Skip to main content

Don't believe a word of it - cuts are cuts

Jobs, that is what it comes down to, and wages, and taxes. The reason for the coalition, the coming together of the Liberal Democrats and the Tories was to clear the deficit — so they said. They are failing, and failing miserably. Why? The answer was always there.  The best way to clear the deficit is to get people working for decent wages. The reason the deficit is not shifting is not because of profligate government spending. It is because of falling revenue. The premise that simply cutting spending will cut the deficit is what it is — simple.

Now you could go on cutting and cutting spending in the hope that the deficit will turn around. But the more you cut the more likely it is that you impact on revenue. Surely that is the lesson to be learned. But it isn't a new lesson. It is what several economist warned four years ago.

The problem with cuts is that it  begs the question of what to cut and that produces conflict about political priorities. The Tories will say they couldn't cut enough because the Liberal Democrats wouldn't let them. The Liberal Democrats will say look the Tories would have cut more savagely — 'we have held them back'.  Neither really gives an answer.

Another erroneous assumption runs on the lines that there is 'inefficiency' and we can cut without cutting front line services. I have no doubt there is inefficiency or 'red tape'. "Let's cut the red tape! they declare. It is a common theme and most people who hear it approve. Well, of course they do. Nobody likes red tape. So what then is the problem. The problem is 'red tape' doesn't come in a box labelled 'red tape'. So cutting it is difficult without also affecting the 'front line'. And this leads me to the next problem - the 'front line'. It is a politically expedient term and also has some erroneous assumptions.

The worst of these assumptions is that 'front line' can somehow be separated from the 'back room'. But it can't. 'Front line' staff often complain of excessive 'form filling' or 'paper work'. "if only they can get on with their jobs!' Again it is to simplistic an assumption.

Imagine the police operating without 'paperwork'. Would any prosecution succeed? I doubt it. Unfortunately paperwork is necessary. It is just as necessary in clinical services. Imaging being treated without your doctor having access to any of your notes.

No, the problem with 'paperwork' is that much of it is necessary. Of course a lot of it is not, but deciding what is and what is not is difficult. Furthermore it doesn't come in a box labeled 'necessary paperwork'.

This is why I am always sceptical of politicians who sell cuts on the grounds of 'efficiency' or 'cutting red tape' - not because I don't want 'efficiency' or to cut 'red tape'. It is that they don't really know what they are talking about when they use those terms and neither do I. I can of course come up with examples but, and it is a big but, all these examples don't fit together into a clear comprehensive policy that will achieve very much in relation to the deficit.

The government said that they would protect the NHS. But the NHS has had £20 billion of cuts. The government says these are 'efficiency savings'. But we see the result of these so-called 'efficiency' cuts - a health system which the BMA has warned several times is on the precipice.

There is no quick or easy fix to the deficit. It needs an economic strategy beyond the bounds of electoral timetables. Now the Chancellor is pushing spending because of the election, not because it is the right thing to do for the economy. We are in political and not economic decision making.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Palm Oil production killing the planet

Bad trade and bad products are killing our planet. We have said this before on The Thin End. There is no better example than that of palm oil. It is used ubiquitously in so many products, and its production is a major factor destroying rainforests and threatening precious species.

Demand for palm oil is 'skyrocketing worldwide'. It is used in packaging and in so much of our snack foods, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, and doughnuts, and the list goes on.
Bad for the planet So, why is this so bad for the planet?

The oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palms native to Africa. It is now grown primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, but is also expanding across Central and West Africa and Latin America.

Palm oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction, and this is impacting adversely some of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like t…

Nicotine exposure in pregnancy linked to cot death

Nicotine exposure during pregnancy, whether from smoking cigarettes, or nicotine patches and e-cigarettes, increases risk of sudden infant death syndrome – sometimes known as “cot death” – according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under 12 months of age occuring typically while sleeping. Failure of auto resuscitation, the ability to recover normal heart rate and breathing following gasping caused by lack of oxygen in the brain, has been recorded in human SIDS cases.



Smoking increases risk for SIDS Over the last decade, use of cigarettes has declined significantly, however, over 10% of pregnant women still smoke during pregnancy. Over recent years nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine patches or e-cigarettes, have been prescribed to women who wish to quit smoking during their pregnancy. However, nicotine replacement therapies may not protect infants from SIDS. 
With inc…

Maternal depression can impact child mental and physical health

Maternal depression has been repeatedly linked with negative childhood outcomes, including increased psychopathology.  Now, a new study shows that depression in mothers may impact on their children's stress levels,  as well as their physical and mental well-being throughout life.

In the study, published in the journal  Depression & Anxiety,  the researchers followed 125 children from birth to 10 years.

At 10 years old, the mothers’ and children’s cortisol (CT) and secretory immunoglobulin (s-IgA)—markers of stress and the immune system (see below)—were measured, and mother-child interaction were observed.
Psychiatric assessment  The mothers and children also had psychiatric diagnoses, and the children's externalising and internalising symptoms were reported.



Internalising disorders include depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and loneliness. They are often how we 'feel inside', such as  anger, pain, fear or hurt, but may not show it.  In contrast, externalising symptom…