Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ideological warfare & kleptocracy

Ideological warfare, to nick a phrase, is something that is there to ensure that you're fully prepared for any endgame when it appears on the horizon. It's outcomes are something the left are very good at arguing against (i.e. the prospect of disaster is all too evident to us) and poor at counteracting.

Take the current Greek crisis as a case in point. There's a comprehensive example of this as outlined by Alex Andreou over on Sturdyblog (more at Roarmag)

I'm no economist (i.e. I'm staying out of the Greece - in/out of the Euro argument) but even Capitalists@Work have tumbled how this whole thing could play out.
"...my vision of a bankrupt Greece is that state assets get sold anyway, only now the wealthy shipping owners, money safely in dollars in London banks, come back to their home country as 'saviours'; picking it up for a few drachma along the way."
Paul Mason's nightmare vision of Greece (and potentially, other European democracies) sliding into populist anti-politics is one consequence of the misdirection that puts the blame for this crisis on the swarthy slovenly 'garlic country' (© Geert Wilders) mediterraneans as opposed to the astonishing ransom that the Greek people are being forced to pay to thieving banks.

Another example is apparent in the United States. With a $14tn deficit debt (ta Tim), they are unable to raise the taxes they need to, or cut the healthcare costs that are grossly inflated by commercial bureaucracies.
"People who live in Alaska - and people who aspire to live in Alaska - imagine it is the last frontier, she says, "the place where rugged individuals go out and dig for oil and shoot caribou, and make money the way people did 100 years ago".

But in reality, Alaska is the most heavily subsidised state in the union. There is more social spending in Alaska than anywhere else.

To make it a place where decent lives can be lived, there is a huge transfer of money to Alaska from the US federal government which means of course from taxpayers in New York and Los Angeles and other places where less rugged folk live. Alaska is an organised hypocrisy.

Too many Americans behave like the Alaskans: they think of themselves as rugged individualists in no need of state help, but they take the money anyway in health care and pensions and all the other areas of American life where the federal government spends its cash"
It's an argument that I noticed being put more concisely last year in Good Magazine: 'The Anti-tax States Get a Great Deal on Taxes.'

We're seeing short-term land grabs going on. In Greece, state assets being sold at knock-down prices to wealthy local saviours (who can step in, as such, into the political vacuum). In the US, following the example of the kleptoparasite Ayn Rand, 'libertarian' is just a euphemism for rich benefit fraudster. It's also, mysteriously, allowed to occupy the first position in any public policy punchup.

It's happening here in our own very English maids-bicycling-to-communion-through-the-morning-mist sort of way. The free schools idea is all about pushy parents being able to send their kids to bespoke hipster versions of public schools at the taxpayers expense. We're seeing an asymmetrical transparency being applied to the public sector (at the point where the private sector has pulled of the greatest fraud in our history) attacking it at all points. Public sector pensions at the bottom end, public sector salaries at the top end.

Labour connived in the demoralising managerialist assault on the very legitimacy of the public sector. With it's historic link to the Unions, you would have expected a Labour Party with a fragment of ideological defensiveness to have been talking about a public service ethos within the public sector a long time before the Tories were banging on about The Big Society.

I don't have the figures, but I'm fairly sure that most public sector workers didn't vote Labour at the end of a decade in which Labour - alone - championed massive public investment.

It's worth seeing every aspect of public debate in this country - transparency, accountability, people-power, 'localism', the bait-and-switch nasty party populism/Big Society niceness as little battles in this ideological warfare.

I'm worried that the bed-blockers on the top floor of New Labour's hospital are just too thick to recognise any of this.


Tim Worstall said...

I'm no economist

Err, yes.

Another example is apparent in the United States. With a $14tn deficit, they are unable to raise the taxes they need to,

$14 trillion is around the size of the entire US economy. The deficit is more like $1.4 trillion.

Paulie said...

Should have said 'debt' not 'deficit' - but either way, it's funny money to me. Like I said, I'm no economist ;-)