Happy New Year From Think Left
Bugger The Bankers THE OFFICIAL VIDEO
Published on Dec 2, 2012
A SONG FOR OUR TIMES
Bugger The Bankers, performed by The Austerity Allstars
Now all you good people – by popular demand, you can now
Happy New Year From Think Left
Published on Dec 2, 2012
A SONG FOR OUR TIMES
Bugger The Bankers, performed by The Austerity Allstars
Now all you good people – by popular demand, you can now
Reposted from www.democraticrepublicanparty.co.uk
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICAN PARTY NEWSLETTER – 6th October 2012
Peter Kellow writes
It was one of the grand projects of current JP Morgan Director, Tony Blair, in one of his previous employments as British Prime Minister: make university education open to the many. The many here was meant to be 50% of the young now going through education. The plan included making students pay for their higher education through loans. In the earlier years of the project, they paid just a little, then a lot, then practically the whole of the cost of the education.
Students now going through university will emerge up to their eyes in debt and this debt will dog them for years. Debt is not a superficial aspect of life. It drags you down. R.W. Emerson whom I cited in Newsletter 109 put it aptly when he said back in 1836 “Debt, grinding debt … which disheartens a great spirit with cares that seem so base..” Debt is a scourge of our lives.
Leaving aside the question of whether we really need 50% of our young going to higher education, let us ask whether there is any alternative to making people pay for higher education and let us ask whether it might be more sensible for the nation to pay for it. All the four main parties (we have to say “four” now with UKIP at 10% in the poles) support the current system, the only debate being about whether former students should pay for the education with loans or whether they will should do it through taxation – the so-called “graduate” tax.
Education is an investment. Everyone is agreed on that. An investment, let us remind ourselves, is simply this. You place money in a certain way by purchasing a good or a service and you expect to see a return, a payback, at some later date on the money you placed. If the investment is sound, the payback will cover, or more than cover, the costs involved in the investment, that is, the money placed and the charges (interest, fees, etc.) incurred. In short, a good investment shows a profit.
Let us consider education as an investment in two ways:
one, as an investment by an individual
two, as an investment by the state.
At present, it is the individual who makes the substantial investment in higher education, with the state just contributing some financial support through capital expenditure and some fixed costs. Essentially it is the student who buys his or her education by taking out a “student loan” and then has to repay that loan during their working life. The payback comes, in theory, in the form of higher salaries than would have been the case without the education. If that does not happen the investment loses money and the individual has debts that will be difficult to pay off.
Thus, at present, the state invests relatively little in higher education. The investment is seen purely as an individual matter.
Now look at education as a different kind of investment: an investment by the state, ie, by the nation. In this, the government finances the education of students itself and also gives the student a grant to enable them to support themselves during the period at university. In any current discussion by the main parties on the subject, that situation would be considered as a straight loss for the government with no payback of any kind in the future. Thoughts would be directed only to the increase in government debt today. That is all. It was not so in Britain in the past and it is not so in other countries today (eg. France).
Investment, as I said, is where you place a sum of money today in order to see a payback and a profit in the future. So how does a government investing in education today get its money back? Simple. Through future taxation. The economy needs an educated workforce in order to compete and prosper in the future. Without that, we will go into decline and as the economy falters so will government tax revenues. But can we be sure that the money invested in education will be recovered in the future through taxation? For,if it is not recovered the government will be out of pocket and the national debt will rise.
Well, clearly we will never be able to carry out a watertight accountancy exercise to show that investment in education is a “good deal” for the government. Any attempt to put figures on the matter is foolhardy. You cannot estimate the benefits that ensue from having a well educated population. But equally you cannot overestimate them. If you want to appreciate all the benefits you have also to put into the equation that free education means social mobility and so the nation benefits from talent that would otherwise be wasted. The social mobility also creates a financial benefit for the nation by reducing isolated deprived communities that nurture delinquency and crime. I could go on. The associated benefits are as enormous as they are unquantifiable.
But leaving aside the larger societal perspective, the strong likelihood is that the government will collect sufficient returns on its investment simply and visibly through taxation. After all, if it works for the individual, it must also work for the government, and for this reason. By the government investing it has one big advantage over the individual – the interest rate on the loan. Under the present economic model the government would finance the education through bond issues which would attract a much lower interest rate that the individual student loans.
Now a Democratic Republican Party government will do better than that. It will change the whole financial system and the government will not raise the money through bonds issues but through direct money creation. This will eliminate the interest charges so making the investment much more profitable for the government. Once this system is in place, there will overall be no increase in the money supply, as collection of taxation directly and indirectly will pay back the investment. (It is, by the way, vital to control the money supply because too big an increase would result in economic damage.)
We now come back to the question: why do the current parties favour putting people into debt in order to take higher education? To answer this we have to bring in our old friends that feature so often in these newsletters: the banks and the non-taxpaying global superrich. These are the real drivers behind the current policy of massive student indebtedness. They have an insatiable need for debt that they can buy and profit from and the JP Morgan Director we mentioned at the beginning of this piece was an enthusiastic promoter of their interests when a holder of political office, prior to taking up his £1 million per year official position among their ranks.
It works like this. It is all down to the magic of securitisation, the financial instrument dreamed up in the 1960s but that really took off in the 1980s and reached stratospheric proportions in the noughties. All, yes, all, student loans are now subject to securitisation. The high street bank that offers you the loan is just an agent collecting the fees for “originating” the loan.
The student signs up for the loan and is then in long term debt. This makes this individual’s financial life perfect for securitisation. The banks transfers a big bundle of student loans to a company called a special purpose entity (SPE) so they are shifted off its balance sheet, freeing it up to make more similar loans. The SPEs are located in tax havens, usually, the British Cayman Islands, and the fact that they are in tax havens is integral the high profitability of the deal. The SPE then performs the “securitisation” process, whereby it takes the bundled up loans and divides them up into sellable units called collateralised debt obligations (CDOs). These are then offered on the global market. Many will be bought by individuals who avoid tax in a variety of way such us by hiding behind shell companies registered in tax havens or secretive low tax countries like Switzerland. Meanwhile the student tries to get on with his or her life and in doing so supports the global banks and their superrich clients.
Many people think that the reason for students paying for their education is to avoid government debt. But this is not the real driver and never was. JP Morgan Director Blair, expanded the student population and at the same time forced them all into debt. This was neither an educational programme nor a social mobility programme but part of the ongoing process of the “financialising” all of our citizens lives burdening them with grinding debt that can be securitised so transferring wealth from working people to the superrich.
But there is a further major aspect to student loans that has to be emphasised. Financing higher education through student loans means that the government effectively abrogates any responsibility to direct education into areas where is it likely to be needed and away from those where it is not. If it is the state that invests in higher education then it has an interest in making sure that its investment will result in good employment for the graduates so that it can recoup the investment through taxation. With the individual funding their own education this direct line between investment and return does not exist. The state simply washes its hands of the matter.
Also universities are forced to design their courses to attract students and increase their income. Long term interests of the nation are therefore not a part either of the students’ or the universities’ calculations as to the choice of subjects and syllabuses. While it is desirable for the universities to have a good degree of independence they should not be forced to have to make choices simply to increase student intake. If they are then those courses are likely to be ill-conceived in relation to their likely usefulness.
As an example to illustrate this, I can cite my own profession of architecture. A few years ago there was a glut of students doing architecture. There were fees at the time but they were affordable for many. Architecture was popular amoung the young as a future career and so the universities provided a lot more places in order to collect lots of fees. This increase was quite unrelated to the demand for architects in the profession and so a glut of recently qualified graduates was produced and many could not find jobs. This meant they could not advance their experience and in many cases the resulting big “hole” in their CV meant that their career was in ruins before they started. As they aged employers would take the more recently qualified and they could be left “on the shelf”.
Now the situation is the reverse whereby not enough are studying architecture, especially because it is a five year course and so you emerge with huge debts. Coupled with this is the thought that if you do no complete the five years (many don’t) you will have incurred a debt for nothing.
This argument has no traction with any of the main parties. It is just part of the competitive market for them. The waste of lives and resources does not enter into their thinking.
The proposal, I put forward here, that the state must see education as an investment in the nation is not in any way radical. It used to be received opinion. The Conservatives started to reverse policy under Thatcher but it was with the demand for securitised debt in the 1990s that began the big spur to more and more student debt. Since then, it has ballooned unstoppably as the financial markets have cried out for more and more financialisation of every aspect of our lives. Their servants in politics have contrived to deliver exactly what they want. Regardless.
Think Left agrees with the Democratic Republican Party on the need to change the whole financial system, and specifically, that government should raise the money not through bonds issues but through direct money creation. As Peter says of student loans:
‘This was neither an educational programme nor a social mobility programme but part of the ongoing process of the “financialising” all of our citizens lives burdening them with grinding debt that can be securitised so transferring wealth from working people to the superrich.’
The 99.9% must join together to take back that wealth for the good of the global population and the natural world.
First a quiz:
Q1. The UK economy is just like a household and the government has to finance spending out of its income or through borrowing. True or False?
Q2. The role of taxes is to provide finance for government spending? True or False?
Q3. The UK government needs to borrow money from the private sector to finance the budget deficit. True or False?
Q4. If the Tory/LDs were running a budget surplus instead of a budget deficit, pressure would be taken off interest rates because the private sector would have more funds available for investment projects. True or False?
Q5. If the budget deficit persists it will burden further generations with inflation and higher taxes. True or False?
Q6. We need to run budget surpluses now, to help build up the funds necessary to cope with an ageing population in the future. True or False?
The answer is that they are all are false …not true… misleading… erroneous… fictitious… incorrect… deceitful… dishonest… sham… bogus… unreal… and yet we are fed these lines, day after to day, to justify George Osborne ‘shrinking the state’. And worse still, Ed Balls and the LP are going along with an austerity-lite economic strategy.
Don’t believe me?
Listen to what the St Louis Federal Reserve, from the heart of Western capitalism in the US says:
‘As sole manufacturers of dollars whose debt is denominated in the dollar, the US government can never become insolvent ie. unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational. Moreover, there will always be a market for US government debt at home because the US government has the only means of creating risk-free dollar-denominated assets.’
The same is true of Sterling. Economics Professor Randy Wray explains :
Published on Sep 23, 2012 ModMonPubPurpose
The UK government can never ‘run out’ of money;
The UK government can never be forced to default;
The UK government can never be forced to miss a payment;
The UK government is never subject to the whim of ‘bond vigilantes’.
So why are we told that there is no money left; that it is imperative to reduce the deficit and debt; and that we have to keep the ‘bond markets’ happy?
The scale of the Coalition government’s intended austerity measures are on a scale never seen in modern Britain. What is planned here will dwarf anything that was undertaken by Thatcher in the 1980s. There is already massive unemployment in the public sector….Massive unemployment and lower wages mean lower tax receipts, and even bigger budget deficits and debt loads… It is now clear that the austerity policy in the UK is not a matter of economic necessity but of political choice… It is obvious that the cuts of this scale are about much more than just deficit reduction… The cuts are part of an agenda to transfer services from the public sector to the private sector. The pretence of ‘there is no alternative’ is a means for the Conservative project to radically transform the state.
If George Osborne was serious about reducing the deficit and balancing the budget, he wouldn’t be cutting jobs, benefits and reducing corporation tax.
‘So even if you are obsessed with reducing deficits, the best way is to engender growth. The dumbest thing a government can do if it wants a lower deficit is to impose fiscal austerity. There are a lot of dumb governments out there. The problem is they are aided and abetted by criminal types who know full well it is dumb to cut net public spending but pressure governments to do so as long as the space for spending on them expands.’
The 2011 Budget Control Act, initiated by the Republican controlled House, is one of the most foolish pieces of legislation ever passed into law by Congress, as it forces the government to attempt to “balance” its budget and reduce the budget deficit. National government budget deficits, which are the net contribution of government spending to economic growth, are actually integral to economic growth, contrary to the anti-scientific conventional budget lore upon which deficit hysteria has been built. Without government budget deficits, the economies of nations with trade deficits CANNOT accumulate net financial wealth due a matter of simple arithmetic; those few nations (China, Germany, not the US) with large trade surpluses MIGHT be able to accumulate net financial wealth without a budget deficit but always with the cooperation of other nations financing those surpluses through trade and, in most cases, government budget deficits on the side of the net-importing nation.
A fiat currency-issuing national government, unlike a local government, business or a household, does not depend upon tax or other income and therefore is not and should not pretend to be bound by conventional balance sheet accounting, which was perhaps a more applicable, though not particularly successful, means of national government accounting during the gold standard era. The reasons for transitioning away from the gold-standard, the rigidities which it imposed on aggregate demand and the money supply, have been suppressed from public discourse in an era in which deficit hysterics like those at “Fix the Debt” hold honored seats at the policymaking and policy advocacy tables. These deficit hysterics, funded by Wall Street tycoons freelancing as economic pundits, would like Washington insiders and the media to believe that the gold-standard never went away, specifically for the purpose of cutting social programs that stand in the way of Wall Street’s expansion into new markets.
I have recently proposed that we rename the so-called budget deficits specifically of currency-issuing governments, the government’s “net contribution to monetary/economic growth” so that the confusion no longer persists that these so-called deficits are by their nature “bad” and to be avoided. The fiat currency issuer can never run out of its own money, can never be in “deficit” in it; “net contribution” is a better formal description of the excess of spending over taxes for specifically a fiat currency-issuing government. The government spending over taxes collected becomes the incremental increase in the money supply for the real economy as it grows in real terms, underneath the pro-cyclical expansion and contraction of money available from bank credit (i.e. expands in a boom and collapses in a bust). Too much price inflation is a possibility with too much government spending over-and-above taxes collected but demand-led inflation in our current situation would be a “high quality problem” indicating that we have reached full capacity in our economy, which is not nearly the case. Right now we have a very large output gap as well as high demand for government-led expenditures on things like infrastructure, public services and education, making increased government expenditures very unlikely to cause inflation.
The deficit is the government’s ‘net contribution to monetary/economic growth’ .. so who in their right mind, would want to reduce it? We should be increasing it until the UK has jobs for all who are willing and able to take them. As Keynes said:
“Look after unemployment and the Budget will look after itself”
Keyes also said: ‘Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.’
(My emphasis in bold)
By Jim Grundy
On 2nd June 1881 the Nottinghamshire cricket team that walked out at Old Trafford was missing several regular players, including the leading bowler Alfred Shaw (pictured), who sent down the first delivery in Test Match cricket, and leading batsman, Arthur Shrewsbury. The new-look Nottinghamshire did not fare well, losing the match by 10 wickets and, eventually, their status as county champions to Lancashire. But why would Nottinghamshire field such a weakened side? Seven professionals had gone on strike in what became known as the ‘Nottinghamshire Schism’, a story practically unknown today.
The roots of the dispute ran deep and centred on the differential treatment accorded to those who earned their living through the game – the players – and the so-called gentlemen ‘amateurs’. Gentlemen and players entered cricket grounds by separate gates, dressed in different rooms, ate apart and their respective status was even on display on the scorecard, with only the amateurs being referred to as ‘Mr.’
As might be expected, professional cricketers’ contracts were long on players’ duties to the counties but light on their responsibilities to the players. Between appearances for their sides, men like Shaw and Shrewsbury arranged exhibition matches to earn extra income. One such game took place in September 1880 when they organised a ‘North of England XI’ to play the touring Australians at Bradford. Nottinghamshire sought to cash in and a match at Trent Bridge was hastily arranged shortly afterwards. However, when Shaw was told that each Nottinghamshire professional was to be paid £6, whilst the ‘amateur’ Australians would pocket at least £19, he made his feelings known to the county secretary, Captain Henry Holden. Holden, ‘Hellfire Jack’, the local Chief Constable in his spare time, was already committed to putting on the game and had no choice but to up the offer to £20. But Holden could not and did not leave it at that. He made a point of giving £21 to those who were not part of Shaw and Shrewsbury’s radical group, sending a letter to the local press to make his point.
The following February, having heard that Shaw and Shrewsbury had arranged a Nottinghamshire XI to play against Yorkshire in the coming season, Holden wrote to Shaw, “I have been informed that you have arranged, or are about to arrange a match Nottinghamshire v. Yorkshire, to be played at Bradford. I therefore think it best to write at once, and say that the committee strongly and decidedly object to any county match being arranged by anybody, except those… home matches arranged at the annual meeting of county secretaries at Lord’s” .
What this meant for the county’s professionals was that Nottinghamshire was denying them the right to work on the 36 days during the season when their county had no work for them. In their reply of 26th March, Holden was reminded that there were several precedents, including a similar fixture arranged by Richard Daft (great-grandfather to Sir Robin Butler, Cabinet Secretary to Thatcher and Major) in 1873. Shaw and Shrewbury’s letter concluded: “Before writing [to] us, we should imagine you were cognisant of [the precedents]; at the same time it appears, strangely enough to us, that since R. Daft arranged the Huddersfield match, and unknown to the subscribers to the county and also the players, fresh laws and regulations have been substituted for the laws which then governed the club” . In other words, ‘just how daft do you think we are?’
Shaw knew his value. In the same year that Daft’s team played Yorkshire, Shaw refused W.G. Grace’s offer of a place in a team touring Australia. He was unhappy that, as a professional, he would only be allowed to travel second class on the long voyage to Australia and his fee, £150, was just 10% of that to be received by the ‘shamateur’, W.G. Grace. If any restrictions on the professionals’ ability to earn their livelihood were to be accepted, Shaw and Shrewsbury wanted concessions: greater security of employment; payment for all games in the season, as cover for illness and injury; and a guaranteed benefit match for any player with ten or more years at the county.
The matter was not concluded before the first match of the 1881 season when Nottinghamshire hosted Sussex on 26th May. Shaw returned match figures of 94.1 (four ball overs)-58-70-8 in an innings victory inside two days. If he thought the county might reconsider in light of that reminder of what he contributed towards the club’s success, he was wrong. Nottinghamshire was not about to enter into dialogue with mere players and attitudes hardened.
By this time, the local press had picked up on the story and, in an article headlined, “Trades Unionism in Cricket”, the ‘Nottingham Journal’ raised the spectre of New Unionism infecting the great game. After outlining the distressing circumstances of the case, it reported, “that there are influences at work which have induced the players to look out for fresh grievances” . One cricket commentator went further, the dispute was, “a deliberate combination against recognised administration… it was not merely a question of the welfare of one county, but it involved a distinct and material alteration in the relations between paid cricketers and their employers which vitally affected the interests of every club of importance” .
Eventually, Nottinghamshire offered five of the seven, including Shaw, employment for the whole season. Shaw refused – it was for all seven or none.
By the end of the season, Shaw and Shrewsbury were carrying out their final preparations for their 1881-82 tour to the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The other five professionals returned to the county, their dispute lost, as did Shaw and Shrewsbury the following season. And the ‘Nottinghamshire Schism’ was forgotten. At least you could be forgiven for thinking so, given its absence from many histories of the game, including one of the most recent by John Major.
Of the relationship between gentlemen and players, Major had this to say, “The distinctions were absurd and insulting, but in Victorian Britain they were commonplace” . Like much of what we now find ‘absurd and insulting’ – imperialism, racism, class snobbery – Major and his ilk may well recognise that now but seem silent on how that change was effected. Change was not brought about by Captain Holden and the like but by men such as one-time framework-knitter, Alfred Shaw.
 ‘Nottingham Journal’, 6th June 1881.
 ‘Nottingham Journal’, 1st June 1881.
 James Lillywhite, quoted in Brookes, Christopher, “English Cricket. The game and its players through the ages”, p.150, Reader’s Union, Newton Abbot, 1978.
 Major, John, “More Than a Game. The Story of Cricket’s Early Years”, p.268, HarperPress, London, 2007.