a major social experiment in england

Today the UK announced tremendous cuts in its overall government. Check out any UK publication for details. Basically, public welfare has been slashed. The Guardian has a great overview of the key points of the cut. What I find most shocking: a 60% cut in public housing and the elimination of almost 500,000 public sector jobs. Astonishing. This is one of the great social experiments of the century. And I fear it will make Thatcherism look like a pure joy.

4 thoughts on “a major social experiment in england”

  1. I’m not convinced the cuts are that large compared to the growth in expenditures that occurred over the past decade. Government expenditures in the UK were about 35% of GDP in 2000. Today its closer to 45% of GDP. The proposed cuts would bring it down to about 40% of GDP. At the end of the day, the government is bigger than it was just 10 years ago.

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    1. The issue, I think, is the distribution of government expenditures. So the relative size of spending on social programs is what’s so radical. I’d also note that GDP contracted rather drastically in 2008-9 — explaining much (but not all) of the increase in expenditures as a percent of GDP.

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      1. Right. In the US, gov expenditures as percent of GDP were 35 in 2007, 37 in 2008, 42 in 2009 and 44 in 2010. Most of this probably had to do with the recession, though the stimulus also must have played some role.

        The funny thing about the cuts in Britain is that don’t seem to be ideologically motivated (at least that’s what Cameron claims); rather, they’re conforming to a European-wide belief in the necessity of belt-tightening. Ireland, which is pretty much devoid of ideologues in favor of slashing spending, did it anyway because across the continent there’s a consensus that you can’t just keep borrowing — eventually the markets are going to punish you for it — so austerity is necessary. In the US it’s hard for anyone to do anything that will directly lead to lowering economic growth, so even the GOP want to cut taxes at the same time they cut spending, to provide some kind of supposed stimulus.

        It’s hard for me to believe the UK will actually go through will all those cuts, since they may hurt the economy enough to reduce revenue substantially, failing to lower the deficit at all. Hopefully they won’t manage to cut the social programs as much as they say.

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