Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

First of all Happy New Year to all readers of this blog. I’ve been really busy over the last three months so haven’t had much time for blogging, but I hope to find more time in the coming months to blog more regularly. I shun the traditional New Year’s Eve festivities, which is why I have time to blog now 🙂

This blog is about 18 months old now, and when I started I didn’t really think anyone would read it, but thanks largely to Sue Davies at the Think Left blog, I began to rack up (a still modest number of) page views. Sue encouraged me to write and then reposted this blog, and that got the ball rolling.

The purpose of this blog started out being trying to explain the nuts and bolts of the branch of economics called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), which I strongly believe offers a framework for a more prosperous and fair economy, maintaining the best aspects of capitalist system and neutering the worst. Since then, I’ve explored other areas like the Government’s blunt and uncaring welfare changes, along with occassional posts on our electoral system.

Going forward, I’d like to do more MMT stuff and hopefully a couple more interviews after an (I thought) successful Q and A with Ann Pettifor in October.

Over the coming months it seems the main political themes are almost certain to be:

  1. Increasing demonisation of those without a job, particularly if those people originate from Eastern Europe. This is already well under way, and I really worry that the hysteria that is being whipped up at the moment could easily end in tragedy. I hope I’m wrong.
  2. Linked to point one, an increasingly inward-looking Tory Party will ‘bang on about Europe’. I’m pretty ‘Euro-sceptic’ myself and wish more on the left were too, but the way Tories argue against EU membership is unlikely to win round many people in my view.
  3. As we get closer to May – UKIP: The Movie.
  4. The economy. The Coalition’s “look, the economy is growing” against Labour’s “yeah but no one’s really benefiting except your mates”.

I might have more to say on these topics in the coming weeks and months, and hopefully some more positive stuff too! Happy New Year.

Last 7 Days Reading List 07/12/13

Mostly stuff on the economy this week. First up, I liked this post from Think Left, which includes some nice quotes and a video promoting MMT:

Why do politicians tell us debt/deficit myths which they know to be untrue?

Neoliberal news now, and Guardian columnist George Monbiot informs us about the US/EU trade deal about which I was previously only dimly aware. It doesn’t sound good:

The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal

One of the positive pieces of economic news over the last year has been the increase in employment. The Tories have been trumpeting this with hilarious charts like this (what scale are they using here):employment

Beneath the headline though, what’s less certain is about the type of employment being created. Self-employment for example has risen quite sharply in recent years, but much of it seems to be quite poorly paid, and as a result, self-employed worker’s earnings have been falling:

Self-employed worker’s earnings slump by nearly a third

And in related news, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has been boasting about how many families have been ‘turned around’ by his troubled families programme. The definition of turned around seems as vague as the original definition of troubled families was. Turned around doesn’t seem to include finding work though as this story from my local paper describes:

Government jobs scheme gets jobs for just three in Bradford

On to the autumn statement now, and I liked this blog on George Osborne’s stated desire to run a budget surplus:

Why do the British enjoy committing economic suicide?

The economy does seem to be recovery though, although the OBR say they expect it to slow down somewhat next year. George Osborne vindicated? The FT’s Martin Wolf thinks not (must register to view):

Autumn Statement 2013: Britain’s needlessly slow recovery

And as long as we keep seeing stories like this, any claims of recovery must be dismissed:

Bradford food bank makes urgent ‘help’ plea

Moving on again with the news of Nelson Mandela’s death at the age of 95. I was only 8 when Mandela was released from prison, and I think a lot of people of my generation don’t know much about his life before that point, and how he was viewed by different people. A lot of rewriting of history seems to be going on and I thought this blog was interesting in its perspective:

They come to bury Nelson, not just to praise him

Finally, on a lighter note, the news that Amazon has been trialing drone deliveiesI thought this mocked-up Amazon calling card was well done:

Drone