The term “monetarism” has been much used in the last three or four years – sometimes as a clarion call for action to improve economic policy, but often an epithet of abuse.
One of the main reasons I took up the study of economic problems was indignation at the absurdity of unsatisfied wants side by side with idle hands willing to work which I believed existed before the Second World War.
A lengthy and influential report drawn up in November 1977 which set out a model for systematic policy-making, and, crucially, raised in unavoidable form the question of whether a Conservative Government could possibly succeed unless policies towards the unions were changed.
There is one outstanding difference, of which most Britons are unaware, between the ways in which they and all other European Countries educate their young.
British politicians have become increasingly unpredictable over the past generation. It now seems scarcely conceivable that the post-war Attlee administration did not lose a single by-election.
Since 1969 the Central Statistical Office’s publication, Economic Trends, has included a series of annual articles entitled ‘International comparisons of taxes and social security contributions’.
It was said of Hegel that he set out his philosophy with such obscurity that people finished by thinking it profound. A similar accusation could well be levelled at John Kenneth Galbraith
This study was written at a time when the economy was making a half-hearted recovery from a deep recession. The Government appeared in 1976 to have abandoned post-war neo-Keynesian economic policies, in that official policy was not directed primarily to resorting full employment in the short term, but rather to regaining internal and external equilibrium and particularly to curbing further the rate of price inflation, which was still running at about 15 per cent.
This study investigates in some detail how the Bundesrepublik dealt with the effects on its economy of the world recession in the mid-1970s when unemployment reached over one million, without falling back on large scale interventionism, nationalisation and controls of prices, wages, profits and investments; so far the principles of the social market economy remain intact, through undergoing evolutionary adaptations to new conditions.
It is now widely realised that many of our present economic ills stem from a cardinal error, the belief that inflation and unemployment presented a choice of evils. We have learned to our cost that inflationary measures designed in good faith to abate unemployment have eventually intensified it, leaving us with the worst of both worlds.
The House of Commons Expenditure Committee was conceived under the 1969 Labour Government, and brought to birth under the 1970 Conservative one. It took the place of the long standing Estimates Committee; and its formation represented a compromise between the wishes of those on both sides of the Commons who wanted to have an Economic Policy Committee, and the determination of the Treasury to avert the prospect of politicians cross-examining civil servants about the formulation of economic policy.
A year has passed since I spoke last here on the same subject: inflation and unemployment. A the time, you may remember, my speech stirred up not only a fair amount of attention, comment and expressions of agreement, but also a hostile reaction from politicians and commentators. That was one year ago. What has happened since has largely confirmed what I then predicted
Britain is an overtaxed country – true or false? Published statistics give a conflicting message. In 1972 total UK taxation, including social security contributions as a proportion of gross national product, came in about halfway down a list of OECD countries. Yet, as Dr Bracewell-Milnes shows in this timely paper, even in that year the UK tax burden on high earners was high, and on savers intolerably high.
Those familiar with Dr Zweig’s work will find his new book perhaps one of the most fascinating that he has ever written, and certainly it will contribute enormously to the discussion of where present society finds itself and where it might be going.
Britain is clearly heading for state involvement in industry on a scale never previously contemplated. Added to the Labour Government’s own plans for nationalisation and the interventionist operations of the National Enterprise Board, we now have a procession of famous companies forces by inflation, unwise tax and economic policies, and sometimes by poor management and chaotic industrial relations, into accepting state share holdings and directions on policy in return for the cash needed for survival