Brexit shows the need for a reformed economics

27 June, 2016 at 23:33 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 2 Comments

Brexit is about much more than frustration about the E.U. and immigration. It is about a shortage of decent and secure jobs; an impossibly precarious labour market; inexplicable inequalities in incomes and wealth; closed access to affordable education, and a terrible deficiency of affordable housing; and it is about British Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne’s single-minded austerity economics and the rule-free and tax-free space created for big banks and corporations.

austerity-george-osborne-desktopThe referendum result reflects a deep-seated anger and anxiety amongst large sections of the population who are disenfranchised and feel ignored, and who can no longer bear the economic burden of living in the Thatcherite free-market wasteland (alternatively known as Cameron’s “Big Society”) that Britain has become – sadly reinforced by the New Labour governments that began with Tony Blair …

It would be a tragic mistake to read this resentment against the E.U. as only anti-migrant, racist or bigoted, because the racism and bigotry have grown in conditions of economic austerity, artificial job scarcity and crisis, rising unemployment, rising job insecurity, and exploding inequalities as social protection for workers, pensioners and families have been scaled down …

The responsibility for the economic and political mess in Britain, the E.U. and beyond weighs heavily on the shoulders of economists who insist there is no alternative to a globalized market economy (TINA!), with freedom for the rich and wealthy and unfreedom for the rest, and who out-of-hand reject serious progressive programmes to reform the system and make it more democratic and humane …

There are no easy answers – but economics urgently needs to start reforming itself, and asking the right questions.

Servaas Storm

2 Comments »

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  1. This is only partly true. The leave vote was strongly driven by the retired vote – and their incomes have been far more protected since the financial crisis than those of working people. Social protection for pensioners has not been scaled down. By contrast young people – facing stagnant wages, zero hours contracts, no chance of buying a house – voted strongly for remain.

    • That is young people that voted, most young people didn’t vote.


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