Friday, 20 August 2010

On the UK's planned budget cuts

To decide to leave people in the cold, heartlessly allowing their health to degenerate seems to me in complete opposition to what society ought to seek to achieve. The consequences of such a decision are far reaching, and detrimental not only to those targeted by such budget costs but also to the security of society and it's potential for economic growth.

I think that what it boils down to is that such a decision directly attacks the capital of trust that people have towards each other, and towards their government, and as such diminishes their capacity for cooperation and  increases the selfishness of their attitudes. It is quite clear that if others do not look out for you, you will have to spend more time looking out for yourself and spend less looking after the interest of others.

However, to do so is to reduce the potential for specialization and efficiency within our social structures. As an undercurrent this is certainly detrimental to economic growth, because what enables growth is the willingness of people to positively participate in the economic sphere, by investing, consuming and using personal time and money to generate new avenues for profit. This process is obviously relegated to the background when people adopt a self-preservation attitude. In such a position, personal accumulation of resources becomes the main logic behind economic decisions, creating vast reservoirs of unused economic potential and redundancy, reducing interaction between economic actors through the breakdown in the number of relations and their quality.

So an apparently morally unhappy decision with positive economic outcomes turns out to be negative in all respects after a closer examination of long term consequences. While I am certain that policy cannot be created on long term benefits only,  it seems to me that the ideological perspective behind favoring this type of budget cut is most certainly wrong.

Obviously it is quite easy to be a critic, so I would like to propose a workable alternative to show that my position is not without merit. If instead of attacking the fabric of society that ultimately represents our potential for growth we were to attack the inefficiencies in the distribution of resources, we would not only keep society cemented but also increase its overall capacity for efficiency, and as such its capacity for future growth. How to do this?

The first element of this answer would be to streamline bureaucracy, and make extensive use of new technology to cut costs and augment response times. The cuts would come from less people, working less hours to do the same amount of work. At the same time, the people inconvenienced by such cuts would not be helpless victims, but highly skilled professionals in the middle of their working life with a high capacity to recycle themselves and return to economic success.  

The second element of this answer would be to streamline and eliminate inefficiencies in the military budget.  As part of the European Union, further integration in defense budgets and initiatives would free a considerable amount of funds to balance the budget while increasing the capacity of Europe to successfully defend itself and not be detrimental to national security at all.

I believe that these two policy avenues would prove to be highly successful for the country as a whole, and would not provide the negative long term consequences that the spending cut policies of this government might very probably have: possible social unrest, the rise of far right and left, ideologically driven political parties and loss of future economic growth might all originate from this  highly doubtful moral decision that will most assuredly undermine its legitimacy.


Welcome, reader! Universalism is a political stance that I would like to see become popular around the planet. Let me explain briefly what it entails. The core tenets of this position really are quite simple.

The first starting position is that what enables people to interact together fruitfully in a society are shared values from which rules of behavior can be made and trusted in to be respected. Essentially, this means that society is a Moral construct, and as such the effects of policies must be anticipated and judged as to whether they erode the Moral capital of a society or not.

The second starting position is that as the world's societies become increasingly linked and integrated, the only viable path to order and peace is to identify universal values and primarily focus on these to generate policies acceptable to the greatest number, and so to reduce potential for conflict while augmenting the capacity for governance.

The third and last starting position of Universalism is that policies and decisions must be inspired by an empirical outlook, which is the only guarantee that we move towards universal values with any certainty, and efficiency. 

What is hoped will be achieved through the promotion of such a doctrine is a more secure world, in which humans find themselves and their needs at the heart of political considerations. It would enable consensus building over the jealous guardianship of partisan interest. It could serve as a basis to establish and develop peaceful relations between antagonistic cultures. And perhaps it could even lead humanity into political integration in order to arrive at a coherent level of global governance.