Fighting my way through Christmas shoppers this weekend, that consumerist army who seem no fewer in number than usual, I find myself reflecting on Alistair Darling's pre budget package to stimulate the economy and I am torn between two thoughts; the truth of stats and what I feel is true.
Statistically its a great package. Despite the hysteria from those who just want Labour to fail, it is well within our debt limits; at 40% our public debt to GDP ratio is one of the lowest in the G7 and will remain so even if it goes up to 57% as one scenario suggests it will.
On the other hand, in some ways, at 1% of the national income, £20b might not be enough rather than be too much, (The US package is 4% of national income). In my guts I wonder if 45% on earnings over £150,000 is enough, was £2.5% off VAT enough, will public works in themselves restore confidence and much more?
Advent is a time of waiting in hope. Never was a moment in a liturgical year more apt for political circumstances, but just as Advents waiting is an active time so our waiting to see is Alistair got it right requires action too, the action of consumption. But will more consumption really be the answer to over consumption. The numbers might tell us so, but I worry that some deeper, more significant change needs to happen to really bring us the peace we desire...and that will always take more than tills tinging and sleigh bells ringing. Welcome to advent waiting with a difference.
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