Why we must fight the Tories on every front – Reason #1 The Economy

Why we must fight the Tories on every front – Reason #1 The Economy

By Jon Crooks

It’s the economy stupid!

We need an end to austerity. No more cuts! It’s time to look at alternative ways of clearing the deficit whilst investing in public services and infrastructure, in a way that doesn’t punish disabled people, the unemployed and the low paid. The Tories have controlled the debate up to now. Making out that it’s all about cuts in public spending vs. higher taxes. But that’s all built on lies. To begin with we need to expose the truth about money!

The money supply

Virtually all money today is created as bank debt. As painful as it is, everybody needs to understand this. Go to the Positive Money website and start by watching one of their videos then read a bit. It’s fundamental to everything. And the problem with this method of creating money is that we can no longer take on more debt. The money supply has shrunk along with our inability to borrow new money into existence. Quantitative Easing (QE) attempted to re-inflate the money supply by giving money to banks to create more debt, but that policy failed.

What’s the solution?

It’s time to try injecting some debt-free money – central bank-created money – directly into the real economy. The Government can issue new money outright to cover the budget deficit or spend it into existence by investing in new housing, energy, transport and digital projects. Corbyn’s team call it “quantitative easing for people instead of banks” (PQE). The investments in the real economy would be made through a National Investment Bank set up to invest in new infrastructure and in the hi-tech innovative industries of the future. The Greens too have been advocating this approach for some time.

So why won’t the Tories consider this option?

As Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ explains:

“This is a taboo concept in mainstream economics because it cuts out the private sector bond traders from their dose of corporate welfare, which unlike other forms of welfare like sickness and unemployment benefits etc. has made the recipients rich in the extreme.” Also, “it takes away the ‘debt monkey’ that is used to clobber governments [such as Greece] that seek to run larger fiscal deficits.”

In other words, it’s about power. Controlling the money supply through debt, the elite are able to control the whole global economic system. The financial sector is at the heart of everything. Hedge funds fund The Tory Party directly. The big corporations who benefit from this system pay millions through lobbying firms to protect their interests: an environment of low corporate tax (we have one off the lowest thresholds in the world) and minimal labour and environmental regulation.

And so the financial sector, the big corporations, the Tory politicians and the media moguls conspire together, all getting richer and richer together, dining out on their power, whilst laughing at the rest of us who are paying for it. It stinks!

An alternative economy that doesn’t put profit before people

We need to re-balance our economy, which under the Tories and previous Labour governments, has been increasingly built on debt and the financial services sector. Someone needs to stand up to Osborne’s chums in the City of London who have had it their own way for two long. Instead of an economy that works for the richest in society, built on debt, foreign investment and the import of goods, making us vulnerable to the ups and downs of the global financial system, our economy needs to work for us all. A new monetary system and a national investment bank that will invest in productive economic activity to rebuild our manufacturing industries and make us more self-reliant. We need to invest in public services, new technology and renewable energy to provide decent jobs for everybody.

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Marchers protest the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 4 October 2015

Globalisation

Trade doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but unregulated, unrestricted global trade is very damaging and this form of untamed global market approach may have had it’s time anyway. There is an argument emerging that we have reached peak globalisation.

Whilst globalisation has led to cheaper goods, it has been at a huge cost to the environment and workers rights. Whilst we have introduced protections for workers and the environment in Britain in the past, we have since outsourced our manufacturing industries to Asia where more limited protections exist. In doing so, we have outsourced the damage we cause. Things are cheaper for a reason! I’d like to see a British government brave enough to introduce restrictions on trade (at least from outside the EU) whilst at the same time investing in British industry in order to rebuild our manufacturing industry and develop new modern technologies, to give better balance to our economy. We need to develop a culture that encourages everyone to buy local or at least buy British and we need a government that will support that.

TTIP

The problem we have is that the Tories represent big business and so when we taken on the Tories we have to take on corporate power. And the biggest challenge facing us right now on that score is TTIP – a massive trade agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the US – and it’s a threat to our climate, health and democracy.

Despite all the consultations on this huge trade deal being secret, we know that 92 per cent of those involved have been corporate lobbyists.

In their quest for profit at any cost, corporations strive for two things, new markets and deregulation. In reality, regulation is what keeps corporations, some of whom are richer and more powerful than countries, in check. The move in the US and the UK to deregulate financial markets was one of the main causal factors of the global financial crash. Regulation, however inconvenient to big businesses, has a crucial role in democracy and economic stability. It provides safeguards against exploitation and protects hard earned rights of the most vulnerable in society.

Of particular concern is the investor protection clause, known as ISDS. This allows corporations to potentially sue governments. For example, a US health care provider could secure a contract to run an NHS hospital, but if the public objected and the government intervened on our behalf, they could be sued for the company’s loss of earnings. Running a hospital on the cheap will make more profit but cost more lives. Under TTIP, it’s the profit, not safety, that matters. There are legitimate concerns that this deal could make NHS privatisation irreversible.

Also, this wouldn’t take place in a traditional court. There is no judge. Instead the decision would be taken by three well-paid lawyers sitting behind closed doors.
Companies have successfully used ISDS to challenge environmental protection in past trade agreements. For example, in 2009 a Swedish energy company sued Germany for €1.4 billion because Hamburg tried to stop it from polluting the River Elbe. The case was only settled after Germany backed down.

If TTIP goes ahead, the reach of ISDS will increase tenfold. This must be stopped!

TTIP Share image Im saying NO to TTIP

 

Action Now:

Sign the petition to stop the TTIP trade deal

Join thee Positive Money campaign

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Let’s stop feeling guilty and confront those in power

We need to rise up and demand real change if we want a better world. Big business can’t be trusted to save us from a crisis created by capitalism

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By Jon Crooks, published on The News Hub on 13 March 2015.

My wife will tell you, I’m a tortured soul. If you know me you’ll know that I can’t help wrestling with large-scale social and environmental dilemmas like inequality, the degradation of the natural world and climate change. I feel profound guilt over what humans are doing to each other and to the planet. And I know I’m not alone. As individuals, the primary way people like me deal with this guilt is as consumers – buying organic, locally-produced seasonal food or signing up to Green Energy. But, in the end, whilst these are important choices to make as individuals, for our own peace of mind, a minority of us making ethical consumer choices won’t change anything. What we really need to change is the system.

We need to target the architects and governors of the current system. We already do this quite well, but in my opinion too much of this is focussed on the private sector; we focus too much on the big corporations in particular. We’ve made the oil companies enemy number one in the war on climate change and big food producers, agribusiness, logging companies, big fishing corporations etc. the focus of our attentions.

Don’t get me wrong, they are the culprits and we must continue to pressure them and shame them, but in the same way that consumer choices won’t bring about real change, neither will pressuring big business alone be enough to stop all their harmful practices. We can’t expect a multimillion pound fossil fuel industry to simply wake up one day and decide “hey, all those trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels on our balance sheet that we keep being told can’t be burned…why don’t we just leave them in the ground and go and do something else”. Clearly that’s not going to happen.

This is because there are obvious limitations to targeting the big corporations. In simple terms, these companies exist to make a profit for their shareholders. Indeed, to maximise profits through continued growth. Whilst they engage in corporate sustainability programmes (some more than others), this is not usually through a desire to do good, or do the right thing, even if this is one of the companies stated values. Corporate social responsibility only exists in order to project an image or a suggestion that they are doing the right thing, in order to be able to continue to attract customers, deflect government regulation, and in order to continue to make money.

The idea that capitalism can save the world from a crises created by capitalism is a ridiculous notion. The change required from private corporations won’t happen on a voluntary basis. Even those who work in the fossil fuel industry acknowledge this.

Our governments are the problem. They act like they are powerless to act; almost bystanders. And that’s exactly what they are most of the time. Calls for action on climate change for example are growing among societies around the world, but government actions are still restricted to those that will not hamper existing business or potentially act as a drag on the growth-obsessed economic system.

The alternative ‘green’ approach is still considered too progressive, too left-wing. A green future is equated with returning to living in caves. It’s a very entrenched mentality and a huge challenge to promoting change. But is it true? Of course not. All the green movement are saying is let’s stop the obsession with growth and GDP and think about how we can develop a new green economy in a sustainable way and stop working in individual silos as nation states and start thinking more cooperatively. We need a narrative of positive change, in which our adaptation to climate changes does not just protect what’s already here, but also creates a more just and equitable world.

The time has come to demand real change.