CAST your mind back to the ancient history of roughly a month ago. The Market – to which we must forever kowtow – was displeased. Like an Aztec god who can be satiated only with the spilling of more blood, this almighty deity soon secured the sacrifice of Liz Truss’s government.
Part of the ‘libertarian jihadism’ (if only!) of which she was accused was the reduction of the highest income tax rate. This dangerousact, which took the bracket to what it was in those unenlightened days of 2013, was set to cost about £2billion. Yet in addition to her other spending pledges, it was all too much, allegedly.
The pound crashed or plunged or cratered, depending on which media outlet you looked at. For a while, everybody became an expert on gilt yields and the GBP/USD exchange rate, and the pension system was going up in flames. Live tickers on news channels ogled every tiny financial shift. It momentarily became late 2022’s version of the daily Covid-19 death counter: a bizarre and transitory obsession which has been conveniently memory-holed.
The Market is an odd beast. Whereas a £2billion tax cut is enough to give it the jeepers (yes, yes, I hear you at the back, I know it was unfunded, but then what in the last 20 years hasn’t been?) endless splashing of cash elsewhere hardly fazes it. Take our housing of migrants, with its £6.7million-per-day bill. Annually this is just shy of £2.5billion. With no prospect of the invasion being stemmed, this figure will grow and ‘the Market’ certainly won’t demand action.
It is more probable that hotel rooms will run out before government gets a grip, by which point all the pretend do-gooders who never quite got round to taking in their share of refugees might have them billeted directly by the Home Office. Although our country will be fully up the creek by then, we’ll at least be able to enjoy that moment of schadenfreude.
One of the great tragedies of modern life is that while we have become utterly subordinate to the government, the quality and competence of those in charge has fallen drastically. The twin processes of high trust in the state and the careerisation of politics – or rather, its degeneration into a freak show popularity contest in which only the most narcissistic take part – have resulted in a populace desperate to do away with self-responsibility and a governing class who, on the whole, do not possess the skill-set to boil an egg.
It forms part of the strange modern paradox: when asked, people in one breath almost universally detest politicians, yet in the other they demand that the government sort out each of their problems. It is why the state has grown into such a large, unwieldy beast, gobbling up 44.6 per cent of national GDP: a higher proportion than ‘communist’ China. Not that it’s a good investment, as all we get is a slew of catastrophic policy failings: immigration, healthcare, defence, pensions et cetera.
The only solution is ever ‘more state spending’. It’s like giving the cook who has burnt down the building five times another deep-fat fryer after he promises to get it right this time.
In recent times the government was able to create the illusion of limitless largesse without having to stick its hands rudely into your pockets. With the money machines constantly whirring away, its mechanisms greased by ‘forever-low’ interest rates, it seemed as if the connection between all that outlay and, well, actually paying for it had been severed. That such borrowing was merely a tax on people in the future was neither here nor there for a society blindly wrapped up in the present and which does not believe in its own future.
Every debt, however, must be paid back. Instead of making hay while the sun shone, we got blind drunk on scrumpy. It’s fine while it lasts, but it is not a sustainable policy. Hence we are now facing the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts: taking our modern economic medicine. Where growth fits into this equation is neglected, and there is little prospect of the largest burdens that threaten to derail our civilisation being lifted as we’re still firmly on the ruinous road to Net Zero (aka neo-feudalism).
With earnings squashed through inflation and taxes jacked up, it’s no surprise that so many can’t be bothered to work in the first place, with the permanently out-of-employment steadily growing. Many must be wondering whether boarding a dinghy in northern France and hurling their passport into the Channel might not be a better option. Free all-inc accommodation and ready access to those rarely spotted beasts, GPs and dentists.
It is one giant farce. Society has been sucked into a never-ending series of compounding crises, each exacerbating the last, like some fairground ride accelerating out of control, with us merely the unwitting passengers. Suddenly, all these interlocking disasters are coming home to roost.
The situation seems irredeemable. Increasingly there appear to be only two possible outcomes. We will either sink further into managed decline and see our nation further dismantled, piece by piece. Or there will be a seismic shock – a black swan event – which will dynamite the teetering house of cards.
Maybe I’m just another ‘libertarian jihadi’, but I can’t help but think we are due some creative destruction.
This article appeared in Frederick’s Newsletter on November 10, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.