chris Moyles' back pay, will we be treated to various market rate senior talents being put on the spot by various doe-eyed single issue BBC department moppets with a sympathetic mic-carrier to agree that, whoever does see a reduction in money, it should not be them?

    Might be interesting, as it seems simply caving in and boosting the cookie jar is no longer an option to please all the staff, all the time.

    Or is the licence fee basically going to end up not for content so much as social service support payments.

    I might not need to get to 75 to find funding the likes of Mr. Byford's retirement as.. vexing.

 

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