Cuts are never fun. Budget cuts even less so. As a raging liberal who believes in high taxes and excellent public services you may think that I am against the budget cuts. However this is not the case. My ideology is what it is – an ideology. At this current juncture I prefer to step into the real world as things are not all sweetness and light out there. Last night I had a long debate with a socialist who preferred not to be a realist and believes that we can recoup all the money just by enforcing tax a bit stronger. Yeah… Also he believes that the money is there and the need for cuts is one big lie because that is what the Tory party ideology wants to do – shrink the public sector. Now they might do but when you look at things in the real world – a party (or in this case a coalition government) doing these swinging budget cuts when the party has no overall majority and aren’t exactly;y well liked anyway just because they might ideologically want to do so is just flat out insane.
If they could shrink the public sector slowly but surely to reach their ideological goals then they would. People don’t notice things when they are slowly taken away from then. It is like an addiction. If you smoked 20 a day and then suddenly stopped then you’d know all about it. However if you smoked 20 a day and went down to 19 one week, 18 the next and so on, you wouldn’t notice the loss of the nicotine so much. It is the same with Public Services. If a council run day care centre closes one month and an outreach programme for young kids closes three months later than you won’t notice it as much unless you are directly effected. If both of these happen at the same time along with Car Park charges going up and a local school being closed then people notice and people begin to moan loudly.
I likened the country’s debt situation to that of an individual. If you owe say £5,000 and you can’t pay it back the way you are spending money then you make changes. You stop going out as much, stop buying new clothes, you budget harder. You don’t spend more money to get out of that debt because at some point the people you owe money to will want the money back. I was informed that my argument was moronic and you can’t liken a country’s debt to an individuals and I ask ‘why not?’. A debt is a debt is a debt. You owe money to people who at some point will want their money back. After the events of Greece in late April/early May of 2010 a lot of these money people are kind’ve twitchy to say the least.
The United Kingdom has the largest deficit in the EU and would be the next country to hit the rocks. Greece was bailed out because if Greece went the whole of the EuroZone was in serious trouble. Spain and Portugal both had their credit rating taken down a notch before the rot was stopped. We however are not in the EuroZone even though we are in the EU. So countries such as Germany who put together the bail-out package would be less inclined to do so for us as the rot wouldn’t spread as fast as we are using two different currencies. Also at some point you have to stop the bleeding and unless we shape up we are going to be the country that people let sink.
So the only real thing is to is swift and harsh cuts in public spending to right our debt, yes? Well that is where people start thinking about themselves. Jobs will be lost and it will not be pretty. As a country we’ve been spending more money that we’ve got coming in. As anyone who is either unemployed, or is a student or works from home as has the TV on in the background whenever you hear ‘but we’ve got more going out than we’ve got coming in’ you know it’s a bad sign. They usually call Ocean Finance and all is well with the world and they buy a new car but I don’t think we can consolidate all our loans into one easy payment. No-one is lending us that type of money in one hit.
So we need to pay off the loans but people don’t want any budget cuts. Sadly I can see no way in which both of these goals can be achieved successfully. Plenty more qualified people than me have looked at the finances and come up with the same solution. Some believe that we can do both – well you know what – we flat out can’t. So now you have to look at scales of budget cuts. Just how quickly do we want to get our house in shape? Do we want to have a rough few years and then come out of it stronger or do we want a bad couple of decades but without the harshness of the next few years. That is the question everyone has to ask themselves. I for one would like the country to get out of debt ASAP as the marketplace is still a very volatile one. If any other country hits the skids then we are in trouble unless the money lenders can see we are getting our house in order.
I’m lucky enough to know someone very high up at one of the banks who took me through exactly what happened and why we are in the mess we are in. He accepted that the banks were certainly not blameless but in the end it all came down to simple cashflow and panic. The banks and even Lehman Brothers who were let go by the US (which was in his words ‘the biggest mistake ever made’) had enough money. However the money was all tied up in long-term investments and one bank wanted their money back from them now. Lehman Brothers could provide that money but whilst they were getting it together – another bank heard that the other bank were demanding all their money back now so they also asked for all their money back. A domino effect in a game of chinese whispers erupted and suddenly everyone Lehman Brothers owed money to wanted the money back – and now – and they couldn’t get the capital together. They were broke and they weren’t bailed out and subsequently went under.
All the other banks looked at each other and said ‘if Lehman Brothers can go under – we can all go under’ and then suddenly the banks had a very fast game of raising capital and kicking to the curb long-term projects. They all needed money in their accounts there and then otherwise they may go under as well. That is why they stopped lending money except to those who they were very confident they would get the money back from. Banks weren’t going to gamble anymore under this environment.
So on to Greece. Exactly the same thing happened. Lots of banks lend money to countries all the time. They see countries as about as good an investment as you can get. So when suddenly Greece looked like it may default on its loans all the banks wanted all their money back that day. Greece didn’t have the money and therefore they were going bankrupt until they were bailed out by Germany & friends. Those who believe that it can’t happen here are quite frankly deluded as all it takes is a game of chinese whispers and panic and suddenly we are staring down the barrel.
Moving on – people are saying that these cuts will hurt the working class and they are right. I’m from working class stock (albeit I now live in a middle class apartment and have a middle class income) but my background is working class. I can see why they are up in arms and scared about the cuts. Jobs going, services going, things just getting worse and worse and worse. However if we don’t cut the deficit and quickly then one of these banks we owe money to will want it back and want it back now. We’ll be able to pay them but if other banks start demanding their money back then we are screwed and would need a bail-out or we’d go under.
Now a bankrupt Britain would hurt the working classes far more than the middle or upper classes. Why you ask. Well because the middle and upper classes will still have cash. The working classes generally do not have cash and have mortgages and need help from the banks to cover bills and such. Small businesses also often need loans from banks to invest in their futures. In a bankrupt Britain the banks will not be lending any money. In fact they very well might demand all their money back straight away and most people with mortgages for instance will not have that money. They will default on their mortgage and be declared bankrupt. The banks would take over these properties and sell them to cash buyers or those with a big deposit and therefore a small mortgage and risk for them. So middle and upper classes buy more and more properties as they can afford to and then rent them out to the working classes. The rich get richer and the poor can’t make a step on to the property ladder.
Yes the savage cuts the government are lining up are not good but they are a necessary evil. Without them the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is time for us to get our finances in shape and bite the bullet for a few years. If we don’t then this country will go to the dogs sooner rather than later. I prefer short term hit and long term stability to short-term head in the sandism and long-term worry.
This isn’t about ideology and shouldn’t be a debate along party lines. This is about getting out of this financial mess we are in and the best way to do that. I think the country turning things around and cutting the debt is by far the most important thing – and so does the city. I know people don’t care what the city thinks but if the city doesn’t like what the government are doing then we are done folks – we are done and bankruptcy will happen and I’ll tell you this for nought. If you think the proposed cuts are bad now – imagine what they’ll be in a bankrupt Britain.
The future is not long-term it is short-term. Let’s not run before we can walk. Get our finances sorted today and we’ll live to potentially see a brighter tomorrow. If we don’t then the future may be very bleak for the majority of us.
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