Standard production cars are made to last in serviceable nick for about five years – then as old bangers, for another five. Five years after its introduction, the car’s manufacturer introduces a “face-lift” model and after another five years – its replacement. Fine.
But sadly, this sensible way of doing things has never been taken up by governments. Thus Britain’s once-shiny economy is now like a 20-year-old production car. Totally knackered, with HMG constantly patching and botching it up.
Elsewhere in these columns, I have droned on about how Western countries have sewed the seed of their own disaster by dropping their trade barriers, permitting “outsourcing” and automating everything they could.
There is nothing WRONG with these policies – the trade barriers were unfair to the emerging countries – outsourcing labour to the Third World which the West does not like doing makes sense – and the first person who placed a chunk of tree-trunk under a heavy load started a process that got Man on the Moon.
But they radically CHANGE things. And if Man fails to change WITH them, he is DOOMED.
It is no use governments pretending Full Employment can EVER again be a reality, without a DRASTIC shortening of the working day – or the working life.
In other words, governments need to ADDRESS the whole CONCEPT of work and reward. Employment, taxation and state pensions are interlaced and HAVE to be treated as a single issue.
The current situation will lead to (more) civil unrest and ultimately, the total breakdown of society. Patching and botching will NOT save the day.
A government’s first duty has ALWAYS been to raise taxes to pay for things the population cannot or will not pay for. Education. Health. Street-lighting. Even a far-right policy HAS to include this. And a far-left one REVELS in it.
In a perfect socialist society one would work for a state company, live in a state-owned house, drive a state-owned car, eat food made by state-owned factories… Yeah – dreadful. Very 1984.
Pure socialism does not work for a variety of reasons. It fails to reward (or even encourage) individual effort – which leads to technological torpor. And it tends to lead to a utilitarian society. No style. No flair. No joy. Grey. Yech.
On the other hand, pure Free Enterprise doesn’t work EITHER. We laughed when Communism collapsed in 1989 – but in 2008, FREE ENTERPRISE collapsed too. Well, almost.
Billions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros being pumped into it may have kept it from TOTAL collapse – for the moment – but if Western governments continue to bury their collective heads in the sand and do not begin to examine the TOTAL CONSTRUCT of our economic system, like the 20-year-old production car – its BLOODY WHEELS WILL FALL OFF.FOOTNOTE: For more on this – see my evil twin, Damien, at http://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/damien-on-pensions