I am very happy to announce that I am about to start working part-time as a teacher of Government and Politics and Mathematics at Ealing Independent College.
This is a new venture for me and the first time I have worked in a college environment. I’m very excited to get to know my new students and colleagues. So far it seems a very nice place to teach. As it’s only part-time most of my work will continue to be private tuition but inevitably I have much less time for that than before.
You can’t turn on the television or radio at the moment without endless news coverage of the problems in the Eurozone – the 17 countries that use the Euro as their currency. Greece, Portugal and Ireland have all been forced to seek bailouts due to their massive government debts while Italy and Spain remain perilously close to triggering a massive financial collapse of the entire Eurozone.
Their bond yields – the cost of government borrowing – are now nearing levels that would force them to seek help from the EU or IMF to meet their spending commitments. These fears and the potential for massive losses in European banks are very likely to push the Eurozone back into recession. There are many proposals for how to prevent calamity from the modest proposal of more fiscal union to the outlandish idea of the American Federal Reserve buying massive amounts of Eurozone government bonds. But why exactly has it gone so wrong? Was it flawed from the start? Or is it the result of errors by European politicians? The truth is that the euro might have worked if it had been backed by the right political institutions from the start. But their absence now means that it seems quite likely to suffer a disorderly collapse. Continue reading “Eurozone crisis is as much political as economic”
As I write it seems likely that the Libyan rebels are about to finally oust Gaddafi and take control of the country. This would mean that Libya would join Egypt and Tunisia in ousting their dictator and introducing a new form of popular government. Across North Africa and the Middle East dictatorial regimes have either been toppled or been forced into making major political and economic concessions. This must be the largest period of mass political protest since the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Those events ushered in a new era, leading some to argue that the spread of democracy and globalisation were inevitable. So what will the Arab Spring mean for global politics and economics?
Unemployment is a horrible waste of people’s talents, energy and ideas. And given that the vast majority of unemployed people are paid large amounts of money in benefits, it is also a huge burden on taxpayers. Unemployment is around 8% in the UK and may well rise as cuts in government spending start to bite. At the moment we carry on tolerating this waste while we wait in vain for the private sector to start hiring again. Meanwhile millions of people are being left to rot on the dole queue, draining billions of pounds from the public purse. This is both terribly unjust as well as unnecessary. In fact it would be quite possible to more or less get rid of unemployment if we wanted to. Here’s how.
I was an undergraduate at Oxford when I heard first the idea of a graduate tax. It was 1998 and the then Labour government had just introduced tuition fees, to widespread condemnation from students. Not surprisingly most students believed them to be grossly unfair. My own view was that while Labour had indeed broken their promises in introducing fees, they might end up being the least bad option for helping universities finance their activities. There was a smaller group however who believed that students should make a contribution to the cost of their education, but that it should be done through a â€˜graduate taxâ€™ instead of fees. I thought it was a fishy idea then, and still do now. Continue reading “Graduate Tax – not such a great idea, after all”
Its been a long time since I’ve posted because I’ve been so busy with teaching. But I thought I’d put up a couple of new posts given how much has happened recently. I’ll add some thoughts on the economic outlook in a separate post. But first, politics. The Cameron-Clegg coalition government is in many ways a remarkable development. It’s the first coalition government since WWII and it’s between two parties whose relationship has generally been fractious at best. In recent years the LibDems have been much closer to Labour and still have some fundamental clashes with the Tories e.g. over Europe, defence policy, and immigration.
We’re just a couple of months away from the most interesting general election for over a decade so naturally the papers are full of stories about the latest poll results, whether Cameron has it in the bag, or if in fact Brown will manage to pull off a victory against the odds. Undoubtedly this is interesting stuff, particularly for political anoraks like me. But what’s in many ways more important is the fact that one of the likely consequences of the next election is that we’ll finally ditch the ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) electoral system we’ve been lumbered with for centuries.
Just a few months ago David Cameron’s Conservative Party was about 10 points ahead in most of the opinion polls and heading for a comfortable majority at the next election. Gordon Brown was one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers of all time, widely expected to lead Labour to an electoral disaster. Now the two parties are level-pegging in the polls and commentators are suggesting that a hung parliament or even a narrow Labour victory are the most likely outcomes. So what happened? And what might the Tories do to turn it around?
The interview of Gordon Brown by Piers Morgan has been discussed a lot recently. Most commentators seem to think that overall he came across better than normal and that the decision to ‘open-up’ and show his emotional side will benefit his public image. I have a different view. I think that it shows how desperate and manipulative Brown and his advisers are and of how little regard they have for the public’s intelligence.