Ryeview – May 2006

Market forces should be applied to our politicians

John Clark writes…

First published: May 2006 – Gazette & Herald

The supply goes up and the price goes down. The demand goes up and the price follows. This is the Law of Supply and Demand – worshipped by Mrs Thatcher and the Tories as the ‘Market’.

It produces a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Not the kind of place that politicians ‘claim’ they want. It appears to encourage the negatives and stands in the way of the positives. Junk food from supermarkets has become incredibly cheap. In the rare case where a village shop exists, Local Food has increased in price.

There is general agreement that Rail travel is better for the environment than packing more cars onto ever more Motorways. Yet, the ‘market’ has produced motoring cheaper than in the 70’s and railways that are dearer. John Prescott said he would resign if traffic levels were not reduced. Now that is a good reason for resigning.

Politicians do not let the ‘market’ get in their way. An MP is paid £60,000 per year. As there are dozens, if not hundreds of people who apply for each job, the supply is high and therefore the price should be low. What about the demand side? Is there a desire for MPs to be paid three times the average male wage in Ryedale (nearly five times that of women)?

The House of Lords is a different matter. It is rumoured that often, after people make a large donation (or loan) to a political party, an ‘honour’ follows. Most of the ‘powers that be’ in the Labour and Conservative Parties seemed to think this was OK – until they were found out, of course. The latest twist is that the House of Lords has created a speaker to chair their meetings. One Noble Lord proposed £29,000 a year for the job. This was slung out because “it would be difficult to get another job outside the chamber as well”. Clearly £29,000 is not enough! They settled on a figure of over £100,000. Not bad for a few hours work chairing an unelected quango. No wonder MPs and Lords have no clue when it comes to setting the minimum wage. £100,000 is umpteen times the minimum wage.

As if all of the above were not enough. What is their solution to the greed and the smell of something worse? Tony Blair and David Cameron have talks about the public funding of political parties. Instead of bending the rules and getting questionable massive donations (or do I mean loans?), they expect the British Taxpayer to pay instead.

If the politicians are good, people will join and make donations in money, canvassing, leaflets etc. If they are no good then the support will fall away. These same politicians tell the public that the country cannot afford to restore the earnings link for pensioners. MPs and Lords ought to use their power to protect the vulnerable, not themselves, against the market.

They are treating the public with contempt. Do politicians believe that the public are so gullible that they don’t notice? Or is it possible that the low numbers voting at elections may have a market message for the politicians?

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