It is a commonplace to say that the world would be better off without politicians. Of course no one really means it – but it may be true in the economic crisis that is now brewing. Our political leaders, far from averting this crisis, are themselves the cause of it.
The same was not true of the 2008 crisis. The politicians were a contributory factor then, but by no means the only one or the most important. The global economy survived that crisis and has been recovering, albeit very slowly, since then. The 2011-12 crisis is a new one and is entirely of the politicians’ own making.
A little local difficulty in Greece has been blown out of all proportion by European politicians’ obsession with maintaining the euro in its current form at all costs. The actual needs of the different national economies of the EU have been put second to keeping countries in the eurozone who should never have joined in the first place.
Leaving aside the question of the desirability of a single currency in theory – there is case for and a case against – the deal cobbled together in a panic by European leaders last week is not a sound basis for such a currency. Although EU leaders are right that tighter enforcement of the rules is essential to any single currency, the new proposals, called “fiscal union” (FU), leave the same holes in the deal that led to the wholly foreseeable collapse of the previous arrangements. The markets are now endorsing the position of the UK, which wanted nothing to do with it.
Meanwhile, the stupidity and egotism of Europe’s leaders seem to have provoked the competitive streak in their American counterparts, who appear determined to prove that they can be just as stupid and egotistical. Everyone is at last agreed that a cut in payroll taxes is a highly desirable stimulus to employment – something this blog has been saying for some time – so one would imagine it would pass without difficulty. Not in Washington...
For purely political reasons, President Obama and his Democratic allies tied the payroll tax cut to an increase in taxes on higher earners, knowing his Republican opponents are pledged to oppose tax increases. Rather than stick to the moral high ground, the Republicans, in their turn, tied their support for the tax cut to funding a controversial pipeline in the worst tradition of American “pork barrel” politics. Given that the Republicans were elected on a platform of cutting both taxes and “pork barrel” expenditure, their making the cut conditional on more expenditure is doubly inexcusable – at least the Democrats are being true to their principles, even if what they are doing in bad for the economy. Both sides have proved themselves selfish, foolish, and dishonest, but in different ways.
Looking at our “leaders” in general, even a law-abiding businessman must wonder if the anarchists may have a point.
So don't think you can fool me with your political tricks
Political right, political left, you can keep your politics
Government is government and all government is force
Left or right, right or left, it takes the same old course
Oppression and restriction, regulation, rule and law
The seizure of that power is all your revolution's for
You romanticise your heroes, quote from Marx and Mao
Well their ideas of freedom are just oppression now
Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created
It's just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren't clearly stated
Nothing's really different cos all government's the same
They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game
Extract from 'Bloody Revolutions' by Crass