CHAPTER EIGHTEEN A SIMPLE POLITICAL MANIFESTO FOR NOW – FOR THE UK AS IT IS, THE TRANSITION

OK put up or shut up you say?  Although the thesis of this book is that cultures are what we do – one by one – and that cultural change comes – also one by one – by the powers of fashion, necessity, opportunity and so on – within the contrary influences of both physical and political restraint.  Here’s the basis for immediate political opportunities.

The basis of political and judicial action must be to shrink the casino and to expand the real economy – that is to re-build assets and to diminish the careless spending of them.  The basis of both governance and law must be the maintenance of the common realm.

The current basis for government manipulation seems to be to stimulate spending – some spending may build assets, but most must surely diminish them.  Current storm and flood damage will certainly stimulate spending and add to GDP figures, but in any proper book of accounts storm spending must be entered as loss.

Here is Richard Douthwaite from an article published in 1997, courtesy of FEASTA

Gross Domestic Product – the monetary value of a nation’s annual output – is a mixture of goods and bads, of costs and benefits. For example, GDP includes the value of the work generated by dealing with traffic accidents and cleaning up oil spills, and by other similar mishaps produced by the way the economic system operates. As a result, a rise in GDP these days gives very little indication whether the welfare of the population which produced it is rising as well. Indeed, researchers who have corrected GDP figures to eliminate the bads they contain have shown that on a sustainable basis, the growth process in some industrialised countries is actually making the majority of their populations worse off.

The shared central doctrine of New Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties is an anti-capitalist one of a debt-created casino whose only regulator is the sea-level of the world economy as a whole.  However, it should be easy for politicians within any of those parties to argue for a return to a capitalist economy in which the capital of labour, energy and resource are valued as the basis of prosperity.  It should be obvious to anyone (but isn’t) that the current economic upturn (January 2014) is nothing of the kind.  Assets of every kind are diminishing, while increased consumption is emitting record levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Consequent wild weather will further diminish assets – even though it will also increase spending and accelerate the suicidal growth of GDP.

So government spending should be withdrawn from the casino and replaced in the real economy.  New deals should replace quantitative easing.  We need to reduce money flow, while increasing economic activity – not an easy thing to do.    However if we consider that a litre of oil has equivalent energy to a man working manually for at least two weeks, then we can picture a fully-employed society within a shrunken economy.  We should aim towards the optimum point where money flow has descended and economic flow has ascended and both can equate.  GDP must shrink considerably – but a combination of judicious inflation coupled with a rising and purposeful employment may hold back the fears and superstitions, which traditionally lead to casino collapse.  The casino must be gently and deliberately collapsed – and its punters lead away to where they can do no more harm.  Current policy is stimulating punts to the degree that a dramatic and violent collapse will be inevitable.

We must further consider the distribution of wealth in modern economies.  When a “good” occurs in an economy it is not the generators of that good, who benefit.  On the contrary, “the good” will inflate land value local to it, or which contains it, giving money to landlords and removing it from the generators of the good by increased rent.  Rentier economies leave both ingenuity and hard work, unrewarded and diminish true wealth creation (manufacturing, agriculture, ingenuity, probity) by swelling the value of the property market.  “Buy to let” which creates nothing is regarded by some as a business.  It is possible that there could be a change in that regard in public perception.  Meanwhile, governments can tax property, which generates nothing, to justly re-pay that which does.  In effect, it can charge a rent for the enclosure of the common good.  Rentiers owe rent.

If an economy is to live within its ecological limits, it must set out to achieve no less than a step by step replacement of massively-powerful fossil-fuelled machinery with more convivial but far less powerful wind, water, solar and man-powered tools.

There is no escaping the diminishment of our powers.  It is plain that the more we assert an oil-powered hubris, so the greater will be our natural nemesis.

A proper economic system should be designed for the pursuit of happiness in various ways by a variety of human natures – it should facilitate the common good.  Because much of post modern activity is both unnecessary and unhappy, we can immediately shrink our economic size without diminishing happiness.  No-one needs to fly, or to travel twenty miles to work and back each day to a job which could (in a properly-evolved economy) be less than a ten minute walk away.  No-one “needs” the hassle of buying, maintaining, fuelling, insuring and parking a car – or to waste those hours in driving it.

In consequence, if we remove superfluous things, such as unnecessary, expensive, time-wasting transport, GDP can easily shrink without loss of well-being.  But there will have to be new deal spending into new infrastructures and energy systems, which will stabilise inflationary anxiety by creating both paid employment and new assets.  Finding “green” fuel for transport has been the elephant in the room for green economic thinking.  It is convenient that by removing much of the need for transport we can partially solve the problems of sufficient energy, while also reduced the size of the economy – at a single stroke.  Perhaps, above all else, green transport fuels have most split environmental movements.  Our present retail and business infrastructures will need more green fuel than is possible.  Some see “second generation” biofuels as the only solution.  I think that both biofuels and present infrastructures are impossible.

Raising revenue for the common good

Here are UK tax receipts for 2011 – 2012

Income Tax – £154 billion, National Insurance – £104 billion,        VAT – £101 billion, Corporation Tax – £39.86 billion, Fuel Duties – £26.2 billion, Business Rates £25.7 billion, Council Tax 26.3 billion, Total – £477 billion.

1  – is a point aside, lest my readers grow anxious – Income tax and VAT are employed as transitionary taxes to be removed at the introduction of a  Site value tax – which I come to at point 8

2 – Transitionary Income Tax – 70% tax rate for income over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, 50% tax rate for income of over one hundred thousand pounds.    40% tax over sixty thousand pounds, 30% tax over fourty thousand pounds, 20% tax over twenty thousand pounds and a tithe over twelve thousand pounds. Income below is tax free.

3 – Financial Transaction Tax – I’ve always found the trading of money in the value of shares, bonds, futures, currencies and so on, so distasteful that I know little of its intricacies.  Since such trade contributes nothing and can disrupt much, a means must be found to discourage it.  A Tobin Tax, Robin Hood Tax, or Financial Transaction Tax would at least return value to the common good.  I’ve read that just a 0.01% tax on I know not what within those intricacies would raise £25 billion a year.

I must point out that shares and bonds issued to raise money for a particular enterprise such as a harbour wall, or let’s say – a water mill, or community pub, shop, or a wind turbine are a very proper way for a community to be involved in its own infrastructures by financing them.  However, the trading of shares to merely cream the rising and falling values of a casino is a despicable thing.  Those that buy and sell other people’s investments with no regard to what those investments had financed, must either be prevented from doing so, or taxed very heavily.

How about a much larger tax on all financial transactions, which involve an interval between purchase and sale of less than one month, where what is purchased and sold is a share, bond, future, or currency exchange?

4 – Tax Avoidance – An increase in revenue staff to explore ways to shut the loopholes of tax avoidance, evasion and off-shore accounts.  Of course this should be entered under, spending, but I enter it here, since its purpose is the recovery of very large amounts of avoided tax.

5 – Scrapping the Trident nuclear programme will release £25 billion replacement cost, plus about £2 billion annual running costs.

6 – Transitionary VAT at 20% to remain on none-food transactions, including alcohol, cannabis and tobacco, but excluding books and artist’s materials such as musical instruments and canvases.  VAT can be reclaimed by strategic businesses – to be determined – such as food production.  All other taxes are to be removed from alcohol, which is of course a convivial, cultural staple for the poor and an insignificant expense for the rich.  The aim of taxation should not be cultural exclusion.

7 – Air Fuel duty to be immediately imposed at 80% with an escalator of 5% per annum.  The aim is to end air traffic altogether.  No-one has a need to fly.

I am uncertain about taxation of marine red diesel and other oils. Red diesel for agriculture is to be placed on a strategic escalator, depending on cropping (food security) and farm incomes.

I am also uncertain about levels of taxation for road transport fuel – beyond VAT, which can be reclaimed by strategic businesses.  It should also be placed on an escalator – we wish not only to considerably diminish the use of both fossil fuels and biofuels, but to remove them altogether.  However, there will be a difficult period of transition.  Fuel tax is more effective than road tax, since it taxes consumption.  Biofuels are to be taxed at the same rate as fossil fuels – pending their total ban.  Biofuels for aviation will be taxed at the aviation rate.  Gas from anaerobic digestion will be exempted from tax, because digestate is returned to the soil and we may think of soil as a common good.

By biofuels I mean those derived from timber and other perennial biomass crops, such as willow, miscanthus, jatropha and rye grass, along with oil-seeds, cereals and arable bio-mass crops.  I include “wastes”, such as sewage, green-waste and paper.  I include so called “second generation” fuels such as kelp and algae.

Tax relief for fossil fuel corporations will be ended as will all fossil-fuelled development “incentives”.  Such as retail/business park development moneys, ring road “developments”, extra lanes on expressways and motor ways, high-speed rail, air-port expansion…. This should release considerable funding for new deal spending on renewable energy, town centre revival and so on both locally and nationally determined “goods”.

8 – Site value tax – As we’ve explored, properties decay, depreciate and need repair and so it is the site value of the land beneath for which we pay those fairy-land prices.  People pay (or interest-making banks do) into fairyland, because they speculate that property will become more and more valuable.  That people pay for what does not exist should be a cause for any economist’s anxiety.  The property casino lives purely in the casino.  The power exists – to purchase service and command rent, but the capital does not.   Site value is an abstraction.  So proprietors wield power which has no capital connection to scarcity, surplus, or responsibility to future scarcity or surplus.  Yet their wealth increases as land value increases by the activities of others. Proprietors command people by both wage and rent with no corresponding feudal responsibility to those people.  Property-right comes without responsibility, even though property is an enclosure of a once-moral common.

How do we lead prodigal punters home to the simple and humble value of their ordinary bricks and mortar?  If property falls from fairyland onto the ordinary physical ground of resource and labour values, then home-owners only lose if they were buying and selling as gamblers in the casino.  The greatest loser will be the bank – which holds the savings of the innocent.  Banks collapse and the innocent suffer.  However taxation of fairyland must be devised to bring it down to economic earth and to make reparation to the common good.  Enclosed land must pay a ground rent to the community from which it was once (for the most part) violently removed.  Escalating property values are the cause of extreme hierarchies: increasing wealth for some and increasing poverty for others.  Rents reflect fairyland prices but are imposed on those who live in the limited world of their labour value.

Winston Churchill put it very well in a speech mysteriously ascribed to a selection of locations, but certainly in 1909:

Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains — and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.

A site value tax based on the rental value of land will replace both income tax and VAT.  It will be promoted as restorative justice and spent into a citizen’s dividend or basic income.  No-one made the land and therefore it cannot have economic value.  Those who own land do so by enclosure or by inheritance from or by buying inherited acts of enclosure.  Enclosure transforms the common good into personal property.  Site value tax returns some value from the enclosure back to the common good.  (See the quote from Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice below)

The widening gap between rich and poor is caused very simply by rising property values, which command rising rents from decreasing wages.  Property removes value from those that produce it.  Site value tax adjusts that perversity by returning money to the real economy.

Local government should have the primary role, but one shared with central government.  The esoteric world of land values will require straight forward thinking to disentangle its maze.  The old- fashioned term for it is monopoly.

How do we spend it?

Firstly here are the items, on which UK Government spent its tax revenues in 2013

[Pensions (old age and sickness)                                          £138.1bn
Health Care                                                                               £125.9bn
Education £34.2bn + £59.1bn (local)  total education    = £97.2bn
Defence                                                                                        £46.4bn
Social Welfare (income support, unemployment benefits) £117bn
Protection (police, law, courts, fire)                                        £33.4bn
Transport                                                                                     £18.5bn
General Government (e.g. civil service)                                  £17.9bn
Other Spending (local – waste management, leisure) –       £48.6bn
Interest payments on Government debt –                             £45.1bn
Total Spending                                                                           £683.bn
Public Net Debt  £1,159)

1 – Basic, or Citizen’s Income or Dividend – Introduction of a basic income of six thousand pounds for all citizens over eighteen years old and until death.  Pension and social security payments will be ended.  Those with the additional expenses of a disability will receive additional funds from the National Health Service.  Thus, the vast social security administration will be removed to leave a skeletal office staff – those that currently deal with pensions and national insurance.  Social work for disability assessments and so on will remain with local authorities and health authorities.

In response to wide-spread enclosure of commons into the personal properties of the few, Thomas Paine was (I think) first to propose a citizen’s income for all citizens.

“Men did not make the Earth.  Every proprietor owes the community a ground rent for the land which he holds”, Agrarian Justice 1797.

Citizen’s dividend will be raised from a Site Value Tax which will replace income tax and also perhaps, National Insurance payments.  National Insurance may be continued at a variable rate through a transitionary period.  All taxation is (supposedly) returned to the common good, but National Insurance is popularly seen as innocent of manipulation.

We see that UK currently spends

Pensions                                                                               £138.1 billion

& Income Support & Unemployment Benefit        £117 billion         So that without changes to today’s tax and spend £266.1 billion could be spent equally between 48.08 million over 19 year olds at a rate of                                                               £5305 each per annum.  (No stats for 18 & over)                                                                                            £50 billion (low figure) raised by FTT could raise that to £6345.67 per annum.

The Citizen’s Income Trust shows how current benefits and allowances could be replaced by a substantial citizen’s income for the same cost.  It assumes the same tax revenue from an unchanged tax system.

However, for me, the idea of restorative justice implicit in a land value tax is central to the idea of citizen’s income – that wealth is returned from what drains it to what generates it – and that a citizen’s contribution through work is not taxed.  The truth that property, not work makes money is an obvious injustice – a failure of a market system, which drains rather than contributes to the common good.

Furthermore, the Citizen’s income Trust proposes an age-graded income of £56.25 per week for 0 – 24 year olds, £71 per week for 25 – 64 year olds and £142.70 for over 65.  It attempts to keep pension payments the same and income taxation the same to prove that no boats need rocking – to smooth the passage for what after all is the trust’s end.

Again, I see this as too complex.  It also distances the idea of restorative justice.  Firstly, children should be nurtured by their parents and not by the state.  So I’d begin a citizen’s Income as children enter adulthood at probably the age of eighteen and have it at the same rate through life.  I can see the reasoning behind the child income – not rocking the boat, while also providing every eighteen year old with a possible, accumulated saving of £52,650, when coming of age. (without interest, or having spent the interest)  Let’s stimulate both honest work and innocent childhood.

I’ll put the Citizen’s Income Trust’s figures in the appendix (2).

2 – Education – Citizen’s income should enable parenthood to be fulfilled, (a parent can stay at home or parenting can be shared by mutually part-time jobs).  Risk is also removed from new businesses, such as home-based businesses and also from apprenticeships and further education.  In consequence I propose to limit statutory schooling to between the ages of seven and fourteen.  Further schooling can be obtained by those who desire it.  Learning and education are not at all the same things.  Indeed, amateur scholarship for its own sake and undistorted by curriculum will be supported by both basic income and a lack of statutory schooling.  I believe that the current educational system is limiting rather than inspiring.  Scholars will naturally converse, exchange and argue without the expensive four walls and administration costs of school and university.  Apprentices of over fourteen years may have some support until they reach eighteen, when basic income will provide.  However, since parents will have parental obligation, perhaps such support will prove unnecessary.

That gap of four years is one which I haven’t resolved properly and expect trial and error to intervene.  I expect fourteen to eighteen year olds to be both supported by their parents and to support their parents.

The education budget will be considerably reduced.  In consequence learning will increase.

3 – Agriculturea – An initial cap on CAP payments of twenty thousand pounds and the removal of the “historical” element.

3b – The removal of tradable value from single farm payment rights, so that unused rights are returned to the common pool, rather than put on the market for sale.

3c – The aim is to progressively-remove agricultural subsidy as food prices reach their proper level.  The cheap food policy employed for the last sixty years has proved a difficult precedent to break.  Cheap food has released money for spending on manufactured goods and so to a swelling GDP.  Now that we need to reduce that spending, an inflated food price may be an effective vehicle – a part of the process.  It can also be a part of the process of repopulating town centres with the ingenious trades of green-grocer, baker, dairyman, butcher, brewer and so on and also to the diversity of cropping, which can lead to a resilient diversity of rotations.  Commodity markets had encouraged inefficient mono cultures – efficient for machinery, but highly-inefficient for ecology, economy and Man.

So my aim is to end agricultural subsidy.  Such spending would be better directed to join the spending of strategic new deals.

If we imagine an agriculture without subsidy, then we must also imagine regional protectionism.  After all subsidy has been a form of protectionism – to protect those effected by the liberal market.

Import tariffs could be imposed with a light touch – by mutual negotiation with trading partners, similarly protecting their essential primary economies.  We’ll re-introduce the Corn Laws.

Only in recent times have we seen borders lifted for free money-flow, while at the same time borders have been erected to prevent the movement of people.  Historically, we have known the opposite.  Untamed money disrupts lives far more than a free movement of people.

A return to the normality of history should not prove difficult.

4 – New Deals New deals for rural housing, appropriate new businesses, renewable energy, canals, branch-line railways, small harbours, sail-trading companies…. can be strategically applied.  It is to be hoped that share or bond systems will finance much of the necessary new enterprise and in particular, local finance for local needs as we’ve seen today in community-owned pubs, shops, wind turbines and Scottish Islands!  Local currencies may prove useful to highlight deficiencies in local economies.  For instance, if my local currency cannot purchase what I need, then I may consider how I and my neighbours might set about providing it.  Had I sought what I needed by the national currency then no doubt my needs would have been supplied from a distance – I may not have considered the distance.  That’s both opportunity and resilience for you.  It also illustrates how real local economies can “grow” by local labour if they are under-supplied.  However, beyond the sufficient supply, economic growth is an illusion made ridiculous by ecological and physical limits.

Anyway, new deals employ people to create assets.  The more people at work the greater the ingenuity applied.  We’ll need a probable ten-fold increase in field-labour.  New deals in rural housing will provide work, while those employed through the deals may have gathered the lay of the land with regards to new employment and enterprises, once the deal has ended – and from the security of a home.

New deals leave assets behind them.  Quantitative easing creates frivolous spending and leaves empty holes in the ground.

According to Ben Dyson of the organisation, Positive Money the UK chancellor has released an incredible £375 billion into the “economy” (actually the casino), 40% of which ended in the property market (to stimulate further inequality) and only 13% to productive business.

“In terms of where this private bank money went – 40 per cent went into the property market, 37 per cent to financial markets, 10 per cent to credit cards and personal loans and only 13 percent to productive business.”

The chancellor would have done better to spend that 13%, or £48.74 billion directly in targeted new deals.  In any case the remaining 87%, or £326.25 billion has increased the distance between the money-flow and the real economy of resource and labour values.  It has done real harm.

Meanwhile, the £50 billion replacement costs for the Trident nuclear submarine programme combined with its £2 billion annual running costs would be better spent into New Deals (for renewable energy and so on)  Similarly the proposed high speed rail link is a deal to nowhere.  The projected £42.6 billion funding would be better spent on canals and branch lines.  Then there’s the £17 billion proposed to build the Heathrow extension.

So we have £109.6 billion, plus £2 billion annually released for either spending, or not spending simply by removing anachronisms from an age which has passed.  Ways to live within economic/ecologic limits will be found more by trial and error than by futuristic ideas.  It is sobering that although both railways and canals were originally built for more efficient horse-power they blossomed by the power of coal.  New methods for blossoming will be found within smaller limits.

New deals should complement private finance to just the degree which becomes necessary.  Community ownership of workshops, energy generation, woodlands and food-production and so on can be germinated by share or bond systems.  Likewise, community housing schemes could be developed in which the site value is held in common as the common good of the trust and bricks and mortar values are leased to house-holders.

I think there may be about thirty million households in the UK.  If we released the ninety four billion pounds now set aside for the Trident and High Speed Rail programmes we could buy 2kw generating capacity in solar panels for every one of those homes. (£3013).  When people begin to generate their own energy, it is remarkable how they also begin to conserve it.

I wonder what wonders could have been achieved if the £375 billion of quantitative easing had been spent into new deals for green energy projects?  We’d be well on the way to a social adaption to both climate change and resource depletion, we’d have created real assets for the future and we’d have stimulated both real work and further opportunities for ingenuity.

Moreover, money released from a cap on agricultural payments would be about a billion pounds in England alone – moneys which could be better spent through new deals in all sorts of ways (or not spent at all).

As George Monbiot points out in a Guardian article (3rd March 2014) – The biggest 174 landowners in England take £120m between them. A €300,000 cap would have saved about £70m.  If farmers were subject to the benefits cap that applies to everyone else (£26,000), the saving would amount to about £1bn.

This is from Commons Sense – Co-operative Place Making and the Capturing of Land Value for 21st Century Garden Cities, published by Co-operatives UK

In this time of growing austerity, revisiting pioneering ideas from the past on how land is owned and shared can be a source of innovation and insight on how to self-finance local economic renewal. Henry George posed the conundrum: why do we have industrial progress and yet rising poverty? As he showed, a key explanation is the way escalating land values contribute to a structural mal-distribution of wealth. First, the value of land depends on location, and second, concentrated urban investment, both public and private, increases site values while in turn raising the costs of meeting basic urban needs – from housing to workspace and public services. How might this be overcome?

As we can see today in the wake of the housing bubble, a lack of land value control has increased social redistribution costs for taxpayers and became a vicious circle triggering boom and bust. John Stuart Mill proposed a stability and affordability remedy: convert land into commonwealth (a) to control rising costs and (b) to capture socially both the ‘unearned increment’ and economic rent for the welfare of all. A century ago Ebenezer Howard showed how to put these insights into practice.

Democratic ownership solutions in relation to land and capital are critical to financing in affordable ways the transition to green cities in the 21st century. How we transition to diverse forms of economic democracy is crucial.

Furthermore, with regards to money creation by central banks this is from the introduction to Ann Pettifor’s new book, Just Money: How Society can Break the Despotic Power of Finance, published by Commonwealth, 2014

I have two overriding objectives. First, to challenge and nail the argument that ‘there is no money’ for society to address major threats, to fight poverty and to meet human needs. Money and monetary systems, I will argue, are social constructs, and can and must be managed, mobilised and deployed to serve the wider interests of society and the ecosystem.

Second, I want to force into the open a subject that is taboo: the role of private, commercial banks in the creation of money ‘out of thin air’. For too long orthodox economists have misled politicians and others, and focussed only on central bank money creation. They have deliberately downplayed the role of the private sector: in credit creation or ‘printing’ money; in providing or denying finance to productive sectors; and in generating inflation. 

Monetarists, such as those that advised Mrs Thatcher’s government, never accuse the private commercial banking system of ‘printing money’. Yet the private banking system ‘prints’ 95% of the money in circulation in Britain, according to the governor of the Bank of England. It is they who hold the power in an unregulated system to provide or withhold finance from those active in the economy[3]. Yet neoliberal economists largely ignore private money ‘printing’ and aim their fire instead at governments and state-backed central bankers whom they accuse of stoking inflation by the excessive creation of money.

 

5 – NHSI’ve hopes that a paired down education system, the scrapping of Trident, high speed rail link and Heathrow extension, plus the capping of agricultural subsidies to £20,000 per farm along with a higher tax revenue from site value & Tobin taxes will provide the leeway to fund both new deals and to revive the National Health Service.  Private contracts will end.  In any case those contracts were far too expensive.  I’m not qualified to present particular figures, but the debt-created capital by which the private arms of the NHS were financed was plucked from empty air to control solid assets of both labour and resource.

With regards to contracts, wages within the NHS are utterly unjust.  GPs and consultants are paid like princes; nursing staff manage OK while cleaning staff are on the edge of poverty.

We need a change of wage culture.  GPs and consultants are fabulously-paid – have surplus for property-ownership and so are among the rich who get progressively richer.  It may be that status, such as General Practitioner has become a property which, similarly to land property, takes wealth from those that produce it.

Our profession is our identity and pleasure.  A wage cannot pay for that.  Neither does a high wage attract the best professional.  On the contrary it attracts those in search of high wages – it attracts the worst.

6 – Local GovernmentI’ve hopes that local democracy will be taken more seriously and that further powers can be devolved.  The oversight by the House of Lords over the House of Commons has been a useful, but compromised check on Commons excesses.  What if we changed the House of (anachronistic) Lords to a House of County Councils? – or of Town Councils perhaps?  I prefer the latter.  Constituencies have become side-lined by consensus party politics.  Such an arrangement may return regional problems to political conversation.  Trade unions have been similarly side-lined.

Anyway nationally-raised taxes should supplement the locally-raised taxes of town and county-councils to the degree of devolved activities.  If town and county councils have property rate and other revenue raising powers, then a visibly argumentative House of County/Town Councils may be an aid to the transparency of democracy.

Fire and police services, coastguards and so onThe recently-closed coastguard stations must be re-opened and invaluable localised ingenuities and experiences must be preserved, rewarded and encouraged.  I’ve not the experience to offer changes to the fire service and humbly salute it.

That the RNLI is a charity and that lifeboat crews are volunteers is a wonder that should make the cynical career politicians who lead our three largest political parties look inwards to their shrunken hearts and think better of human nature.  It is certain that wild weather is increasing in both severity and frequency.  The RNLI may need tax payer’s support.

However, the police service needs radical reform, which is beyond the scope of this book (or this writer at present). I need to cultivate a more distanced and colder eye.  You may guess that my estimation of the police service is not high.  It is certain that far from protecting either the common realm, or the laws which still enshrine it, the police for (the most part) protect a variety of enclosures of that common good.  An alien visitor might suppose that the police were mercenaries for the powerful interests of oil, chemical and retail companies and were placed strategically to protect lucrative supply chains from the innocent curiosity of “the public”.

As you can see, I’m not qualified to give a balanced judgement at present.  I’m certain that many have entered the police service to do good.  It is also likely that many have resisted what seems to be a wide-spread corruption of its purposes.  Complex societies need policing.

***

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