Britain’s new economic strategy is sound: cut the wealth-consuming public sector and expand the wealth-producing private sector.
This is no more than simple common sense. Yet the UK’s public sector has been expanding for years while the private sector has not been growing as it ought. The laws of mathematics tell us that the inevitable consequence of increased expenditure and insufficient income is debt. It is a shame that it took a recession to force Britain to face that reality and try, at last, to reverse both trends.
The problem is that, in adopting this laudable strategic objective, Britain’s new Coalition government has no idea how to achieve it.
Here is how to do it. Do not try. Just let business get on with it. If the politicians and bureaucrats would leave us alone – and by that we mean take away all their meddling, interfering regulations, rules and compliance burdens – the private sector would not only achieve their objective of taking up the slack of the reduced public sector but would go on to expand far more than their narrow little minds could ever imagine. History proves this.
However, the politicians do not really have faith in this. Unless they are prepared to act on their words, business will not be able to take up the slack. The strategy will then be perceived to be failing, then blamed, then abandoned – without really having been tried.
If they rely on business, they must trust it. They must take us seriously when we say that legislative interference like the “Equality Act” in the UK, the maternity proposals of the EU, and the poorly drafted healthcare reforms in the USA, will prevent us from completing the tasks they have assigned us, to generate income and employment.
They must also understand that no government schemes or spending programmes designed to “help” business can make up for that interference. For President Obama to tout a “Small Business Bill” after approving the pork barrel of the stimulus package and federal healthcare is like shooting a man in the guts and then offering him a Band Aid.
Similarly, the language of the new British government is suspiciously reminiscent of its unlamented predecessor, which thought a few handouts to selected businesses – its friends – could compensate for increased tax and regulation that drove businesses and jobs abroad.
Message from Business to Government: Yes, we can take up your slack for you – but only so long as you do not try to “help” us – just get out of our way.