Monday, February 23, 2009

Money, manufacturing, farming

I've been thinking a lot -- off and on -- about the current 'economic crisis'.

Some thoughts have been well covered. Eg: it has made many people re-think their priorities.

For many, out of necessity, having had an income disposed of, a disposable lifestyle comes under re-evaluation. This past weekend we were at a sewing machine shop. And my! it was busy. Suddenly it seemed everyone is thinking of sewing their own clothes.

Then we read about allotments coming back into fashion. Both because people are more concerned with what goes into their food as well as saving those few pennies (which add up to pounds) and what a lovely way for a family with young children, for example, to do something together and literally see the fruit of their labour. It's highly recommended.

Today we were woken up by news of a van manufacturer (Russian owned) facing financial woes. Whilst no one is surprised by that I cannot help but think: what audacity! To ask the government (ie me the taxpayer) to cough up another 'rescue package' so that their owners/prospective buyers could profit from it.

When times are bad, these manufacturers come cap in hand begging for help. But when going is good do they go "Here, take these profits and share them out." ?

Sure they pay their corporate taxes and so forth, but I will bet you my last penny that they would have engaged some tax accountant (and paid them lots of money) and done their sums to make sure they do not pay one penny more tax that they need to pay.

Why then should we now bail them out?

This is a Russian-owned company. When the going is good, the profits go back to some Russian oligarch. It is the same with the Japanese- and Korean-owned companies.

The government offer them incentives to set up, the government gets good spin about creating jobs, yay! and then because they are foreign-owned there is ALWAYS a danger that these jobs would go (the parent company would move operations back home), and then what? The UK government will basically be held to ransom. That, in pure and simple terms, is what these rescue packages are about.

Us the taxpayers pick up the tab to save the government from a lot of egg on face. Deja vu. The only SHORT TERM benefits are workers finding work when foreign investors 'invest', cheering the government on, and voting them back into office.

The most frightening thought though is this: Mao (Tse Tung) was right, to send the people back into the fields. [Chill down my spine.]

Well, not everyone, just those capitalists, academics, poets, musicians, anyone with a brain who could think up subversive ideas and who therefore needed to be rusticated.

But comes a recession like this, cars will not feed people, clothes will not feed people. Only food will feed people.

True I agree that the UK must "maintain a manufacturing base", but what good is car manufacturing when we run out of oil to power it? The manufacturing base must move with the times to produce products that will be needed to keep industry going, people moving, and food being stored and transported.

Mills for cloth weaving? More efficient bicycles? Sacks for storing food? Perhaps?

What about our agricultural base? In recent years this country has become more and more reliant on imports to feed their people. When there is plenty of land to farm, land/farming policies have made it unprofitable to do so.

For me any 'return to the land' would have the awful spectre of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. However the need for food (and water) and the political implications of not having enough of this (these) are far too frightening to contemplate.

Perhaps this recession would cause a 're-balance' in this thinking?

I live in hope.

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