At crossword time

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First drafted yesterday, see date on crossword

The 7 o’clock news says that Britain is the slowest-growing economy in the developed world. To be more precise, it is shrinking. The economists blame our recent Prime Minister, Liz Truss. I was really glad when she was voted in to replace Boris Johnson. For a Conservative, she seemed to have a social conscience, didn’t side with the money people—financiers, business owners large and small—who have always voted for a Tory government. She was ousted by her own party after a few weeks in which she raised and then lowered taxes causing chaos in the money market.

Here’s a piece in the Guardian today about why the economy is going backwards.

With inflation above 10%, household budgets can be stretched. While the annual growth in consumer prices is expected to slow this year – with Rishi Sunak (Prime Minister) setting a target to halve the inflation rate – the cost of living is still rising, though at a slightly slower rate than late in 2022.

Discussion on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine programme on Radio 2 was about blame, though I only listened to snippets.

My own feeling is that a decline in the economy is actually a good thing. I wanted to give give reasons but this would be out of my depth. Suddenly, out of the blue, came the words “A limit to growth“. I interrupted Karleen’s crossword musings to ask if she’d heard of it, but she wouldn’t have, still living in Jamaica at the time.

So I checked on Google, was reminded that the Club of Rome, which still exists today, published The Limits to Growth in 1972.  Here’s the blurb:

The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology. In the summer of 1970, an international team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a study of the implications of continued worldwide growth. They examined the five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, ultimately limit growth on this planet-population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation. The MIT team fed data on these five factors into a global computer model and then tested the behavior of the model under several sets of assumptions to determine alternative patterns for mankind’s future. The Limits to Growth is the nontechnical report of their findings. The book contains a message of hope, as well: Man can create a society in which he can live indefinitely on earth if he imposes limits on himself and his production of material goods to achieve a state of global equilibrium with population and production in carefully selected balance.

Here in Britain, we’ve had wave after wave of strikes of the kind that cripple economic and indeed human health. Drivers of trains and buses have either stopped people getting to work at all, or caused the road system to get clogged when workers try to get there by car, causing excessive fumes.

Nurses, ambulance drivers, doctors, postmen and women have gone on short-term strikes, threatening more later. Taxes have gone up etc etc.

our street

A lot of the trouble has been caused by President Putin. We are very dependent on gas for heating, power generation and industry. Our fuel bills in this fortunately small house have doubled and the supply company invite us to contact them in case of hardship.

Here in High Wycombe, in this industrial quarter established in Victorian times for the manufacture of chairs out of the local beechwoods, there’s evidence of much prosperity, if only judged from the Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Ferrari, Chrysler, Porsche parked along our little one-way street. One evening recently I was astonished to find a Bentley perched on the corner outside the halal butcher’s, catering for our neighbours clustered near the town’s biggest mosque.

Anyway, these thoughts were triggered while drinking our morning tea and finishing the crossword before getting up.


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