The Populist Manifesto
By Ashley Cutts
Western democratic news media and political parties are obsessed with the economy. It is as if the national economy is the be all and end all of life let alone politics.
Government by definition should be popular. Government can concern itself less with reducing the structural deficit or hitting target inflation or boosting GDP – the things that ordinary folk couldn’t care less about. Popular government puts into perspective these false prophets of prosperity. It focuses instead on the expansion of the bare necessities of life and delivers fair access to them. These are the things that really mean something.
Western politicians are concerned with little other than their own election and personal career progression. In Britain the leader of the opposition Labour Party Ed Miliband said he will not reveal his alternative policies in case they are stolen and put into practice by the ruling coalition party. Ed could have made the point with fewer words. He could have said I do not care one jot about the country; all I care about is my own political advancement.
Ruling parties think it is not in their interests to make the long-term structural investments necessary for sustainable prosperity. Investments cost money in the short term and they fear this might make them unpopular. They are actually mistaken to think such policies would be unpopular because if the debate is fully and honestly aired in the media - the people will always choose what is best for them.
The form of democracy in Britain, the United States and all over the western world is representative democracy. This is a system where parties funded by interest groups spend huge amounts of money pretending to the public about what they are going to do if they get into power. When western parties get into power they abandon the promises they made and instead fulfil a secret agenda. They do the bidding of their core supporters and paymasters, as well as feathering their own party and personal nests. Campaign promises are not in any way binding and are swiftly cast aside.
Politicians are not popular and the current system barely deserves to be called democracy. The public are turning their backs on politics in droves because they have nothing worthwhile to vote for.
Politicians are increasingly viewed as part of the problem not the solution. There are a lot of them getting paid a lot of money and claiming lots of expenses but are not perceived as doing much of use.
The exciting thing is that the time is ripe for getting democracy back to basics. The banking and sovereign debt crises in Europe today are creating the will among ordinary people to become more politically active. The maturity of the internet is making direct democracy feasible. We have the technology to connect ordinary people to the issues and get their feedback. We can rebuild democracy using social media such as Facebook and Twitter and the Internet in general.
It is questionable whether the system of politics in America, Britain or much of Europe deserves to be called democracy any more. The majority view of the public is not well represented. Election campaigns are an outpouring of hopes, dreams and high ideals with little substance. The public are tired of the meaningless political beauty contest and are beginning to demand real change.
Economics is dead. It is a discredited academic discipline. Economists have failed to bring prosperity into the realm of objective reason as it promised. Economics is a dismal science. Economists do not agree with each other. Economists did not predict the 2008 crisis. Economists don’t know why the 2008 crisis happened, they don’t know what is happening and they don’t know what is going to happen next or what to do. Economists have nothing to offer beyond confusion. Economists, like politicians, are more of a hindrance than a help.
Corrupt government creates the boom and bust cycle by doing exactly the opposite of what people want. Western politicians are guilty of fattening themselves up with non-jobs during periods of private sector prosperity. Like parasites they have gorged themselves and become bloated. No wonder there is growing anti-government sentiment in the United States and in Europe. Government has become the problem not the solution.
In Britain the wartime spirit is needed again. This is real war and your country needs you. Most of all your country needs a government.
Theoretically capitalism can provide everything the population needs to live and grow. Unfortunately Hayek’s libertarian view of a minimal government does not work in practice.
If we live by any sort of moral code then we see the sense in keeping people employed. If we are serious about respecting the dignity of persons, then we respect the right of an individual to contribute to society. If we care about giving people what they deserve then we recognise that everybody deserves the opportunity to work. If a government is to set a democratic course it wages war on wasted human resource. If private business cannot employ everybody then government can take up the slack.
When the capitalist economy is working well unemployment is very low. But when the capitalist economy breaks down popular government steps in to pick up the expelled labour capacity and uses it to create moral goods projects. This is so our grandchildren can have a life too.
The Chinese ‘state capitalist’ economy has boomed at an average of 10% per annum for over thirty years from a most humble starting point. Theirs is a much more effective and popular strategy for prosperity than the current western method of austerity.
Much of government spending is wasteful. It is worse for a human ecosystem if government * creates non-jobs than it is for government to create high unemployment. Paying people large amounts of public money to do nothing of value is more harmful than paying people relatively small amounts of money for doing nothing of value.
Developed world government has no need to borrow during peace time. The need to borrow during peacetime is a sure sign of mismanagement of public finances. Efficient use of national resources is more than sufficient for the task of producing what the people need to prosper.
The United States debt is in the region of 16 trillion dollars. This is 52 thousand dollars of debt for every man woman and child living in the USA today. How can this possibly be repaid? Children of America are being born bankrupt – so too are newborns in Europe.
The disgusting levels of western debt are not something that can be written off. The accumulation of this debt represents a destruction of human life support systems and skills. If things continue as they are there may be no way back.
Human resource is the only real currency and the government has a moral obligation to spend what is left over from the private sector.
It is clearly immoral that banks be allowed to gamble other people’s money for the primary purpose of producing large profit and bonuses for the executives knowing that when the bets go bad the government bails them out with trillions of dollars of public money.
What is the point of taxation? It is to help sustainably grow the population by providing funds to pay for defence, law and order, transport, water, food and energy infrastructure, education and health care. If we are to have a fair equality of opportunity conception of politics and carry the whole nation forward then the provision of all these goods and services is controlled by government. Taxation is therefore a democratic necessity.
The tax code is extremely confusing and complicated and vast armies of people are employed to avoid tax liability and other armies of people are employed to recover unpaid tax.
The motives of western politicians are misaligned with the needs of the role they are supposed to perform. They have forgotten that they are supposed to serve the will of the people.
Giving free money to banks is a plain demonstration of how governments around the world appear not to understand what money or an economy is for.
Money is a means to the end of getting people to work towards population growth and this will be fulfilled by reducing rather than increasing unemployment rates and producing more of what people need to live. Tax collectors and tax lawyers are not adding to the moral goods and they are part of the bureaucracy that can to be eradicated.
Many foreign companies operating in Britain are avoiding paying any corporation tax. This is unfair on the British companies that compete with them that have to pay the full rate of corporation tax.
A popular move may be to reduce the UK corporation tax rate to the same level as the lowest in the region. This is Ireland’s rate of 12.5%. A further popular act of parliament may be to create a law against tax avoidance. The techniques used by companies to shift profits around the world can be cited in the bill and all of them outlawed. The offence can be a civil offence punishable by fines on the company. Another potentially popular solution is to abandon the system of taxing profits and instead create and new corporation tax on sales. Companies are obliged to declare sales and therefore would have no opportunity to use creative accounting to avoid paying due tax.
Is passing wealth on down the generations not analogous to shunting advantaged offspring nearer the finish line of the egg and spoon race at the school sports day? How are the other parents going to react to that? Is inherited wealth not the very thing fair equality of opportunity is designed to avoid?
On the other hand is inheritance tax not a double tax? Besides, should an individual not be entitled to allocate his goods and money as he pleases at any stage in life and in death? Is inheritance tax not a violation of our rights as free citizens to spend our money as we choose?
Fair payment of inheritance tax is much more difficult to enforce than fair payment of corporation tax and most large multinationals are paying whatever they feel like on that front. The attempt to set and collect fair inheritance tax is a fatal presumption of government capability. This is why inheritance tax should be scrapped along with corporation tax.
The education system should recognise and develop all human talent to its full employment potential. The current education system wastes human resource by failing to fully develop economically disadvantaged children.
Private schools create a multi tier system. This will fully develop the wealthy talent but not the poor talent. Private education establishments take the best teachers and this does not bring all the talent to its full potential. The best teachers should be teaching the best pupils not only the wealthiest pupils.
Private hospitals create a multi tier system. This will fully treat wealthy patients but not poor ones. Private hospitals take the best medical resources and this does not maximise human life.
Rich folk do not have a greater right to life than poor folk.
The ill effect of an immoral act by a rich person compared with a poor person is the same, so why is more money spent on a rich person’s defence than a poor person’s defence? A fair judgement is equally desirable in all cases, not only in cases involving rich folk.
The system that allows some to spend vastly more on a defence produces a multi tier system where the wealthy can buy favourable treatment and the poor are punished for being poor. A criminal justice system is corrupted by private money.
Rich folk are not morally entitled to more fairness than poor folk. Fairness and justice belong to all people in equal measure.
Many feel the British justice system has become too remote from society at large.
Family courts in the UK for example are private affairs and closed to the public. This has led family courts to become particularly corrupt and serve only the needs of the judges that control them.
The British benefit system represents a minor crime against humanity. There are large areas, some the size of small towns, where ninety percent of the population do not work. There are households where nobody has worked for four generations.
To say this is unpopular is an understatement. It is a disgraceful state of affairs and the culprits are the politicians who are too cowardly to even talk about it.
It is not the fault of the claimant that the state pays them to do nothing. Long term benefit claimants make a very rational lifestyle choice. Within a system that makes the unemployed better off than those who work, the fools are arguably the workers. Why would a rational person work when they can have a free house and all the bills paid by someone else? For a bonus prize all it takes to get more money for bingo, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs is have more kids.
All opinion polls overwhelmingly show the public want strong action, yet the government insult democracy by doing nothing. The situation is the fault of governments that are too cowardly to tackle the issue honestly.
Capping benefit is kicking the bulk of the problem into the long grass. Capping benefits will put more children into care and make others even more damaged and dangerous. It will not solve the real problem or even scratch the surface.
Political will and a bit of gumption is needed.
The public are literally crying out for genuine solutions to unemployment and stagflation.
Presently some hard working women are economically unable to have a single child. This is in the same country where a woman that has never done a day of work in her life can have six or more children. The public feel strongly that this is wrong.
Failure of successive British governments to tackle long-term unemployment is unpopular and unacceptable. It is an example of supposedly democratic government deliberately acting against the express wishes of the public.
The British housing market is a worry. There is insufficient provision of new housing to meet demand.
First time buyers are getting older and older. Prices are out of reach of ordinary people.
A business exists to make profit and often has little apparent conscience about how it achieves it. A business cares about money not about people. People matter to a business if they make money for it. We cannot expect the business world to take care of people all by itself.
If a business can replace an employee with a machine it will usually do so. If it does not readily adopt technology it will lose out to businesses that do.
There is a huge drive to replace people with machines and has been since the industrial revolution.
We are heading towards a jobless economy.
Perhaps it is time for government to recognise the lack of sustainability of the private jobs market.
The horrendous effect on the long-term unemployed is immeasurable as is the social and economic cost to the country.
The efficient running of the private economy will require fewer and fewer workers going into the future.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to work and contribute. The long-term consequences of neglecting the problem of rising unemployment will lead to wasted human life.
Perhaps it is time to condemn economists as false prophets of prosperity that don’t even understand their own doctrine. It is not beyond the wit of man that the whole economist thing is a capitalist conspiracy. It would make an interesting Bond movie script. Evil villain deep in thought gets idea. Instead of take over the world why not get 99% of the world’s population to enslave themselves!
The more we observe the inactivity of western governments the more we might stop assuming they know what they are doing. Instead we can assume politicians know nothing apart from how to look after their own careers.
Within true democracy the public get what the public want and the public is the whole nation.
A small minority is not democratically entitled to destroy the future of the majority.
It is estimated that immigration has been unpopular among the majority of the British public since 1960. How can something so decisively unpopular go on for over half a century within a democracy? Could it be that Britain is not a democracy?
Digging for victory was originally a British campaign during World War II to move from importing two thirds of the nation’s food to producing all of it. 2012 world food prices are rocketing and raising farmland productivity and tackling food price inflation is of paramount importance. The famous British wartime spirit is needed once again and there can be no more worthwhile way of mucking in together than producing more food.
Consider the economics - a hectare of land produces seven tons of cereal crops in the UK per year by conventional farming. A ton of wheat is worth $350/ton at the time of writing so the standard farming method produces $2450 worth of food per hectare. An allotment can yield a ton of vegetables. A standard allotment is about 0.025 hectares. Therefore 1 hectare of allotment can yield nearly 40 tons of food per year.
The average retail price of higher value crops is currently about $3/kilo so the allotment can produce 40x1000x3 = $120,000 per hectare per year.
The cause of the boom and bust capitalist economy is usually a housing boom. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times it has happened before it always happens again.
Britain has had several property booms and busts and the general economy has nearly gone bust due to the last one.
A nation is not a corporation. Financial profit is not the be all and end all for a human ecosystem. The risk for a nation is the loss of human resource not the loss of money. Allowing unemployment to steadily rise forever is not risky because the word risk implies a range of possibilities when there is only one possibility. There will be sudden, abrupt economic collapse of the entire national economy. This is the future waiting for the Greeks and the Spanish and it will be the same for Britain if unemployment is allowed to rise indefinitely.
The failure to manage the water supply in a background of rapid climate change is a major example of political ineptitude around the western world today. What is the government of a stable and wealthy country like Britain doing to ensure water security in an age of uncertainty? Shamefully the answer is nothing at all.
In the last twenty years the Thames Valley Water Company alone has sold a dozen reservoirs for profit and despite Britain being awash with rainfall, London has run out of water twice in the last five years. It is estimated that only 1% of rainfall in Britain is diverted to be collected and stored for human use.
This is a disturbing state of political affairs. It is bad enough that the most vital human resource of all is sold off to private cartels but to allow them to promptly sell the reservoirs to become property developments is a disgrace that beggars belief
People may eventually ask themselves why do we need representative government anyway. Why can’t we vote for policies instead of politicians? After all, everybody is connected to everybody all the time so why can’t we represent ourselves and ask each other what we think and want?
The people of a nation can be trusted with their own power and as confidence grows in self-rule the united will of a nation can be realised.
Surely a nation is only democratic if policy represents public will. Perhaps it is time for democracy to be reclaimed and the unburned desire of humankind flamed.
Representative democracy has become such a secular religion that people avoid challenging it as if they would be committing heresy. But what we may need is blue sky thinking about democracy itself and what we can do to fix it and make it work better for us now and going into the future.
Ironically the separation of individual from state has left the justice system crooked. There is misalignment between the needs of law administrators and the needs of society - western justice is corrupted by money.
Human kind went through an evolutionary bottleneck during the early Stone Age ninety thousand years ago, and the population fell to only a few thousand individuals in Africa. These modern humans spread out to populate the world as we see it today. We are very genuinely the same family of humanity. Take the DNA of any African and any Chinese man and any European and it will be more similar than DNA of any two chimpanzees in a single troop. The physical differences between people are very superficial; psychologically we are all identical because although physical environments have been different for different peoples over these last 90,000 years, the ways of societies have been very similar all over the world.
Aristotle, “A man who is isolated, who is unable to share in the benefits of political association, or who has no need to share, because he’s already self sufficient, such a person must be either a beast or a god.”