British Labor Party Rejects Evolution, Endorses Creationism
We all know that the British Labor Party is led by highly educated, highly intelligent people, which is why it would be surprising if they rejected a well-established truth like the theory of evolution. Of course the Labor Party leadership did not actually reject the theory of evolution, they did something much worse: they rejected modern economics.
At the party’s National Policy Forum, party leader Edward Miliband announced that if the Labor Party regains power in 2015, it will offset any spending increases with cuts elsewhere in the budget. The means the Labor Party will not raise the deficit.
This is an incredible pledge, since it commits the Labor Party to slow growth and high unemployment. The main problem for the economy in the United Kingdom now and for the foreseeable future is a lack of demand. In this context, government deficits are good. Larger deficits are better; they mean more spending on goods and services, therefore more demand and more jobs. Alternatively, lower taxes leaves more money in people’s pockets, which they can then spend.
There are clearly times when government deficits will be pulling resources away from the private sector, but that is not the case now. There is no mechanism through which cuts in government demand can be translated into increased demand from the private sector. If anyone doubted this fact, the Cameron government has helped to further establish its truth with its deficit-cutting policy of the last three years.
In more ordinary times we would expect the large shortfall in demand to lead to lower interest rates, which would then spark increased investment and consumption. However short-term interest rates in the U.K. have been near zero for years and long-term rates have been at historic lows. The economy has already seen whatever boost from low interest rates it could plausibly hope to see.
So what exactly is supposed to offset the fall in demand created by deficit reduction? Mr. Cameron apparently believed in the confidence fairy: that lower budget deficits by themselves would inspire business to invest more.
The confidence fairy hasn’t shown up in the last three years and the U.K. economy remains mired in stagnation and recession. So why do the leaders of the Labor Party pledge themselves to more of the same?
There are two explanations. First in the U.K., as in the U.S., the rich and powerful have not been especially bothered by the weak economy. Profit shares are at or near record highs; the stock market has been soaring. In other words, what seems to be the problem?
The folks on top are not anxious to see policies that might boost employment, raise wages, and possibly even (horrors) lower profit. In short, this is old-fashioned class war and the Labor Party, ostensibly the party of the British working class, has thrown in with the other side.
The other explanation is that many people across the political spectrum believe in the virtues of balanced budgets. This isn’t because they want to make the rich richer, but they accept the old bromides from their parents and grandparents about not being able to spend more than we earn. After all, we know this is true for us as individuals; why shouldn’t it be true for governments as well?
The Labor Party leaders, like their counterparts in the United States, would probably tell us all privately that they understand economics and the need for additional spending to boost the economy, but they just can’t say that publicly or the voters will kill them. A lot of polling data make this claim seem dubious. People in the U.S. always tell pollsters they care more about jobs than deficits. Furthermore, because of the atrocious quality of budget reporting no one has any clue how large the deficit is anyhow. That would seem to suggest the jobs strategy would be a political winner.
Last month the Supreme Court ruled that same sex couple had the same right to get married as heterosexual couples. This was a historic decision.
Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.