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crisis debt economics environment Key Article politics problems society taxes

Can we afford for Britain not to lead?

Britain, partly on account of its preeminent financial center in the City, may be the only advanced country positioned to move to a new socio-economic model.

Any country proposing to make an even moderately radical break from the status quo will face deep scepticism from the establishment, and the establishment today is embodied in the international financier and the global corporation, on whom the peace of our societies and the satisfactions of the great majority are now dependent.

Our current system already rides a razor-thin line between plausibility and fantasy with never-seen-before levels of debt and monetary adventurism, the credibility of which are predicated on long term projections of growth and stability that beggar the imagination.

Any new ideas for how to structure our political economy must either promise to conform to the tightrope we are on, or provide a credible alternative. Any plan that increases spending or investment but does not raise new revenues must necessarily be dependent on some combination of growth, debt, or monetary expansion. Given the already stretched boundaries of the current construct, notions of higher levels of growth, debt, or monetary expansion can only be dependent on justifications that amount to postulation. What seems certain, and to which Greek politicians can attest, is that no country without control of its own currency and direct access to an international financial centre would be able to entertain deviating from the path of the status quo.

It is the very precariousness of the status quo that lends weight to the admonitions of the establishment, embodied in the advice doled out by Germany (through the Eurogroup) and the world’s financial überinstitutions. They are, rightly, deeply sceptical of novel approaches that refuse to adhere to the established limits of fiscal and economic boundaries, because the precious commodity of confidence that underpins the entire system is not within their direct control and rests on a generalised acceptance of models that use historical basis as their justification.

Thrust thus into the seemingly concrete confines of fiscal and economic rules that prescribe that “there is no alternative” (TNA), there are some that divine an escape route through the use of the very tools that support the status quo, and favourite amongst those is monetary adventurism, mostly in some form of “quantitive easing”. Primarily a despondent and confused left, but also an angry and careless right, are gravitating to justifications for their expansionist promises that rely on the use of the same growth, debt, and monetary adventurism that their nemeses already deploy. Irrespective of the quality of their arguments, what is evident is that their ideas are dependent for practical application on the existing financialisation of the economy. This new gloss on old ideas betrays their plans as contradictory to the analysis that they use to substantiate their intentions. If the current malaise is substantially explained by the financialisation of the political economy over the last 30 years, how can the remedy be to lean further on that same system to justify investment? If we are destroying the planet with our growth based models for advancement, how can it be a solution to devise new systems that are ever more dependent on further growth? If expanded debt has substituted for fiscal rectitude, how can more debt, justified by more growth, help to retrieve balance in our affairs?

This then is the root corruption at the base of the supposedly new models we are offered today: that they are at once a critique of the status quo, and they then lean on the established structures to enable their proposed remedies. They cannot stand, and they will face the same fate as Greece: to be subjugated to the established structures, or face penury and exclusion, lest they unbalance the precarious justifications used in the rest of the system by the rest of the world. This is not cruel punishment, this is simply self preservation by the majority.

No model that will not simultaneously increase public revenues and balance that burden with an increase in the quality of life of the great majority can walk away from the established constructs. If the model depends on the existing structures but refuses to accept the strictures of that regime it will be, and must be, frozen out when it comes to implementation.

Moving on from the vanities of the shallow philosophies of the new left and the new right, what of the possibilities for proper change? What of the fate of a properly constructed new political economy, wherein the fiscal logic is not dependent on infinite growth, debt, or monetary adventurism? Such a concept would also have to face the realities of the status quo, and navigate a future in which the rest of the world remained to be convinced of such a path. This could only be achieved in a society which had control of its own currency and direct access to a domestic financial market with sufficient depth and strength to weather the early phase of establishment. Otherwise the maintenance of the inherited debt would quickly overwhelm the nascent reconstruction. This substantial hurdle would be insurmountable in all except a very few countries, and amongst those possibly only the UK has the demos and the institutional fabric strong enough to make it happen.

Britain could lead the way and do what others want to do, but cannot do, because we host the institutional fabric necessary to enable change independently. There is a world of difference between proposing a fiscally balanced future that only needs to maintain the existing debt load, and a proposal to exacerbate the existing paradigm as a means of reaching a promised future. The sanctity of government bonds rests in the ultimate power of a state to raise taxes, which is the resorting guarantee behind the economic projections of any particular administration. If the financial markets have convinced themselves that the current debts are sustainable on the current projections then any new plan that incorporates raising the revenues to pay for its proposals leaves the current status unruffled. There would remain any number of underlying assumptions that a new plan would have to leave undisturbed, and that is where a strong domestic financial market becomes important. The critical impact of a judgement to sustain continued credibility, versus the costs of concluding otherwise, is only likely in a country that has monetary independence and a deeply integrated financial system. For those reasons Britain is uniquely placed to make the move to a more sustainable and joyful political economy, and to benefit from the first mover advantages.

Completing the next phase of the post 1945 settlement by extending the same principles embodied in the NHS to a complete range of basic life supporting services is well within our grasp, with recent research from UCL suggesting such an extension would need only a 2.3% GDP rise in taxes. The effect would be transformative and lay the foundation of a new age of innovation, social cohesion, and rebalanced labour relations.  By shifting the responsibility for a satisfied demos from material consumption to a more relational basis, dependence on finance is reduced at the same time that costs are reduced through social wage substitutions. Until other societies replicate the model, the first movers benefit from substantial competitive advantage.

If human societies are to break the current mould that seems to lead inexorably to never-seen-before destructions, then it can only happen if a new model is established free from the implausible justifications of infinite growth on a finite planet, unrepayable debt, and magic money. Few countries have the present time luxury to consider these long term problems, less have the predisposition to question their own orthodoxies, and even fewer have the capacity and strength to embark on such a journey. Can anyone other than Britain take the lead? Can anyone afford for Britain not to take the lead?

Categories
politics society WellFair

Free Social Care

LIFE will integrate social care services and the NHS to provide a nationwide service that ensures that everyone will have access to basic care services at all stages of their life.

Care homes will still be run and funded locally, but the budget will be allocated from national income taxes.

Categories
citizen politics society WellFair

Guaranteed Universal Basic Services

LIFE will guarantee that every citizen and resident in the UK has free access to basic public services, including old age care.

Universal Basic Services (WellFair) include the NHS, education, transport, housing, food, communications, as well as public safety, legal aid, and our democracy.

This includes a plan to build 1,000,000 new social housing units within 7 years, and free basic phone and Internet for everyone.

All funding will be from Income Taxes.

 

Categories
politics problems society WellFair

The Tory’s Awful Honeymoon

It takes years of patient and hard work to rebuild communities if they breakdown, and so it makes perfect sense that it takes years of underfunding before the consequences of failing to nurture a community also become apparent.

Across this land the awful tragedy of the almost impossibly arrogant notion of a “big society” promulgated by the Tories in this decade is now unfurling. The idea that the voluntary sector can and would pick up and replace public services when the government abandoned them could only make sense to a shallow-thinking, protected group of naives. But it is the curse of those who view the world exclusively through the lens of motivation that they cannot see the social imperative that makes their view possible.

Leaders in the NHS are sounding alarms about the effect on health services, but they are just the ‘canary’ for a much wider thinning of our social fabric.

Categories
economics environment Key Article politics society

Discover LIFE

In the never ending quest to make the principles and ideas behind LIFE accessible to a wider audience we have produced an new iBook called “Discover LIFE”.

Understanding who we are requires that we can reach beyond our personal perception of the world to see ourselves as a species.

Who are humans?

How did we get here?

What makes us tick?

These are the important questions we must be able to answer first, before we can embark on our journey to find out what works for us.

With sound and compassionate understanding of our inherited natures, we will be on the road to developing effective new models around which the peoples of the world can organise themselves.

The book is available in the animated iBook format for Apple devices and computers here. Most graphics are clickable for more detail – it’s fun, try it out. Open in iBooks when prompted.

And a PDF Hi-Res version (30Mb) is here and a Low-Res (7Mb) version is here.

Please post your comments and suggestions below, or email then to info@uklife.org, that would be greatly appreciated

Many thanks!

Donate

Donate to UK LIFE now to help make Proper Change come true - thank you

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Categories
change crisis Key Article legacy parties politics problems society

Floundering on the Rocks of Policy

While it is increasingly obvious that what we are doing isn’t going to work, what to replace it with is an even bigger unknown.

Categories
Key Article problems society

Promises

Hominoids only emerged from the Savannah to cover the world after they adopted promises as the basis of their societies. In a material world, where money is used as a replacement, is rediscovering the importance of promises a leap too far for most of us?

There is something that humans before the “economic era” knew and understood, a truth that we find hard to grasp with our economic minds: human society is based on promises, not money. The primary social promise is of mutual safety, given to every member of the society in the form of help and care, available in the event of need, and provided as service. That promise of social safety is not conditional, but it does anticipate that in return each member will make their best personal contribution.

Certainly the humans of a few thousand years ago, and, I would wager, even our great-grandparents, would have unconsciously known that their society was bound together by mutual promises. So basic was this fact that it need not have been consciously examined. That a promise of mutual safety was exchanged for mutual contribution was inherent, instinctive, and bound into the fabric of common understanding, as it has been since the dawn of our species.

If there is one thing that will help you understand our troubled predicament today, it is this: that we are dependent on others, to whom we are bound by promises, not money. If that jars with your sense of reality, you are not alone. If you recognise its absence in the world around you, you are also not alone. Let’s try to understand why.

Categories
budget Democracy economics society

This Crisis

Across the industrialised world we face a set of problems, that are destined to be the problems of all people across the whole world.

The affordability of the social-democratic State is in question, particularly in a low growth and resource constrained world. The inevitable time constraints on resolving this issue means that if it is not solved with progressive ideas, it will be resolved otherwise – most likely with a collapse into chaos, followed by an authoritarian (likely right wing) response.

Demographic and environmental pressures only serve to compress the urgency of this challenge.

Categories
ConDem debt Democracy politics society

Malaise afoot

There is malaise foot, people sense it, and without sensible alternatives they will increasingly gravitate to the simplest and most self-protective options that are available. This political malaise has a short horizon, even if any one of a dozen potential powder-kegs does not go off to shorten it further (a debt crisis in next 3 years being the most likely).
3 deficits_0

Living life, private or public, off debt is an instinctively unstable position, and we are all aware of our deep financial, social, and environmental debt – for which we have no repayment plan. Individuals in this situation commonly, and understandably, abscond, turn criminal, and rage against the system. For individuals in a decent society we have the rule of law to provide a way out of such situations, for whole societies there is no such rail to lean against. This is the story of the evolution of human societies, and the unfit pass into history.

Without the appearance of a practical, credible and safe path forward, today’s advanced societies are pressing into a breach left open by the failure of both centre-left and centre-right politics to apprehend the dire need for such a path.

Categories
competition crisis Key Article society

A devastating critique

Nearly every facet of modern western civilisation is based on a simple premise: that the individual makes better decisions than a group. What if that is untrue?

The entire neoliberal construct (limited government, free enterprise, and personal freedom) is predicated on the notion of the individual as ascendant to the group. The dominant feature of this philosophy is this distain for the group as a quality. Government should be limited because groups make poorer decisions than individuals, private markets excel because they rely on the decisions of brilliant individuals, and personal freedom is phrased in the format of freeing the individual from limits imposed by the group.

Yet what we know of ourselves, what we can see around us, and what we know about evolution, all attest to this as fallacy. We need our groups, our families, our communities, our markets, for our individual sanity and happiness. We evolved as groups, that is our foundational and inescapable inheritance. We cannot think ourselves into solitary individuality, we know we are individual members of groups.