Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

The Elephant in the Room

So another day, another manifesto and still no real proposals to address the fundamental problem: this country is living beyond its means.

Perhaps in a globalised world, individual national parties are actually not able to do anything.  Therefore, offer the modern equivalent of bread and circuses and the party that offers the best circus gets elected.

Perhaps they have decided that we always vote with our wallets. The party that gets elected is then the party that offers the most attractive drink to the drunk.  And the magic of the current system is that “free drinks” only have to be offered to swing voters in the marginals – the rest of us can go hang (other than paying for the drinks!).

If we are living beyond our means we have to address our consumption of goods and services:

  • Private goods: do we really need all the fancy consumer durables (usually imported from those countries that still manufacture); do we still need all the flash foreign holidays (again spending abroad)?  We have an unjustified sense of entitlement to the visible manifestations of the consumer society and we are buying on personal “tick”.
  • Public goods: we have an inflated expectation of the manifestations of the welfare state – particularly the health service where many claim that any treatment, whatever its cost, is justified however marginal its effect.  And the state seems to be fuelling our expectations by paying the mushrooming cost on national “tick”.

So, how do we get acceptance of the problem and start living within our means?


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