Is the tide turning?

In the United Kingdom house prices fell last year by half of one percent but general inflation is falling. Goldman Sachs managed to lose money on its Asian operations. The US dollar is slightly weaker against many currencies. Oil is getting more expensive and there are fears that natural gas will also get more expensive. Gold rallied and then declined a little. Greece, it seems, has been saved although there is a strong possibility that the medicine being administered will harm the patient rather than cure the disease. What are we to make of these economic signals?

Probably the mixed signals show that we are past the worst of the doom and the gloom. Even the BBC, which delights in telling us all here in the United Kingdom how bad the economy is and how drastic the cuts are and how devastating economic policy is, seemed to have turned its attention to other events. We are probably past the worst of economic times and things will improve, albeit slowly.

In the United Kingdom government has been trying to cut out the waste and the fat. It is easier to put on weight than it is to lose it. It seems that people who have lived off the fat of the land for decades might just be beginning to accept “sorry, we’d like be to able to do that but we haven’t got the money and cannot afford it- there will be hard cases at the edges but that is unavoidable”.

I saw Peter Lilley make an argument along these lines when talking about child benefit changes last night. He spoke in a reasoned way, and I found him full of common sense. It is difficult to argue against common sense.

It strikes me that common sense requires us in the United Kingdom to lose even more fat. Welfare has become a way of life, rather than a safety net, and unless we change we as a nation will find it hard to compete with nations that have less welfare, fewer social support systems and less wealth. Those nations will overtake us in prosperity until one day India sends the United Kingdom food parcels, and Bangladesh introduces tough immigration controls to prevent UK citizens from illegally settling there.It is time for us to change.

 There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

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