Of course, Osborne never mentioned what kind of jobs would be created, but its a fair bet that the jobs, if created won't be as good as the public sector jobs that have been culled by the government. Not all public sector jobs are well paid by any means but many are highly skilled, and nearly all offer better benefits than private sector equivalents. Its likely that many 'replacement' private sector jobs will be low skilled 'McJobs'. To add to the existing problems in the job market, Osborne is now trying to implement a long held dream of the Tories to 'regionalise' public sector pay in order to drive down wages still further, on the excuse that the private sector will be able to compete in the jobs market with their McJobs. This is likely to backfire on the government because public sector workers will seek to keep pace with those in similar jobs around the UK, leading to more disputes and industrial action.
There is still the question of whether any jobs will be created. The record is not good. Its worth reading this article by Larry Elliot which shows that in the past 100 years the private sector has failed to replace jobs in the North of England lost when heavy industries such as shipbuilding, cotton manufacture, steel-making, and coal mining went into terminal decline.The reality is that Osborne's approach is going to hit the North, which is already suffering, very hard. That is part of the reason for George Galloway's recent victory in Bradford West - people are fed up with a lack of jobs and opportunity and the fact that none of the three main parties are offering an alternative to austerity.
My view is that the oft promised jobs will never be created. For sure, as long as we follow the discredited 'free' market neoliberal ideology beloved of Mr Osborne. Why? - because we have entered a different, and, I believe, final, phase of capitalism. There are a number of different factors working here to bring about the demise of capitalism as we know it;
Firstly, the rise of financial capitalism, fuelled by deregulation of the banking and finance sectors. If you want to get the best return and make money you invest in financial instruments, and property, that is the quickest and easiest way to make a buck. There are currently trillions of dollars flooding this financial system, and none of it is being invested in job creating industries. The problem for capitalists is that the 'real' economy is suffering from falling profitability;
Secondly, the model of consumer capitalism on which we currently rely for our prosperity is slowly breaking down. Consumer capitalism really started in the 1920s with Edward Bernays, and only really took off in the period of prosperity following WWII. Bernays, who is often called the father of Public Relations is credited with creating consumer 'wants' rather than the 'needs' that existed previously. Neoliberalism is undermining that consumer-lead model though globalisation by making people, particularly in the affluent west, poorer. You have to earn a decent amount of money to support the consumption that consumer capitalism needs. In the USA consumer spending is 70% of the economy. That is why neoliberal capitalism is relying increasingly on, the creation of debt to sustain consumerism, the cannibalising of the public sector, and corporate welfarism, to maintain its failing profitability;
|Edward Bernays - the man who invented consumer capitalism|
Thirdly, and most importantly, we are reaching the limits to growth. Resources, and oil in particular, are becoming depleted, which means that capitalist expansion is becoming impossible. capitalism relies upon compound growth, and you don't need to be a Nobel prize winning economist to understand that this kind of growth is unsustainable.
The fourth factor may prove to be the most important - climate change - which is likely to damage the global economy further by extreme weather events like the recent tsunami in Japan, and damaging agriculture, thus limiting food production. That is an issue which I have covered extensively on this blog. Attempts to postpone the inevitable end of 'business as usual', such as the exploitation of shale gas and tar sands, are likely to be self-defeating.
If you want to know more about monopoly capitalism and how this crisis is being driven by factors one and two then you should read the excellent book 'The Great Financial Crisis' by Magdoff and Foster, which explains how capitalism has increasingly invested in finance, at the expense of the real economy.
I just want to finish this post with a prediction. Capitalism as we now know it won't exist in 50 years time. I won't be around to see it but I have no doubt that capitalism will reach its limits, economically and environmentally in the next 50 years or so. What we ought to be doing now is planning for the future. That future will inevitably mean more state intervention, not because of ideology, but because of necessity. In 2008, when the global economy was crashing, the state came to the rescue. There is no doubt that it will have to come to the rescue again because, by then, 'free' market fundamentalism will have brought the whole house of cards crashing down.