Predictably, George Osborne has seized on the financial crisis in Portugal to “prove” that the Tory cuts are necessary and if they aren’t made, there but for the Grace of God, goes the UK. This in spite of the fact that one distinguished economist after another, repeatedly quoted in this blog, have hammered away that the UK’s public debt is not historically high, is caused by a fall in revenues rather than government profligacy, is perfectly manageable, that the markets are not calling for its reduction, and that cuts in public expenditure are likely to make matters worse rather than better.
The Tories are good at slogans. “Stealth taxes” is one of their best, though it wasn’t coined for the almost doubling of VAT under Margaret Thatcher, and hasn’t been mentioned in relation to this year’s further increase from 17.5% to 20%. “Deficit denier”, with its overtones of connections with the irrationalists who deny the Holocaust, is equally effective. But we Keynesians are deficit realists who have studied the 1930s and are prepared to learn lessons from them.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the demand for urgent restructuring of the NHS is another con. David Cameron asks us to let him be clear the “the status quo is not an option.” As I have already admitted, I am not an expert on the NHS, but a writer in the Guardian on 6th April, Jacky Davis, who is, concludes her article with:
“Lansley says no change is not an option, but it is not clear where the crisis lies. Surveys show that the NHS comes out top for equity of access and value for money. Outcomes are improving rapidly, and the misleading statistics trotted out by the coalition about heart attacks and cancer survivals have been shamelessly cherry-picked. What exactly is the problem to which these “reforms” are the solution?”
There is probably no large organisation in the world, public or private, in which there is no “waste” and efforts should be made to reduce it, but the hurried scramble to re-organise an organisation which is functioning reasonably well owes more to the desire for ideological privatisation than to a desire to improve outcomes