I couldn’t follow Joyce McMillan’s logic in her “Victory for an alternative vision” (Perspective, 30 January).
Greece was a democracy when its people voted to be admitted to the EU and became part of the euro.
As a consequence of this the democratic government lost control of their money supply. It then proceeded to enjoy a false lifestyle by using the country’s status in the European Club to borrow too much money, money that the democratic leaders were well aware would have to be repaid some day.
Greece’s current problem is not one of the choice of visions between systems of wealth distribution, it is simply that they have been allowed to borrow too much money that they can’t afford to repay, coupled with the ill-conceived euro project.
Ms McMillan suggests that history shows the answer is for “governments to regain control of their money supply and setting about boosting and securing the incomes of ordinary households”.
I don’t suggest that for sovereign governments to have control of their own money supply is not a good thing, but in Greece’s case, to withdraw from the euro will result in massive erosion of wealth for a large number of its citizens, many of whom will have voted for Syriza, and it remains to be seen if they will have the courage to do this. The SNP’s current advantage over Labour has been achieved by very effective communication of nationalistic jingoism and is certainly nothing to do with an alternative vision or thought-out economic, fiscal or monetary policy. Remember that in the case of monetary policy, they chose to leave control of this with the UK Government.
William Ballantine (Letters, 31 January) is rightly critical of Joyce McMillan’s vision of “a return to Keynesian social democracy”.
What is noticeable in terms of economic history is Mr Ballantine recommends “a bit of economic pragmatism”. Isn’t this what Keynes himself advocated for quite a number of years before his theoretical work? He urged the UK and US governments in the late 1920s to spend on public works.
Wasn’t Keynes arguing for an ethical policy to tackle the economic and social “evil” of unemployment?
Arguably, if full employment is the ideal we ought to pursue, there is no room for a policy of “austerity”.
Old Chapel Walk
In response to William Ballantine (Letters, 31 January), what is needed is not “economic pragmatism” but a recognition of the reality that the state cannot grant a free lunch by intervening in the economy and that “neo-liberalism” is being constantly used as a dishonest pejorative by the Left to pretend that constantly raising taxes and increasing regulation is the same thing as a free market economy.
What is also needed is to recognise that the “redistributive” policies praised by Scott Arthur (Letters, 31 January) are not “social justice” but are simply an excuse for the state to take money from those who have earned it and give to those that they think should have it.