Thursday 29 January 2009

It's only money (2) + unhappy country

So now it’s official. Labour have been telling us that we are uniquely well placed to face the economic recession, but in fact we are uniquely badly placed. The International Monetary Fund has let the cat out of the bag, saying that we will be worse hit than the United States, Western Europe or Japan, and that we're heading for our worst slump since the 1930's with the economy shrinking by 2.8 per cent this year.

There is something we could do to mitigate this financial disaster, of course, but Labour are far too doctrinaire to try it. The economy needs people to spend. Poorer people are much more likely than better off people to spend their money rather than saving it, and more likely to spend it on local goods and services, rather than foreign holidays for example. Rich people, unfortunately, were given huge tax cuts by Mrs Thatcher (then the richest further rewarded themselves with huge pay rises). Many believed these tax cuts were unsustainable, and, indeed, they are now destroying our economy. We need tax increases for those at the top, with the proceeds distributed to poorer people as tax cuts or benefit increases. How nice to be able to do something that is not only right but profitable, but Labour won’t.

At the Congo war crimes trial of Thomas Lubanga yesterday, the first prosecution witness changed his story and said he had not been one of the 30,000 child soldiers recruited to fight in the civil war in the Ituri region. The court was then adjourned amid worries about intimidation of witnesses.

Today war is still raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and altogether more than 5 million people have died since 1998, making this the world’s deadliest conflict since World War Two. Back in the 19th Century, the region was taken over by King Leopold II of Belgium as his personal domain. During a 23 year reign of terror, according to official estimates, half the population of the Congo was wiped out, by murder, forced labour, starvation and disease. See A Disastrous History of the World.

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