Friday, 21 November 2008

Spend, spend, spend!

THERE must be considerable confusion amongst the public these days. For years we’ve been told to save for our pensions or mortgage our lives to become part of the “property-owning democracy” that Britain is supposedly about. Now we’re to spend every penny we don’t have to rescue the economy and prevent the complete collapse of the financial system.
The sycophants who surround Gordon Brown never cease telling us about his financial genius, which allegedly steered Britain through the straight and narrow when he was Chancellor during the Blair era and now will chart the way to recovery following the biggest global crash since 1929. But what has Brown done to deserve such acclaim?
When Brown was Chancellor he loyally followed Treasury advice which was essentially to pursue the neo-liberal Thatcherite policies of deregulation and privatisation that got us into this mess in the first place. Now he, along with the rest of the bourgeois world, is returning to social Keynesianism to bail out the big corporations and banks hit by the global slump.
The Prime Minister’s spin merchants have already primed the media to expect a bumper £15 billion “bonanza” to boost the economy but what will it mean for the millions out of work and those soon to join them? Very little by all accounts apart from an increase in tax credits and winter fuel payments. While there is talk of massive investment in education and the health service this is almost certainly aimed at helping the commercial predators that leech off the system rather than creating work and improving services for the people.
Now if the Government really wants people to spend it could start by slashing VAT, which would bring prices down at a drop and also help the small traders and businesses that New Labour claims it wants to help. Then the Brown government could renationalise the transport services and pump public money to revitalise our trains and buses in time for the Olympics and follow it up by ending the restrictions on borrowing on councils to allow them to resume building affordable housing. This would not only end the scandal of homelessness but provide work for tens of thousands in the building industry. That finally would lay the basis for the restoration of the state and public sector that operated until 1979.
not an impossible dream
Restoring the public sector and state welfare to the levels that existed in 1979 isn’t rocket science. Taxing the rich to pay for it isn’t beyond the realms of the imagination. You only have to look at the speed at which these parasites have forgone their millions in bonuses this year to keep their directorships to see how easily it could be to tax them to the hilt – as it was to pay for health, housing, education and welfare for all in the past. But that will only come if the labour movement as a whole mobilises to force the Labour Party, which is almost entirely financed by the unions, to return to the principles in which it was established and carry out the wishes of the millions of workers in the trade union movement.
Keynesianism is, of course, not a cure but only a palliative and its aim is not just to bail out capitalism today by mortgaging its future but to stave off social unrest by providing work and benefits for those worst hit by recession. Its purpose is to preserve and safeguard the profits of the industrialists, landowners and speculators who live off our labour and rule this country and most of the world.
While arguing and campaigning for social reforms we must also make the case for the socialist alternative and the communist ideal because the only way to end the crisis of capitalism is to end capitalism itself.