The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
This week, I enjoyed an evening out at the excellent Hanger Farm Arts Centre, watching a tribute to the legendary Bob Dylan.
I can heartily recommend “The Bob Dylan Story”, should the band make a return.
A quirky thing that happened was that I found myself sitting next to a stranger with whom I struck up a conversation in the interval, oddly enough about economics.
We both seemed to agree that politicians try to kid everyone that only they seem to have a full grasp on how the economy should be run, whether it is paying off debt or investing to stimulate growth.
The reality, we agreed, is that the economy is nothing at all like running a family budget.
Firstly, what happens is largely way out of the control of any government.
If you are the Chancellor, it’s like trying to steer an untrained bull elephant where you want go.
Something like a global downturn or Brexit, makes it even more of a challenge.
Secondly, the trick with running a family budget is making sure that it balances, that expenditure doesn’t exceed income.
The national economy isn’t like that because it has to grow every year.
There needs to be a constant recycling of money.
Profits are required to reward risk.
Investment is needed to provide jobs.
Earnings are needed to create consumers for more products and more services.
Unless things are moving forwards, things crash.
My new friend made a good point about what happens in the future when robots do much of the work.
I had not considered this but people pay tax, robots do not!
Presumably, the government will have to find alternative ways of raising the money for public services.
We both also agreed that the present system for supplying what we need was extremely wasteful and unsustainable.
I think it criminal that some goods are manufactured with built-in obsolescence.
It cannot be right that you can buy printers that are cheaper than the cartridges they use and that they are both designed to fail after a certain number of uses.
Anyway…. we had to stop talking, the show was about to restart.
We both agreed there are no easy answers.
There is a joke that if you put all of the world’s economists together, stretching them out, head to toe, as far as you can… they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion.
Were all the years of austerity “worth it”?
Is Brexit going to be a disaster or an opportunity that overcomes the negative aspects of leaving the EU?
What will happen when the robots take most of our jobs?
The answer is blowing in the wind….