Wednesday 30 March 2011

The Zadie Smith school of economics

That the grotesque losses of the private sector are to be nationalised, cut from our schools and our libraries, our social services and our healthcare, represents a policy so shameful I doubt that this government will ever live it down. Perhaps it is because they know what the history books will make of them that our politicians are so cavalier with our libraries; from their point of view, the fewer places you can find a history book these days, the better.
-- Zadie Smith on Radio 4.
That’s twice this week I’ve been left gobsmacked at some frontier gibberish. Let’s deal with the trite conclusion first. If I know anything, it’s that (winners aside) history is written by the academics; an obvious comment perhaps, but important in the context of understanding the filter through which such accounts are already written. When a Labour council closes a library it is the fault of the Conservative-led government; if the Conservatives turned water into wine, history would conclude that Labour could have done better.

What really grates though is the dubious grasp on economics. I’ll tell you Ms Smith who’s really paying for ‘the grotesque losses of the private sector’; it’s the rest of the private sector - they’re the only ones who pay for anything. I’ve seen company pension contributions stopped and most of my colleagues made redundant, others have taken pay cuts or enforced shorter hours; do let me know when you’ve caught up. During good times and bad, it is the private sector that pays (directly or indirectly) for ‘our schools, libraries, our social services and our healthcare’, all that has changed is the amount of money available; and incidentally, since spending on the NHS is increasing, perhaps you could explain how this constitutes a cut, or did you feel duty-bound to throw in that old chestnut?


  1. "perhaps you could explain how this constitutes a cut"

    Out here across the pond, one hears about "cuts" whenever a favorite gov't entity doesn't get as much as it wants.

    You just have to know modern, post-1984, English.
    or am I being cynical AGAIN?