Author Archives: Geoff Crocker

Book Review: Money for Everyone

A Citizen’s Income Convincingly Argued

In ‘Money for Everyone’, Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, and is articulate and readable. His main argument is that, given widespread acceptance of a benefits scheme of some sort, then a Citizen’s Income is by far the best option. Specifically it avoids the disincentives of very high marginal deduction rates of current benefits which create the familiar unemployment and poverty traps. According to Torry, a Citizen’s Income would incentivise employment, training, new business formation, women’s …

Posted in Books | Tagged | 39 Comments

Opinion: Clinical Commissioning Groups – don’t hold your breath

nhs sign lrgWe are now 6 months into the much touted reorganisation of the health service, with the advent in April this year of Clinical Commissioning Groups to replace Primary Care Trusts, the only real difference being that GPs run the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The reorganisation did ensure a reduction in cost by the simple expedient of setting Clinical Commissioning Group administrative budgets one third below historic  Primary Care Trust administrative cost, yielding a Clinical Commissioning Group admin cost of £25/head of population. There are 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups. The adjusted population figure is 53.8m, and so total Clinical Commissioning Group admin spend is £1.345bn. Clinical Commissioning Groups are administering a total health budget of £60bn, averaging £284m per Group. Clinical Commissioning Group admin costs are therefore 2.24% of total health service expenditure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Book Review: Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea

Mark Blyth delivers a masterful, blistering, devastating, and totally convincing critique of austerity in his book Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea. It’s impossible to read this book and still believe that austerity is the right policy. Blyth writes engaging, powerful economic history of economies applying austerity, including the US, UK, Sweden, Germany, Japan and France in the 1920s and 1930s, Denmark and Ireland in the 1980s, and the Baltic states in 2008, demonstrating in each case that austerity does not work. It does not generate growth or reduce debt. He shows that the current hot spot crises …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 45 Comments

Opinion: Should the Queen speak out on the Belfast flag issue?

Queen Elizabeth IIThe pictures of the Queen joining the Cabinet meeting were charming. They conveyed a reassuring image of a stable democracy with a historic back-stop. Almost always we want the democratic element to prevail, but there are perhaps very limited issues and occasions when the monarchy can make a difference. The Queen inviting Harold Macmillan to form a government rather than Rab Butler in 1957 is the occasion often quoted. It did actually make a political difference, since Harold Wilson was later reported as having feared that Rab Butler may well have won the 1964 election.

Northern Ireland may be another occasion when the monarchy could make a

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: Why Wealth Can’t be Taxed (except very occasionally)

Wealth tax is becoming, or has become?, a core Lib Dem policy. Nick Clegg shakes his head alongside his Cabinet colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing that the coalition government will not introduce a mansion tax. Vince Cable is back on the World at One the next day defending it.

There has been much discussion as to whether wealth and mansion taxes are fair. But fairness is a very subjective concept. Some think that wealth taxes appropriately ask the rich to shoulder relatively more of the financial burden imposed if we needlessly insist on the financial orthodoxy that the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 133 Comments

Opinion: So what’s really wrong with the economy?

The autumn statement was reminiscent of the 1961 Sid James film ‘Carry on Regardless’. Austerity policy is not working, and the claim that it will work is constantly pushed to the far future. What’s wrong? There is nothing wrong with the real supply side economy. But there are two crucial things wrong with the financial economy, meaning that we have a crisis of demand, not of supply. These are:

1. Disposable income has grown significantly less than GDP

2. Financial orthodoxy insists on balancing government accounts

Between 2001 and 2007 when the crisis hit, GDP grew by 19.5% but disposable income by only …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 59 Comments

Opinion: Get real about corporate tax

Companies currently pay corporation tax in the country where they are incorporated. A campaign is under way, in the Guardian, and the Commons Public Accounts Committee, that companies should instead pay tax where they make their sales. The proposal has populist appeal, but is impracticable.

Many companies, including UK companies, make export sales without costly incorporation in each sales country. If a US coal producer sells 1m tonnes of coal to UK powerplants for £100m, and makes £5m profit, it submits accounts in the US for tax authority scrutiny, and pays US tax on the £5m. Should this profit be …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 29 Comments

Opinion: Stop all extraditions to the USA

Nick Clegg is celebrating the UK decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon to the USA. The extradition of Abu Hamza then sparked controversy and discussion on LDV. But last week the Guardian reported on the case of Christopher Tappin, the Kent businessman extradited to the US on charges of selling batteries to Iran. Tappin has entered a plea bargain, pleading guilty in return for a 33 month sentence to be served in the UK.

The Guardian reports Tappin’s UK solicitor, Karen Todner, saying

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 24 Comments

Opinion: Give us an energy policy

Our party’s energy policy is totally inadequate, consisting only of motherhood and apple pie statements in favour of efficiency and green policies. We went into the last election on the populist platform of no new nuclear power generation and no new coal power without carbon sequestration. Like the student fee policy, this has also proved predictably unsustainable. It was seriously irresponsible. Hence the familiar u-turn

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Opinion: A Really Popular Lib Dem Policy Proposal – Free Anti-Viral Software!

Free anti-viral software to every citizen. This should be adopted immediately as core Lib Dem policy, and be in the manifesto for the next election. Like Roman bread and circuses, it would be a hugely popular vote-puller. It would propel the party to first place in the polls. Moreover it is also intellectually defensible, a rare combination of virtue in today’s post-modern sound-bite world.

You might smile and think this is typical wacky Lib Dem stuff, the kind of thing which George Orwell’s bearded fruit juice-drinking …

Posted in Op-eds | 62 Comments

Opinion: Britain should join the Euro

Lib Dems have gone remarkably quiet about Europe, whilst the Conservative Euro-sceptic agenda gains ground, certainly within its party conference, and probably within its party at large. Euro-scepticism flourishes in large swathes of the UK media. This swing of opinion is fuelled by the perspective that the Eurozone economy is in dire trouble, that the Euro might not survive, and that the UK was very sensible to have kept out of it. We are told all this every night on Newsnight. Gillian Tett wrote recently in the FT, that her father was correct in dismissing the Euro project as unworkable 16 years ago, and she had been wrong in her Euro enthusiasm.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 163 Comments

Opinion: The Conflicts of Economic Policy

Nick Clegg’s conference speech committed Lib Dems to manage debt out of the economy and implement a fair tax regime. But the objectives of economic policy often conflict with each other.

Let’s take it that there are three objectives for current economic policy:

  1. to reduce deficit and the debt it accumulates
  2. to inject demand into the economy
  3. to have a fair tax system

In the following table, I’ve had a try at evaluating recent and proposed economic policies against these objectives.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 53 Comments

Opinion: Why austerity is the wrong answer to debt

Austerity policy continues to be embraced by the UK coalition government as well as by governments across the world. This is causing predictable political unrest with large demonstrations and riots in Spain and Greece. The pain to UK households is substantial and set to increase. This is clearly socially undesirable, but more importantly is based on a technically incorrect analysis of the current economic crisis.

It is fashionable and great sport to blame bankers for the crisis, to say that the developed world has ‘lived beyond its means’ and that we ‘cannot afford’ economic growth and therefore must cut our economic output …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Opinion: How Lib Dems make policy – or fail to – and the consequences

Causal chains can be very long, with surprising connections between initiating events and final outcomes. Severe violence between protesters and police on the streets of London resulted from the debacle over student fees, broken pledges, and continuing double talk as to whether this is a coalition compromise, or has now somehow magically become best policy. But it has its roots further back in a faulted policy making process in the Lib Dem party. How did an intelligent political party get such policy so wrong less than a year ago, when it already knew all the current economic issues? To understand …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 40 Comments

Opinion: Martians report humans are mad (particularly Brits) – they are cutting their own economy

Some time ago a TV ad reported the bemusement amongst Martians at human behaviour with mashed potato. They fell over themselves laughing at how we humans grow potatoes in the ground, collect them, peel them, boil them in water, cut them up and then smash them to pieces before eating them. Very bizarre behaviour! Martians began to worry whether humans were sane or not.

Now the Martian press is equally dumbfounded at reports coming from planet Earth that humans are cutting their own production economies because they say they don’t have enough money.

Martians always thought that humans made this …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 23 Comments

Opinion: revisit economic theory before cutting the real economy

The UK is now in a great rush to reduce GDP in order to reduce the financial deficit. But before we frame economic policy, we need to revisit  economic theory, in particular the theory of money and macroeconomic demand theory.

On the theory of money

Money is an artefact, not a real physical commodity. It does not obey the laws of thermodynamics – it can be created and destroyed. The idea that macroeconomic budgets have to be balanced is a category error. It takes a microeconomic simplicity, that individuals or firms have to balance their budgets, and falsely transfers this to macroeconomics. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 43 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDuncan Brack 18th Apr - 11:46pm
    David White - you are right about Beveridge (except that 1945 couldn't be called a khaki election - unlike 1900, for which the term is...
  • User Avatarmalc 18th Apr - 10:51pm
    Mark Valladares Sorry I shouldn't have said military bases, but we do - or may be did until recently, not sure after defence cuts -...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 18th Apr - 10:24pm
    But what be the biggest shift for a Governing Party over a period of 13 months? Try December 81 to Jan 83. If potential turn...
  • User AvatarEd Wilson 18th Apr - 10:12pm
    Let's try again. "...power 4 million homes..." means onshore wind produces a number of kilowatt hours which, when divided by the notional power consumption of...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 9:56pm
    A scary thought has just occurred - the Pensions Minister either doesn't actually know or want us to know, just how much pension tax relief...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Apr - 9:46pm
    Ed Davey's defense of on-shore wind is totally undermined by the hard data coming out of NETA... Whilst there might be sufficient capacity to provide...