05 November 2009

Government and big business versus ordinary people

The world’s largest economies have agreed to end fossil-fuel subsidies, according to a statement made at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh on 25th September 2009. Leaders of the G-20 committed to phasing out the controversial subsidies ‘over the medium-term,’ blaming them for encouraging wasteful consumption and undermining efforts to combat climate change. Global Subsidies Initiative
Unfortunately, according to the same source: 'the announcement did lack details. In particular there was no information offered on how subsidies would be defined or the plan would be implemented.' A similar story on a larger scale is told by Simon Johnson, in 'the Atlantic':
recovery [in the US] will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time. The Quiet Coup, 'The Atlantic', May
It comes down to attacking the vested interests, who have become powerful enough, thanks to taxpayer funding, to resist the withdrawal of their favourable treatment. An essential first step, and one that is built into the Social Policy Bond idea, is to make policy transparent. It's quite possible that voters in a democracy would vote to sacrifice hospitals and schools to further enrich huge oil corporations or enormously wealthy bankers, so why not give us the choice? Or at least make what's going on comprehensible to outsiders. Simon Johnson again:
As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand.
Government and big business versus ordinary people. A familiar match. What chance have we got?

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