Public sector job losses fit in with government’s ethos

CHANCELLOR George Osborne
CHANCELLOR George Osborne

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Let’s talk economics.

It’s quite simple really. The government likes to point out that the deficit – the gap between what the government spends and what it receives in taxes – is out of control. It says that it’s the second biggest in Europe.

In cash terms it might be so. But because Britain has a far bigger economy, the gap is actually much smaller.

In fact, as a proportion of our economy it is one of the lowest among the world’s richest nations.

To fill the hole between tax and spending the government goes to the money markets to borrow cash.

It has done so partly because the recession, which started because financial institutions had been engaging in highly risky gambling with money that didn’t exist, has closed businesses and put people out of work, which reduces taxation.

But the deficit is mainly very big because the banks, which had been paying out billions to themselves and shareholders as they headed for crisis – and are doing it again now – were bailed out by us to the tune of £850bn.

The government had a chance to take the banks under its full control and force them to act in the public interest.

Chancellor George Osborne is cutting more than £80bn from public sector spending.

He justifies this by two main arguments. First, that spending is out of control and we must reduce it to pay off our debts.

Second, the public sector has been squeezing out the private sector; its big tax cuts for businesses will mean that they flourish and will make up for the unemployment created.

It has been projected that half a million public sector workers will lose their jobs, with a further half a million made jobless by the knock-on effect.

This takes a lot of money out of the economy in the private sector through loss of tax and increase in benefits.

But it does fit neatly into the government’s obsessive dislike of state control and its enthusiasm for a US-style system that benefits corporations and big banks, and provides limited public services and low wages for ordinary people.