The age of irresponsibility

George Osborne’s budget speech was, as usual, a masterclass in combining the rhetoric of change with reality of continuity. Britain has, according to Osborne, left ‘the age of irresponsibility’ behind. There is very little basis for this claim. Instead, the Budget, Osborne’s first without Lib Dem shackles, perpetuates his reckless stewardship of the British economy.

The claim to have moved on from age of irresponsibility rests primarily upon the proposal that governments should be compelled to run budget surpluses under ‘normal’ economic circumstances. This represents a staggeringly irresponsible agenda, insofar as it constrains government’s ability to borrow to fund very long term investments that will benefit future generations. The economics are obvious: the unborn can pay at today’s prices for the public services and infrastructure investments they will need in decades to come, rather than at inflated future prices.

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Image: Howard Lake