If shipping UK jobs abroad really saved any money?
I mean the total cost to the country as a whole of losing all that tax revenue, of all of that money bleeding abroad rather than staying here in the UK, of paying those millions to stay idle.
I just wonder if, when you work it all out, the cost isn't that much different: that flat screen TV might be cheaper now, but just look how much tax you're having to pay; how much North Sea Oil revenue was frittered away on paying dole money rather than invested to support future generations; how big a debt mountain has been created trying to keep that previous standard of living?
Three decades or more of decline will take a long time to repair. Before we can even begin to repair the damage, we need to recognise what caused it. We can mediate its effects in the short term by making the cuts we're seeing proposed now, but we also have to recognise that as a country, we can't return to the largesse of the eighties.
We simply don't have the economy to support it. North Sea Oil is declining, we are cut off from preferrential rates from our colonies by EU legislation, our manufacturing base has gone abroad and financial services, the vaunted engine of capitalism is so nomadic that if we started to demand it pay its fair share of supporting the country, it would simply flit abroad overnight.
I've said for years now that the course our country charted for the past 30 years has been straight towards the rocks. No amount of tinkering in the form of expenditure reductions will change that fact. To use a popular management-speak phrase, we have reached a new paradigm: one where we simply cannot afford to live as we did back in the sixties.
We cannot be the world's Policeman, we cannot afford the expensive nuclear deterrent we currently have, we cannot afford to import increasingly costly energy from abroad to bolster up our dwindling North Sea supplies.
What would I do? I would be radical. I would force a change of pace for the whole country. I would start to look at what is good for the country as a whole and not what is good for corporations or the political elite.
Charity begins at home so the very first thing I'd do is cut foreign aid completely. Until we have money to spare, we can't afford it. Let China use their cash reserves to buy influence around the globe. Global glory is an extravagance we cannot afford.
Review the cost to the UK of the EU. How much is it really costing us to be in it? I bet its costing us more in revenue than we ever get back from it.
Scrap Trident and look at cheaper alternatives, preferrably designed and manufactured in the UK.
The list goes on, but the future policy must start to address the failings of past decades, review our role in the world and start to govern on that basis.
However, if there is to be reform of the benefits system, it has to be done carefully and with the precision lacking in every other endeavour government gets involved in, so its likely to be the usual shambles.
For instance, there are imbalances in the syatem: the well-off get universal benefits they don't need, the feckless are paid to manufacture babies, those that have no link to the country and therefore no right to benefit are handed it on a plate, those that just need a small helping hand to escape endless benefits are denied help, and those really, truly in need are refused help.
We need to be establish what the benefits system is really for. One thing its absolutely not for is to house families in million pound mansions, or hand out 95k lifestyles. Its a safety net, its there to keep people from starving. To be humane you could take it slightly further and say its there to keep people out of poverty. But there it ends. Anyone wanting more must get it by helping themselves.
At the point people decide they want to help themselves, the system should provide that help, be it training in order to get qualified, paid work experience, a change in the taxation system that rewards those switching from welfare to work and most importantly, a change in the system itself to keep up with the flexibility required by todays employers.
Certainly scrapping the delay between claiming and actually receiving benefits is an imperative: its a risk deterring claimants from stepping from claiming to earning. Changing the over-complicated system that requires claiming benefits from 3 or more seperate agencies with some benefits dependant on others is another important step towards streamlining the system to make it fit for the modern environment.
But its a big ask for government to micro-manage all of this as they should. Instead our ministers will issue edicts to useless middle-managers who will monumentally fuck things up. This is the public sector after all, which in my past experience has a higher proportion of fuckwits, freewheelers and deadwood than the private sector.
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