In a few years’ time, our contemporary notions of economic freedom will seem as hopelessly outdated as smoking in the cinema!
The way forward is not to listen to the Chancellor bleating on about aspirational Britain, but to see the reality of our fragile condition in this world.
My diagnosis and prescription:
1. The current system is broken from the ground up. Capitalism cannot work simply because our lives are too short (we live 90 years not 180!). This is the biological case against the current economic system.
2. We are dependent on others and incapable of being economically active for too many years of our total lifespan. As we live longer our needs increase not decrease – as many of us with family members with dementia understand.
3. Any economic system must start from the principle of our fragility and dependence – not our freedoms!
4. Where everyone is free to advance their economic interests the system is unsustainable and breaks down.
5. People have to be encouraged to understand that freedom can be found in small areas of personal choice (including consumer choice) but not in e.g., decisions to buy property and speculate.
6. An all-powerful Board of Welfare can be set up which guarantees people cradle to grave security. All families will be assigned somewhere to live which they can then pass to their children. So housing will be free and therefore not subject to speculation. People will have unlimited freedom to swap houses to move to where they want to live.
7. People will have the right to secure jobs and 70 per cent of what they earn will be taken directly by the Board of Welfare to run the system.
8. People can then relax more and enjoy the fruits of their labour within certain narrow limits. But they will have the same sensation of freedom after an initial and painful adjustment.
I think then the system will be sustainable. A New Deal for our troubled times?