Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Distracted by David Cameron's speech in Westminster yesterday, the one announcing 8 per cent cuts in defence spending including the scrapping of the Nimrod and the Harrier, I posted on Facebook that I was having my own spending review.
And that biscuits were going to be cut.
Over the next few hours debate raged. Some of it was tongue in cheek. At least, I'm guessing it was. Surely Tunnocks aren't taken that seriously. And yet it was a timely reminder of a basic truth of human nature: that the everyday, homely trivialness of a biscuit is far more appealing than any abstract accounting going on at government level.
These cuts are huge. I wouldn't be surprised if we have some serious strikes and unrest this winter. Gary Shteyngart's satirical book comes to mind: its the end of an era (see blog entry below).
And yet... we've been here so many times before. Britain has always lurched from spend to cut. From William Pitt the Younger to David Cameron, its been slash, burn, splurge in one almighty cycle. But everytime it's a surprise.
We just don't get money, or how it works.
Today I wondered, on Facebook, why we complain so much about bankers getting £300K a year, and yet think it perfectly reasonable for a footballer to earn £4 million a year. And for that footballer to want to double that salary by playing for a different club.
Of course, if we all earned Wayne Rooney's money the cuts wouldn't matter. But economies don't work like that. If we all earned Wayne's money then a cup of coffee in your local Costa would have to cost about £500.
One of my favourite reads of the year was The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. It's a great introduction to the globalised world of high finance. If you are infuriated about the cuts I suggest you read it. Not that it will make you happy about what the Tories are doing, in fact it might make you angrier.

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