Rally Against Debt

Well, not quite since it’s not quite being ignored completely, but since what there is in the news seems to be a couple of short articles linked on the home pages of the Teletubbygraph (near the top) and the Daily Wail (almost at the very bottom and behind an awful lot of guff about slebs), and as far as I could see bugger all on the Beeb, Indie, Grauniad, Express, Metro, Standard, Mirror or Sun, where it’s being spoken of at all it’s in pretty bloody hushed tones. Yes, of course these few protestors were in much smaller numbers than the thousands who turned out to complain that they might not be able to suck quite so freely at the tax tit as they have over the last decade or so, and they weren’t complaining about the loss of things that everybody likes to think of as free but in reality are simply paid for in advance through tax or in arrears through the national debt and, perhaps most importantly, they weren’t smashing anything up. But they were protesting about the very large national debt elephant in the room, an elephant that has now grown so big that even some socialists are getting worried enough to call it a crisis.

[…] we will have to find conservatively £1.1 trillion over the next five years! 33% of our debt is held by foreign governments contrary to what some in the labour movement have been saying.
The government is going to cut £83bn over five years which is 9% of the £1.1 trillion we have to find over the next five years. This is based on optimistic estimates about the economy. The government and city economists have got this wrong consistently over the last three years. […]
Be wary of those who say the debt is not a problem and that has been bigger in the past. There is a very good reason for that as we have spelled out above. It is likely with the cuts and reduced growth they bring on will mean at some time we will have go to the IMF. Their cuts as a condition for loans will be much tougher.
We have to show that we are facing a crisis – which the coalition is walking blindly into it. But we have to build an alternative solution that does not mean we pay for a crisis made by the bankers, governments and the wealthy.

When socialists say that, even if they can’t resist finishing with a jealous dig at the wealthy and the banks, you have to recognise that the country is well and truly in the shit. And it’s worth pointing out that while accusing everyone else of understating the scale of the problem they themselves are using on the headline figure of a trillion given by the ONS for the national debt, rather than the ONS estimate of around four trillion once all the off book liabilities are included.

Okay, so let’s list all the ways out of it.

  • Tax more
  • Spend less
  • Er…
  • That’s it

Now the first of those carries with it some problems. The first is that of any government’s tax base the poorest have virtually no ability to pay more while the wealthiest, the people who can most afford more tax, have the ability to get out of the country with all or most of their money. That leaves the bulk of the burden of taxing the government’s way out of debt to fall on everyone in the middle, the ones who aren’t wealthy enough to do a runner easily but aren’t poor either – though they fucking well will be before long. The second problem is that when the government owes so much – something like 60% of GDP at the lower national debt figure of a trillion pounds, and well over double GDP at the higher estimate of four trillion – even squeezing the middle income earners might not be enough, especially when it’s still spending at a rate of nearly £700 billion a year and rising while only raising a bit over £600 billion in taxes. The third problem is that those middle income earners form quite a large group of voters and may balk at the idea of having to stump up £100 billion just to stop things getting worse, and much much more if the government seriously wants to begin paying off the excesses of its predecessors. The final problem is that sucking yet more money out of the economy hurts. Every pound taken from a company is a pound that it can’t spend on things that would grow its business – which could have created new jobs – while every pound taken from an individual is money they can’t spend in the shops, save for their future or buy shares in a company that might grow and create more jobs and wealth if it can just get some more investment.

Spending less is vastly simpler and really has only one major problem: as well as the millions of middle income earners who have to pay both for public spending and the debt Britain has millions of public spending junkies too, and they really don’t want the money taps turned off. In fact they so desperately don’t want the taps turned off that thousands of them are prepared to go to London to demand still more of other people’s money and throw things through other people’s windows.

And this could have been used by the media as an illustration of Britain’s financial problems: that so many more protested about the cuts than went to complain about the real lack of cuts suggests that there are far more receivers of government largesse than contributors to the funding of it, though of course many of the latter may have been working – they have tax bills to pay after all. Instead you might not have noticed that any protest in favour of more cuts even happened at all if you weren’t looking out for it, and so the UK’s enormous and increasing debt elephant continues to wander around the room almost completely unremarked by most of the country and largely so by the media.

However, aside from those two papers that ran articles on the Rally Against Debt I did notice something in The Sun that demonstrates pretty clearly why the Rally Against Debt was and is so necessary: as a result of cost cutting the DoT is having to hire more staff. Apparently, and almost straight out of a Yes Minister plot, they didn’t realise they needed more until it came time to start laying off the ones they’ve got.

And it’s this kind of lunacy that is financially killing Britain.

12 comments for “Rally Against Debt

  1. 6079SmithW
    May 17, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Maybe the government is not incompetent, but is very successfully crashing the British economy?

    Just asking…


    • May 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Perhaps, but guided by Hanlon’s Razor I think incompetence is likely.

  2. May 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Over the years we’ve conditioned ourselves to live in debt, mainly via mortgages on excessively expensive houses. It is probably this conditioning that caused at least part of the problem. Too many just don’t get it, they have been conditioned to live with debt, to treat it as normal, including policy-makers.

    • May 18, 2011 at 4:35 am

      Probably something in that.

      • May 18, 2011 at 5:45 am

        Quite a lot in that, I’d say. ‘Living within your means’ is now considered to be something rather eccentric, and possibly a little unsavory.

  3. PT
    May 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    If the ruling class were to confess to the treasonable extent of the damage they have done to the rest of us, they might have a harder time of it trying to explain the further treason they plan in taxing us even more in order to pay foreigners all over the world even more of what little we have left.
    Elephant in the room? Which one? The room’s full of sodding elephants!

    • May 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Agreed, there’s a small herd of elephants and it’s getting important to mention which one you’re talking about. Unfortunately, as is the nature of these elephants, most people are not saying “Which one” but “What elephant?” 🙄

  4. May 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm


    Good article. I agree – there are a lot of people sticking their heads in the sand on this topic, not forgetting our government… that’s why I went along to the rally to make my voice heard.
    We did get quite a bit more press attention than you found though – there’s a good selection of articles linked to from this Google search – http://news.google.co.uk/news/more?client=safari&rls=en&q=%22rally+against+debt%22&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&hl=en&biw=1440&bih=754&ie=UTF-8&ncl=dnDwz_FpzaaCcEMfssRjUS68rTZSM&ei=yLvSTbjrFsGn8QPG1vndCg&sa=X&oi=news_result&ct=more-results&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQqgIwAA

    We had our best coverage in the left-wing media. 3 articles (1 news and 2 comment) in the Guardian before the event and at another couple after (both news). We were also on the front page of BBC News most of Saturday as well as featuring prominently on BBC London News in the lunchtime and evening of that day.

    • May 18, 2011 at 4:51 am

      It was originally written and posted at my own blog at about 3:30pm on the 15th, edited slightly and then cross posted here, where the speed at which its posted naturally depends on how many other pieces are in the queue ahead of it. I should probably have dated it to reflect the fact that I was looking on what for me was Sunday afternoon and what was late Saturday night in the UK. It seems like I got in after the BBC had taken it off the /news home page and before the other big-state-with-big-debts loving types started frothing about people not wanting to live with crushing debt and giving RAD extra exposure.

      • May 18, 2011 at 5:46 am

        That’s the fast-paced world of ‘news’ for you!

        The left’s forced laughter on Twitter was something to behold, certainly, while the march was ongoing.

  5. PPS
    May 19, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Okay, so let’s list all the ways out of it.
    •Tax more
    •Spend less
    •That’s it

    I’m no expert but I think there is another way and that way appears to be happening right now, to some extent.
    It’s called default.

    I’m pretty sure this guy knows what he’s on about. So check it out if you get the chance.

    entitled:Is Default Now The Only Real Option?

    Any expert opinion is very welcome.

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