We have had several politicians talk about the ‘magic money tree’ as if it is a fantasy and believing in it means you are living in fantasyland.
And yet it is there, in plain sight: except we don’t want to look at because it means taking our head out of the sand and confronting a few things that we want to avoid. Avoiding things is infantile and, however charming it might be in the short term, it is an unsustainable behaviour.
Another word for ‘infantile responsibility avoidance’ is ideology: a belief that you never have to think about despite any facts to the contrary. Now that is fantasy: having a belief system nobody can challenge (and if they do they are obviously subversive, unpatriotic and a heretic).
The neoliberal ideology suggests that profit is everything, the state should be as small as possible, and the state should do what business tells it to do (help it make more profit). After a recession, you give money to banks (even though they might have caused the recession) because in that way they can lend money to businesses, raise the value of the stock market and make shareholders (most of whom are businesses themselves), rich.
So where does this tree come in? In order to fund the banks and maintain the stock market you have to cut back somewhere. Out go benefits. Out go all public services that can be monetised and sold to the private sector (prisons, healthcare, public real estate, police, water, forests, energy …). Out goes public sector pay rises (especially since you can get a cheap private sector worker to do the easier part the job at minimum wage and, of course, they wont complain about cuts or pay or conditions because the company that employs them would lose their contract).
So that is what is under the ‘magic money tree,’ but I have found it and look what I have discovered. Unrecovered taxes of £48 billion per year from individuals or corporations (not including HMRC’s share of tax on interest of the £13 trillion assets held overseas by the world’s elite). Ever wondered why HMRC is populated by young enthusiastic people who know nothing about complex taxation?
Mental illness costs the West Midlands £12 billion per year – that is £3,000 per person in lost productivity, drugs and incarceration. We don’t even recognise mental illness as a problem.
In 2014 the CBI published a report that showed school underperformance was costing the economy £1 trillion over the life of a child in lost productivity, wasted infrastructure and foreign worker premiums (Home Office regulations)
My ‘back of a fag packet’ calculation has worked that just these three branches of the ‘magic money tree’ are worth at the very least £268 billion per year but according to neoliberal ideology they are not worth investing in because, as a result, the state would get bigger (more staff in HMRC, more doctors and nurses, more teachers). Neoliberal hegemony is wrong and it is tough to challenge it.
But if we don’t, all the talented small and medium sized business owners in the UK wil be squeezed out of existence. Profit is great but so are a fair tax burden, happy and productive people and well educated, young, creative talent.
If you think things are frightening now, just wait until blockchain crashes into your business model.