The ideas which will shape the coming year from 'downward mobility' to the 'end of cash' and the 'new monogamy'by Prospect Team / December 10, 2014 / Leave a comment
We live in extraordinary times. This makes a nonsense of the term “developed world”—implying that the story, in the countries of the west, is all told. That notion is confounded by the scale of the change through which we are living, in politics, economics and technology. Some of this has difficult consequences. It is a hard time to run a democracy now. Governments must confront voters with retrenchment; as we say below, politics has become “the management of disappointments.” Elected leaders have fewer levers to pull; their power is diminished by globalisation, technology and scepticism. It is harder for them to raise tax revenue, for a start; they have fewer ways to compensate those who have lost out from globalisation.
The management of disappointments
Who’d want to be a politician now? This is a tough time to run a government in a western democracy. Politics in the coming year amounts to the management of disappointments.
Politics goes local as economics goes global
It has been a cold climate for mainstream politics: falling turnout, declining share of the vote, shrivelling party organisations and now a haemorraghing of support to populist insurgents on right and left.
Everywhere, prices of goods that loom large in the economy are falling—food, communications, energy. Even a standard smartphone can fulfill almost all of the functions of a desktop computer.
The decline in UK tax receipts illustrates how hard it is for modern democracies in a globalised world to collect taxes. The decline in corporation tax paid by Britain’s largest companies gives stark evidence of this.
The idea that social mobility—ending up in a different occupational class or income group from one’s parents—is in decline…