Courageous States are driven by principles. Of course they’ll also be pragmatic sometimes – politics always is, and has to be an exercise in pragmatism. But principles matter in a Courageous State. This will be a fundamental change that will differentiate them from the neoliberal states they will replace.
Those principles are reflected in the following beliefs:
- People come first;
- People must have the opportunity to achieve their potential;
- Poverty is unacceptable;
- Sustainability is essential;
- Balance is best for human well-being;
- Government has to work well;
- Real business deserves strong support.
These are joined by concerns about issues that undermine well-being which the Courageous State will have to tackle:
- Financial speculation is always secondary to real business, the community and society at large and can harm the prospect of society achieving its potential;
- The payment of interest is the cause of considerable stress within the economy;
- Advertising seriously distorts behaviour in the economy and reduces the chance of people achieving their potential by encouraging over-consumption.
Concerns not dissimilar to these have, admittedly, been at the forefront of thinking before now: the Beveridge Report settled the five priorities on which in very many ways the post-war consensus was built, saying they were:
As a result, growth, full employment, education, housing and health became the focus of social policy post-1945, and rightly so. They would also be priorities for the Courageous State. They were, however, the goals from an era when poverty was so widespread that what now seems pejorative language could be used to describe the objectives the state set when seeking to improve the conditions of a great many people. Of course they remain relevant: absolute and relative poverty remain pressing issues in the UK, and yet the Courageous State needs to aim for more than their relief. The Courageous State has to set itself the goal of ensuring people’s potential can be achieved. That can only happen if the following are available:
- Rewarding work;
- Safe banking;
- A sustainable environment;
- Affordable homes;
- Security in old age;
- Nurturing environments;
- Communities where we belong;
- A work–life balance;
- Opportunity for meaningful leisure.
These are the objectives, but objectives require practical policies if they are to be fulfilled. The result is that the Courageous State needs to have policies to:
- Constrain the world of feral finance that has so dominated the economies of the world in the last thirty years;
- Rebuild the role of the state in supporting real business activity;
- Encouraged a balanced, sustainable economy;
- Support the broader goals of family, community and society and the achievement of purpose through identity;
- Cooperate internationally to support the rights of Courageous States.
These are the issues that would drive policy in the Courageous State. And they are, of course, all explored in my forthcoming book.
It’s a new book, to be published in November 2011 by the UK’s #1 economics and tax blogger, Richard Murphy.
What does it say?
Three things. First that neoliberalism has given us feeble politicians who think anything they do will be worse than the market outcome, so they do nothing.
Second that this is wrong and a whole raft of new economic thinking from Richard shows why. But don’t worry, there’s no maths in sight – there are a lot of diagrams though.
And third, that there is a whole new range of economic policy proposals that Courageous politicians could adopt to get us out of the neoliberal mess we’re in. There are six chapters devoted to that practical stuff.
Why buy it now?
Because everyone says that we’re living with the problem of there being no alternative ideas to counter neoliberalism – and now there are lots of them, all wrapped up in The Courageous State.
How to buy it?
I have waited more than thirty years for someone, somewhere to write an economics I can really believe in.
I realised how absurd conventional economics was during my first year as a university undergraduate. Being asked to believe in the myth of neoclassical economics was a demand too much for me, which was one reason why I chose to go out and take part in the real economy as an accountant and business person rather than stay in academia, as no doubt I could have done.
Now, after waiting that long, I am bored with waiting for that something else to come along, because so far it has not, even if some very effective critiques of existing economics are now available. That’s why I have now written, for the first time, a summary of the ideas that have informed my own thinking. That thinking has persuaded me to work for major economic reform for most of the last decade.
I stress The Courageous State is only a summary of that thinking: this is an exploration of these ideas and some massive leaps are made during the course of their development in the book. If they appeal to some then more work might be required on them. I am completely relaxed about that: I make no claim, as neoliberal economists do through their modelling, to be omniscient.
I am equally well aware that many people will reject what I write as being completely wrong, absurd and much worse than that. I have become well and truly familiar with such claims over the last five years while producing what has now, according to independent sources,[i] become the Number 1 economics blog in the UK. Perhaps I needed to withstand the abuse of so many (mainly from the right wing extremes of the economic blogosphere) for so long before taking the risk of putting forward the ideas contained in this book. What I do know is that the time for an alternative has arrived, and I can wait no longer.
I hope you enjoy The Courageous State.