This is from the Columbia Journalism Review.Â Itâ€™s structured in a way that you want to read and watch all of it.Â My question is how did everyone not see this coming?Â You have a news organization that has made itâ€™s name being intellectually dishonest and selling sensational stories and now they seem shocked that this could have happened.Â I like Prime Minister David Cameron but News Corp. is engaged in this kind of stuff all over the world.Â My gosh look at the libel suits brought against the News of the World.Â This kind of behaviour is part of their corporate structure and they rewarded their staff for doing it.
Update: Here’s more. Â Predictably there looks like there is a cover-up.
Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic crisis.
The British governmentâ€™s plan is bold, say the pundits â€” and so it is. But it boldly goes in exactly the wrong direction. It would cut government employment by 490,000 workers â€” the equivalent of almost three million layoffs in the United States â€” at a time when the private sector is in no position to provide alternative employment. It would slash spending at a time when private demand isnâ€™t at all ready to take up the slack.
Why is the British government doing this? The real reason has a lot to do with ideology: the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to downsize the welfare state. But the official rationale is that there is no alternative.
Indeed, there has been a noticeable change in the rhetoric of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron over the past few weeks â€” a shift from hope to fear. In his speech announcing the budget plan, George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, seemed to have given up on the confidence fairy â€” that is, on claims that the plan would have positive effects on employment and growth.
Instead, it was all about the apocalypse looming if Britain failed to go down this route. Never mind that British debt as a percentage of national income is actually below its historical average; never mind that British interest rates stayed low even as the nationâ€™s budget deficit soared, reflecting the belief of investors that the country can and will get its finances under control. Britain, declared Mr. Osborne, was on the â€œbrink of bankruptcy.â€
What happens now? Maybe Britain will get lucky, and something will come along to rescue the economy. But the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump. As always, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
I know Canada had a slightly smaller deficit than the United Kingdomâ€™s â€“ It was 9.1% or 39bn Canadian dollars versus a U.K. deficit of 11.5% or Â£156bn but these cuts proposed by David Cameron are mind boggling.
Look at these numbers
During his address to MPs, it was clear that few government departments have been spared.
The national health service, pre-university education and international development budgets will be protected from the cuts â€” but the policing budget will fall by four per cent each year. The Justice Ministry must cut its budget by six per cent per year, but funding for fighting terrorism would be maintained.
The Foreign Office will see a 24 per cent budget cut and the British Broadcasting Corp. will be required to take on the full cost of running the world service.
Welfare funding will also be reduced and the minimum age for people seeking state pensions will be raised earlier than previously expected.
Osborne said that even the Queen would be affected, as the royal household budget will be cut by 14 per cent over four years.
In addition to these cuts, social housing is cut by 50% and the English military is being cut back to the point where even the United States is worried about it and it wasnâ€™t exactly flush with cash before.
As a result, it will be virtually impossible for the UK to offer any meaningful military assistance to the U.S. in the future. The overstretched and under-equipped Ministry of Defense can barely function as it is. The major shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan is now well established, with a parliamentary committee reporting last year that the lack of helicopters was having â€œadverse consequencesâ€ for Britain. Up to two-thirds of the Apache attack helicopter fleet has been described by the Ministry of Defense as â€œunfit for purpose.â€ Last July, a plan to severely diminish the threat of Taliban improvised explosives devices (IEDs) â€“ responsible for more NATO troop deaths than any other tactic â€“ was scrapped due to insufficient troop numbers and helicopters. A month later, British soldiers were forced to protect the remains of a senior officer killed by a roadside bomb for three days before a helicopter was available to collect his body.
The shortages-problem is endemic. A lack of heavily armored vehicles meant two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Army doctors lack basic equipment, such as surgical tools. A coroner at an inquest into the deaths of two soldiers in Afghanistan labeled the Ministry of Defenseâ€™s inability to provide basic equipment â€œunforgivable and inexcusable.â€ Four soldiers killed this year in Helmand did not have enough metal detectors available to trace bombs, and soldiers are even forced to dye their own uniforms due to a lack of camouflaged shirts.
As part of the plan, 20,000 British forces will withdraw from their post-World War II-era bases in Germany by 2020, and overall, British troops and civilian defense personnel will be slashed by 42,000.
The equipment cuts, including early decommissioning of the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, will force Britain to forfeit its ability to launch fighter jets from sea until at least 2019. The fleets of Harrier fighter jets are being eliminated. The planned Nimrod MRA4 Reconnaissance aircraft, previously billed by the Royal Air Force as a "significant contribution" to the fight against terrorism, is also being scrapped.
In total, over 500,000 public sector jobs could be lost.
Itâ€™s interesting to see that while the Chretien spending cuts hit all departments, they werenâ€™t as deep.
Mr Chretien used the phrase "nothing off the table".
By contrast, Mr Cameron has already pledged to ring-fence the education, health and international aid budgets.
With extensive cuts to healthcare and education spending at the very centre of Canada’s deficit reduction work, many Canadian economists argue that it could not have been successful if they had been excluded.
The impact was, however, severe.
Dark days ahead for a lot of people in the United Kingdom. The next couple of years wonâ€™t be a lot of fun.