Home > Kev's Blog > 13-Dec-2013 What it all means

13-Dec-2013 What it all means

Friday 13 December 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was up at 5.15am and went to Cronulla to swim with Stu & Steve again. Just perfect out swimming – weather was great – warm & sunny, sea was warm and clear. We swam from South Cronulla to North, then re-grouped then swam back the can at South before heading back in. Estimated water temp was 21-22C. Heaps of fit people running, swimming, boot-camping etc. Had a quick breakfast sitting in a cafe on a sunny corner in Cronulla. Everyone there had been doing sport of some kind, nice music playing – just feeling so lucky to be in a great place and be able to have these great experiences.

Whilst there I read this article in the Guardian – Let’s admit it: Britain is now a developing country

Elite economic debate boils down to this: a man in a tie stands at a dispatch box and reads out some numbers for the years ahead, along with a few micro-measures he’ll take to improve those projections. His opposite number scoffs at the forecasts and promises his tweaks would be far superior. For a few hours, perhaps even a couple of days, afterwards, commentators discuss What It All Means. Last Thursday’s autumn statement from George Osborne was merely the latest enactment of this twice-yearly ritual, and I bet you’ve already forgotten it.

Compare his forecasts and fossicking with our fundamental problems. Start with last week’s Pisa educational yardsticks, which show British teenagers trailing their Vietnamese counterparts at science, and behind the Macanese at maths. Or look at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness survey of 148 countries, which ranks British roads below Chile’s, and our ground-transport system worse than that of Barbados.

Whether Blair or Brown or Cameron, successive prime ministers and their chancellors pretend that progress is largely a matter of trims and tweaks – of capping business rates and funding the A14 to Felixstowe. Yet those Treasury supplementary tables and fan charts are no match for the mass of inconvenient facts provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the WEF or simply by going for a wander. Sift through the evidence and a different picture emerges: Britain’s economy is no longer zooming along unchallenged in the fast lane, but an increasingly clapped-out motor regularly overtaken by Asian Tigers such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Gender equality? The WEF ranks us behind Nicaragua and Lesotho. Investment by business? The Economist thinks we are struggling to keep up with Mali.

Let me put it more broadly, Britain is a rich country accruing many of the stereotypical bad habits of a developing country.

… and on it goes! …

Obviously to a large degree, it’s pretty similar in Australia although the mining boom has minimised some of the worst aspects.

However it struck me that I always gravitate to reading the Guardian and now with a digital radio in my car, listening to the BBC World Service. (I know that makes me sound like a middle-aged tragic!). Of course a lot of the music I still listen to is overwhelmingly English however looking around me at this cool little spot in Cronulla, there is just no way I’d want to be living in the UK.

So what does it all mean … I have no idea, just stumbling through life trying to do my best and to keep healthy and happy and keep enjoying it.

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