A recurring question
+I wonder if there’s been an increased incidence of patients arriving at their local A&E departments showing the scars of nail-spitting syndrome? Because having listened to yet another Downing Street party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party (this time hosted by Michael Gove) I am sure that there must be many listeners like me who feel compelled to spit nails in response to the outpouring of complacency, smugness and self-congratulatory bullshit coming from No. 10. There are far too many examples of NHS staff not getting the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) they need to deny that there’s a big supply problem. But all we get is ‘oh, it’s on it’s way.’ Any question about a lack of preparation or capacity is batted away with homilistic entreaties about hiccups with supply chains (somebody else’s fault), etc. So, despite the warnings from China, nobody saw this coming. So much for the world of ‘just in time’ economics.
+Talking of economics I am wondering what the government’s plan is for afterwards? What happens when it is actually considered safe to go out again? How many businesses will have collapsed? What will the unemployment rate be? What will high streets look like? (Not quite as bad as those pictures of say, Berlin, circa May 1945 I dare say, but the damage by today’s standards could be more widely distributed than locally visual.) In a smallish town like Scarborough how will things recover? All the recent talk about the government suddenly discovering the value of community in response to the Coronavirus emergency will be rather shallow compared to what it will need to do after the cloud has passed. So far as the current crew of politicians in power is concerned, I know for sure that all they want is a return to ‘normality’ asap. They see this pandemic, like so many other disasters, as a one in a hundred years’ event—it’s ‘unprecedented’ so should not be allowed to stand as a precedent. Possibly one very worrying sign of this current calamity was the sight of Dominic Cummings running away from Downing Street into self-isolation. The thought of that man being left alone with his thoughts for any length of time should worry us all, as and when he returns to No.10 with a satchel full of New Ideas. A digression: why have we been deprived of Jacob Ress-Mogg these last few weeks? Is he really too contagious to be allowed out at all?
+But let’s have some new ideas. I’ve been thinking (oh no). How about local bonds? This isn’t really either a new idea or original. But wondering how all the small businesses in Scarborough might survive or even get back on their feet, it seems clear that there will over the last few and coming weeks be a lot of consumers’ money unspent due to the clampdown. What if this, which might normally have been spent were diverted into bonds, which could then be used to support the local economy? Such a scheme could be administered by local authorities (thus avoiding to a certain extent at least, the City and multinational fat cats siphoning off ordinary people’s money to line their own pockets, a la 2008). Local bonds used to support the local economy, not some national scheme for Barclays, HSBC, RBS, etc. If I knew that money I was investing in such bonds was going to go into local enterprise, I would be happy with it. Not least if the national state’s role was to underpin it with say a 3% guaranteed interest rate, with the first tranche of investment given ISA status. Given current interest rates the scheme would be a popular destination for savers. And the cost to the state? For every billion raised at 3% that’s £30,000,000. £1 trlllion—much more than the UK private sector produces in a whole year would cost £30,000,000,000 (by way of contrast the financial crash Quantitative Easing approached £500,000,000,000) But it wouldn’t come anywhere near that, since the return to the state of a £1 trillion dollup of investment would be incalculably large. Tied in with a bit of People’s Quantitative Easing and sensible investment in sustainable green industry this Coronavirus business could be the best thing that’s happened since the invention of anything else that ever went viral. So, this savings instrument, building on the current level of public engagement with this crisis might be called the ‘Recovery Bond.’ Of course, some people might just shift their current savings, but the key thing is, they would be moving them into local investments and that would signal a significant shift in economic orthodoxy—and might even begin the process of breaking the grip of the City on our government and our economy.
But it won’t happen, nor anything like it. The power of a small minority is not going to relax its grip on government anytime soon. Ask Jacob if you don’t believe me. If you can find him.
+There’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: ‘what day is it?’
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