Saturday, 4 December 2010

Government and economies

 This article compares the UK economy to Hong Kong and Singapore. I think the conclusion that we have "spectacularly ineffective government" is irrefutable.


The first thing to strike you about these two city states is the people – hard-working, disciplined, committed, ambitious and law-abiding. But why?

You are drawn towards the conclusion that it is something to do with government – but that is not synonymous with either big government or no government. Hong Kong and Singapore are very different in style – Hong Kong free-wheeling and buccaneering, while in Singapore the government is interventionist and nannying, often to an annoying degree.

But in both cases government is effective. What it does, it does well – whether that is the provision of vital infrastructure, education, or law and order.

What strikes me about the UK is how many of the things which hold us back fall into government's sphere.

We have big government – but it is spectacularly ineffective government. Whether it is the egregious failure and gross waste of our social security system, or the degenerate state of our education standards, our transport infrastructure, or the travesty of the protection supposedly offered to the citizen against crime, it is the same story: huge amounts of money spent to little good effect.

We seem to have the worst of both worlds – big government, which makes a nuisance of itself and costs a fortune, but which achieves very little.