Monday, 3 December 2012

Unavoidable

Just as any real Labour Movement must recognise and celebrate the role of business in providing employment, generating wealth, sustaining communities, supporting good causes, and so on, so any businessperson with an ounce of common sense must recognise and celebrate the importance to economic efficiency of decent healthcare, education, housing, transport infrastructure, wages, working conditions, and so on. Including legal recognition as a company at all.

Take out bailouts or the permanent promise of them, take out central and local government contracts, take out planning deals and other sweeteners, and take out the guarantee of customer bases by means of public sector pay and the benefits system, and what is there left? They are all as dependent on public money as any teacher, nurse or road sweeper. Everyone is.

And with public money come public responsibilities, including public accountability for how those responsibilities are or are not being met, accountability and responsibilities defined by classical, historic, mainstream Christianity as the basis of the British State and as the guiding inspiration of all three of this State’s authentic, indigenous, popular political traditions.

Privatisation, globalisation, deregulation and demutualisation have turned out, in the most spectacular fashion, to have been anything but fiscally responsible. The same is true of a generation of scorn for full employment, leading to the massively increased benefit dependency of the 1980s and the institutionalisation of that mass indolence down to the present day.

The transfer of huge sums of public money to ostensibly private, but entirely risk-free, companies in order to run schools, hospitals, railways, rubbish collections, and so many other things: is that fiscally responsible? Bailing out the City at all, never mind so that it can carry on paying the same salaries and bonuses as before: is that fiscally responsible? Even leaving aside more rarefied academic pursuits, is it fiscally responsible to allow primary education, or healthcare, or public transport, or social housing to fall apart? Is that good for business? Are wars of aggression fiscally responsible? Are military-industrial complexes?

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