Features

The revolution the West needs (and won't get)

31 May 2014

9:00 AM

31 May 2014

9:00 AM

The western world is a mess. The ‘advanced’ economies are failing to generate higher living standards for the majority of citizens. Many of us believe, rightly, that our children and grandchildren will have less prosperous lives than we do. That not only runs counter to the tide of western history, but jars with natural human instincts, creating a deep sense of unease.

The public no longer trusts the political classes to deliver a brighter future, so lots of us don’t vote. In the European elections, only two fifths of voters bothered casting their ballot. Many of those who did, of course, abandoned mainstream parties for the extremes.

The common western problem isn’t a housing shortage, deteriorating infrastructure or immigration fears — although such issues are widespread and must clearly be addressed. The underlying problem in Britain, across Europe and in America, too, is more general yet somehow more arcane: we’re living in an age of bloated, deeply dysfunctional and often counter-productive government.

To argue that the western state has become excessively large and unwieldy is fact, not ideology. Many ‘leading economies’ are effectively bankrupt — or, at the very least, only avoiding bankruptcy by governments borrowing on an unsustainable, dishonest basis, propped up by printed money.

Having ludicrously claimed he’d ‘abolished boom and bust’, Gordon Brown expanded government spending from 36 per cent of national income to 44 per cent during the eight years to 2007, despite healthy growth. Our response to the credit crunch, though, made a bad fiscal situation far worse. While the UK economy struggled after 2008, public spending still raged, spiralling to over half of GDP by 2011 and barely falling since.

The result of repeated deficits is an ever-increasing debt burden — which must be serviced. Britain’s national debt, having ballooned from £570 billion in 2008 to £1,270 billion now, is set to breach £1,400 billion by 2016. ‘Austerity’ has been patchy and limited largely to rhetoric. Under the Tories, national debt is doubling. George Osborne is borrowing more during five years as Chancellor than Brown did in ten.


Keep in mind, too, that these burgeoning debt numbers don’t include bank bail-outs and vast public sector pension liabilities. Include those, and UK public debt is well over 200 per cent of GDP, on generous assumptions. Even at today’s artificially low interest rates, we’re spending more taxpayers’ money on debt service each year than on defence. Once rates start rising, state interest payments will outstrip spending on education.

Across almost the entire western world, state spending has spun out of control. As it has, dissatisfaction with public services has escalated, trust in government collapsed. Far from inspiring faith and loyalty, the West’s big-state political classes are seen as distant, incompetent and corrupt.

The public sector needs to do less but do it better. That’s the central message of The Fourth Revolution, a new book by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, respectively editor-in-chief and management editor of The Economist. The most pressing issue facing the West, they argue, is the re-invention of government. While our dysfunctional state has become entrenched, it’s not impossible to change.

There have been three great revolutions in government in modern history, the authors argue, all led by the West. In the 17th century, an English royalist called Thomas Hobbes outlined a vision of government that turned fledgling nation states into trading empires. The methods were bloody, but western Europe surged ahead. After the American and French revolutions, liberal reformers rejected regal patronage, replacing it with more meritocratic, accountable government — the ‘night-watchman state’ of John Stuart Mill. The third revolution happened ‘when liberalism began to question its small government roots’, eventually leading to the Webbs, Beveridge and the founding of the welfare state. Since then, this model, while successful for a while, has gone way beyond its founders’ intentions.

‘Beveridge worried,’ the authors recall, ‘that the welfare state would collapse if it subsidised idleness or tolerated abuse.’ His blueprint ‘applied strict time-limits on the dole’ and was designed to make sure ‘the rich didn’t receive benefits intended for the poor’.

The key problem we face, as our disgraceful public debts attest, is that vote-chasing governments have ‘repeatedly shifted the cost of funding existing entitlement programmes on to future generations’. This might make sense when, as during the post-war years, ‘western populations are growing and everyone knew their children would be richer than they were’. But as our populations age and living standards stagnate, it looks a lot more risky — especially because borrowed money is being increasingly used to cosset the old and subsidise the idle, rather than spent on infrastructure and schools. ‘There’s nothing progressive about that,’ as Micklethwait and Wooldridge neatly conclude.

That’s why we need ‘A Fourth Revolution’ — to rein in the state, prevent it doing harm and restore western competitiveness. Thatcher and Reagan only managed a ‘half-revolution’, the authors conclude. Welfare spending was 22.9 per cent of GDP in 1979 but still 22.2 per cent when the Iron Lady left office in 1990.

This is a beautifully written book, as you’d expect. The descriptive analysis is superb. There’s a great explanation of Olson’s Law, named after the economist Mancur Olson, which so often sees a small, determined lobby feather its nest at the expense of the broader public interest.

Where the book falls down is prescription — and urgency. There are calls to ‘recapture the spirit of the great 18th- and 19th-century liberals’ and coherent suggestions to enhance local democracy and use more technology in government. But what’s lacking is a sense of discomfort and even outrage at the state we’re in — the same outrage that drove the previous revolutions in government, which punctured the ruling classes’ complacency and kicked the vested interests into touch.

It worries me that a new book about the abuse of state power barely mentions QE. There’s no analysis of the banking lobby’s role in our downfall or of the urgent need to tackle too-big-to-fail. This book, admirable in so many ways, is ultimately a polite clearing of the throat, rather than a fully blown polemic, the analytical punch in the chest required. As such, it’s worthwhile and worth reading, but it won’t help fix the mess.

Liam Halligan writes the weekly Economics Agenda column in The Sunday Telegraph.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • Epimenides

    If you want to live in a place where a Fourth Revelation has already happened then move to Hong Kong or Singapore. Where I live there is no welfare and individuals pay for all medical treatment.
    Listen to the bleating in the UK if welfare is marginally trimmed. The noise is deafening.

    • Kaine

      Hong Kong also has complete state ownership of land and what amounts to a Land Value Tax on those that use it. I’d be more than happy to bring in such a measure in Britain and then take it from there, but I doubt my landed countrymen who make up the bulk of conservative opinion would be.

      • Exactly. And 86% of Singapore housing is rented or leased from the government.

        • Kaine

          I wasn’t aware of that stat. Cheers Mark, one more for the arsenal. Goes with my one about how the conservative paradise of Singapore is actually more ethnically and religiously diverse than Britain. 😉

          • Aarash UK

            You dont know many other things. You should try to learn more. It is no wonder as all communists are uneducated and their 2+2 is between 0.5

        • Colonel Mustard

          “Home ownership in Singapore is segmented into private and public housing markets. It is worth noting that public housing in Singapore can be purchased by upper- or middle-income groups and therefore is not equivalent to low-cost housing as in other Asian countries. The public housing sector is dominant and accommodates 84% of total households. It is strictly under the authority of the Housing Development Board (HDB), which has responsibilities that affect both the demand and supply sides of the housing market, including housing planning and development, housing management and housing finance. Since the 1990s, the government has taken measures to encourage the development of private housing and the share of private housing has increased rapidly. In 2005, the value of contracts awarded for new private sector construction work was almost twice as great as the value of contracts for public housing. In terms of mortgage financing, two systems coexist in Singapore: the HDB public finance system that grants subsidised loans to first-time homebuyers, or second-time homebuyers who upgrade to another HDB flat, and the private mortgage system. In addition, the majority of households have used the Central Provident Fund scheme, a mandatory social security savings plan, to finance their home purchases.”

          (Haibin Zhu, BIS, 2006)

          • Apaliteno

            Anyone with a monthly income above £3700 cannot purchase HDB flats, so that could hardly be said to include upper, let alone middle income groups.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I think you and Mr Haibin Zhu probably differ over what an annual salary of £44,400 represents. Singapore itself thinks the median salary is £32,000 per annum which suggests that Mr Haibin Zhu is not wrong.

          • Apaliteno

            The report is dated 2006, I suspect public sector housing now accommodates only 80% of households. The Singapore dollar has appreciated significantly against sterling since then which probably explains the discrepancy (although it has fallen nearly 10% from its high last year).

      • Curnonsky

        Pyongyang has complete state ownership of land – wonder why it is lagging ever so slightly behind Hong Kong? Could it be that there are still a few bugs to be worked out of Socialism?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Land Value Tax = rates = council tax. And it usually devolves down to occupier dependent upon individual tenancy leasing agreements. There is a difference in density of occupation and use of land that would be problematic to transpose to non-urban areas of Britain. One example from a typical modest urban development with average sized apartments translates to approx £75 per month. To introduce the same model here would effectively create a double helping of council tax for almost everyone unless you replaced the one with the other, the point of which is difficult to determine beyond some esoteric belief in the state ownership of everything. I doubt the bulk of any opinion would appreciate that.

      • LucieCabrol

        small government is why Hong Kong succeeded, combined with hard work, and rule of law that was largely uncorrupt.

    • rtj1211

      Both are so small that significant transportational infrastructure becomes redundant. The way to have a successful City State is totally different from the way to have a traditional nation state be successful.

      • Kaine

        The Right in Britain have a thing for Asiatic despotisms.

        • derAlleswisser

          You are afraid to even say the word “Muslim” are you not??

          • andagain

            Most people in Singapore and Hong Kong are:

            a) Chinese

            and

            b) Not Muslim.

          • LucieCabrol

            Thats why they have succeeded

          • derAlleswisser

            Again, your problems are not due to anyone but Muslims. The folks in Hong Kong and Singapore are not the problem, Muslims are. “Muslim” is a hyper identity; Muslims have no interest in becoming British, they are there to convert your land to Dar al Islam. It is demographics, you and all of Europe have an Islamic future unless you deport them and stop letting them come. Tolerance of Intolerance is not Tolerance. This is not likely to happen.

          • Randy McDonald

            “It is demographics, you and all of Europe have an Islamic future”

            Cites, please.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Is Hong Kong a “despotism”? It wasn’t. I suggest that you read “Governors, Politics and the Colonial Office – Public Policy in Hong Kong 1918-58” by Gavin Ure (Royal Asiatic Society). You might learn a thing or two about autonomy and economy to challenge your parochial British preconceptions about the Left-Right divide and class war.

          • andagain

            Are you are trying to demonstrate that Hong Kong is not a despotism now in 2014, by pointing to a book about Hong Kong up to 1958?

            If not, why are you dragging this book into it?

          • Colonel Mustard

            Try reading the comment again in its entirety of meaning instead of fumbling for your own imagined version of what I am “trying to demonstrate”.

          • Randy McDonald

            Hong Kong was, and remains, nothing like a proper democracy.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Never said it was/is.

    • Aarash UK

      cannot agree more. Lefts does not have enough IQ to understand simple and explicit facts.

      • snarkist

        ya, that sounds like an informed, rational argument.

    • Ace

      The left doesn’t wish to acknowledge simple economics. If you want more of something, subsidize it. Ergo, leftists ideal is more idle poor people on benefits paid for by people whose property is taken (i.e., stolen by parliamentary majority) from them by politicians who despise them and have the attention span of a goat.

      • global city

        and then the money, the creativity and vitality run out.

    • Ace

      The left doesn’t wish to acknowledge simple economics. If you want more of something, subsidize it. Ergo, leftists ideal is more idle poor people on benefits paid for by people whose property is taken (i.e., stolen by parliamentary majority) from them by politicians who despise them and have the attention span of a goat.

    • woody996

      Im sorry but all the land in Singapore is owned by the government, and 85 percent of housing is supplied by the government’s own housing corporation. 22 percent of GDP is produced by state-owned enterprises (including Singapore Airlines), when the world average in that respect is only about 9 percent.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Big government is inevitable. Conservatives and Rightists should learn to love the State. The least we can do is get our own people into positions of power.

    • manonthebus

      You clearly belong to the bolshevik side of democracy. I doubt, however, that you would have lasted five minutes under Stalin.

  • Bonkim

    What do you expect in a world where populations are exploding and resources depleting fast. Mankind has no right to expect that the party will last for ever. prosperity and human civilizations wax and wane and some die off. The Western dawn has lasted three hundred years – the sun is now shining on the East – but eventually West or East, mankind’s days on earth are numbered.

    • Cooper1992

      Unfortunately you are right. Our 7,000,000,000 population now will quickly morph into a 10,000,000,000 population by 2050.

      Can any political philosophy mitigate the problems from this?

      • Kaine

        The Malthusians, in various incarnations, have been predicting catastrophe for centuries. They have been consistently wrong.

        Now it’s probably true the earth can’t support 10 billion people living the current lifestyle of an upper-middle class American, but since so many of that cohort seem cripplingly depressed perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

        • derAlleswisser

          European populations are decreasing except for Muslims. Europe’s future is Islamic, and that means Europe is nearing a long dark night.

      • Bonkim

        Politicians professing doom don’t get voted in. Mankind will not listen until massive conflicts start raging around them and body count mounts. Those that have most have more to fear – those that have nothing to lose will take more risks and go on the rampage.

        • Ace

          The pitiless crowbar of events.

      • rtj1211

        The most likely way is to prioritise a home, efficient agriculture and cheap power for all.

        Apart from that, everything is up for grabs.

        But if you want 10 billion to live peacefully, ensure that they eat healthily, keep warm and have privacy, dignity and happiness in the family arena.

        The primary driver for violence is not eating properly: it’s a throwback to the animalistic hunting instinct which promotes killing to assuage hunger. It’s what turns soldiers into rapist too. Facing death for months without proper food.

        The Western Imperialistic Conquest mania must be eliminated from the human psyche and it must be replaced by ‘Live and let Live’.

        • LucieCabrol

          You’ve been reading too much science fiction again.

          • Ace

            Apparently, he’s not heard of Muslims, Mongols, Huns, Turks, Aztecs, Incas, Iroquois, Comanches, and Zulus. All paragons of live and let live. You read it here first.

    • Ace

      That population growth was fueled by the fantastic productivity of the private sector, notwithstanding government interference. Eventually the issue of how large a population can sustain will be addressed. However, until that future time, the issue at hand is the destruction of private production and innovation by governments that threaten our capability to support the present level of population.

  • Kaine

    Yet again, the financial elite and their apologists try and tell people why, when the richest in society are doing better than ever, and have consolidated almost all the productivity gains of the last thirty five years into their hands, it is those damn poor people that are the problem.

    The original Mancunian founders of The Economist would be sick at what a shill to established interests their newspaper has become.

    • Liberty

      All wealth remains in the economy whoever controls it. The rich can only bank it for banks to invest, invest it directly or spend it. There is nothing else that can be done with it. If the government takes it then they invest or spend it instead and as we know, it is usually done a lot less well. Sure, they spend most on welfare, education and health but that is anything from 70% to 80% labour costs of dubious effectiveness.

      • Kaine

        Wealth is power. How it is invested or spent determines the shape of our nation and our world. I believe in the widest possible distribution of power. Ideally, that would come from each individual having equivalent, or at least comparable, economic heft. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. So, flawed and clumsy as it can often be, I need a democratic state to be big enough to defend me from the dictatorship of capital.

        • Liberty

          Only concentrated wealth creates factories, businesses, etc. Governments think they can do it on a bigger scale [just like most entrepreneurs] but whereas a private entrepreneur goes bust if he fails, there is hot competition between them and the best prevails a mininster or civil servant has the bottomless pit of the taxpayer, government debt and money printing and if he fails he just gets a new job on the same terms or better. That is why socialism always fails.

          • Kaine

            Except it’s not just the entrepreneur who goes bust. Indeed with the laws of incorporation and limited liability the bankruptcy of his company is unlikely to impoverish him, though it may embarrass him in front of his peers.

            The thousands of workers who lose their jobs however, the families who rely upon them, the supply chain and services, they also can end up going bust, through no fault of their own.

            And wider society has to pay for these externalities, either directly through benefits, or indirectly through crime and deprivation of its people.

            And you will say that eventually this is more efficient, and I will point out that biological beings can’t wait for a business cycle adjustment for their bread.

            And that is why laissez-faire economies collapsed at the beginning of the twentieth century, because they could not meet the needs of their people. Social democracy saved the West from falling to either fascism or Stalinism. Not that any of the Randian supermen will admit it.

          • Liberty

            Yeh, markets are tough but the alternative is far, far worse. Think on about USSR, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Atlee’s UK, Castro’s Cuba…and so on. All total failures.

          • Kaine

            Sorry, did you put Attlee’s Britain in with Hitler’s Germany? Because that would rather indicate you were arguing in bad faith.

            But if you want to take the others, it would behoove one to look at the alternatives. Russia did worse under the Chicago School shock treatment than under Gorbachev, hence the fall in Russian life expectancy. I have no reason to think the incompetent fascists of the Koumintang would have done any better than Mao, nor that Cuba would have done better under Batista, though it would have been spared fifty years of economic warfare from the global superpower.

            But again the false choice between plutocracy and autocracy. We had your ideal in pre-1914 Britain, it failed, the people simply do not want it. In fact it appears from history they prefer the dictators. So you’re only option is some sort of mixed system.

          • Aarash UK

            There is no difference between Hitler and Attlee. Study more books and history to see the alternatives. You really could not see the all prosperous and wealth that Capitalism has created in west in compare to poverty and misery in socialist countries? You cannot compare East and West Germany or South and North Korea? You cannot see the sharp decline of the west exactly due to this communist, counter productive and anti innovative ideas? The end of any welfare state is a totalitarian government and all will fail in that system. It is only matter of time. A is A (read more from Ayn Rand). A system which discourages working, innovation, wealth creation and take from the more talented and pay it to the lazies doomed to fail. Everything else is nonsense.

          • Terry Field

            Quite correct. Aristotle clearly identified the inevitable collapse that follows on the corruption of mass subsidy through debt by corrupt politicians who buy votes, in a universal franchise democracy. Look at the actions of the Labour Party under Blair and Brown. They condemn themselves from their own actions.

          • Terry Field

            Attlee was a bank-clerk mind who did nothing of any enduring value. Labour behaved in a sort of conservative way, subsidising dead industries to buy the votes of the toiling proletariat.
            The NHS was an insane idea, and has consigned excellent healthcare in the UK to those who have a BUPA policy or can afford the Nuffield or the like.
            Even then they have to negotiate the horrors of a British A and E if they are unlucky.
            Socialist politics has a history in Britain of cynical opportunism. They trade off the ignorance of their supporters.
            Nationalisation was cretinous. A road to nowhere.
            If he had had any real imagination, Attlee he would have destroyed the public school system and instituted something along the lines of the German system.
            A bit too radical for a new-to-the-job socialist though?????????
            He set the seal on the attitude that destroyed the industrial structure of the country – him and his third-rate socialist ‘comrades’.

          • mohdanga

            “Except it’s not just the entrepreneur who goes bust. Indeed with the laws of incorporation and limited liability the bankruptcy of his company is unlikely to impoverish him, though it may embarrass him in front of his peers.”
            Yes, because banks lend money to entrepreneurs without any requirement for collateral. And if an entrepreneur funds his business with his own money he loses that money should the business fail. Either way he loses upon bankruptcy.
            And I suppose all those thousands of employees never benefitted from employment at the entreprenuer’s company? Maybe it would have been better had the company never formed and they could have continued to collect benefits.

          • LucieCabrol

            laws of incorporation and limited liability….!! Listen friend, if a n entrepreneur has spent 6 years throwing all his energy, usually most of his savings, and of his friends and family, that money and effort is in the company…if it goes bust …its gone; Believe me, that is not an insignificant thing to live through, and you don’t walk away intact. Apart from anything else you have lost 6 years for nothing. I realise that is difficult for some people to relate to, if they have never left a university…etc etc

          • mohdanga

            Umm, I’m agreeing with you and disagreeing with Kaine.

          • LucieCabrol

            Wrong, as was Ed Balls when he said Osborne making cuts and rolling back the state would crucify the recovery…sure enough the private sector began to create jobs; for every failure more jobs….shuffling feet and excuses and whataboutery from the left;..grudging apology from the IMF’s socialist leader Lafarge.

          • LucieCabrol

            The beginning of the 20th century….seriously? Better get out a bit more…the world has moved so far on it is a different planet…there were massive trade protectionist forces then, minimal monetary tools and economies were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now. In fact you blame the banks for the crisis but you are merely the political sock puppet for the power mongers seeking to spread the blame on a largely voiceless whipping boy.
            These disasters are always started by a politician with a mission…messing with sense, trying to force water up hill. No serious analysis of the 2008 crash and issues puts all the blame on the banks. You are just a swp gimp.

        • Aarash UK

          You are a communist with the dumbest idea in the world and with no rationale. The wealth is distributed only according to the talent and effort and not based on needs. You Marxist failed many times in the past and now living in a country which has everything from its glorious 19th century era and spitting communist ideas? Why do not immigrate to prosperous Cuba or North Korea? You really think that the big government will defend you from anything? I am laughing at you. The big government is itself the biggest problem. Now look at the figures and history and try to think for a second. The biggest robberies in the history have been done by the governments, the least efficient systems are public ones, all innovations and wealth are created in private sectors and the people who dared to think and work, without market who will pay for lazies benefit? Government? From where government took its money? We dont have anything like dictatorship of the market it is only dictatorship of government. Read more financial and market news. How many very big mutil billion pound companies have been collapsed due to bad management and how many innovative persons could topple them from scratch and with nothing? You have heard Nokia? Once it had 40% of world market share and now it is almost finished. Kodak, Lehman Brothers, and many other examples. What Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Richard Bronson, Peter Jones, and likes of them had when they started their journey?
          Communist is the idea of irrationals and those who does not want work or envy the better. It is the most disastrous idea in the history and I cannot agree more with the writer. The public sector and income tax abolished. Anyone should work for their living and forget living on the others efforts.

          • Albert Tatlock

            Go back to India, babu, before we have to send you back.

          • LucieCabrol

            Now who’s racist you sad little beardy…….he speaks truth with passion.

          • Albert Tatlock

            Yes, that’s right, I’m racist. If you’re not then you’re part of the problem, “miss”.

          • LucieCabrol

            There’s stupid racism and there’s natural concern for the welfare of your country…you are in the first camp, I’m in the second.

          • Ace

            Well said.

        • LucieCabrol

          Where does this socialist model work?…has it worked?

    • Ace

      What part of “we’re living in an age of bloated, deeply dysfunctional and often counter-productive government” was too difficult for you to understand?

  • Chris Hobson

    Stop thatcherism.

    • Aarash UK

      Stop socialism

  • Trouble is, Liam, it’s getting harder and harder to do. You’d have thought the Crunch of ’08 would have caused some break-up of the system, but it just gave them an opportunity to entrench themselves further, pauperizing some European countries in the process. They consolidate their power into ever tighter control, and distance themselves more and more from those they rule over. That explains part of the reaction in the European elections. Any aggressive response on the part of the people will just provide further excuse to clamp down: if France goes to the barricades, it will get ugly.
    It seems to be almost the case that people need to reinvent government for themselves. Stop relying on the national and international mafia, so to speak, and get local. Undermine their power base rather than confront it. The EU’s by-word is supposed to be subsidiarity, but for them it meant regionalisation in order to denude nations of power against the EU. Let’s make subsidiarity work for real.

  • rtj1211

    As usual, the wrong diagnosis.

    Decline is inevitable if economic civil war is waged by the most fortunate on the less fortunate.

    Britain and the West currently sees a small elite doing all in their power to create a massive proletariat through their own selfishness.

    It has nothing to do with the size of the State.

    It is all to do with the business ethics of those at the very top.

    You can have a small state and iniquitous inequality and a large state and the same.

    it’s just that it’s more likely that iniquitous inequality will become entrenched and permanent with a tiny state.

    That’s because there would be no mechanism to challenge the private oligarchs who see themselves as a master race.

    • Kaine

      There’s always the Romanov solution.

      • Aarash UK

        and the result is USSR. Lefts are so dumb to learn from History.

        • Kaine

          No, the Tsar was removed in the February Revolution. Lenin and the Bolsheviks then overthrew this regime in the October/November Revolution, largely owing to the machinations of Germany who wanted to get the Russians out of the war.

          If you’re going to talk history, it would behoove you to learn some.

          • Aarash UK

            what is the relationship between what you said Comrade Kaine and my comment? You communist are suffering from lack of integrity and reason. I told you about the ultimate result of your dubm ideas. No worries, typical lefts are all the same.

          • LucieCabrol

            Communists… Socialists …lets call the whole thing off…

          • Albert Tatlock

            “Aarash” is an immigrant – he has said so himself – and is is not interested in the history of we dhimmi Europeans. He is also racist which is charmingly ironic.

          • LucieCabrol

            then we had the ussr…..all of which was one long peal of misery, death and suffering for the poor.

      • LucieCabrol

        is that a threat?

    • LucieCabrol

      nonsense….a large state creates nothing and just costs more….in fact in all likelihood is positively obstacle to future development as all those pointless government employee’s try and do something to justify their employment.

  • Nigel Korwin-Mikke

    Bizzarre! Since 2012 media are re-hashing cold war geopolitical framework.

  • Hippograd

    The common western problem isn’t a housing shortage, deteriorating
    infrastructure or immigration fears — although such issues are
    widespread and must clearly be addressed.

    Note “immigration fears”. Because immigration is of course an unalloyed blessing. The only problem with it is getting the plebs to realize how much it blesses them.

    Far from inspiring faith and loyalty, the West’s big-state political classes are seen as distant, incompetent and corrupt.

    How odd, then, that they’re so much in favour of the immigration that has nothing to do with the housing shortage and deteriorating infrastructure. Not to mention the loss of free speech and wages that are falling in real terms.

    Liam Halligan writes the weekly Economics Agenda column in The Sunday Telegraph.

    An economist. Well, economics is more intellectually respectable than psychoanalysis. Or might be, one day.

  • tolpuddle1

    Our relative economic decline results from globalisation and is wholly inevitable.

    Our drift towards social collapse – and actual economic decline – is wholly beyond economists or politicians to solve.

    • Terry Field

      If that is true, old cocker, how come those clever little krauties seem to function pretty well? Could it be because their population is better at choosing a non-degenerte route through life’s choices.
      You know perfectly well just how criminally irresponsibly run Britain is, was and will, in all probability, continue to be.
      Vote Billimand and experience a real Balls-up!

      • justejudexultionis

        The Germans (as normal people call them) are doing well economically for the time being but face demographic collapse in the medium to long term as their birth rate is simply not at replenishment level and, unlike the UK, they do not have crazy levels of immigration to help expand their population.

        • LucieCabrol

          and which particular scaremonger have you read this time that says a shrinking population is the end of the world…Japanese have actually handled it pretty well so far.

        • Terry Field

          Prissy little comment. ‘Normal’ people can use their brains and not parrot simple half-truths.
          The British are declining in numbers; the asian immigrants are breeding at a significant rate.
          In Germany, their guest workers are increasing their populations, and it is a simple matter to correct demographics by social and economic decisions.
          They can easily change that if they wish to.
          The Krauts ( as normal people also call them) are doing massively better, do not face demographic collapse, and you gave they lie to the comparison with Britain by reference to the underlying ethnic changes in that little island.

          • derAlleswisser

            Terry, you are worse than Obama with your PCness. Terry, those ASIANS you are referring to that are destroying your nations are M.U.S.L.I.M.S. They are not Chinese, Indian, South Korean, they are Muslims. That is your doom, Islam.

          • Terry Field

            Yes I know. That is what I said.

      • Ace

        The German constitutional balanced budget requirement probably has a lot to do with it. I did not know that about Germany.

        Being able to put idiocy on the national credit card is pretty much a guarantee of idiocy. Their “guest worker” program will come back to haunt them but that’s another matter.

    • global city

      The creative process of enterprise and open markets (not the theoretical ‘free market’) would maintain improving standards in the west if the state got off it’s back.

  • Terry Field

    There is no choice now. The world, the markets, the currency values, will not tolerate a continued massive state structure.It is over, one way or the other. If the left continue the obscenity for another decade, then the collapse will be absolute and the condition of the country will be completely unrecoverable, as has occurred in Argentina. Work will be a requirement and the sate will not look to support idleness.
    That fantastical immorality is over.
    The debt profile is civilisation destroying,

  • Elop Dev

    Most collectivist attacks attempt to exploit the common misconception that the term “individualist” refers only to isolated individuals.

  • Thorsted

    Agree, I live in Denmark and here the welfare state worked while the population was homogenous and handled with trust. Now it exist on paper but it is impossible to get a pension despite doctors says nothing can´t be done. The welfare state in Denmark and scandinavia is bleeding under 3.world migration and has become a magnet to is continuation. So private insurance for those who can pay. To those danes who will suffer from it -I can only say-you voted for the socialists who was so egalitarian to say that is was for the hole world.The wealth fare state was a contract between people who felt a relation to each other -that relation is gone. It was nice with the nation state it gave us, a framework for democracy, rule of law, patriotism, trust, I went to school were children of director and unskilled were in the same classroom -it is gone or will be. I am told am have to have the same feelings for the hole world as I did for my country -but I can´t. Now, everybody can just go to hell. I mustn´t discriminate -so I don´t care anymore -everybody is equal then.

    • derAlleswisser

      Europe survived the Bubonic Plague, but it will not survive the Islamic Plague.

      • orsonhinds

        Europe found a Solution to the Jewish Problem; I have no doubt that it will find a similarly final answer to the Muslim Problem. Have faith.

        • derAlleswisser

          I do hope so, but let’s be realistic. Are you aware that Jews are fleeing European nations in droves due to the Muslims there? As Muslim numbers increase, they get bolder and bolder in their attacks on Jews. Since the American Media is all Democrat except Fox, this is not reported. Christianity in general is also becoming extinct in Muslim countries, but again, not reported by the Democrat Media.

          You need to read Mark Steyn’s book “America Alone.” This is not a book about opinion, it has all the numbers. It is a horror book. “Europe found a Solution to the Jewish Problem”????? Uh, no. In this book, and things are a lot worse now as the US was still a relevant nation when it was written, Muslims see the US in decline and are emboldened by this, Steyn makes the observation that the European People are “The New Jews”. Meaning that while they oppressed the Jews (only Denmark actively protected the Jews from the Nazis, except in isolated cases such as Anne Frank), they will be snuffed out by the Muslims at some time in the future.

  • Thorsted

    Agree, I live in Denmark and here the welfare state worked while the population was homogenous and handled with trust. Now it exist on paper but it is impossible to get a pension despite doctors says nothing can´t be done. The welfare state in Denmark and scandinavia is bleeding under 3.world migration and has become a magnet to is continuation. So private insurance for those who can pay. To those danes who will suffer from it -I can only say-you voted for the socialists who was so egalitarian to say that is was for the hole world.The wealth fare state was a contract between people who felt a relation to each other -that relation is gone. It was nice with the nation state it gave us, a framework for democracy, rule of law, patriotism, trust, I went to school were children of director and unskilled were in the same classroom -it is gone or will be. I am told am have to have the same feelings for the hole world as I did for my country -but I can´t. Now, everybody can just go to hell. I mustn´t discriminate -so I don´t care anymore -everybody is equal then.

  • Mukkinese

    The importance or national debt is vastly exaggerated. Investment has always been the quickest way to increase growth and so ease the paying of debt, but debt itself has now been magnified into such a massive bogeyman that politicians dare not think of anything else.

    It is idiotic. We are a sovereign nation and control out own currency. The debt is owed to ourselves. We have printed £350 million in Q.E. just to control the price of bonds for goodness sake. We could use a third of that amount to invest in growth. Yes, at the cost of some inflation down the line, but with a strong economy and continued growth that would hardly be crippling…

    • mnemos

      “Investment has always been the quickest way to increase growth…” I understand this concept, but don’t agree that our current spending is consistent with the idea of “investment”. If we were spending money on infrastructure – for example bridges or hospitals – I could think of it as investments. Instead of spending money on bridges we are spending money on food. Instead of spending money on hospitals, we are spending money on contraceptives. That is not investment. I don’t see the “large slice” in capital investment – we didn’t buy bank shares, we just gave them money by taking their bad debts for free. The ideas are reasonable, but not consistent with what we are actually doing.

  • Chris Duffy

    You had me till ‘entitlement programs’. In the last decade, by far the biggest entitlement programs in the US have been the programs of war, launched into by the entitled elite who collect power and gold around them. I understand you think a nation of 300-plus million should be able to run on a slim budget no bigger than the Mayberry Parks And Recreation fund, but before we even get to that we need to address the very real…and forever hungry…notion that ‘peace'(or more to the point the seemingly never-ending military adventures that are supposed to bring it) is worth any price. Because that policy WILL bankrupt us, in more ways than just money.

  • Marisa Louisa

    I don’t think that it is government that is over bloated – it’s really too many bloated fat people in the world which leads to laziness, over use of resources (too much food!), and lower productivity all of which demands a bigger welfare state.

  • moderate Guy

    “Many of us believe, rightly, that our children and grandchildren will
    have less prosperous lives than we do. That not only runs counter to the
    tide of western history, but jars with natural human instincts,
    creating a deep sense of unease.”
    The left-wing, neo-feudal reaction to capitalism was founded on reversing the tide of western history (since 1700s) and suppressing the natural human instincts.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    “The revolution the West needs”. Alzheimer’s of democracy. It’s something to do with accountancy and a lot to do with being accountant for one’s deeds. Politicians and people in public office are not only protected from accountancy be evade it. This must change.

  • rgeiken

    This article really hits the nail on the head. I live in Arizona, and with the US Federal Debt rapidly approaching $18 trillion and no specific plans to stop borrowing and start paying back the debt, we are in for times that may make our 1930s depression look like a garden party. All the Government meddling in economics will cause decades of forced austerity. Who would loan funds to such prolific spenders. Greece is trying to find a way around the austerity that is built into the money they have gotten from the western powers. Governments are no different from individuals in that you will finally get to the point that sensible people will no longer provide you with the funding to continue your ill thought out spending spree.

  • “The western world is a mess. The ‘advanced’ economies are failing to generate higher living standards for the majority of citizens.”

    No kidding! Why would the central banks of the West (and Japan) be preventing capital formation for net (new) productive investments, which require higher, market-based, interest rates? There can be no generation of higher living standards until there is capital available for new (new) productive investments, which require massive amounts of capital, and such massive amounts of capital can only be procured when the expected return on the investment covers the cost of the loan, and with interest rates so ludicrously low, such massive loans can’t be made.

  • la catholic state

    The greatest problem the West has is that it is no longer reproducing. Forget everything else….if you haven’t got this right….then it’s goodbye time. The godless West will be no more by the end of this century.

  • Bill Walters

    Within an impersonal modern civilization, we serve and are served by those we don’t know and whose very existence we will likely never know.

  • Bestuv Burke

    Since prices serve as communications beacons, central government attempts to set prices distort the signals upon which prosperity depends.

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