The Thick of It


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Can a recession ever be a good thing? Part 2

Boris Johnson and the Evening Standard have now got in on the act of trying to cheer us all up about the recession. In an article headlined "Mayor: London can benefit from recession"Johnson outlines what he perceives to be the benefits of a recession:

●The fall in house prices would mean London's £5billion housing budget, which will help homeowners avoid recession by taking temporary equity stakes in their property, would go further.

●Tourism and exports would be boosted by the fall of the pound with London representing greater value for money for foreign visitors and investors.

●The brightest graduates, especially scientists, who might otherwise have gone to work in the City, could look for work in the public sector, particularly teaching.

●Workers with more time on their hands because of the downturn could help tackle knife and gun crime among young people by volunteering.

I spoke on this subject in December for BBC Radio Five Live's Richard Bacon show. My premise then and now is that whatever "benefit" side-effects of a recession may bring, it is inherantly a bad thing.

Our market economy is based on work. Work pays for food and shelter and to keep the rest of the economy going by allowing people to buy goods and services. Without work this collapses.

I'd prefer my mayor to be talking about what he plans to do to help Londoners through tough economic times, rather than telling them not to worry. Can't afford to go on holiday any more? Don't worry, you can look at all the tourists in London instead, taking advantage of the cheap pound. Great.

Johnson must be wrapping himself in a coocoon if he believes a recession will help tackle crim by providing more volunteers. Basic sociological theory suggests that unemployment leads to poverty and poverty is a drving force behind increasing crime.

If johnson is to really show that he intends to govern for all Londoners then he needs to start showing that he understands the stresses and pressures most of us are under. He isn't doing that. I don't expect him to do that. He doesn't know how.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On your various blogs related to the good points of a recession.

Are the articles that triggered them not more implying that every cloud has a silver lining and we should take what positives we can from a poor situation – rather than trying to argue that recessions are ‘net’ a good (which they obviously are not).