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An Alternative To Austerity

Austerity is crippling Britain. Six long years of it, imposed on ideological grounds by the Tories, have brought us to the point where our hospitals have no spare beds, our poor and vulnerable commit suicide rather than face life after benefit sanctions, our prisons are at boiling point and our national debt stands at £1.7 trillion at the time of writing.

This final aspect is truly terrifying; if the point of austerity was to reduce the national debt and provide us with a way to live within our means, it has clearly failed, and failed spectacularly. Considering the Tories inherited a debt of £900bn only six years ago, they have managed to spend £800bn on what can only be described as Scotch mist, otherwise known as tax breaks for the rich and bailouts for the banks. Wages are stagnant, public services have been hollowed out and the public are steadily building ways of expressing their rage at the political establishment, not least in the Brexit vote of the summer.

Of course, this is all par for the course for the Conservative Party. Motivated as they are by a ridiculous belief in “trickle-down economics,” it's all about growth for the top 10% of earners and the rest of us can go hang. The problem with the Tory ideology is that the money isn't trickling down. It's not being put back into the economy, instead going to offshore tax havens, hoarded in property and stock portfolios or otherwise being used to ensure the rich get richer at our expense. Furthermore, in what way is trickle-down economics supposed to fund our public services? It's not, and the cuts the Government have made in the name of austerity have served only to pay lip service to the idea of reducing the national debt. So what's the alternative?

In short, we need to get rid of the Tories. A Labour government with socialist policies represents our best chance of clawing back everything the Tories have squandered. You may have heard of Labour's plan for a national investment bank, and borrowing money to the tune of £500bn in order to rebuild our battered and bedraggled public services and infrastructure.

Of course, the response of those on the right to this plan is invariably, “And where do you propose to find that £500bn? Magic?” This is usually accompanied by a superior snigger, or possibly even a chortle. Unfortunately for them, they're not far off the truth. It will be borrowed, magicked into existence by the same people who have managed, through the dark arts of government finance, to give the Tories £800bn to throw down the drain.

Where the real magic happens though, is in how that money is utilised. It won't be squandered, or given to the wealthy, or used to finance tax breaks for corporations. The money will be put to work. It will be used to make more money, not for the rich, but for everybody in the country.

It helps if you think of Britain as a business. At the moment, we're a failing business. We're suffering under chronic mismanagement, working harder and harder for less and less, watching helplessly as the management cream off an ever-increasing share of the profits. We desperately need an injection of capital; to trot out a tired old cliché that is nevertheless relevant, “You've got to spend money to make money.”

A socialist Labour government will actually invest in the economy. Incentives for small businesses will appear, desperately needed infrastructure projects will materialise, especially in the long-neglected North of England, and the relentless privatisation of public services will come to an end.

All of this will serve to actually create wealth rather than extract it; as a result of investment in the economy wages will begin to rise again. Once wages rise and people stop struggling to simply stay afloat, they will in turn spend that money within their local economies, thereby providing yet another financial boost to the nation's finances.

It is a basic tenet of economics that the more money people have, the more money the government will receive in tax. The national debt is spiralling out of control because the Tories have failed to invest in the economy, they have failed to ensure an adequate wage for everyone in our society, and they have failed to grasp that trickle-down economics does not work.

The remedy is so simple it's staggering: Invest in the economy. Create wealth for everybody, not just the rich. Use the taxes generated to reduce government borrowing and reduce the debt. That's economics; not ideology.

Credit to Mike Symonds of “We Support Jeremy Corbyn” for economic advice.

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