Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Cuts and Debts

These seem to be the two words into which the crisis, or whatever we call it now, has been distilled. To summarise, we need cuts in order to repay debts: is that about right?



So (I assume you agree so far, otherwise I might as well stop typing) - cuts in public expenditure are now universally accepted as essential, aren't they? The argument seems to be about what, where and when, bloody good election manifesto that! But I submit, my learned friends, a statement today from British Aerospace (purveyors of WMDs, but leave that to one side) to the effect that they are obliged to make 'cuts' at a number of their UK sites, resulting in up to 800 job losses. Well, what's good for BaE must be sauce for the government gander. So, in future, whenever Cameron, Brown or who's the other one, oh yes, Clegg - whenever they use the C word in future (and they all do now), I'd like them to attach to it the phrase 'resulting in up to nnn job losses', where 'nnn' equals their best-guess lie. I simply don't believe that nowadays you can make 'cuts', in whatever sphere, without sacking people. And of course those people have to go somewhere, if they're not to be just culled (I don't think even the BNP has proposed that yet). And guess where, they're going to go into the benefits regime, aren't they? which means the state paying them (which it was doing anyway), which must of course ultimately result in more, guess what, debt ...



Gather.



OK, debt. Given that the national debt is in the order of £293768128946235 (I made that number up), or £4567890 for every man, woman, child, foetus, spermatozoon, rabbit and butterfly in the country - who do we owe it to? Who are these people who used to have all this money available to lend to governments, at a time when most humans couldn't raise the price of a Nissan Micra or a bag of Walkers? And, assuming that they haven't just borrowed it from someone else (which wouldn't really get us any further forward), are they now broke themselves? And if the UK government suddenly miraculously found itself able to repay this debt, at a stroke, what would happen then? If I were to donate to these anonymous creditors, free of any let or hindrance, the £1.5 trillion (approx) currently residing in my instant access savings account, what would they do with it? Lend it to some other impoverished government?

For every debit there's a credit. (If you ever try to read a balance sheet, an old banker's hint - the debits are the ones in the column nearest the window.)

It's a serious question, by the way. But of course we already know the answer. It's the Beatles, innit?

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