Thanks to Chad Dulac of Chelan County PUD, WA, for this steam-punk platypus
I just dutifully waded through a dismal history of the last five decades of British economic policy. Plenty of government mistakes, and nothing that really got past missing an empire. (The Tyranny of Nostalgia, by Russell Jones.)
Despite a less than adequate grasp myself of the mechanics of money supply and exchange rates, I wanted to learn lessons for we should be doing in future. And try to keep up more with Penny Burns, of course.
The book itself focused most on economic stability, and how that encourages good things to happen. Or at least doesn’t scare the horses. And something beyond short-termism and political self-interest.
But, at the very end, the author did have to conclude that successive British governments have done less and less on what truly underlies the ‘economy’: on developing skills, encouraging new ideas, and supporting infrastructure. On how to enable people to do interesting things, really.
And here is where talking about infrastructure comes in.
The physical infrastructure of water and waste water, power, transport and telecommunications isn’t something in its own right, assets for their own sake. It’s about enabling us to do what we need and want to do. Along with agriculture, education and health, it has to start with supporting Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. No-one too hungry or cold or isolated or poorly educated to reach for self-realisation.
In a country increasingly of “private wealth and public squalor” – used originally to refer to the United States – I come back to the sheer waste of potential in Britain, along with the heartache of poverty and lack of opportunities. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of really interesting challenges to apply our collective energy to.
Obviously no-one in the current British government has any kind of vision for community beyond their rich mates.