Channel 4 Programme: Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story
I thought this might be rubbish given the slightly sensationalist (albeit accurate) title, however this is easily the best program I've seen that discusses the debt crisis, quantative easing (in terms easy for anyone to understand) & public spending. Regardless of your political point of view I recommend everyone watch this. Even if you don't fancy it watch the first half hour. But the whole program is worth watching, it's very good from start to finish.
Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story - 4oD - Channel 4
Thought that was a great programme, thanks for posting the link.
Good to see those 'in power' (or previously so) can't even begin to defend ideological policies in making the state huge when faced with what should be, to them, basic economic questioning where they should be able to respond with credible points.
Seeing MPs of different sides having absolutely no clue on the national debt level was about right too. Moreover, I thought Alan Johnson (Shadow Chancellor!) revealed everything you need to know about how their loyal voters are viewed: "We're talking trillions but, I mean, trillions and billions really isn't what you need to explain to the public."
Agree. Should be compulsory viewing for everyone. What I found interesting was the size of state to the private sector over a time period of 100 years. But it was a shame he rushed the bit from the 1950s to Present day - I would have liked to have seen more facts and figures. The 'they know best' was firmly put in its place. What I found hypocritical was all the grandees of each party trotting out the usual "it wasn't me gov" sort of line. In fact it was the very same people who have destroyed the heavy industry and manufacturing base of the country...and created a service industry culture that can't be sold easily to other countries. Why aren't we following Hong Kong's example of low taxation and minimal government interference? Why are we going a completely different route...higher NI...higher VAT...?
Bloody politicians! (Red, Blue, Yellow and Green with pink spots...they all pee in the same pot)
I have watched it twice now and my feelings haven't changed.
It was entertaining and made economics 'easier' to understand.
However, like the vast majority of Martin Durkins programmes,whilst interesting it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt about as big as the pile of £50 notes that he kept talking about.
It was about as balanced as a one winged aeroplane.
All of the 'experts' represented right wing thinktanks. There was absolutely no middle ground or impartial assesment of what these 'experts' were suggesting.
What they seemed to be trumping was laissez-faire economics which has just as many, if not more, flaws in it than the current car crash economic policies.
AS for Hong Kongbeing the low tax heaven that we should aspire to!!!????
Why didnt he look at Japan or Sweden who have simillar if not higher taxes than us and succesful economies?
Also where did he get the £48trillion horror story title from?
The debt is around £990bn. with 950bn of that swallowed by the banks.
Clubbing together future liabilities to get to his juicy headline grabbing £48tr is unbelievably flawed because it deosn't include inflation or the increase of GDP over time.
Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong on the above points as I am no economist, but like all his other doco's it stunk of agenda from start to finnish.
Government urged to reveal 'true' national debt of £4.8*trillion - Telegraph is the source of the £4.8 trillion figure (well, not the Telegraph, the IEA as referred).
So the 4.8 trillion debt is actually 4trillion of future pension costs and 0.8 trillion of actual debt.
Originally Posted by musicbox
Yet we have 1 hour of public spending bashing when the real issue is actuallly pension commitments.
However, since the IEA made that report (in August) we have seen:
An increased retirement age,
Increase in public sector pension contributions,
Pensions being linked to CPI not RPI in order to lower commitments.
And at somepoint we will see pensions linked to average career earnings rather than final salary.
These changes will ensure that the pension hole is nowhere near the 4 trillion alleged in the IEA report. And therefore totally undermines the sensationalist title of this documentary.
But yet the programme makes absolutely no mention of this. It just hammers spending on benefits, regional development agencies the NHS and moans about paying taxes.
Utter and absolute onesided, half truth, sensationalist nonsense.
The title references a trillion-pounds of debt & even the most conservative estimate is .8 of a trillion?
Have to be honest with you, even that little old one trillion is looking like a big number to me. Let alone the other 4 that don't have to be paid yet
Thought it was a superb program personally, strongly recommend everyone watches it & makes up their own mind.
In a serious economic debate you would never see Lionel Blair, Vanessa Feltz, Kevin McKenzie or Alistair Darling appearing. Ok, so you might see Lionel Blair. Listening to economists debate isn't likely to tune into the wider public. Clearly listening to politicians who either do not know about the very thing they tell us is the biggest issue of the day or wish those who wish to keep things hidden is not really an option. That's where I believe shows like this are useful. Of course you hope they are 100% accurate, unbiased and so on but this is Britain 2010. Not only this, but film-makers need viewers to get their next commission, right?!
The programme stated the £4.8 trillion figure was derived from including pension liabilities. I don't feel it hid that from me at all. To me, if you remove pension liabilities to get closer to £1 trillion, then you have a headline... if you have £500 billion, you have a headline - on such scales, I'm not sure the average person is drawn in more just because it's £4.8 trillion and not £1 trillion. Of course, by using the larger figure you can then break things down into 'per person' debt figures so people can better understand. This is where it's more persuasive since £10k and £77k (for example) of debt to the average person is a more tangible financial concept of debt.
It could be explored why pension liabilities was assumed to be a debt (by those in the programme) and to explore why others deem that it should not be tallied in as debt. But ithere are obvious reasons ranging from bias to time constraints as to why no programme ever hears both sides on each arguable point.
After seeing the programme though, I started finding people saying pension liabilities are not a debt and a host of criticisms of the programme such as on Tax Research UK and from Guardian readers. Obviously with Fella being spurred on to post here, we've not only had our attention brought to it but passthedutchy's points against the programme here too.
Since I was curious about pension liabilities being included as debt after I saw it, and could see some had argued for classing it as debt, I wondered if debt can ever be classed as future liabilities or whether some groups were simply creating a new meaning for the term 'debt'. I found pages like this, this and this pdf from 1996 about implicit pension debt. Of course, I'm limited because this is not a subject area I am 'comfortable with' and many things you read are coming from an angle too. So is it an interpretation or just a lie? I suppose it has made me at least try to look into something I hadn't previously done.
I agree that the programme is worth watching, I just hope people don't sit back and accept everything that they say.
If the programme made people go out an do their own bit of research and try and understand the situtation a bit better, then that is great. Anyone who goes out of their way and tries to educate themselves in order to makes their own decisions should be respected.
What the programme did do rather effectively is highlight the fact that the people who we trust to be knowledgable about these sort of things, ie politicians, really dont have a clue.
I would love to see a follow up that concentrates on what actual skills, experience and qualifications some of these politicians in high positions actually have.
For example I find it is absolutley incredible that the neither the Chancellor nor the Shadow Chancellor have any Economic qualifications or background. These 2 people have some major, major decisions to make that will shape all our futures for generations, yet neither of them have ever even studied Economics.
Now that would make an interesting programme!!
yeah true dat
We don't have politicans who are good at governing anymore, they're just good at being politicians. I find it genuinely scary that there is apparently no shortage of MPs who don't know the difference between public debt & the deficit. I mean not knowing exactly how much they are is one thing, but not having a clue even what they are? How can you possibly rule, or challenge those who rule, without even the faintest inkling of the fundamentals.