In today’s Edin Evening News:
A Sunday Times article asked why the UK is so poor, but doesn’t identify the reason. Apart from the brief post-war period when the Attlee Labour government took Keynes’ advice and invested heavily in public services – health, education, transport, housing and energy – that spawned growth and unprecedented prosperity, the UK has been concerned with extracting wealth, not creating it.
The UK is a rentier economy, which means a minority controls the majority of assets – land, natural resources, infrastructure and financial – and generates income or rents from these assets.
Thatcher accelerated the process, privatising natural monopolies like energy, transport, telecommunications, manufacturing and basically anything that made money. The new private owners stripped the value from these enterprises, pocketed the profits and didn’t invest in improving services the public depends upon. Concurrently, the financial sector was freed from its regulatory constraints and social responsibilities, so that now UK plc is the world’s dirty money laundromat.
Ordinary people have become poor and indebted as their wealth has been siphoned off by the offshore elites who own the means of production and who generously fund the careerist political classes.
This UK habit of rent extraction has its roots in empire, where wealth wasn’t created but stolen from its colonies. Since there are no more colonies to exploit apart from Scotland, the UK has vampirically turned on its own citizens.
A state that doesn’t invest in its people and what they need for a decent life will fail. It beggars belief that half of Scotland is clinging to this inevitable failure.
Leah Gunn Barrett