If, as some are arguing, economic “growth” is a thing of the past due to the financial crash and ever higher energy prices, what are the implications?
Education, health and social security
All of these rely on economic growth. I would point out to our American readers I am not distinguishing between socialised or private systems. In both the demands and costs increase year after year. The reasons are obvious when you think about it. Apart from wages there are reasons like the fact that new medical techniques and medicines are being developed all the time. Expectations constantly rise. We expect cures for many ailments that would have killed us previously. We expect not to live in penury in our old age. At the same time as we are facing a possible financial crisis the population is ageing.
Roads, railways, energy infrastructure and the general state of our towns and cities rely on economic growth. A year or so ago I returned to a town in Scotland where I studied as an undergraduate. I hadn’t been there for 10-12 years. The place had been transformed, it was so much smarter with new shops and pedestrianised streets through economic growth, although arguably of a type built on a false premise.
In the US politics is stuck in the same two party rut. In Europe its completely different – a whole series of different parties have entered the fray. In Scotland and Catalonia nationalist parties are trying to secede, in Scandinavia and Germany the pirate party has done very well getting people elected. In Italy a new party started by a comedian holds the balance of power in the lower house after the recent general election. In Greece new extreme right and left parties have done very well in recent elections. In England the UK independence party, a right wing nationalist party, has got 25% of the vote in last week’s council elections. These changes cannot all be blamed simply on our economic problems and the disillusionment with established parties is deep seated and multi-factorial and goes back many years. Nevertheless we should be uneasy.
In the next blog post I will consider the implications for the church and what if anything we can do about it.
The original article can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/05/uk-growth-pessimists-economy