Now wonder the Greens are in a mess over economics

Molly Scott Cato is their leading economist:

Most important, she would not be focusing the narrative of her budget around the deficit. We believe that austerity is a political project, designed to reinforce the power of financial and corporate elites, and achieve the long-held ambition of those on the right in politics of bringing about the shrinking of the state. Closing the deficit is not our prime economic objective; the important thing is to build a more equal and ecologically sustainable economy. We would balance the current account over time, but are prepared to borrow to invest.

Molly Scott Cato apparently doesn’t know the difference between the current account (trade related) and the deficit (government budget related).

Sigh.

35 thoughts on “Now wonder the Greens are in a mess over economics”

  1. I have no evidence even from a Deep web search of Murphy being appointed the Green’s chief economic advisor – the Poppy Dinsey thing stymied his chances with Labour for the Alan Walters role (amongst other things) but in the two concrete policies this woman advocates and is willing to set forth I see echoes of his work.

    The first policy – chasing after the 1% for $25 billion is pie in the sky stuff, whilst the second policy regarding the construction of 500,000 homes by 2020 (assuming noone ends fixed term parliaments on the grounds it’s a terrible idea) is predicated on creating 100,000 jobs, likely to be a gross overestimate and also most likely to be filled by immigrants from Eastern Europe who have the skills to work in construction rather than our unemployed youngsters whose skills in modelling plasticine worms are not in high demand in the global economy.

    Having read extensively through the Green manifesto on ‘Migration’, ‘Transport’ and ‘Peace and Defense’ I’d say the Greens are in a mess in every single policy area I have studied – economics is merely another in a long line. The case for franchise reform grows by the day….

  2. What “they”, we all need to comprehend and all of them – inclusive of George Osborne, is that, governments they do not have any money.

    It costs upwards of £50 billion just to tread water, and the national debt figure is a confabulated political lie which is said to be set at £1,400,000,000,000. but is probably more like ~3.5 trillion.
    Can we ever repay it, it’s only telephone numbers, right?

    I don’t know the answer, neither does George nor anyone really.

    What we do know is that, Britain’s goods trade gap is enormous and there is no sign of government getting to grips with the idea of it, let alone understanding the need to tackle it.

    AND …..we can keep on borrowing, but it doesn’t solve the trade gap!

    We’ll end up like Greece, right? NO – no probably more like a crap hole like; Paraguay or Argentina.

  3. Edward,

    The trade deficit isn’t a problem. They give us goods, we give them pieces of paper. Sounds like a great deal to me!

  4. @E
    Keep deluding yourself that the government can’t create money. Close your eyes and drum your feet on the floor.Don’t read the Bank of England bulletin “Money Creation in the Modern economy” or you might find that the Green policy on money creation is in line with it.Don’t think for a minute you are in a Matrix pod.

  5. Van_Patten – the impression I get from reading through the Green policy pages on the web is that they adopt as policy any proposal that gets passed (I assume at events involving a certain level of the party); these proposals are put forward individually and without particular reference to existing policies; and the ethos of the party is to be welcoming to new ideas so the tendency is to approve anything pointing in roughly the right direction.

    There is therefore no coherence in the policies, except that the central party then adopts the ones it likes as part of the manifesto. This gives something of a disconnect between the public face of the party and the internal politics.

    Also, as each policy is adopted piecemeal there is no need (or way) to integrate spending policies with income policies.

    This is only my impression as a vaguely-interested observer, though 🙂 I have a lot of sympathy with the very highest-level Green policies (be nice to people and the planet), but even the slightest digging makes me very wary of them 🙁

  6. After reading the article in context I have narrowed it down to three possibilities:

    – She thinks that the trade deficit is the important deficit (plenty of people with a neo-mercantilist PoV have told me that’s the ‘real’ reason why Britain is running out of money, and the localist Greens are known not to be fans of global trade and our imports from overseas, regardless of the fact that that’s how we’re helping people in poor countries get richer).

    – She is using “current account” as an analogy to a personal current account, in the same way some people compare loans for infrastructure projects to the government taking out a mortgage. Undoubtedly personal finances are a bad way of thinking about macro, and it’s particularly daft to pick a term that has a quite distinct technical meaning, but that never stopped anyone abusing the phrase “public good” before either. Maybe she just thinks guardian readers are idiots and need a personal analogy to comprehend anything.

    – She has made a genuine mistake, either a slip of the pen or slip of the mind. I’m sure she studied Econ 101 at some point (wouldn’t the current account actually be in A level, even?) but this may be a momentary lapse rather than an utter failure of comprehension. Maybe.

    But I’m not sure which of the three I’m most inclined towards.

  7. She’s got the terminology wrong, but at least she seems to understand the difference back stock and a flow, and borrowing to fund capital investment rather than current spending.

    Economically illiterate probably, but better than Labour.

    Murphy can’t be involved; this isn’t stupid enough to be his work.

  8. Pellinor – I have a lot of sympathy with the very highest-level Green policies (be nice to people and the planet)

    I don’t. I’d have the Greens rounded up and herded into carbon-neutral prison camps, where they’d be forced to subsist on vegan tofu-gruel and recycled cat piss. Same as they want to do to us.

    It wouldn’t be all bad. They’d have Stalinist comedian Mark Steel/Mark Thomas/Marcus Brigstocke (I’m pretty sure they’re all the same, unfunny, person) in there to entertain them.

    As for the planet: fuck the planet. The planet doesn’t give a shit about us, which is why it’s always killing people with earthquakes and tsunamis and whatnot.

    My policy towards the planet is that Gaia is our bitch and we must keep our pimp hand strong. Frack her around a bit, show her who’s boss.

  9. Pellinor/Andrew

    I understand the genesis of their policies which would go a long way to explaining their lack of coherence – the Transport one (as someone who worked in that industry) is truly barking – I think I had reached 50 pages of critique. Even back in the late 80s when Defense policy was a giant Green hedge around the UK I knew their policy in that area was mad – however, they have ambitions to be taken seriously. Surely they need a more coherent policy making approach – otherwise they will remain at the margins, and deservedly so IMHO.

  10. Steve – like I say, it’s the very high level “be nice to people” idea I like. When you start to look at ideas of what would be nice, and how to achieve it, I diverge from them 🙂

    I think that lots of nuclear power and lots of global trade would be better for both people and planet, for example.

  11. But the Greens don’t want to be nice to people, they want people to be nice to newts at their own expense.

  12. Van_Patten – The case for franchise reform grows by the day….

    Here’s my plan for franchise reform:

    * Women – I love you, but you can’t vote correctly to save your lives. Stick to baking cakes and being adorable.

    * People under the age of 35 – you have no business voting. Go back to your Playstations and your FaceTube, you little bastards.

    * Public sector workers – No, you can’t simultaneously suckle at the taxpayer’s bosom and vote yourself more milk. Piss off.

    * Anybody who receives benefits – sorry*, chavs, but no votes for you. *(I’m not sorry)

    * Anybody with an arts degree – innumeracy equals disenfranchisement.

    * People called “Rafe”, “Tristan”, or anything similarly wanky – GTFO.

    * The Scots and the Welsh – have many admirable qualities but voting properly isn’t one of them. Stop that. It’s silly.

    * Anybody who has never been in a fist fight – if you can’t take a punch, you can’t vote. One in three polling stations will have a hidden spring-loaded boxing glove to weed out drips.

    * Hipsters – if your glasses, your beard, your clothes, or your latte can be described as “ironic” or “skinny”, you will be mauled by angry pumas if you set foot inside a polling station.

    * People who haven’t served in HM Forces – if you haven’t served your country, no vote for you, civvy!

    * People in HM Forces – bunch of alcoholic bastards. I wouldn’t trust them with my cat, never mind the democratic process.

  13. Steve:“It wouldn’t be all bad. They’d have Stalinist comedian Mark Steel/Mark Thomas/Marcus Brigstocke (I’m pretty sure they’re all the same, unfunny, person) in there to entertain them.”

    And uberchav queen of cookery Jack Monroe to make a hearty meal of potato peelings and mud for them…

  14. JuliaM – And uberchav queen of cookery Jack Monroe to make a hearty meal of potato peelings and mud for them

    God, yes. The only thing worse than a chav is a middle class twit deliberately slumming it with the chavs, because social justice.

    “Jack” is fifty shades of fail:

    * She calls herself “Jack” – it was cute when George from the Famous Five was a tomboy, but George was a little girl of 12, not a mother.

    * Her poverty porn stories are bullshit and only a Guardian reader would so gullible as to believe them.

    Take this one, which Charles Dickens would have rejected as being “too mawkish”:

    Food was not the only problem, her son’s feet were hurting because he had soiled his own shoes and Monroe could not easily find the money for a new pair.

    Either she’s the worst mother in the world, or a bloody liar. Assuming we believe her son’s shoes were so badly ‘soiled’ (by what, an elephant?) that she couldn’t just clean them, are there no charity shops where she lives?

    No Freecycle? No other mums whose kids have grown out of their shoes? No local church groups who give needy kids shoes and clothes for free? Jesus H. Christ – even if you’re not a believer, Christians generally trip over themselves to help poor kids, if only you ask.

    So her story is pish and piffle.

    * She left the Labour Party because they weren’t as keen on mass immigration as she is. That’s Olympic gold medal fuckwittery, especially for someone who lived off the British taxpayer for years.

    To the eco-camps with her.

  15. @ DBC Reed

    Keep deluding yourself that the government can’t create money. Close your eyes and drum your feet on the floor.Don’t read the Bank of England bulletin “Money Creation in the Modern economy”

    The bulletin says: Most of the money in circulation is created, not by the printing presses of the Bank of England, but by the
    commercial banks themselves.

    Not governments then.

  16. Anybody can create “money” Reed–had you quality plates and a hand printing press why even you could create “money”–so long as people don’t look too closely at it. What cannot be created by diktat or forgery is the wealth of goods/services that money is supposed to be a claim on.

    Go back to good old socialist pastimes Reed–like shooting people in the back of the head and thieving.

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    Steve – “Anybody who receives benefits – sorry*, chavs, but no votes for you. *(I’m not sorry)”

    Sound, sensible policies for a stronger, modern Britain.

    But we have a two party system. You need an opponent who is ideologically different. Who is going to fill the roll of the Conservatives?

  18. Steve, you could run on a bold ticket of Anti-Parkhurstism.

    On the one hand…

    “* People under the age of 35 – you have no business voting.”

    I’m 34 but have two (2) Milton Friedman books on the shelf. One of which I’ve even read. Can I get a pass please sir?

    on the other….

    “* Anybody who has never been in a fist fight – if you can’t take a punch, you can’t vote. One in three polling stations will have a hidden spring-loaded boxing glove to weed out drips.”

    Agreed.

  19. Mr Ecks – That joke was ruff.

    Dan – you could run on a bold ticket of Anti-Parkhurstism

    It used to piss me off how Jane and Michael were neglected by their spoilt mare of a mother, always running off to annoy men about “votes for women”.

    Poppycock!

    I have no issue voting for a woman, mind. Our greatest Prime Minister was a woman.

    The only thing more annoying than the sister suffragettes was that emotionally exploitative “feed the birds” song by that old crone. Feed the flying rats of London? Not bloody likely. I’d have given my boy an air rifle and let him have at it.

    I’m 34 but have two (2) Milton Friedman books on the shelf. One of which I’ve even read. Can I get a pass please sir?

    No! 35: so it is written, so it shall be done.

    And there’ll be a written test on He Man, Thundercats, and Saturday Swap Shop to weed out any young shavers who’ve had a hard paper round.

  20. ** The Scots and the Welsh

    I live in Edinburgh, so that’s as good as being English

    ** Anybody who has never been in a fist fight

    It was bike chains and broken Bru bottles in my day. Does that count?

    * People who haven’t served in HM Forces

    I “served” in the Boys Brigade*; a fear of bullets ruled me out of the Forces though.

    *despite this being in the alleged period of Peak Child Abuse, there wasn’t the slightest hint of dodgy goings on. I’ll have to rely on my imagination when I do my tearful blurred-out-image interview.

  21. “We believe that austerity is a political project, designed to reinforce the power of financial and corporate elites”

    Isn’t that code for Jews?

  22. Mr Ecks – “had you quality plates and a hand printing press” you don’t even need that, a hand written IOU is money if accepted by others, or an electronic imprint in a machine, or even a verbal assurance. If others accept it, then it money.

    “What cannot be created by diktat or forgery is the wealth of goods/services …” – yes, yes, yes.

  23. Modernist of me, but I rather like the 1832 Reform Act.

    A property qualification to vote (although the land values would have to be updated), plus a few oddities for some seats (Freemen or MAs).

    Multiple voting in each constituency where you are qualified.

  24. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I’d add in as voting qualifications: i) ability to wire a 13A plug ii) marksmanship iii) pass grade (90%) in exams on literacy, economics, maths, physics, biology, mechanical engineering and logic—nothing too strenuous, first year undergraduate stuff.

  25. The ability to wire a 13A plug seems sensible, but I don’t think the academic stuff works.

    Disenfranchising the nation’s greatest entrepreneurs and a great many do-ers whilst giving the likes of Ed Balls a free pass does not seem clever at all.

  26. “A property qualification to vote”

    Given, a) the state of the UK’s housing market, b) government’s failure to tackle it (not least because they’re incentivised not to via their expenses regime), and, c) the future danger represented by declining home ownership this is a one-way ticket to revolution.

  27. Steve,
    Can you clarify the fist-fight qualification? I’ve been in two only, and did not cover myself in glory:

    1) The first was, a) against a younger and and smaller boy, and, b) I lost on points. It taught me a valuable lesson about complacency but frankly I was humiliated. Candidly even.

    2) The second time was attempting to break up a fight during a rugby match. Interposing myself at exactly the wrong moment, I got a fist in the face from both of them.

    Does failure count?

  28. This discussion has wandered off Green Party economics on to depriving undesirables of the vote.I would have thought being able to stick to the subject and judging relevance should be a voting qualification which being totally up yourself from doing science and technical subjects precludes a lot of would be right-wing voters, anxious to assert that banks should be bailed out to pass on savers’ money to entrepreneurs .And a little austerity for the not well-off is a small price to pay! (Except that banks don’t pass on existing money but make up new money which is what the Greens are onto.)

  29. Steve’s onto something here. We should decide things by having a massive Anchorman-style swedge between all the commenters of the various blogs.

    The trouble would really start when the Samizdata crew turned up though. Those guys pack serious heat. Nothing wins an argument quite like a bullet.

  30. I can wire a 13A plug if someone else uses the screwdriver for me. Hands are no good these days for gripping stuff.
    Does that count?

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