05 June, 2011
Whistling in the dark
Economists of the political Left tell us that Keynesian pump-priming is the way forward: spend on the public sector to kick-start and encourage private economic activity and investment.
Both assure us that their patent nostrum will most assuredly promote rosy cheeks and a healthy glow, the regrowth of long-lost hair and above all economic recovery. Letters are written to sympathetic newspapers, with lists of seriously-qualified signatories longer than the letter itself.
Well, speaking as an economic illiterate, I have a question. Do we have an economy to recover?
Some high-end specialisms apart, our manufacturing industry has departed for China.
Senior management and some project and programme management tasks apart, our back office and remotable service work has departed for India.
Our finance industries, which were to be our saviour, turn out to be incestuous scams and are fatally holed beneath the moral and economic water.
For those jobs which perforce remain here we import either illegal third-world immigrants or Eastern Europeans. The former are effectively slave labour paid what their owners feel like. The latter are minimum-wage workers willing to rough it here for a few years because the (current) difference in purchasing power between the pound and the złoty makes the short-term disadvantage tolerable.
So when you've applied your magic poultice to our economic woes, where are the jobs for our debt-burdened graduates and our languishing long-term unemployed? And where's the tax base to pay for their dole money?
Just wondrin. 'Cos it seems to me that the old assumptions don't apply. What we have is a society which has lived by maxing out its credit card. OK, we're trying to pay down the debt by tightening our belts. Or we've made an arrangement with one of those nice debt consolidation companies. But at the end of it, even if we succeed, we still won't have a job to go to.
Probably so-named because that's their percentage retention rate after one contract's length.