Trying Again....

I don't want to get stuck in a rut of suggesting only criticisms and explanations of our car-crash western economy. There have been times when I've mused about possible solutions too. I think it helps to do that out loud, even though it usually attracts criticism. The exercise is also slightly pointless since of course it is in effect the equivalent of me sitting in an armchair and holding forth, though unlike a tutorial I am not putting someone under the influence for money. What should a country with the problems Britain has do, given that we know where it is coming from?

Let me just remind you of where that is. Personal, corporate, and government debt is very high and in most cases almost at, or well clear of, income. The tax code is more complex than it has been in decades. The public sector has, in some regions, expanded to German DDR levels. The transport system, and utilities, are run badly, nominally for profit, and actually at a loss. The State's mechanism for deferring payment, the PFI, is failing to do so.

The political, media, and professional classes, in general, are becoming monocultural and, from a London base or lead, are excluding anyone who cannot train, network, or live on small or no incomes and who is not below 25 from entering. Despite historic levels of exposure to education, the public sphere is becoming more stupid, and people are worse educated, less able to deal with pressure, more confused, and less innovative than before.

The country exports little and depends upon a financial and service sector largely divorced from everyone else, and inflation has been diverted into an asset-bubble for over a decade, which has now popped. Large numbers of those born in the country either want to run away or blow it up, and they have no pensions.

Generally in its favour, the country is relatively relaxed about deadlines, efficiency, race, sex, or money in a way that some cultures are not. Fascist parties get very small percentages of the vote, and common ground still exists for people to come together on, though political, media and business elites aren't that keen on that happening.

What would you bring to a country like this? Previously, I have suggested a range of things, depending on the times at which I was writing. So, for instance, in July 2008, I suggested that we do twelve things;
in November 2007, I suggested ten.

Now, which would I change? What have I learned?

Well, I'd still have primaries, recall, and local ballots
I'm suspicious of a written constitution, but I think a basic law on German lines would be a good idea.
I would break up media ownership.
I would replace subsidy with capital-for-share or social loan agreements, because I don't like corporate socialism.
I would abolish half the local councils and all the regional chambers and replace the council tax with a mixture of a local flat tax and a sales tax.
I would abolish the departments of Business, and culture, and reestablish one department of education, which would be smaller.
I would radically cut the number of MPs, and keep the House of Lords.
I would set up a ring-fenced national social insurance fund, and make it a rule for the future that company pension funds are owned by their contributors and can't be used for company purposes or treated as a company asset.
I would bring in school vouchers for sixth forms, and give universities the freedom to take an endowment and go away.
I would allow any failing new university to be absorbed into a multi-campus national university based on modules and run by the Open University, with co-pay tuition.
I would also want government to balance its budget with statutory-based spending limits over an economic cycle, and for that to be assessed by experts.
I would want the CPS abolished, and legal aid boosted.
I think London should be a city state and that Scotland should have an independence referendum.
I think the rail industry and public utilities, and the BBC, should be run on network rail lines but with elected, non-political commisssioners.
I think that there should be licences for pubs and clubs with air conditioning that allow smoking, and I think immigration should be fairer, less of an expensive rip-off, and predicated on national needs.
I still think that we should increase prison sentences, build more prisons, and abandon the Kyoto protocols.
We should also have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
We should take a knife to health and safety and human rights litigation.
Employment rights should not cover religion or faiths equivalent to religion, but discrimination should be assessed by tribunals.
I would also radically slash VAT for small businesses, and cut their double-and-triple taxation in general.
I would have one, unavoidable income tax of eighteen percent on everyone. No bands, no barriers, no loopholes.
I would abolish planning laws and start again.
I would make renting a much more secure option.
I would have independent local officers approve mortgages with an emphasis on restraining prices.

I have absolutely no clue about how to deal with racial tensions, community disorder, and the regular outbreaks of trouble between Asian muslim youths and white working class people in northern cities and Birmingham. I would have a strong emphasis on the rule of law, on common language and institutions, and on respect for but not obeisance to, religion. The best policy to deal with tensions is jobs, and prosperity helps. Those are both slipping away. In my moodier moments I would also love to abolish social workers, but having seen what people do to families and children, I know that I could not get rid of the necessity of something like them.

There. That'll clear most of my readers away for a while.....



I hope you don't mind, but I've committed blogging thievery again and run a similar post at my place. Naturally, I've linked to you.

I like your list a lot, although I'm a little concerned by your love of regulation :-)

Question. I too like the local sales tax, but how would internet spending affect that. If websites are exempt, doesn't that make the death of the high street even more likely?
Martin Meenagh said…
Steal away, as my Grandad used to say--and as ever, I'm flattered.

Website purchases in this country still attract VAT, I think, or postage, or both, and if from abroad customs can stop them if they are worth customs' time. I think the thing killing the high street is the supermarket near monopoly on land!
Martin Meenagh said…
Also, if you lower the number of taxes, and tie their efficiency to local prosperity, you make them fair. And good, solid regulations let you get rid of loads of stupid ones. For instance, one rule that 'local authorities have a duty collect and dispose of all rubbish, and must do so at their own expense' means bullying people to do it themselves becomes illegal.

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