Monday, December 02, 2013

We don't vote for Growth. We vote according to how we feel as individuals.

The vast majority of voters is not that bothered with macroeconomic indicators. I suspect that if you asked people what "Growth" is few would be able to give you even a sketchy explanation. The same applies to the "deficit" and even to something closer to our individual personal experience like inflation. Real economics are at the personal not the macro level.

"It's the economy stupid" did not mean "It's the growth of our Gross Domestic Prouduct". It meant "Have I a job?", "Can' I afford to finance my home purchase?", "Is the cost of food and essentials affordable for me?", "Have I enough money for a holiday", "Can I afford to keep warm this winter?" - and so on.

The worst political rhetoric is to make claims, even if true, which simplify and generalise. The man without a job for a year just won't believe you if you say that there are more people in employment than ever. The Pensioner who can't turn on the heating at current energy prices won't be impressed by a price freeze.

And the problem with individuals alienation from politics (which is what all this is) is that it leads to scapegoating. So the EU is blamed, or immigrants, or bankers or politicians. In reality individual hardship is always a combination of personal failure and bad luck. Not everyone can get on their bike to find a job.  And not everyone's skills and experience is in demand in sufficient numbers. And the cumulative effect of being unemployed is pernicious. So don't tell the long term unemployed that the Economy has returned to growth. They'll tell you where you can stuff your statistic. 


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