Three statistics that deserve examination
No 1: The average age of the UK farmer is 60. Very few of their children are interested in taking over the business. Only 4% of students study agriculture.
This has been a hobby-horse of mine for ages. Governments of both equally myopic Parties have seemed perfectly happy to watch UK agriculture die of starvation now for over forty years.
The future will not be one of globalist free trade: it will be one of judiciously chosen niche exports (predominantly from West to East) and every country having a high degree of sustainable self-sufficiency. Getting people back onto the land, properly trained and able to take their own decisions/take responsibility would be socially and economically healthy in almost every way. We could knock 30% off unemployment within eight years, and reduce our cost of imports by 20% within four years.
It is one of the few areas where (local) State help really would pay dividends…if the whole thing was scoped out and managed by the NUF, with some help from food scientists.
No 2: the Jubilee bank holiday wiped 0.4% off the UK’s growth pattern in the 2nd quarter of 2012. Yet another Sloggy Horse. No, I’m not here to knock the Jubilee celebrations (although I do think they’ve gone on too long and outstayed their welcome); I’m here to suggest the abolition of all bank holidays.
The problem with bank holidays is that everyone takes them all at once. A blinding glimpse of the obvious I realise, but the big difference between such days off and annual/employment holidays is that with the latter, life goes on and the production lines keep on rolling…because a good 70-95% of the staff are still at work and keeping things running.
On average, there are eight bank holidays a year. Although not double-headers like the Diamond Jubilee, one can roughly expect that bank holidays will knock back the rate of growth by an amazing 0.75% per annum. If the holidays were simply abolished and added to employee entitlement, it would make no difference to business overheads, but it would almost certainly have under 0.1% of negative effect on GDP.
Most people would feel they’d had their quality of life greatly enhanced by having 7-8 extra days, the roads would be less crowded, and the holiday entitlements would be more flexible.
It’s a no-brainer. And so of course, not even under consideration in either Westminster or Whitehall.
No 3: Trade Union membership has fallen by 55% since 1979. The figure falls every year without fail: last year a further 143,000 dropped out of Union membership.
At the high point of the TUC’s power in 1979, around 14m British workers belonged to a trade union. Today, only 6.4m UK employees are unionised (just under a quarter) and the most striking feature by far is the difference in union penetration between the public sector (where nearly 3 in 5 are unionised – especially in the Civil Service) and the private economy (where the figure is 1 in 7).
Mutualising the public sector and civil service occupations (from the Foreign Office to the NHS) would effectively wipe out the TUC as an effective pressure group in British politics – and remove the State from any control over administrative-cum-social activities in our culture. But equally to the point, it would also leave the Labour Party with no means of regularly donated support at all. No wonder Ed Miliband said a few weeks ago on Marr that he thought large donations should be banned entirely from Westminster politics: the Tories would have everything to lose, but The Labour Party relatively little.
Three simple figures suggesting ways to reduce our trade deficit and unemployment, painlessly increase economic output and life quality, and reduce the cost of the State massively while opening up our sclerotic political processes to completely new ideas.
This is what Radical Realism can achieve given half a chance. It really is not rocket science: rather, it is that our ‘elites’ are dull, grey, and primarily concerned to protect their privileges.