Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I doubt the penguins will notice

There are several issues about the reaction to the economic mess we are in which I keep noticing. Firstly the manifest failure to make investment in 'green industries' a key plank of recovery and secondly Polly Toynbe.

Let us get rid of Ms Toynbe first. What an escape we had when her rump-the continuing SDP-refused to join the new merged party. I've often thought that amongst the very many good days work that Chris Rennard has done his efforts in the Bootle by election which finally finished them off (coming behind the Monster Raving Loony Party) must be amongst the most satisfying.

She has purred and coo-ed over Gordon Brown's economic package seemingly bewitched by the introduction of a higher rate of tax. It doesn't matter to her that most folk earning over£150k can well afford the sort of accountant that can ensure that their income avoids that tax (Vince has explain that point several times. But them none as deaf as those that are besotted. This tax package is not a redistributive one in substance it is just dressed up that way and she is duped. The money raised by the new higher rate-even if you accept the Treasury's optimistic estimate is piffling irrelevant. If you want to redistribute wealth-and it is one of the key failures of the Blair/Brown era that they haven't there are far easier ways of doing it. Instead the likes of Toynbe and Brown delight in the complicated dignity stripping rouses like the tax credits.They have cost mega bucks to administer and they have been administered chaotically. Lots of people-especially pensioners have failed to claim. their problem is that they think folk ought to be grateful to the State and fit in with any daft plan that they dream up for someone elses good.

The second and more substantial issue is the failure to look to investment in green technologies as a key part of the recovery plan. I am not alone in identifying that especially at it appears that it is to form a central part of Obama's approach. Marl Lynas wrote a piece in the Guardian this morning and although I would not agree with every bit of its 'direction of travel' (as the Audit Commission delights to say) is correct.
This would have been the moment to invest in environmentally friendly transport, high speed trains, doing up the rail infra structure(Burcough Curves etc) introducing electric cars with on street servicing etc. All we get is a pathetic 'up to 200 new carriages' compare that with £700billion on roads.

As Lynas remarks:

'There's also some capital spending on energy efficiency – but here the striking thing is just how unimaginative and anaemic the current targets are. An enormous 60,000 houses will get better insulation. We need to be talking levels of ambition to orders of magnitude greater than this – with 24m households in the UK, the government is only going to be making 0.25% of them more efficient. I doubt the penguins will notice.'