Grotesque and pointless quango
Imagine if a cabal of privately wealthy upper middle class and lower upper class public schoolboys got into power and began using taxpayers’ money to dole out special favours to all their rich friends: cushy sinecures for their banking and management consultancy chums from Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, Logica and the Oliver Wyman Group; subsidies for landowners like Sir Reginald Sheffield (father-in-law of one D. Cameron, Esq) to blight their local countryside; investments in companies almost 100 per cent guaranteed not to make a profit but nice, all the same, for those plutocratic rent-seekers who’ve been tipped the wink by their chums in government. (H/T Barrie James)
Imagine if this were found out. There’d be riots on the street, right?
This is exactly what happened in chancellor George Osborne’s latest budget. And almost no one noticed. So thank heavens for Andrew Orlowski of the Register:
Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced a new body that would make loans and issue debt. In a harkback to the 1970s, poorly performing and deeply unprofitable businesses will be the beneficiaries – and investors in them will be rewarded for their poor judgement. So much for moral hazard.
The Chancellor even found an unexpected £775m from the Government’s sale of the HS1 rail link to kickstart the venture. £3bn has been pledged: £2bn from the sale of publically-owned assets, and £1bn from taxes. This is a considerable sum that could alternatively be used to pay off the government borrowing, or pay for public services.
Or indeed, pay for a new aircraft carrier. Or buy five squadrons of F-18s. Or pay for the share of the Portugese bailout so kindly imposed on Britain (with Cast Iron Dave’s tacit agreement) by Osborne’s even-more-useless predecessor Alastair Darling. OrWell I’m sure we can think of lots of more sensible ways a Chancellor of the Exchequer could spend £3billion of OUR money. What I seriously doubt though, is whether anyone could think of a worse way of spending £3 billion, than on the grotesque and pointless quango that is the Green Investment Bank headed by Bob Wigley.
The point to note about the Green Investment Bank is that it is based on one massive lie, promulgated by everyone from David Cameron to Chris Huhne to Greg Barker to every other two-bit chancer who wants to get on the Coalition, viz: that green investments and green jobs are the future. (See this brilliant Dilbert cartoon) (H/T Philip Foster)
They are not. The reason private investors don’t want to invest in environmental projects is not that they’re frightened of making too much money, as this chart shows:
Can you see which category of investment comes right at the bottom? The one so abysmally poor that investors lost on average 52.3 per cent over the course of the year? That’s right. Alternative Energy.
Now imagine you had a Prime Minister who had a first in PPE from Oxford and a Chancellor who claimed to be a classical liberal. What kind of intellectual contortions must they have gone through to persuade themselves against all evidence that it makes any financial sense to use taxpayer’s money to bribe investors to allocate their scarce resources in companies that are so inefficient they can only possibly ever turn a “profit” through massive state subsidy (paid for by imposing a national energy tax concealed in electricity bills)?
And you don’t even need to be on the libertarian right, like me, to believe that this is a crying scandal. It is, as Orlowski notes, above all a conspiracy against the poor.
Osborne’s programme really a continuation of his predecessor’s as he invented very few of the policies – is a set of deeply regressive measures at which the Left has traditionally bridled. The Left has historically thought of itself as being on the side of the poor, and opposed measures which hurt the poor disproportionately. It likes to think of itself as being on the side of the weak against the strong, and so has traditionally favoured a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Yet the policies depend heavily on regressive taxation and more expensive essentials.
Forty per cent of the cost of a carbon floor price is paid for by consumers, the Treasury’s own documents suggest. The Budget measures alone add £17 to a family’s household energy bill. As even climate Jacobin George Monbiot has noticed, green measures distribute wealth from the poor to the middle classes: FITs are “extortionate, useless deeply regressive”. Not all on the Left are happy with this. Graham Stringer MP said Parliament needed to look much more closely at the policies, and the justification for them, because the measures hit the poorest people in the country. (He is MP for the North Manchester constituency of Blackley and Broughton.)
It’s a hard one for many on the Left. The number of households in “fuel poverty” – where energy swallows up more than 10 per cent of household income – has trebled. In Wales, more than one in four households is in fuel poverty, according to Wales Online. Left to the market, energy prices would plummet: even with profiteering and heavy Government duties. Gas is cheap, and set to be even cheaper for years to come; gas requires no subsidies.
Really, honestly, I have absolutely no objection to living in a country run by people who’ve had the best education in the world and who belong to the kind of old aristocratic families which tend to take the long view on what Britain’s interests really are. What I do object to, though, is when they abuse their power by behaving like selfish, ignorant, caricature toffs out of a Guardian cartoon by Steve Bell or Polly Toynbee’s most perfervid class-war fantasy. It is precisely such weapons-grade pillocks who govern us now.
- Territorial imperative
- My excitement over the Conservatives’ manifesto…
- Richard Madeley reveals that the green blight has finally sunk Cornwall
- Climategate: George Monbiot, the Guardian and Big Oil