To the Cliff Edge – Part Two

This article is being written in the run up to Christmas 2018, as the Brexit debacle continues to hold sway of both the media and national and local government. Our traditional time of festive merry making, generosity of spirit and forgiveness, secular or otherwise is becoming active again, but this year set against the publication of a report about our nation that should, if widely distributed, stop us in our tracks. On the 16th November 2018, Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published his ‘Statement on a Visit to the United Kingdom‘. This is a tautly argued, well evidenced report from an independent mind. It is not without much good tidings on the work of libraries, charities and some sections of government activity, for example. However, the body of the narrative presents a society, I would argue, being slowly squeezed into a pressure cooker of even deeper poverty, social discrimination and economic disenfranchisement. “For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one”. Fourteen million people in our country live in poverty, of those, some four million live fifty per cent below that disastrous level and possibly one and half million people live in abject destitution according to the Alston argument. ‘British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed…

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Economic apocalypse? …a versioning

Embed from Getty Images  Afloat in the economic ocean?   Are we heading for a new depression, economic collapse or is the ‘great recovery’ under way? Thomas Carlyle is credited, in reference to the work of Malthus, as characterising economics as a ‘dismal science’. The truth appears to be more prosaic. Carlyle was, in fact, writing about the promotion of slavery, the better to regulate labour and markets. Read more here. A wonderful example of how pragmatic economic theory changes over time. Not to say that sometimes the moral ascendancy can triumph over cash! It is ironic that economists, in wrangling with future financial forecasts, gambling in all but name in a free market, should so often be wrong or just plain at odds with each other. In this short article we look a set of distinct economic analysis, leaving it to the reader to cleave to the one most favoured. What does the future really hold, perhaps we will only know when we get there? In the mainstream: Weekly Economics Podcast on Twitter: www.twitter.com/weeklyeconpod Olivier Vardakoulias Twitter: www.twitter.com/o_vardakoulias Kirsty Styles on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirstystyles1 This is is the first of a revised New Economics Foundation weekly podcast on matters economic, always available on SoundCloud. The message from economist Olivier Vardakoulias is cogent, articulate and persuasive. It tracks the major players and movements in world commodity and financial affairs across the coming year, but it does not question the veracity or effectiveness of the market mechanism, nor does it decline to…

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