Sunday, 10 June 2012

Allister Heath: neo-con fellow traveller and charlatan?

For those too fastidious to pick up "Metro" in the morning in London there is another free comic, "City AM".  Regular readers of this blog will realise that this is a dribbling neo-con whine-fest, a world where Cameron is a socialist trimmer, the big bad bloc of Europe is an advancing Iron Curtain by any other name, and the only thing that stands in the way of progress is the unpleasant duty of care towards other people who might inhabit the world who aren't either rich or entirely self-sufficient.

Crap AM's editor is the estimable Allister Heath, whose editorial letter every weekday is a miracle of self-referential puffery, either dictated or produced using a keyboard which is easily operated by impacts of a large clenched fist.  Heathy-boy is extremely matey with the Taxpayers' Alliance and wastes no opportunity to put forward their Moonie-style propaganda - bleating about enterprise, the flat tax and the way in which nobody in the public sector deserves to be paid for anything.

Normally I allow this to wash over me, as it is so risible not to be toxic.  On Friday, however, there was a piece so deranged as to make me wonder as to whether the world is really splitting into a number of parallel universes.  Heath allowed himself the luxury of a spittle-filled diatribe against macroeconomics, as a branch of planning and therefore by extension something that should only be permitted in North Korea.

As an economist, my tastes tend towards the macro end of the spectrum, as that is the only area where it might be useful in public policy.  The neo-cons and pseudo-liberals deny the collective at every opportunity, preferring instead to pretend that creating a small-scale, "perfect" market through bogus mathematical constructs is the sole aim of economics.  This denies every major thinker from Adam Smith onwards, but most of them don't bother to read Smith while praying him in aid of the latest attempt to revert to feudal barbarism.

It would be pathetic rather than dangerous if this orthodoxy had not reached into academic circles and government.  However, to put forward the views that what the world needs to get out of the current crisis is an even more extreme version of the policies that led to the financial crash of 2007-08 is so counter-intuitive as to be criminal.  These are the people who preach low taxes and high bonuses for them and their cronies while exhorting cuts to jobs, employment protection and pay for everyone that they consider to be less deserving.

Heath is amusing most mornings, if only because his errors and naked philistinism are so bizarre - the panegyric over the expensive Jubilee celebrations (apparently a good use of taxpayers' money even if paying security staff is not) is matched by frothing xenophobia and baying for European blood.  To make Nigel Farage's arguments seem sane and well-ordered is indeed an achievement.

Well worth watching out for, and even, on occasion, correcting... 

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