A war on debt…from the left
Often on the left we are accused of being ‘deficit deniers’. However, nobody on the left seriously denies the existence of debt and deficit. The political right however has kept us focused on just one aspect of this conundrum deliberately to suit its ideological crusade against the state. When have you heard a right-wing politician seriously address the massive amount of personal debt that households across the UK are groaning under? The answer is next to never. This is because to do so would nail the myth that this crisis was caused by excessive state spending. It would reveal the stark reality of a crisis caused by flaws hard-wired into the capitalist system, like social inequality.
Right-wing solutions, like tax cuts, are blinkered, illiterate and totally ideological in nature. They are a subtle but deadly attack on the state through its revenue stream. Furthermore the debt-mountain and effects of austerity mean they will be totally ineffective in terms of stimulating economic activity. Another large dollop of our money wasted on satisfying the right-wings blinkered zeal.
However, the left has no real counterpunch because many implicitly accept the right-wing framing. I want to deliver real help to our households but to do so I think we need to be clear; the state is the only force powerful force to do this. How? Well firstly it can extend access to Debt Relief Orders. This would be done by widening their criteria and a campaign to raise public awareness of their existence. Secondly, debt relief vouchers should be made available and, finally, the regulation governing access to credit would have to be tightened. Coupled with a comprehensive prices and incomes policy this is a recipe for a real economic shot-in-the-arm. Households freed from the shackles of debt, with rising wages and prices reined in will start to consume again, not at previous levels but at levels that can deliver real economic growth. We would start to build a new economy, sustainable and socially just, this is a vision for change as opposed to the miserable counsel of tax cuts which won’t work anyway. Our horizons need to be lifted from the ones imposed on us by our ideological opponents.