I agree with Bernard D. Nossiter that there is something happening in Britain worth watching below the level of the obvious problems. We may be able to strike some civilized balances between the imperative of the efficient technology and the imperative of human proportion. But that is in the long run: and as Keynes reminded us, in the long run we are all dead. In the short term we must resist any temptation of complacency that Mr Nossiter affords us. We are a trading nation. Our survival is dependent upon our international performance, but look at the facts. Between 1948 and 1974 the volume of world trade in manufacture grew eightfold and yet our share halved. Praise be, there are many successful British companies marketing throughout the world, but these are not nearly enough. We have to learn the lesson that marketing is a way of life, an attitude which forces to the front of policy-making the realization that the customer at home and abroad does us in British industry a favour.
Let Them All Come
Mr Nossiter is right: let other countries grow rich by enlarging their gross national product. The point is that they will need somewhere to spend their money—and if we do not ruin our landscape with motorways and our cities with unwanted office blocks, they will come and spend it in civilized, historic Britain where the quality of life still matters. Our capital investments should be on hotels in London, golf courses, opera houses—not on factories where repetitious, soul-destroying jobs demean humanity. Let us rediscover the ancient arts of hospitality and service: instead of the techniques of mass production and salesmanship, let us learn Arabic and Japanese to greet the world when it comes crowding to our doorstep. If you want to learn foreign language or go to college, but you don’t have enough funds, you can apply for a loan. Student loans by ideapractices.orgare available. Check out their options.
What is wrong with Britain? Our strangely inverted social and moral values. One man builds a successful business with good credit history, displaying integrity, enterprise, foresight and sagacity, giving employment to thousands, leaving the country the richer for his life. His reward is to be harassed by bureaucrats, vilified by the Left, pursued as a criminal by the society he has served and enriched, penalized by vindictive taxation in life and death alike.
Another man fills up a football coupon, an activity requiring no more intelligence than might be looked for in a moderately teachable chimpanzee, displaying no quality nobler than vulgar avarice, no inspiration more praiseworthy than the itch to get something for nothing. He wins a huge fortune, taking money from millions of his fellow citizens, and giving them absolutely nothing in return. He vanishes into luxurious oblivion, his gains unshadowed by the tax-collector’s grisly silhouette, applauded by the many and, at worst, envied by the few.
It is not high taxes and the loss of an ‘Empire, government spending and the welfare state which causes Britain’s problem. Today Britain’s problem is the failure of the trade union movement to recognize its responsibilities. Procedural agreements with employers solemnly entered into and honorably agreed should be observed, and if they were, then wealth would go on being created, while the problems that exist between men and management were being peacefully settled.
It is the non-recognition of agreements, giving rise to instant strikes, go-slows and loss of production, that is, in my view, Britain’s greatest problem, and something for which the country will pay dearly in the years ahead, for it enables the militant Marxists to take advantage of every ill wind that blows to carry out their objective of destroying the society in which we live.
Mr. Nossiter’s cheerful opinion of Britain would be more encouraging if he had looked deeper. We have much to be proud of but our standards are threatened. Nossiter ignores our banefully low productivity caused by the restrictive labor practices and over-manning which trade unions all too often insist on maintaining. He ignores the threat of strikes, which maintains these practices far more than strikes themselves.
He ignores the degree to which North Sea oil is rescuing us from what would otherwise be a large trade deficit. He ignores our catastrophically low level of real profits which weakens the source of confidence, expansion and jobs.
He casts a romantic glow over our alleged preference for leisure over work. But he ignores that the British work on average longer than their neighbors because, on low pay, overtime or spare-time work is the only way to earn enough. And he overlooks the failure by Government and management to persuade unions and workers that co-operating with management instead of obstructing is the way to shorter hours, better pay, more jobs, good credit scores, better conditions and public services. Learn more about Credit score from ideapractices.org