LIFE is full of regrets. Why didn’t I put £100 into Bitcoin when I was a student instead of ordering too much Domino’s pizza? Why did I realise the joy of sport only in my late twenties?
For a long time my regrets surrounded my distinct lack of entrepreneurial flair. Plagued by a combination of uncertainty and cowardice, I never followed some of the dreams of entrepreneurship that I once held.
Most of these involved beer. They say a dealer should never use his own product, but I, like any true Britisher, love a pint (just a quick one, I have things to do later. Oh all right, go on then, just one more) of stout, bitter, mild, porter, IPA or golden ale. It seemed the perfect match.
I harboured hopes of starting a brewery, drawn to the prospect of making something tangible, instead of sitting at a computer, seeing data fly hither and thither, and having to tolerate people reaching out to engage in some blue-sky thinking before putting some skin in the game.
This desire was strengthened by my brief forays into the world of corporate officedom. Already an awkward fit due to my dangerous habit of speaking my mind in a world of #MeToo and BLM initiatives, I doubted my long-term survival. Certainly, listening to Preußens Gloria while reading Breitbart during the lunch break raised a few eyebrows.
Looking back, perhaps it was all for the best. Never in my wildest dreams did I suppose during those bouts of brewery scheming that the government would, over the course of 2020-21, obliterate the British economy in the greatest overreaction and policy blunder since 1914.
In 2020, almost 10,000 licensed premises closed for good. Although breweries have been able to function throughout – classified as an ‘essential business’ – those whose trade is overwhelmingly cask and keg have been starved of customers. A few telephone sales of polypins (boxes of beer) can’t make up the difference.
The government has decreed that pubs and restaurants – if they’re lucky – might re-open for outdoor service next month. Even if this is allowed, almost 30,000 pubs will remain closed through lack of adequate outdoor seating. Given the inconsistency of the weather in April, even those pubs with gardens are unlikely to find their problems solved. For the hundreds of thousands who work in the licensed trade, the future is not rosy.
Perhaps the government will continue to keep the industry on life support via furlough, which has been extended until at least September, dampening any optimism that the UK would return to normality over the next few months.
Indeed the government is boundlessly generous with its cash. By the end of the year, the cost of funding the ill-thought-out and destructive response to Covid is forecast to top £400billion. Of course, it’s not the government’s money: it is money that will be drained out of the productive sectors of the economy and out of people’s pockets. This will suppress their standards of living for years to come, perhaps decades, and that is after the government has robbed them of their liberties for a year.
The economy-wide squeeze has started as the Covid chickens come home to roost. With borrowing as a proportion of GDP at its highest since World War II taxes are increasing across the board. Witness ‘low-tax, small-state’ Sunak’s latest budget, with its frozen thresholds dragging people into higher tax bands, and jumps in corporation tax. After all, ‘libertarian’ de Pfeffel Johnson’s endless spending plans – even without Covid – need to be financed somehow.
Perhaps the government will inflate its way out of its obligations: the Bank of England’s addiction to ‘quantitative easing’ suggests this is likely. Of course, QE is just a tax on savers, who see their savings rot away in real value. The British government has a policy choice between screwing us now or screwing us later. Imaginatively, it has opted to do both.
To stand a change of ridding ourselves of this massive debt obligation we will need a dynamic economy full of entrepreneurs. People who are willing to put years of their lives and risk their own capital in the enterprise. Yet in a society which clearly views risk – any risk – as unacceptable, and a government which has shown no compunction in shutting down the economy for a year, who, exactly, would bother? Unless you’re in a chosen, protected industry, you won’t be getting a bailout if it goes belly-up.
I certainly wouldn’t. For a long time I regretted not starting that brewery. With how everything has transpired, however, I am thankful I never bothered.
The Conservative Party has definitively abandoned the last, tenuously ‘sound’ policy it claimed to uphold – one of embracing the market, encouraging entrepreneurial zeal and keeping taxes low. It is now an utterly hollow shell of a party, led a by a hollow shell of a man.
We have long had a choice between two big state, high tax parties. This latest budget – after a catastrophic year for the United Kingdom – is the final nail in the coffin. There is precisely nothing to distinguish red and blue, each party stuffed to the rafters will cowardly incompetents, the extent of whose political aspirations is to guide us down a path of managed decline as they cling tenaciously to the perquisites of power.
Until the Uniparty goes, nothing will change.