When will our politicians realise that our service and finance industries do not create wealth – they merely redistribute wealth that has already been created from one pocket to another (usually from mine to theirs).
In order to CREATE wealth we have to start with some sort of raw material that did not previously exist in either our manufacturing or our food chains. In other words, to enable wealth creation we have to start with something that is taken from the ground, from our seas and rivers, from the air or, taking this argument to its natural conclusion, captured from space.
On that basis agriculture creates wealth: crops are grown in the ground and harvested or animals graze. Our fishing industries create wealth because they harvest another natural resource which has in turn fed on naturally occurring organisms. Our energy companies create wealth because they use fuel that has been provided by nature be that fossil fuel, uranium, wind, solar or tidal (the sustainability or advisability of using fossil fuels is another matter). And our manufacturing industries create wealth by taking natural resources such as gas, coal, iron and silica and converting them into the products being demanded by our consumer society.
When you think about it, the true Wealth Creation Industries are the ones that we, as a nation, have been running down for years. The economic balance of our agriculture industry is sitting on a knife edge (thanks in the main to the power of the force field we call supermarkets), our fishing industry has been decimated because the seas around our shores have been over fished and Europe says it must be so, and much of our manufacturing industry has been moved overseas in order to “cash in” on lower labour costs and, in many cases, lower health and safety standards – no wonder we have a balance of payments problem!
When I was a lad in the Black Country during the 1950’s and 60’s, there were factories on every street corner with furnaces, forges and machine shops. We made steel and things of steel, we hewed coal and generated our own light and heat: we had manufacturing expertise and we were proud of it. But when I go back there now, the factories have either been replaced by coffee shops, burger bars and DIY stores selling spades that were made in and have been transported from China, or only their empty shells remain like modern, unloved Norman castles; window-less, roof-less with walls that are visibly crumbling. Not only that, the people are much poorer and dispirited … where is the sense in that? Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t all good but, even so, somehow it did seem better.
So, Mr Prime Minister, if you are reading this, please take note. Never mind QE and bankers with their excessive bonuses … we need a sound manufacturing/agricultural base to move us out of our current financial difficulties and our growing benefit culture … there … solved with a single swish of the pen … Simples! (If only it were!!!)