Back in early July, I wrote a “Letter from London” based on a conversation I had had with a friend during a trip to the UK. He told me of his fears about the implications of the new Tory government’s plans to slash government spending drastically.
Those plans are now being realized. A recent article in the New York Times details the pain that is unfolding as the central government rolls out deep, wholesale, and apparently random cuts. The Film Council, the Health Protection Agency, and dozens of other groups that regulate and distribute money in the arts, health sector, and other areas have simply been abolished at the stroke of a pen. The ability of local authorities to plan and budget on anything beyond an immediate time-scale has been drastically interrupted. The article quotes the chief executive of the country’s supreme court as saying that she doesn’t know whether the country will continue to function if the Tories’ promised cuts of 40% are implemented.
The U.S. needs to watch what’s unfolding in the U.K. very closely. Already the recession and the failure of politicians of both parties to implement a genuine recovery program has led to brutal economic problems around the country. As Paul Krugman discussed in a recent editorial, Colorado Springs recently made headlines by shutting off its streetlights in an attempt to save money. The lights are going off across America, Krugman argues, as the dogmatic anti-statist doctrines of neo-liberalism are implemented remorselessly.
As the great urbanist Jane Jacobs argued in her final, dystopian book, there is a dark age ahead.