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.