Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mad and madder still

Tom Healy: Forget 2012. Imagine 2062. In the United States of Europe let there be a poverty brake. If the structural poverty rate goes above 0.5% in 2 consecutive quarters an automatic correction and excessive poverty proceedure kicks in leading to sanctions for countries that continue. Meantime a constitutional amendment is required to enshrine a right to a basic income for all citizens.  Will the markets be impressed? By what measure will human well-being be assessed? Alas in the long run we are all dead said Keynes. Remember him.


Martin O'Dea said...


Paul Hunt said...

Oh that the shade of Keynes could speak. Perhaps it would be little different today to what he wrote for the New Republic (for an American audience) on 29 July 1940 (Skidelsky, 2000):
"The reformers must believe that it is worth while to concede a great deal to preserve that decentralisation of decisions and of power which is the prime virtue of the old individualism. In a world of destroyers, they must zealously protect the variously woven fabric of society, even when this means that some abuses must be spared. Civilisation is a tradition from the past, a miraculous construction made by our fathers ….. hard to come by and easily lost. We have to escape from the invalidism of the Left which has eaten up the wisdom and inner strength of many good causes.

The old guard of the Right, on their side, must surely recognise, if any reason or prudence is theirs, that the existing system is palpably disabled, that the idea of its continuing to function unmodified with half the world in dissolution is just sclerotic. Let them learn from the experience of Great Britain and of Europe that there has been a rottenness at the heart of our society, and do not let them suppose that America is healthy."

Perhaps he would replace the "invalidism" of the Left with "dishonesty and disingenuousness" and the "sclerotic" nature of the Right with "power and profit crazed". But otherwise his words reverberate across the years as clear as a bell - and were never more relevant.