The Plastic Hippo

December 7, 2012

Ob la di – OBR

Filed under: History,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 7:37 pm

Osbornomics The Right Honourable Gideon Oliver Osborne, heir apparent to the Baronetcy of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon is certain to leave a lasting and meaningful legacy following his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has bequeathed to us a new and perfect definition for the word stupid.

Doing an Osborne, or, as he likes to be known, doing a George, will soon resound across playgrounds, job centres and infection ridden privatised hospitals every time some half-wit displays a complete unfamiliarity with basic mathematics and then tells lies as to disguise the true depth of their idiocy. Alistair Darling and before him Gordon Brown might not have been the most honest and capable of chancellors, but compared to Osborne they seem an amalgam of Saint Francis, J M Keynes, Einstein and Mother Theresa. After two and a half years as steward of the British economy, the boy Gideon has managed to fail in delivering any improvement at all and has in reality made things worse. With zero growth, increased borrowing and the national deficit growing, this abject failure is shouting that everything is fine and that it is all part of his clever plan. It seems the ruin of Britain is everybody else`s fault.

He assures us that missing his targets for growth, borrowing and deficit reduction by a country mile is absolutely nothing to do with him. After the usual mantra of inherited mess from the previous government, the fault, it seems, is due to “external factors” such as commodity prices, those nasty Europeans and especially those awful scroungers asleep behind drawn curtains as their hard-working neighbours trudge the streets in search of non-existent jobs. The papier-mâché chancellor is convinced of this because the “independent” Office for Budget Responsibility told him so and if the “independent” OBR says something, it must be true. Hello triple dip recession, goodbye triple A credit rating. It might be illuminating to take a little peek at the OBR.

The OBR was formed in December 2009 by the Conservative party whilst still in opposition to counter what Osborne described as the “fiddling” of economic forecasts by the Labour government. How strange that the exact same civil servants in the Treasury are now crunching the numbers for the OBR and that the “independent” OBR shares something of a genetic history with the Institute of Fiscal Studies. This Institute was formed in the 60`s by a small group of financiers, led by gentleman banker and Tory grandee William Hopper, outraged at the then chancellor James Callaghan`s 1965 Finance Act introducing Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax. How strange that very wealthy people continue to offer strategies to allow very wealthy people to avoid paying tax.

That, of course, was a long time ago and the current “independent” OBR is completely free from any suggestion of political or economic bias. Under the leadership of Robert Chote, former chair of Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats and also a former Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the “independent” OBR exists to give accurate, authoritative and independent analysis of the effectiveness of economic and fiscal policy. Sadly, the OBR has yet to make a single, correct forecast and Osborne`s reliance of growth forecasts three, four and five years down the line are worrying to say the least. Perhaps he trusts the wisdom of another expert OBR member, Steve Nickell CBE, who in May 2008, said “it is unlikely that the UK would face a recession or severe economic slump in the coming months”. Steve is clearly a graduate of the Michael Fish School of economic forecasting. Officially advising the OBR is a certain John Llewellyn. He once worked for Lehman Brothers. It may be a cliché, but you really could not make this stuff up.

Osborne`s blatant deception and reliance on dubious and selective statistics littering his autumn statement confirmed that both he and the OBR haven`t a clue. The best way forward is to tell more lies and their only policy is to keep digging by making the poor suffer and encouraging the rich to call their accountants and move yet more wealth off shore. Starbucks, it would appear, considers taxation to be voluntary and, like other wealthy players allergic to Corporation Tax, will be maximising tax relief on charitable giving. An awful lot of coffee can be had for a tax donation and £10million a year buys off an awful lot of guilty conscience. Meanwhile, people working hard for low pay will feel pain because, after all, the undeserving poor be they working or not should not rely on benefits. Astonishingly, Nick “liar liar” Clegg has claimed that he is helping the poor because without him the cuts to welfare would be far more severe. No, Nick, without you the Tory hatchet men would not be in power and the nation would not be disappearing down the plug hole only slightly slower than you and your treacherous excuse for a political party glugging its last.

According to some news media, Osborne`s autumn suicide note contained some good news including scrapping the planned rise in fuel duty. Hallelujah, we are saved from bankruptcy and some probable unrest from burly lorry drivers and the withdrawal of donations to the Conservative party from the rabid road transport lobby. The £1billion allocated to education comes with certain conditions. In addition to the £1billion overspend on Michael Gove`s Free School and Academies vanity project funded by cuts to the budgets of state schools, the extra £1billion will be for Free Schools and Academies and be funded by further cuts to the budgets of state schools. Rejoice. Some increasing desperate hacks in the right wing press relayed the good news that fossil fuel emission targets have been ripped up, renewable energy abandoned and a policy to build up to 30 gas burning power stations introduced. We are to be saved by limitless supplies of shale gas lying just beneath our feet and our addiction to setting fire to carbon can continue unabated.

But the real bombshell delivered by Osborne courtesy of the OBR was the news that state borrowing would decrease this year. Fantastic, the economy is mended, the deficit has gone; austerity is over. Not quite. Ignoring some creative if a little dodgy accountancy regarding the Royal Mail pension fund and the Bank of England`s Asset Purchase Facility, the sale by auction of the next generation mobile phone frequencies brought in £3.5billion and since this wretched bunch of shysters assumed power, £375billion of quantitative easing has allowed the chancellor to invent money rather than make it. The experts in macroeconomics at the OBR have handed Osborne a brand new shovel. Perhaps Gideon or George or Baronet or whatever he calls himself requires a lesson in microeconomics before tackling the more difficult stuff. It`s simple really, even for a dimwit like him.

Imagine a factory that employs 100 people to make things. The things are not selling very well so the boss man needs to borrow money to make different things as well. The bank declines to lend because the things aren`t selling very well. The boss man want to sell the factory but nobody wants to buy it and so he closes it, sells the machinery and moves to his third home in Marbella. The 100 people have no job and so no longer pay tax to the government. The boss man has never paid tax because he has a good accountant. The 100 people now claim benefits and are a burden on the state. Without them earning and spending money, shops close and the firms that supplied the bits to make the things go out of business. Sometime later, the boss man discovers a new market for the things in Marbella but the factory has fallen down, the machines and the 100 people have gone. A factory making things opens in Marbella and pretty soon things are being exported from there to here. Are you paying attention, Gideon?

Osborne might be a new definition of stupid but he is not alone in creating employment for lexicographers. A whole group of words like malicious, vindictive, arrogant, privileged, prejudiced, self-interested, mendacious, vile and bastard can now be expressed in just three syllables:

Cameron.

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3 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on Getting There.

    Comment by aideym — December 7, 2012 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  2. Once again ,top reading.

    Comment by andy — December 8, 2012 @ 7:59 am | Reply

  3. Thank you for another accurate and coruscating analysis.

    Under our current laws, I had always thought that the office responsible for the budget was the Treasury. In turn, Government Departments answer to the Treasury, the Treasury answers to the Government and the Government to the people.

    Hence the idea of elections and the right of the electorate to call time on those who do not serve their interests. It is an essentially crude process, but one which allowed a degree of indirect influence at the polling station.

    This simple system, now deemed by the political cognoscenti to have fallen into terminal disrepute and decline, is under siege. Over a period of 30 years, it has been steadily replaced by a series of unelected, hand-picked ‘supervisory’ bodies, whose sole purpose, apart from prompting an unprecedented growth in acronyms, is to promote and validate the interests of their masters.

    Every part of society is now effectively governed by organisations that are neither elected, nor accountable. Competency is another topic altogether, particularly in the case of energy price regulation and the delivery of a caring and competent education to those who will follow us.

    The very fabric of society – education, energy, transport, health, communications, social care, housing and environment is now monitored and judged by people without any democratic mandate, but with an obvious lack of independence. Big business rules, regardless of the charade of regulation.

    Rather like Simon Cowell and the XFactor, Governments of all colours bank on an ever decreasing interest in voting. Instead they gamble on their capacity to appoint deadlegs, cronies and sycophants to do their bidding and to somehow produce silk purses from cows ears.

    Speaking of this, we turn to the OBR. After Labours big idea of a ‘liberated’ Bank of England, the Tories had to have their own big idea. The lazy Baronet obviously thought that some form of well-staged external scrutiny would do the job. It would convince the populace that he and his Government would be held to account. Not by the voter, but by his own nominated and unelected ‘experts’.

    This accords with existing and established practice. However, under most current regulatory regimes, failure to comply with targets, realistic or not, should result in sanction, or at least some form of censure.

    The OBR, unlike, for example, OFSTED, has no such capacity. It cannot threaten or impose closure or merger, demand the dismissal of incompetent staff and Governors and require Academy status. The best available option is to deliver a mild TUT TUT.

    OBR exists solely because George and Dave say so. It serves absolutely no purpose other that to provide even more funding to any already rich and private Tory organisation. This is what is called in the betting fraternity ‘a fix’. Please note that this means a pre-arranged and thought out peice of manipulation and not the chemical pleasure.

    The Stock Market remains cool about Gideons Bible and is disenchanted by his promises. Much like the rest of us.

    ps partly because of the cold weather, I am reminded of the Pools Panel. First started during the Big Freeze of 1963 that saw the cancellation of several hundred football matches, its purpose was to keep people betting on match results. Several people sat in a hotel room and made secret predictions about match results. These guesses were then used to determine Football Pools payouts.

    Needless to say, pay-outs in this period were minimal. I can still recall the look on my fathers face when he had an 8 draw entry, only to realise that there were seventeen such Panel decisions on his coupon.

    The Panel was made up of ex-professionals, hand-picked by Littlewoods.

    Keep up the good work

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — December 11, 2012 @ 12:21 pm | Reply


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