Paying for stuff and the logic of austerity

by / Filed under Politics

Two problems that affect millions of UK people (me included):

Transport

The train service in East Anglia is awful, and has been for decades. Only the most swiveleyed neoliberal would argue paying various private operators to run a service on the same old infrastructure works. It doesn’t matter if you buy your season ticket from Greater Anglia or First Great Eastern: the service is rubbish and more expensive than anywhere else in Europe.

So, how to improve the train service?

Housing

Secondly, there are not enough houses in the UK, which means that, unless you’re lucky enough to inherit lots of money, you’re probably paying a sizeable chunk of your income to rent a Victorian house with a bathroom tacked on the back, or you’ve taken out a large, long mortgage to buy something that Crest Nicholson didn’t design or build very well.

Again, what’s the answer to this problem?

It seems to me that one obvious answer would be for government to invest in the train service and build lots of good quality houses. Raise and collect taxes or borrow money to do it. Unfortunately, it seems the only response to this suggestion is we have to pay back our debt and how do we pay for it?, which is really just shorthand for there’s no political will for government to do anything. That’s the logic of austerity and it’s not hard to see where it will lead.