Actually, it’s because government is shit at doing things

I know I shouldn’t but I’m going to let the P³ in on a little secret:

Why do we need a balanced budget more than we need education, healthcare, social care, justice services, environmental protection, new social housing, transport infrastructure reform and so much else? I doubt that anyone who proposes a balanced budget can explain that. But because it is assumed that a balanced budget must be the goal all those things that we need – as well as the vital support that so many in the UK are dependent upon to just let them have the most basic of standards of living – are to be denied to us.

The debt paranoia is killing us. There is a whole chapter in my book ‘Money for nothing and my tweets for free’ on this issue. But let me reiterate how absurd this claim is.

The logic of the balanced budget fetishists is that government debt is akin to any other debt, and must be repaid.

No, not really. We have noticed that the national debt has never been repaid, also that it has rarely been diminished by even partial repayment. We’re also away that seigniorage profits have been racking up over the centuries. We have noted these things.

However, we’re also aware of the truth about government. It’s entirely true that there’s a class of things that both must be done and can only be done by government. Say, executing traitors. OK, we’re fine with the idea that something that must be done and can only be done by government is done by government – the only people who can do that necessary thing.

However, we’re also aware that government is always an inefficient method of doing the thing. This must be true otherwise we cannot explain the distressing lack of Remainers occupying gibbets across the country.

Therefore we wish to restrict government to only those things which both must be done and which can only be done by government. Things that do not need to be done – The Arts Council, diversity training – should not be done at all, not unless they gain voluntary funding from consenting adults. Those things which do not need to be done by government – health care provision rather than financing say – should not be done by government.

At which point one of the reasons why we say government doesn’t have an inexhaustible chequebook is simply because we don’t want government to think that it has an inexhaustible chequebook. On the grounds that the more money they think they’ve got the more they’ll try to do and therefore the more they’ll thereby turn to shit.

That is, the reason for constraints upon government spending is because governments are shit at spending money.

14 thoughts on “Actually, it’s because government is shit at doing things”

  1. “We have noticed that the national debt has never been repaid, also that it has rarely been diminished by even partial repayment”

    Not so, as I understand it. The debt taken on for the Napoleonic Wars was whittled away during there rest of the 19th century.

    Or is that ‘well known fact’ wrong?

  2. Government is NOT shit at spending, it’s one of the things it does consumately well. What it is shit at is getting value for money, or even buying things it should buy.

  3. Whittled, yes, but it became unimportant as it shrank as a percentage of rising GDP rather than whatever portion was actually paid off.

  4. From memory ( I have the relevant essay on my proper computer somewhere) in 1899, before the Boer War really got going, 40% of govt expenditure was on the military and 25% to service the National Debt.

  5. The Meissen Bison

    Well, according to one time drayman and Tory leader, William Hague, writing in yesterday’s Times, the government must reverse the Hayek credo of the Thatcher years and roll forward the boundaries of the state because of the unprecedented problems that it now faces.

    These new problems (obesity, climate change, sexual deviants in the ladies’ loo and the rest of it) used not to be part of the business of governments.

  6. And of course Quango overreach, so that the govt can claim a clean pair of hands. For example
    Why does and how can the Advertising Standards Authority dictate what Kelloggs can put in their cereals ?

  7. TMB,

    “Well, according to one time drayman and Tory leader, William Hague, writing in yesterday’s Times, the government must reverse the Hayek credo of the Thatcher years and roll forward the boundaries of the state because of the unprecedented problems that it now faces.”

    FFS when was the last time it was Thatcherite? Cameron was criticising WH Smith for selling Chocolate oranges back in the 2000s. Tax Freedom Day is later than it was under Blair or Brown.

    If they shift further left, they’ll leave a nice big gap for someone like Reform Party to take their spot.

  8. Wm Hague’s decline is sad to see. He was good once. Now he’s a bought and owned Globalist shill with no wit or imagination. Those photos must be grim viewing.

  9. If Willy Hague was good once, it was when he was, what, twelve? Before we know more about him. When he was untarted cherry tory.

    I’ll get me coat.

  10. I once shared an office with Hague at a mutual client in London when he was at McKinseys, although we did not speak much.

    Cvnt tried to pass of his own modelling mistake as my responsibility. That didn’t go down well chez moi.

  11. The UK might not pay down debt, but other countries do.

    Why is it a bad thing for Norway to be flush? They had a bonus of North Sea oil and instead of throwing it away, decided to keep it. Sweden and NZ have both worked hard to get their debt down too, by not spending rather than getting lucky.

    The left are usually all over copying the “Socialist” Scandinavians?

  12. Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
    You play the guitar on the MTV
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free
    Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb
    Maybe get a blister on your little finger
    Maybe get a blister on your thumb
    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchen deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s
    See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
    Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
    That little faggot got his own jet airplane
    That little faggot he’s a millionaire
    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchens deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s
    I shoulda learned to play the guitar
    I shoulda learned to play the drums
    Look at that mama, she got it stickin’ in the camera
    Man we could have some fun
    And he’s up there, what’s that? Hawaiian noises?
    Bangin’ on the bongoes like a chimpanzee
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Get your money for nothin’ get your chicks for free
    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchen deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s
    Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    You play the guitar on the MTV
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free

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