The days when ordinary people sold their own produce and bought the produce of other ordinary people are long gone.
One brief phrase in Nick Clegg’s call for tax cuts, aimed at low- to middle-income families, says more about Britain’s current economic predicament than the rest of the debate around the subject put together. Clegg calls for the tax system to be rebalanced so that it “encourages ordinary people to drive growth”. That sounds splendid.
The trouble is that “encouraging ordinary people to drive growth” is harder than it sounds. In fact, in a developed economy, it’s something of an oxymoron.
Sure, consumption drives growth, and everyone needs to consume. But consumption needs production. What can “ordinary people” produce that other ordinary people will want to consume, so that they can drive growth? The harsh answer is: not much. Here is the great paradox of our so-called market economy. The access of ordinary people to ordinary markets has been severely curtailed by technological advancement, mass production and the globalisation that it ushered in.
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