When you want to expand a business, you invest, and do something new, or do more of something you had established was working. Your put profits back in, to pay for development, or you borrow some money against anticipated future returns. No one attempts to grow a company by taking money out of it, cutting staff, and doing less. No one sane, at any rate. Sure, you might do a bit of economising now and then, efficiency drives are good, but in a company that is, and will be thriving, the economy drive is there to free up time and resources for more productive things. You don’t just cut back and assume that will achieve something all by itself.
I’m not an accountant, or an economist, I have a GCSE in maths. I have worked as a self-employed person for a lot of years now and I know a lot of others who do the same. I’ve seen the working end of a number of businesses and I pay attention to things. No company grows by cutting back on everything. Maybe some strategic cutting back, but nothing more. Companies grow on investment, of time, money, ideas. I’ve talked before about working more effectively by doing less and picking carefully. That’s a strategy. It’s about using my resources to maximum effect to get the best return I can. All businesses do that sort of thing.
Here in the UK, we’re still in recession. Austerity has not delivered a reduction of national debt. There is a lot of poverty out there, a lot of unemployment, a lot of punishing the poor. The government were explicit in their assumption that if they cut public sector funding and jobs, the private sector would just magically fill the breach, do the work, hire the workers. Using all those magic spells and supernatural powers we in the private sector are known to possess. Sorry Mr Osborn, but economics don’t even work that way in Harry Potter stories. Of course it hasn’t happened, because to expand a private sector you need to invest.
We’ve been taking money out of higher education and research, which we could have invested in, to encourage the private sector. We’ve missed out on much of the potential for growth in new green technologies. The government could have led the way there. Much noise has been made about infrastructure, but no action. Do we need high speed trains? Not really. We could really use a bus network capable of getting people to and from jobs affordably, and delivering customers to our ailing high streets. We could use everyone being on broadband to stimulate the online economy. No government input there. We could use not having VAT on ebooks, crippling British writers and publishers. Our publishing industry is one of the few areas growing, not shrinking, you’d think a helping hand to keep that going would be an obvious call to make. How about investing in us as a cultural and tourism destination? No, we’re taking money out of the arts industries as well. How about supporting our valuable film industry? No.
The lunatics in power seem to believe that you can grow a country, and economy by taking money out of it. Your average five year old could work out there’s something wrong with the maths here. Mind you, if Mr Gove gets his way, we probably won’t have to worry for much longer about our five year olds being better trained to think than our politicians.
We could be investing in the good stuff: Green technology, creative industry, scientific research, and innovation. We could treat our people as a valuable resource, not as scroungers. We could be a great country to live in. The epic failure of courage and imagination is depressing, and I am heartily sick of being told this is the only way. There always were other ways.