Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Out with the old in with the new

Well well, the “new” Politics is much the same as the “old” Politics.

Isn’t it just……

The “good and honourable man” (as described by the Dear Leader) was found out for being a thief and his successor, the man who wants to tax our hard earned growth (which we’ve already paid income tax on the money that bought the assets in the first place) in the form of capital gains at 40% to 50% is just as bad if not worse as he ‘flips’ his second home or main residence to avoid the very tax he thinks us little people should pay!

Hypocrisy indeed…..

Mature democracies are in a crisis. From Greece to Britain, and from Spain to America, they have proven incapable from sinking massively into debt. Households are crushed by overextended mortgages and maxed out credit cards. Governments’ already record deficits don’t even take into account off-balance sheet items like public sector pensions, private finance initiatives and implicit loan guarantees.

All this despite the biggest number of educated people the world has ever seen, linked by digital networks disseminating knowledge at the blink of an eye and monitored by thousands of analysts, journalists, pundits and bloggers 24-7.

But whose listening eh?

This disaster applies to highly diverse political structures, from America’s robust federalism with its constitutional checks and balances to Britain’s loose House of Commons dominated by a powerful executive. Majority governments, minority governments or coalitions, there’s no pattern. Yes, some democracies seem fiscally prudent but this may reflect special circumstances. Australia and Canada benefit from the booming commodities cycle; while some like the Scandinavians and Switzerland are small and socially cohesive.

More than anything, democracies need to address this social spirit of the age where individuals and the governments they elect (or in our case haven't) have become hooked on the never-never fantasy land, turning upside down the wisdom of the ages handed down but forgotten now by our forefathers: a penny saved is a penny earned, the saving man becomes the free man, money does not buy happiness (but a much more pleasant form of misery), and who has no debts gets rich.

Instead, it now takes a lot of borrowing to live within one’s means.

And now we see the UK’s new Con-Lib coalition staking its all on two big issues – deficit-cutting and political reform.


The real triumph would be structuring the latter to cure the former methinks.

But as we have seen the old politics is the same as the new, and I predict failure unless this changes.

But still they don’t get it…..

So what about political reform that includes a rules-based fiscal regime I hear you cry?

Well, the eurozone has a Napoleonic code of fiscal rules that were conveniently ignored by the powerful when it suited them or exploited by the weak when nobody was looking.

And the Eurozone is now a basket case for it.

Even Gordon Brown had a “golden rule” that proved a fraud and the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2% hasn’t prevented retail prices from rising by 5% during a recession.

And were not far behind the Eurozone.....

It’s probably not the political structures that need reform but the individuals who run them. Blair, Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Obama, Merkel, Sarkozy, Zapatero, Papandreou and all their elected minions now come from a professional ruling class with no experience of "real" life whose very survival depends on delivering the fantasy never-never land that we can live beyond our means.

While at the same time spending our money to fund the trappings of power and lifestyles of the rich they have become accustomed to.

So here’s one fundamental reform I suggest the Dear Leader and his amateur cabinet introduce: make elected office as an MP a part time, unpaid job to which re-election is limited to just two terms. Make the politician who wants to stand totally accountable to their constituents, not just in office but for the rest of their lives (via the courts if needs be by being sued) for the mistakes and errors they make and not just with the loss of office if voters decide so, but also with the consequence of having to use the public services they ruin or wreck and face the ire and dissatisfaction of voters whom they have failed to deliver to in manifesto pledges.

You can't please everyone but you should have to work hard to please the majority that voted for you.

These citizen-politicians will then feel the consequences of their decisions in their real lives, and perhaps it might just produce public servants motivated by honour and public service instead of self interest and self aggrandisement.


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