Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

How The Left Don’t Get It (Part 94)

Q: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

A: “The only reason the chicken had to cross the road is because of the crisis caused by the financial markets. Why should our members cross the road when it’s the bankers who have created this mess? It may be that the road is a lot narrower than the one the private sector chickens have to cross, but so what? It’s just not fair.”

So, in a way, goes any interview with trade union bosses at the moment. (Of course, it goes a little differently when they are asked about their own pay and benefits.)

Let’s try and get this straight, and not for the first time: the annual public deficit has been running for years, even in the good times. Thus the public debt was increasing, even in the good times (especially when you factor in all those PFI deals). The debt relating to the bank bailout will, in time, be repaid. However, the problem of government spending more than it gets in is a longer running problem which would have come to a head sooner or later.

If we’re looking for causes of the financial crisis – and there are many to varying degrees of culpability – then a basic knowledge of contract law would inform us that for an irresponsible lender, there must have been an irresponsible borrower on the other side of the deal. That, then, would bring into the dock many ordinary people, a for more uncomfortable prosecution in the court of public opinion than the easy targets of the banks.

Yet the point is that the financial crisis was only the spark that lit the forest fire of the bigger and deeper rooted fiscal crisis, growing from the seeds of short-termism, of wanting it all now and pay for it sometime later – if not on someone’s mortgage then let’s have it on the PSBR. How many such unsustainable instances of growth in public spending were rejected by the comrades in the trade union movement?


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