Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quote of the day

Sadly true:
Fewer politicians will not significantly reduce the cost of Northern Ireland's big government.

But as the cost of our big government is currently borne by English taxpayers and the benefits of it are currently enjoyed by citizens in Northern Ireland, there is no incentive for local politicians to cut there.

That is another key difference with the US where individual states must balance their own books on an annual basis with precious little help from the federal government.

For that reason it's hard to see a Tea Party movement gaining ground here for, unlike the United States, the majority is strongly in favour of big local governmen so long as central government continues to foot the bill.
Or at least, it's not the fact that we won't see a Tea Party movement which is particularly sad, more the concept of reducing government interference (and cost) is just now so completely alien to both the political elite and the electorate who vote for them.


kensei said...

The absolutely mindnumbingly stupid requirement on states to balance their budget yearly is helping keep the US in recession. It means that when a crisis hits, the state smust go procyclical and either cut services or raise taxes at the point it does the most harm. In the current crisis, this is true of even generally well run states as the hit was so large.

Have a crisis? Fire teachers and policemen. Turn out a third of your streetlights. Cancel a tunnel that's been in planning for twenty years. Utterly reckless.

O'Neill said...

Our reliance on the public sector though is in a completely different league to that of US.

It's because of that reliance surely we're going to be walloped at times like this; how we reduce that reliance (and it need not be necessarily focussing on reducing the emergency services) is of more importance rather than debating whether that reliance is a good thing.

What disturbs me is that the belief we are somehow *entitled* to a 60-70% state is fed by politicians on all sides and the media (the Telegraph is a particular villain)

kensei said...

We are far to reliant on the public sector and I state that as someone perfrectly comfortable with Swedish style Social Democracy. But that's not the reason we are getting thumped - this is a recession generated by the private sector banks.

Growing out of public sector takes time and the right polciies. You can't just cut all around you and expect private sector jobs to magically appear to fill the gap. It's only doable in the medium term.