I like to give the government a hard time as much as the next man – and in a tabloid society it is almost a sport. But even I have to admit that we’ve taken government bashing too far.
I saw a TV report on the amount of young people out of work, now classified as NEETs [“Not in education, employment or training”]. The reporter went to Swindon to interview a few people falling into this category and almost everyone seemed to blame the government for not creating more jobs.
Hang on just a minute, how is it the fault of the government?
We don’t live in a communist society. We live in our own hugely capitalist economy here in the UK, embedded into a group of capitalist economies within Europe and allied to the world’s biggest traditional capitalist economy across the water in the US. I think we’ve made it clear as a nation what our stance is.
Okay, so we have a benefits system (the generosity of which is another conversation in itself) but the economy lives or dies based on the businesses which form the backbone of the nation’s economy. It is hypocritical for the collective media voice to criticise the government for not creating jobs to soak up the unemployment problem. When the good times are rolling, the industries and the press all seem to call out to the government to mind their own business, to resist the urge to over-regulate and let market forces prevail.
That isn’t to say the government couldn’t do more to help. But I don’t think the answer lies in the government being able to wave a magic “job creation wand” and make work for people. It just can’t happen like that. Our economy is not geared towards this kind of approach.
For me, the biggest step forward to sparking a stronger economy would have been some firm insistence that the vast amounts of money used to bail out the banks had to translate into a return to business as usual. As it stands, a huge amount of money is backlogged. The banks are sitting on it, taking minimal risks. This money needs to filter down to SMEs if it’s going have an impact on the economy and provide resources for the nation’s entrepreneurs.
So, if we’re going to give the government some stick, let it be for failing to ensure that their money gets to where it’s needed, not for its inability to magic up jobs.
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